With the graduation of fellow linebackers Hunter Corbitt and Brendan Pugh, Vista senior Garet Homer is the unequivocal leader of the Eagles’ defense this season.
The 5-9, 170-pound senior led the team in tackles a year ago with 107, including a team-high 52 solo tackles. Homer, an inside linebacker, takes over the play-calling this season and Vista coach Mike Struebing is confident in his ability to lead the defense.
“Garet moves as well as anyone and has a nose for the football,” Struebing said. “He was our leading tackler a year ago in our new defensive scheme and did a wonderful job. He’s tough to block, and makes us go on defense.
“He will be managing our defense and directing guys this year. He’s a heck of an athlete. I don’t know where we’d be without him. I really don’t.”
Homer will also see time at running back on offense. Like many Eagles, Homer will have responsibilities on both sides of the ball. Chad Wilson, a starting receiver, will start at cornerback on defense. Fellow receiver Mitchell Northcutt will start at safety. The other starters in the secondary will be Nik Goodwin at safety and Erik Johnson at corner. Showing his versatility, Goodwin was Vista’s junior varsity quarterback a year ago.
Ryan Tung, who was in on 44 tackles a year ago, will play in nickel situations.
Playing alongside Homer at linebacker will be Ethan Menezes. That’s all the players Struebing wanted to mention at the time of the interview.
“We’re not even close to clear at this point of who is starting where,” Struebing said the first week of practice. “With only 28 guys, we’ve got guys playing everywhere; it’s like a hodge podge right now.”
Despite not having many starters returning on defense, Struebing is confident in the group.
“I like us on both sides of the ball,” Struebing said. “We’re thin, and we’ve got a lot of guys playing both ways. We changed defensive schemes last year, so this will be year two in this defense. We’ve made a ton of growth, and I’m excited to see us play. More so than in the past, we have the ability to be dynamic on defense, both because we’re athletic and because of our scheme. We can put stress on teams and attack them in different ways.”