By Ray Hamill — College of the Redwoods is building a strong Hoopa connection, as the Corsairs close in on their largest contingent of local players in several years.
Head coach Frank Borba is expecting as many as 20 former H-DNL players on his roster this fall, a record number for the fifth-year head coach and something the school has been pushing towards.
“We have a legitimate chance of having 20 local players this year,” he said. “We had 12 last year and it’s increased every year I’ve been here. It’s something we always wanted and finally some local kids are taking a leap of faith with us.”
More than half of them could be former Hoopa players, with four more Warriors committing to the team recently — Milton Mabry, Carlos Aguilar, Sonny Jarnaghanand Mike Teodecki.
In addition, Borba expects another four or five Hoopa players to follow in their footsteps in the coming weeks, and along with returning sophomores William Reynoldsand Weyk-Seyr’ Hutchinson, that could give the Corsairs a total of 10 or 11 former Warriors on the 2020 roster.
It’s a connection that has been building for a couple of years, with the addition of outgoing sophomore Max Hodgestwo years ago setting the recent run of Hoopa recruits in motion.
“He came here and he had success here,” Borba said of Hodges, who was an all-conference honorable mention this past fall. “And that allowed William and Weyk-Seyr’ come here and succeed, and it really proves to these kids they can play at this level.”
Borba praised the recent Hoopa coaching staffs for their role in preparing the players and facilitating the recent recruiting drive, in particular William Simms, who has been instrumental in the surge of Warriors heading to CR.
“He’s gone above and beyond, talking with the kids in the community and being kind of a middle man,” Borba said. “He really has done a great job. All the coaches there have. Bringing their kids to our games and helping them understand what our program is about.”
Borba says he is excited about all the new recruits who have committed, including the athletic playmaking Aguilar.
“He’s a great athlete and a phenomenal receiver who could play anywhere,” the CR coach said. “I look forward to working with him. He was arguably the best receiver in the Little 4 and he has been for some time.”
Mabry, meanwhile, is a three-sport athlete who missed most of the football and the entire basketball season after a serious car accident.
He was, however, back on the field of competition playing baseball this spring before the sports shutdown and is expected to be ready to go for football.
“He has a great attitude. I’ve been talking to him for two years,” Borba said, adding that he sees him playing a variety of roles on defense for the Corsairs.
Teodecki and Jarnaghan both will return after some time away from the game.
Teodecki graduated Hoopa in 2015 before going to play one year at Shasta College.
“We always liked him,” said Borba who wanted Teodecki to play at CR back in 2015 and sees him contributing at linebacker or along the defensive line. “He’s big and strong. He has unbelievable strength and he’s really committed to the weight room.”
Borba expects Teodecki could be the team’s strongest player this fall.
Jarnaghan, meanwhile, is a “tough smart player,” according to the CR coach.
“He’s a good tackler,” Borba said of the 2019 Hoopa graduate who took one year away from the game but is eager to return in 2020. “He’s a kind of all-over-the-field kid.”
Hodges is now expected to move on to a four-year program, although he is still weighing his options, according to Borba, who also expects big things out of Reynolds and Hutchinson in their sophomore seasons after both stepped up the level of their play late in their freshman campaigns.
“He’s fast and strong and a no-nonsense type kid,” Borba said of Reynolds, who plays safety for the Corsairs and is also a standout track athlete. “He’s a coach’s dream.”
Hutchinson, according to Borba, “really came on strong at the end of the year,” getting a ton of playing time along the offensive line, and is expected to play an even bigger role in 2020.