Former Super Bowl Champion CJ Anderson Ready To Re-Energize Monte Vista Football; PLUS Serra’s “Missile” Ready For Relaunch •
This is the sixteenth of 20 installments to our Return To Fall Series — a daily component to our 2021 NorCal Football Preview coverage.
Midway through a highly productive NFL career, C.J. Anderson caught the coaching bug.
“I was the running back who wanted to know everything. O-line blocking, o-line calls, receiver routes, quarterback reads, this is how I learned it,” Anderson said. “When I got with Peyton (Manning), that just expanded it. That cerebral side of me has always been there. I got really interested during my time in the league in the way we prepare, the way we do things.”
Fast forward to 2021, and after a season as a volunteer coach at his alma mater Cal, Anderson had designs on serving as the offensive coordinator at his high school alma mater, Jesse Bethel High in Vallejo. But plans sometimes change.
With a little more than two months until the start of fall practice, Anderson got a call from Monte Vista athletic director Andy Popper about the Danville school’s vacant head coaching spot.
Just like that, Anderson’s head coaching career was underway.
A Super Bowl champion and Pro Bowler with the Denver Broncos, Anderson brings a wealth of knowledge from both the professional and collegiate ranks to the table as he takes the helm of his first high school program.
He takes over at a school that ranks consistently among the heavyweights of the North Coast Section. Spring football wasn’t kind to the Mustangs though, because for a school that often features several multi-sport standouts, Anderson said he’s been told that many student-athletes were forced to choose just one for the spring because of the COVID-compacted schedule. That played a big part in an 0-6 season, a campaign in which four of Monte Vista’s losses came by a touchdown or less and led to a change at the top.
With a shortened offseason to work with his new team, Anderson’s primary focus early on centered on establishing “relentlessness and toughness.” Senior quarterback Dyllan Devitt is back in the fold to lead the offense after averaging 224 passing yards per game in the spring. The team’s second-leading receiver, three-star TE Jack Endries, is also back for his final season.
Those might be a few of the more recognizable names, but in Anderson’s experience, he knows that if he wants to take Monte Vista back to the top, he’s going to need more than just a few standouts.
“We’re not going to just focus on the kids that are going to play at the next level. We’re going to develop everybody because everybody has a role in helping you win,” Anderson said. “Having that family and unity quality has been great for us throughout the summer and so far in practice.”
Monte Vista opens the season Friday, Aug. 27, at Antioch. The game will be streamed at NorCalSportsTv.com.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Mahasin’s Launch Party Encore
Hassan Mahasin goes by the self-proclaimed nickname, “Missil3.” And if the 2021 spring season was his launch party, then opposing defenses are likely wincing at the thought of a sequel.
The Serra-San Mateo all-purpose back earned a landslide of postseason honors in the wake of the Padres’ five-game spring. Those included CalHiSports.com’s State Running Back of the Year, Bay Area News Group’s Player of the Year and SportStars’ Bay Area Player of the Year.
His breakout half-season included 745 yards of total offense and 10 touchdowns to lead a Padres team that finished 5-0.
“His instinct is to get into the end zone every time he touches the ball,” Serra coach Patrick Walsh said in SportStars’ 2021 Football Preview feature on the Padres. “We’re fortunate to have him for his last year here at Serra.”
Mahasin holds a total of 10 scholarship offers, according to 247sports.com. Arizona State and Colorado are the two Pac-12 schools currently in the mix. Boise State, San Jose State and San Diego State are also among his suitors.
Expect Mahasin to be utilized in a variety of different ways for Serra. At an Aug. 14 practice he was working mostly out of the slot receiver position. He will also be a home run threat in the return game as well.
Serra and Mahasin will certainly be tested early. The Padres will open their season at Pittsburg on Aug. 27 in a battle of the No. 3 and 4 teams in the SportStars NorCal Top 20 Rankings.