As the only county school to opt out entirely of last years COVID abbreviated season, the RedHawks enter 2021 with a new head coach and a renewed commitment to excel.
Head coach Mikey Badaluco is a familiar face to the RedHawks having been involved with both the varsity and JV programs since 2014 and brings with him not only energy but also provides some much needed continuity.
Over the past six seasons, Colusa has accrued a 39-30 record under four different head coaches, and has also suffered three losses in the first round of the playoffs and three more in the second, which is something Badaluco and his staff are working to rectify.
And at this juncture it seems as though the RedHawks are responding well since they have maintained some of the most consistent numbers of participants during the summer.
Colusa is hoping that the offseason work will pay off given that the squad is relatively unproven at the varsity level, and while the lineup has yet to be completely solidified, they have identified several individuals likely to hold down key spots, which is one of the strong points Badaluco sees in his team.
” We have weapons spread out at all positions, meaning we have a key player at each position on offense and defense, which I would say is our greatest strength.
Lining up under center in the RedHawks spread offense will be senior Emanuel Frias, who despite having never thrown a pass in a varsity game, has, according to Badaluco worked hard to improve his accuracy, particularly on the deep ball and has been impressive in his ability to shake off bad plays and make good on the next.
In the backfield with Frias will be junior Hayden McCarty, the teams emerging leader and perhaps its most potent offensive threat. Although he is the teams primary running back, dont be surprised to see McCarty inserted elsewhere when the RedHawks have the ball.
Slated as a starting receiver is senior Nick Price, a player Badaluco described as a ” quiet leader. Price, one of the fastest RedHawks, has put on some additional muscle in preparation for the season and during the summer has consistently delivered big plays.
Of course, as with any team, success will be determined by winning the battle in the trenches and to anchor the line, Colusa will count on senior Marcus Cano, arguably the RedHawks best lineman, who is enthusiastic about the changes Badaluco has implemented saying, ” Transitioning to a new coach has been great. Our team is really coming together. We are very disciplined and have a good bond, so I expect great things from us this year because we have been working our hardest to get better everyday.
Joining Cano on the RedHawks athletic and robust line will be senior JC Casorla and junior Leo Bedolla.
While outscoring its opponents 289-218 in 2019, Colusa had difficulty closing out teams and as a result saw three games slip away in the fourth quarter by a combined total of eight points, so there is a premium being put on defense.
This season however the RedHawks will unveil their 4-3 defense under the direction of assistant coach Curtis Perkins, and are turning to senior Juan Arreguin whose performance has earned him what Badaluco describes as a ” captain-type role” from the ” Mike” linebacker spot to lead the way.
Arreguin likes what he sees in the defense thus far and expressed confidence that it would answer the call this season.
” What I like about the defense this year is how Coach Perkins pushes us. I expect us to play hard in games, basically playing like there is no tomorrow.
Safeties McCarty and Price should make defensive contributions as well by securing the secondary.
The last time Colusa took the field was November 15, 2019, when they suffered a gut-wrenching loss to Mt. Shasta in the first round of the playoffs and this season will have the chance to avenge that defeat in its home opener on August 27.
They then head north the following week to face former Colusa head coach Matt Jesses Trinity squad in Weaverville before squaring off against a Willows team that has struggled as of late in Week 3.
While the early part of the schedule could play to Colusas advantage in terms of wins, things get much tougher when Sacramento Valley League play commences on September 24 against Pierce and then continues through a gauntlet of games against Winters, Paradise, Live Oak and East Nicolaus that will surely put the RedHawks to the test. –