Ben Alberry won’t illustrate this upcoming football season as a reset year for Orcutt Academy.
Gone are school record-breaker Darin Miller at quarterback, 1,000-yard rusher Eddie Lundberg at running back and a senior class that guided the Spartans to a 9-3 mark. Also gone? Head coach Doug May, who resigned during the summer – leaving the former offensive coordinator Alberry in charge moving forward.
Yet, Alberry doesn’t want to hear the “R” word around Old Town Orcutt.
“Obviously, when you lose key contributors like that, teams are wondering ‘Is it a reset year?’ But I’m not calling it as a reset year,” Alberry said during the Lee Central Coast Newspapers Media Day on July 28.
Alberry is taking over a program that still has key contributors from last season’s playoff team – and they’re guys he’s already familiar with.
Among the returners will be Max Daniels, who now has the quarterback reins that once belonged to the dual-threat Miller. Alberry, who teaches in the special education department at OAHS, says his new quarterback has been chomping at the bit to get his time behind center.
“Max has been sitting there waiting for his shot,” Alberry said. “He will run your offense, read your defense and he does what we ask him to do. He’s a name to watch this year.”
Daniels spent last year doing two things: Catching footballs from Miller while manning one of the wide receiver spots and watching in awe of the 6-foot-4 quarterback’s athletic traits.
“It was amazing. You would think he would be tackled or sacked, but all of the sudden you saw him in the end zone. It was incredible to see,” Daniels said.
But after the Spartans’ fell to Canoga Park Faith Baptist 56-50 in the CIF Southern Section Division I eight-man semifinals, Miller immediately sent this message to Daniels:
“He told me ‘It’s my time now,’” Daniels said.
Both have stayed in contact with one another, as Daniels says “He’s been texting me as well, just making sure that I have the leadership and control of the team.”
Daniels isn’t the only returning player Alberry is excited to coach this fall. In the secondary, Alberry raves about David Canable and Josiah DeBruno at cornerback.
“We’re excited to have him (DeBruno) because he’s healthier than ever,” Alberry said, who cites that DeBruno was injured for most of last year. “This is the first time that we’ve had two quality corners that can shut down the opposing wide receivers.”
And, Alberry is energized to coach another Sutton on this year’s roster: Alex Sutton, whose older brother Jared was a valuable contributor to the Spartan running game and emerged as the top ball hawk in the defense – with a team-high five interceptions according to Max Preps.
“Alex was probably one of the best freshmen to come out (to varsity). Last year, because of his size and need, he filled in for Alex Andrade (who was injured) and picked the game up quickly last year. He just has a motor and has a knack for the ball,” Alberry said, as the latest Sutton is projected to play fullback and middle linebacker.
Outside of working with his revamped roster, Alberry is additionally researching the new realm the Spartans will head into this fall: The Central Section.
“We’re all getting to start over new. We won’t know a lot about these teams. But we know that league (Central Sierra League) has been Fresno Christian’s. They’re a powerhouse,” said Alberry, who adds he’s energized that the Eagles – winners of 42 games since the 2013 season – gets to take the drive down Highway 101 and face the Spartans this season on Oct. 12.
Top to bottom, Alberry knows he has some missing faces from last year including the former head coach May and the electric Miller. But the first-year leader knows he still has plenty of experience to work with – convincing him that the reset button doesn’t need to be pressed at OAHS.
“I’m excited that I can do this with my beloved Spartans,” Alberry said. “The good thing about last year is that we knew who would be coming back the next year, so we gave them a lot of reps last year and get them in. We’re excited. They’re ready to go.”