One of the areas often overlooked is the special teams. This is not the case at Santa Margarita as the coaches have prepared for this aspect of the game as much as the offense or defense. During April the staff hired Bill Williams, a special team consultant to numerous college and professional teams, to put on a clinic for the coaches. Williams also put on a clinic for the team during the Summer. The coaching responsibilities will vary from the previous years. The offensive staff will coordinate the kickoff return, PAT and field goal teams, while the defensive staff will head the punt, punt return, kickoff and PAT/FG block teams. The dedication to improve on what has been very successful in the past is a testament to the staff to get an extra edge.
The one thing the coaches don’t have to worry about is the PAT. Senior Ryan Korinke has not missed on in his two years as a kicker for SMCHS. He currently has made 43 in a row over the 1992-93 seasons. this consistency is a plus in tight games. Korinke will be pushed by junior Jeff Zaist, who has proved to have a strong leg on field goals. Zaist was an excellent kicker on the JV team and was a threat from 40+ yards. Sophomore Mike Thompson also kicks and may have those responsibilities on the JV team.
One of the surprises during the Spring and Summer was the ability of Brian Griffin to punt the ball. He has shown consistency to punt the ball 40 yards or more with excellent hang time. Griffin was a backup last year but is clearly the starter. Matt Nickels and Ryan Korinke should prove to be adequate backups. If Griffin can keep up the present pace, he will be valuable in a tight defensive battle.
Korinke and Zaist will handle the kickoff duties and the coaches are looking for someone to put the ball in the endzone. Korinke has improved his strength in the Summer as the Eagle staff allotted time daily to special team individuals before practice.
No one has stepped up to solidify a starting job as a long or short snapper. Among the candidates are seniors Josh Beckett and Matt Lucas, and juniors Scott Sieverts and Brian Berg. Their roles are vital to the success of a PAT or field goal as well as the punt.
Never in the history of Eagle football has a punt been returned by a deep back for a touchdown. Tim Sulick returned a tipped punt for a score in 1992 but the return was only 7 yards. Hopefully Griffin, Garrigan or Newman can change that record. Nickels, Clark and Crowder could also see action. The kickoff returners include Griffin, Garrigan, Newman and Gribbin. The last kickoff returned for a score was Kevin Duffy against Tustin in 1992.