Features

Hollister Rebels football play scrimmage in Salinas on Aug. 20

The four local teams kick off their first official games Aug. 28.
Wyatt Finuf. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Wyatt Finuf. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Sebastian Marquez. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Sebastian Marquez. Photo by Robert Eliason.

Following their strong season finish last year, which saw two of their four teams competing in the regional superbowl, the Hollister Rebels look forward to hitting the field this weekend with their first jamboree scrimmage at Rabobank Stadium in Salinas.

Each team will compete against three other teams in the league, with each executing eight plays of offense and eight plays of defense. The event goes from 9 a.m. to around 5 p.m. and the public is invited.

According to Frank Casillas, co-president of the Hollister Rebels and assistant head coach of the Junior Peewee team, the jamboree comes as the teams finish their conditioning and become ready for live action football.

“It will get a lot of early season rust out of these kids,” said Casillas. “We will be teaching the plays that we will be using at the start of this season and just seeing how we stack up against the other teams in the Monterey Bay League.”

There are four Rebels teams this year. The Flag Football team comprises players from 4 to 6 years old. The Junior Peewee team, which won the national conference but lost their 2021 Superbowl game, has players ranging from 7 to 9 years old. The Peewee team, Oct.  to 12-year-olds, made it to the playoffs but lost in the middle rounds. The 13- to 14-year-old Midgets made it to the superbowl but lost their game.

“Competing in those superbowl games was a pretty big deal for us,” said Casillas, “but we have come back with a different look this year. I think we are actually a little bit better. Our rosters are all full, and there is not just one superstar standing out—it looks like we have balanced teams. We are really excited about our prospects this year.”

Wyatt Finuf, 8, a Junior Peewee, said he was very happy with how his team did last year. 

“We didn’t make it to the playoffs,” he said, “but at least we were the runners-up in second place. The team looks really good, with a lot of returning players, and we get to come out, have fun, make friends, and win games. For anyone thinking about playing, I say, ‘try it before you deny it.’” 

Sebastian Marquez, 11, saw his Rebel Peewee team defeated in the playoffs last year but said he is looking forward to improving his skills this season.

“I was amazed we made it that far last year,” he said. “But we did everything we were supposed to do, but sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. I want to get better at defense this year because I love my team, and I want us to do really good.” 

 

Jim McShane, head coach for Peewees, said he has a good team this year and is optimistic about their chances.

“We are building a good family atmosphere out here,” he said, “and we think we are going to be very competitive on the football field. We have some great returners from last year and some very good players who have come over from the other programs in town. We treat it as a marathon, and we’ll see the players improve every week. But we are looking forward to the scrimmage this weekend, and it will be great to see what we can do out there.”

After the jamboree, the Rebel teams will travel to Castroville to face the North County Bulldogs on Aug. 28 for their first league games. The season will wrap up with the superbowl on Nov. 20. 

 

“I am hoping people come out to support Hollister and take this chance to see the teams at the start of the season,” Casillas said. “And I hope they keep coming out, so they can see how these kids grow during the season. And remember, it is not just on the field; off the field, they will be growing to become part of our community.”

 

Money raised at the jamboree through merchandise and food sales will benefit the Monterey Bay League. The Hollister Rebels are also conducting a fundraiser selling DeBrito Candy Apples through their website. 

 

Scheduled games

  • Aug. 28: Away game against the Castroville North County Bulldogs
  • Sept. 11: Home game against the King City Mustangs
  • Sept. 18: Away game against the Gonzales Knights
  • Sept. 25: Home game against the Watsonville WildCatz
  • Oct. 2: Away game against the Salinas Toro Bulls
  • Oct. 9: Home game against the Salinas Colts/Broncos
  • Oct. 16: Home game against the Salinas Steinbeck Tigers/Cubs
  • Oct. 23: Away game against the Seaside Raiders
  • Oct. 29: Playoffs start
  • Nov. 20: Superbowl games and the end of the season

 

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Robert Eliason

I got my start as a photographer when my dad stuck a camera in my hand on the evening of my First Grade Open House. He taught me to observe, empathize, then finally compose the shot.  The editors at BenitoLink first approached me as a photographer. They were the ones to encourage me to write stories about things that interest me, turning me into a reporter as well.  BenitoLink is a great creative family that cares deeply about the San Benito community and I have been pleased to be a part of it.