Although Malibu High’s football team went 2-8 last season, including 0-4 in the Frontier League, Coach Ray Humphrey is upbeat now.
Although the Sharks don’t have much depth, Humphrey says the squad has talent and several young players have gained valuable experience.
“Our players are pretty good,” said Humphrey. “We have only about 24, so a lot of guys will play both offense and defense.
“But this is my third season and we’re ready to show what we have. The first year I was learning and the second year there were some refinements, but now we have guys who have played and developed. We took some hits last season, but I feel we grew up. I like where we’re going.
“I like our team. We’re short on numbers but our players have improved tremendously.”
There’s been a major setback. Quarterback Dusty Kramer, who did well as a sophomore, has transferred to Crespi High. However, senior J.P. O’Fallon appears ready to handle the position after making second team all-league as a runner and receiver.
Sean Conrad and Jake Aklain will be the running backs. Charley Vines and Graham Ellis will be receivers and Justin Hale the tight end.
Humphrey is also counting on Marcus Robbins, Austin Rowen and sophomore Jessie Conrad, Sean’s brother, to play both ways.
“It’s a pretty solid group,” said Humphrey.
There isn’t much depth, but some other players who also figure prominently are Jake Winicki, three-year starter Milo Gibson and Cody Johnson, a fast cornerback.
Malibu will play Bellarmine-Jefferson at Burroughs High in Burbank September 1.
Playing on what the CIF terms “zero week,” meaning a week earlier than most teams, will allow Malibu to have a bye a couple of weeks later.
“I like that,” said Humphrey.” The bye allows players to enjoy a break before going into a stretch of games.”
Malibu will play Flintridge Prep in its second game. Then there’ll be the bye, followed by games against St. Monica, Viewpoint and Daniel Murphy prior to the league opener against defending champion Santa Clara.
Humphrey came to Malibu after being an assistant coach in various sports for 12 years at Santa Monica High. He displayed his versatility by being an assistant coach on Malibu’s basketball team last season, which qualified for the CIF playoffs.