By Ray Hamill — The Hoopa Warriors look set to play a big role for the Corsairs when football returns to College of the Redwoods next year, with several of their players having already committed to play there.
The CR program was suspended in the summer of 2020 for budgetary reasons, but was reinstated earlier this year on the condition there would be a greater emphasis on academics and local recruitment.
New head coach Jason White already has 24 local players who have committed, including seven Hoopa graduates, the largest contingent from any H-DNL school.
And that’s just fine with White.
“The one thing I Like about Hoopa kids is they like to be physical,” White said. “We want that to be our identity at College of the Redwoods. We want to be a physical team.”
Two of this year’s Hoopa graduates, Larry Tracy and Sly Logan-Miguelena, have both signed on to play, along with a number of recent graduates, including Sonny Jarnaghan, Milton Mabry, Jasper Hostler, William Reynolds and Ben Ray.
And Mabry believes the coaches at Hoopa helped prepare them for the next level while instilling that physical mindset.
“That’s what Coach (William) Simms wanted from us,” he said of his former high school coach. “To play physical.”
Mabry, Ray and Hostler are all 2020 Hoopa graduates, while Jarnaghan and Reynolds both graduated high school the year before.
And all of them are excited about the opportunity to play again.
“I was talking to coach Simms (a few months back) and he was telling me there might be some opportunities coming up,” Jarnaghan said. “So I was pretty stoked when coach White called.”
White is just as stoked to have Jarnaghan on the roster.
“He’s a kid that I can tell you is a leader,” he said of Jarnaghan. “I’m excited about him, he plays physical.”
Reynolds, meanwhile, played for the Corsairs under former head coach Frank Borba in 2019 before the program was suspended, and White believes his experience will be crucial on a new team that will feature mostly freshmen the first season back.
“At the JC level, having those sophomores is a big deal,” White said. “He’ll bring some leadership as a sophomore.”
Tracy and Logan-Miguelena are both also expected to come in and have an impact.
Tracy gained the reputation around the league as a hustle player this past spring, making some big plays.
“You always want kids that are going to play hard no matter what the situation is,” White said. “He brings some speed to the table. He gives you a guy at the skill positions that can make plays. He’s tenacious.”
Logan-Miguelena will play along the offensive line.
“He’s on top of things,” White said of the hard-working lineman. “He’s a big kid and he’s been working out. He’s all-conference and we’re looking forward to having him.”
Mabry, meanwhile, says he did not expect to have the chance to play again after being involved in a serious car accident during his senior year in high school, and that it’s an opportunity he is determined to take full advantage of.
“I want to do this, I really do,” he said. “After my wreck I didn’t really think I’d get the opportunity to play football again.”
And he’s looking forward to reuniting with many of his former teammates on the field.
“Jasper’s a stud,” Mabry said of Hostler, while comparing him to one well-known NFL receiver in particular. “He likes to be a little Julian Edelman.
“And Ben Ray, he’ll get to the ball, that’s one thing about him.”
As for why so many Warriors are committing to CR, Jarnaghan says it’s just a good opportunity for the former Hoopa players.
“You get to stay close to home and you get to play the game you love,” he said, adding that he’ll gladly play any position White asks him to.
Two other local players have also recently committed to play for White.
Former McKinleyville Panther Che Jimenez will join former Eureka Logger Micah Moon on the roster.
Moon is another sophomore whose experience White will rely on.