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Lompoc's Dallas Canley gets ready to run a play in practice as coach Andrew Jones watches on Wednesday.

Like football coaches, I also do film study to break down a team and player.

And I’ve done that this week by trying to get familiar with Lompoc football’s next opponent: El Toro.

What I’ve discovered is this: The Charger offense can score at will when it gets going – through these four seniors. Here’s my assessment of the Chargers’ top quartet when they have the ball.

Cooper Jones: According to the Orange County Register’s Dan Albano, Jones is an underrated quarterback in the O.C. from what he told me this week.

I’ll have to agree – considering Jones’ numbers and the fact that, even with 36 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions, he reportedly doesn’t have any scholarship offers.

His ability to spread the ball shows that he doesn’t lock onto the same target throughout the night, as Jones has produced three receivers with 39 catches or more.

Jones is a pocket passer, but he is adept at escaping rushers and still looking for the open receiver. He looks most dangerous when teams try to get him out of the pocket, knowing he has three receivers who can get open.  

His best matchup will be going against LHS’s top cover cornerback Dallas Canley.

Noah Aguilar: Aguilar is a hit man and playmaker.

He’s the Chargers’ top wide receiver and a two-way starter. Defensively, he’s a sure tackler from his free safety spot with 71 tackles according to Max Preps. But his highlight film on Hudl shines a light on a safety who will lower his shoulder and leave a mark on someone. He also had one interception against state powerhouse Mission Viejo.

Aguilar is most adroit, though, at wide receiver. The 6-foot-2, 193-pounder is tops in receptions (58), yards (978) and is tied for second on the team in touchdown catches with 10. He’s fearless with working inside as a slot wide receiver and has enough elusiveness to gain extra yardage for the Chargers’ shotgun based spread offense, which mostly operates with four receivers. When he doesn’t have the ball, Aguilar shows that same mean streak with his blocks as he seeks to drive someone’s numbers into the sprint turf.  

Overall, Aguilar is clearly the Chargers’ most aggressive tone setter on both sides of the ball, judging from my film study.

Austin Derrico: Like Aguilar, Derrico comes with versatility as he’s another one who goes both ways.

But, at 6-foot-3 and 190-pounds, Derrico isn’t just the Chargers’ tallest offensive option. He’s their go-to-guy on the deep ball and a dynamic return man.

The first minute of his Hudl film shows Derrico catching passes that stretched past 30 yards. He’s destroyed one-on-one coverages and any zone coverage where the corners give him up to a five-yard cushion. On special teams, his ability to stretch the field makes him one of the last players to kick the ball to.

Derrico lacks top end speed for now, as his 40-yard-dash time is reportedly 4.71. I also noticed that opposing defenses don’t always jam him at the line of scrimmage. I’ve got to wonder if Lompoc will allow its corners to press Derrico at the line. Count on Shemar Savage to be the likely guy with helping cover Derrico, since they’re near similar in size.

Shane McLaughlin: He’s actually the shortest receiver in the El Toro offense – at 6-foot-1.

And he’s arguably the fastest among the trio.

McLaughlin – who is a 100 and 200 meter sprinter during the spring sports season at ETHS – has a knack for using his speed and adding another deep threat to an already potent offense. Outside of his speed, McLaughlin can out-jump a cornerback for the ball. His go-to move is a plant-and-go – which enables him to fool a cornerback and then sprint right past him.

His average of 21.4 yards per catch is tops on the Chargers. He had his best game of the season against Villa Park in last week’s 50-45 thriller to advance in the second round, as McLaughlin caught six passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns, all while averaging 31.3 yards per catch.

One matchup I would love to see? McLaughlin going against one of the Braves’ top speed horses in Johnny Manzo. 


Sports Reporter