It would be logical to assume that spirit is low at a school where the football team has lost 19 of 20 games in the last two years.
But, according to new head coach Shawn Ritter, that isn’t the case at St. Monica.
“We have 71 players out for football,” said Ritter. “That’s a high number for a school in our position. And we have quite a few returnees from last season. That’s unusual too since we went 0-10 and you’d expect some players to drop out.”
Another reason for optimism is a high percentage of freshmen have turned out football. Now St. Monica has the numbers to field both varsity and junior varsity teams.
There are no predictions about how many games St. Monica will win this season, but the combination of high squad morale and a schedule minus some larger schools of the recent past gives the Mariners hope.
St. Monica will open its season Friday night September 7 at St. Anthony. The team without a campus field has been practicing at Memorial Park and will play home games again at St. Bernard High in Westchester.
Ritter hasn’t announced who his starting quarterback will be. The competition is between Chris Lindquist, a junior varsity running back last season, and Dana Soto-Campos, who didn’t play in 2006.
James Wright appears to be the primary running back, with Joe Castro, Derek Brandt and Robert Padilla also figuring prominently.
The receivers are sophomore Danny White, Michael Pina, John Loef, Anthony Escalara and tight end Mike Rubio.
The offensive linemen are Tyler Jansen, Edwin Mejia, Kris Rocha and Matt Saens.
Lindquist also plays on defense as a cornerback.
Ritter has taken over the job from Chris Caminiti, the Mariners’ coach last season who is now on the Cleveland Browns’ coaching staff. They attended high school in Connecticut together 25 years ago and Ritter was an assistant with the Mariners last season.
“I was able to visit Chris in Ohio a few weeks ago and see how things are run in the Browns’ camp,” said Ritter. “It was a valuable experience.”
After high school Ritter went to the University of Connecticut and then into military service, where he played football and then was player-coach, duty that lasted for 12 years. Caminiti concluded after last season that St. Monica would benefit from getting larger schools off its schedule. He accomplished that before leaving.