COSTA MESA — As 50 teenagers began to warm up for their final day of spring ball at Costa Mesa High, an 85-year-old man arrived. Ed Baume wore the football team's colors, green polo, black khakis and white shoes.
Baume is all too familiar with the field the youngsters prepared on Friday evening. His two sons, Steve and Gary, played on it in the 1970s, and his grandsons, Dan and Sean, in the 1990s.
"Same [condition]," Baume said of the field's dead grass. "I bet you some of this grass was there [when my sons played]."
Baume comes out to spring ball every year. His wife, Noreen, doesn't understand why.
"She just says, 'You're 85 years old,'" Baume said with a smile.
Football, Baume said, keeps him young.
With the help of one of his sons, Baume still keeps stats for the Mustangs during games. Steve spots and describes the action to Baume. Then Baume writes everything down.
There was no need for Baume to take out his pen and paper for Friday's Green and White scrimmage. The teams weren't keeping score.
"It doesn't really matter who won," said Oronde Crenshaw, a standout middle linebacker and running back.
Crenshaw was able to play in the game between the varsity and junior varsity teams. The junior planned to leave on Thursday and attend a football camp at Missouri, but Crenshaw said the trip fell through because of financial reasons.
"I really wanted to play in this game, anyway," said Crenshaw, who was thrilled about the turnout during the four weeks of spring ball at Costa Mesa.
The numbers are up from last year. Coach Wally Grant said 15 more players came out for the spring. The increase will no doubt help with depth and keeping players fresh.
Grant plans to have players start on one side of the ball and platoon on the other side. One player who won't get much of a breather is Crenshaw, who earned Daily Pilot Newport-Mesa Dream Team Defensive Player of the Year, third-team All-Orange County and first-team All-Orange Coast League honors this past season.
Crenshaw starts and excels on offense and defense. Defense is where schools like Missouri, Utah, Boise State, San Diego State, UCLA, Fresno State, Arizona and Arizona State are interested in the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Crenshaw, said Grant. Crenshaw produced his second straight 100-plus tackle season, while also starting in the backfield, rushing for 1,391 yards and an area-best 17 touchdowns.
While the season opener is 84 days away, Crenshaw has historic expectations for the Mustangs.
"Win [the] CIF [Southern Section Southern Division] final," said Crenshaw, well aware that Costa Mesa has never won a section title in the program's history. "Everybody on the team believes that's going to happen. As long as we just keep working as hard as we are, hopefully we can [back up] these big words that I've been putting out there."
The Mustangs missed the playoffs last season, Grant's second in charge. They finished 4-6, 2-3 in league, fourth place.
Crenshaw believes this upcoming season will be Costa Mesa's best. He said the team will have a quarterback in Oliver Ferris than can throw the ball, keeping defenses honest.
The passing game will also feature a big target in Quinton Bell, a 6-4, 200-pound wide receiver. As a junior, Bell said Utah, San Diego State, BYU and Nevada are interested in him.
"If we can stay healthy, athletically we're better than we've ever been, outside of having Mario [Smith two seasons ago]," said Grant, adding that Smith, Costa Mesa's record-breaking tailback, has left the Southwestern Oklahoma State University program and will play at Golden West College next season. "But Oronde's about as close as I'm going to get to Mario.
"Offensively, it's going to come down to our [incoming seniors like guard Marco Zalpa and tight end Joseph Quiroz] up front. The line is going to make or break us, and then Oronde Crenshaw and Quinton Bell, those two kids are [college] talent. It's my job to make sure that those kids get their touches. As the big guys up front go, those two guys will have either really good nights or not so good nights."
Crenshaw and Bell enjoyed their night after the scrimmage.
The family members and fans of the Mustangs joined the team for a barbecue. They ate hamburgers and hot dogs, while handing out gifts to players who are performing well in the classroom.
By this time, the oldest man at the scrimmage made his exit. Baume had to get back to his wife before it got dark.