John Anderson has been around the Mt. Carmel High football program long enough that he’s seen just about everything — except a league championship.
Anderson came to the school in 1998 as a freshman position coach. He has been the varsity head coach the past three years. He’s held seemingly every other coaching position in between.
During that time, Mt. Carmel has never won more than six regular-season games. The low point came during an 0-10 campaign in 2001.
This explains Anderson’s message this week to the Sundevils players: “Let’s not overlook this opportunity.”
Mt. Carmel plays host to Del Norte at 7 p.m. Friday in a Valley League game that concludes the regular season. The Sundevils (6-3, 3-0) have an opportunity to win their first outright league title since 1994 with a victory. A loss would mean sharing the league crown with Del Norte (4-5, 2-1) and San Marcos (6-3, 3-1).
“I don’t want to share it,” said Mt. Carmel senior Kory Fox. “I’m greedy.”
It is a sentiment shared by his Sundevils teammates. Fox displayed a more generous side when it came to doing something for the team.
The Sundevils’ starting quarterback the past three years, Fox was asked to step aside three weeks ago to allow sophomore Lucas Johnson to get behind center. Three straight victories — over Orange Glen, Valley Center and San Marcos — followed.
“We changed up our offense a little bit, put different personnel in there and it seems to be working out for us pretty well,” said Fox.
Mt. Carmel switched this season from a triple option to a more pro style offense.
“We decided to go away from the triple because of the talent of this kid, Lucas Johnson,” said Anderson. “He’s the future at that position.”
Anderson envisioned Johnson taking over at QB by Week 2 or Week 3 of the season. It didn’t happen until Week 7.
“I wasn’t playing to my potential at the beginning of the year,” said Johnson. “Now I’m coming into it a little better. My mental focus has improved. I’m taking everything more seriously. I’m taking every practice like it’s my last practice and doing what I know I can do.”
Better late than next season. Johnson has completed 29 of 57 passing for 636 yards and three TDs while rushing for 354 yards and 3 TDs.
“We want a more balanced approach,” said Anderson. “When we ran the triple option we weren’t throwing the ball very much. We weren’t practicing throwing the ball very much. When we get behind, it’s tough to come back. The more people saw us on film, the more they were able to adjust to us.”
Mt. Carmel can still run the ball.
Senior Davion Fuller (901 yards, 10 TDs) leads a ground game that has collected 2,229 yards this season.
But there is an added element to the offense. The talented Fox — who has accounted for 1,000 yards and seven TDs passing, rushing and receiving — brings a versatility to the field that few players possess. With Johnson now throwing to him, Fox has seven catches for 219 yards (31 yards/catch).
The pieces finally are in place for the Sundevils to dictate the action.
“Running the option we were trying to do things predicated on what the defense is doing,” said Anderson. “This is more, ‘We’re going to do our thing, try to stop us.’ ”
Mt. Carmel has been waiting a couple of decades for the opportunity.