When Agoura hosts Calabasas this Friday night, Chargers’ head coach Charlie Wegher knows one spot on the Coyotes’ defense that he won’t expect to be able to exploit.
“He’s excellent,” Wegher said of Calabasas’ senior linebacker Jordan Pierce. “He sticks out immediately when you watch the film. No. 10 – he’s definitely their guy.
“He runs around, he’s physical, he can cover receivers down the field and he can blitz. He makes things happen, so we’re definitely going to have to know where his is.”
Christian Pierce, Jordan’s father, decided to utilize his son pretty much exclusively on defense the past two seasons for the Coyotes.
Although last week, against Oaks Christian, Pierce got a rare chance at running back for a few plays, something he grew up doing, he has been utilized primarily as a linebacker.
Jordan said he missed playing offense but also knows that he has a better chance of maximizing his impact for the Coyotes by concentrating on defense.
“Running back was my first love before defense,” he said. “I love being the back whether it’s blocking or running the ball. My whole life I usually played offense until high school.
“But just playing defense the past couple of years kind of gave me more energy when I am on the field.”
Pierce lives in Woodland Hills so an obvious reason to attend Calabasas High was the chance to play for his father, who was an assistant coach Jordan’s first two years there.
But he also came, he said, “for the education.”
As one might expect, Pierce is treated slightly different–at least in his eyes–than his teammates by the head coach.
“It’s been hard,” he said. “He’s a lot tougher on me than he is on the rest of them. But it makes me better, so it’s okay.”
Pierce hasn’t decided yet where he will attend college and play football next year, but four top choices that have made overtures are: UC Davis, Portland State, Cal Poly and the University of Pennsylvania.
At 5-foot-10, 205, there is the possibility that he will have to switch positions from linebacker to the secondary.
“A long as I’m on the field it makes no difference to me,” Pierce said.
Besides, the biggest change might not be a position switch. Rather, it might be showing up for practice knowing his father isn’t the coach.
“It will definitely be a little different,” Pierce said. “I think I’ll adjust pretty well. But it’s going to be weird not seeing him on the sidelines.”
Pierce led the Marmonte League in tackles in 2011 and is close to the top again this year (he was averaging 13.0 through the first seven games), but Calabasas has only two wins in his two varsity seasons. At times, he admits, it has been disappointing.
However, playing in the Marmonte League also has its benefits.
“It’s been frustrating,” he said. “I would have loved to win a lot more games than we have, but playing in this tough league has made me a better player. It has taught me to get over a lot more adversity than I would have if I played in an easier league.
“The frustrations have brought a lot of advantages, too.”
Pierce said as a leader for the Coyotes, it is his responsibility to stay positive for his teammates in order “to try to keep their heads up and keep them always looking forward.”
It seems to have worked.
“We didn’t quit the past two weeks against Thousand Oaks and Oaks Christian, which really made me proud as a captain and as a teammate,” he said.
That was especially true, he said, against the Lions last Friday night in a 47-21 loss.
“We showed a lot more fight than in the past,” Pierce said. “Despite the fact that we lost we did do a good job against a top-notch team.”
Pierce said he and his teammates have to play with the same intensity Friday against inter-district rival Agoura.
“It has to be a disciplined week,” he said. “We need to get all our stuff straight before Friday and be focused on the game.”
The game may be for fourth place, not first, in the Marmonte League West Division. But it is also for bragging rights around the two neighboring towns and amongst a lot of players who know each other.
“We’ve been excited about most of our games all season, but Agoura is always something special,” said Pierce. “We’ve been talking about it for a while. I mean, they scheduled us for their homecoming, so we’re very motivated to play.
"We're excited to play and to hopefully come out with a win."