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Oceanside Sports

Jay Paris: Oceanside’s winning ride has been far from smooth

A pirate’s life isn’t for the faint of heart.

The same goes if tracking Oceanside High football.

That Oceanside (7-4) is practicing Thanksgiving week is a broken wishbone come true.

That it comes this season isn’t a holiday miracle, but close.

“We’re getting ready to play a game of consequence,’’ coach David Rodriguez said.

Friday’s CIF San Diego Section Div. I semifinal against visiting Point Loma (8-3) is on the Pirates’ conscience.

But Black Friday arrives only after a dark stretch.

Oceanside lost three straight October games, making this November more memorable.

The Pirates have a pulse despite roundhouses from Mission Hills, Torrey Pines and Carlsbad. A season which started with a new coach, promise and four wins in five games, was unraveling.

The Pirates are always the talk of the town, but a month ago, it wasn’t flattering.

“All of sudden people were writing us off,’’ Rodriguez said.

If the writing of, gasp, a losing season was on the wall, the Pirates weren’t reading it.

“Give credit to the kids and coaches,’’ Rodriguez said. “We looked each other in the eye and made a pact that we’re not going to give up.’’

Oceanside rose, but the dip crystallized to Rodriguez what football means locally.

“It’s one of the endearing, special things for our community,’’ he said. “It’s that rabid fan base that you hear about in west Texas or in smaller towns. It means to people more than maybe what we can recognize. It was real important that we had to live up to our end of the bargain.’’

That Oceanside’s wheels were wobbly under Rodriguez, the man replacing the iconic John Carroll, only made them squeaker.

“It’s been interesting,’’ said Rodriguez, a former assistant under Carroll.

“It was like taking over something that is so near and dear to your family and now there’s somebody new. It’s like you leave the house you grew up in and there is someone else living in it now.’’

Oceanside is in a familiar neighborhood, reaching its 22nd straight divisional semifinal.

“We know we took a journey that was a slightly different path,’’ Rodriguez said. “But the final destination is where we want to be.’’

That’s competing for CIF title No. 16 on Dec. 4 in a possible All-Oceanside matchup. El Camino faces Steele Canyon in the other semifinal.

The Pirates proved their mettle, surviving injuries along the offensive line and that three-game funk. Since, their resume shows wins over La Costa Canyon and El Camino to cap the Avocado League. Then there’s last week’s quarterfinal conquest of San Marcos.

“We are starting to peak, which sounds strange this late in the season,’’ Rodriguez said. “And it’s been fun with this group.

“There is a melancholy part of me knowing it’s coming to an end, whether I like it or not. It’ll either be with a big celebration or with us turning in the gear. But the players and coaches don’t want to turn in the gear.’’

Oceanside flipped a significant page this year, going from Carroll to Rodriguez. The season was equal parts angst and elation, as Rodriguez’s maiden voyage didn’t always present calm waters.

“Considering just the wild, almost unimaginable amount of success that had been created here, I’m sure everyone expected there to be a lull and we did hit a lull,’’ Rodriguez said. “But it made us stronger.

“It’s exciting to know we haven’t played our best game yet.’’

That Oceanside is in one to win one is impressive. But around town, the bar is set higher.

“We’re going to try to hang another banner,’’ Rodriguez said.

Ah, the life of a pirate.

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at jparis_sports.