Those who pitied Trevor Pruitt for taking the job of head football coach at Los Altos High may soon envy him.
A week into practice, the Eagles – who suffered through a winless 2012 season – looked much better than their new coach could have ever imagined.
“I thought it was going to be a rebuilding process, but it’s turning out to be the exact opposite,” Pruitt said. “I think we can compete for the El Camino championship.”
The leap from worst to first in the SCVAL El Camino Division may appear daunting, but Pruitt is confident Los Altos has what it takes to compete with the likes of Homestead, Monta Vista and Lynbrook for the crown.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am about this team,” said Pruitt, hired in February. “We’re tall, big, strong and fast.”
The former Mountain View High offensive coordinator expects the Eagles to hold the advantage in every game when it comes to measurable traits.
Los Altos’ size, in particular, will be difficult to match; the roster includes a slew of 6-footers, many of them weighing more than 200 pounds. And there may not be a bigger player in the league than Sami Fakalolo, a 6-foot-3, 360-pound junior.
Pruitt said Fakalolo “will anchor our defensive line.”
The coach also has high hopes for another nose tackle – 6-3, 275-pound freshman Tonga Keti.
“He’s learning and we’re giving him a chance (to play varsity),” Pruitt said of Keti, who wears size 17 cleats. “He had never played football before, but he has rugby experience and is aggressive.”
Opposing teams that get by Los Altos’ stout defensive line on runs up the middle will likely encounter another imposing figure in Ofisa Pati, a 5-11, 275-pound middle linebacker.
“He’s quick for his size,” Pruitt said of Pati, who will play alongside fellow senior Josh Williams. “He’s a big-time defender.”
The coach is just as excited about outside linebackers Duke Myers and Max Wilber. Although neither senior played on the team last year, Pruitt said they have the athleticism (both are standout baseball players) to contribute right away on both sides of the ball.
The coach described Myers as a “hybrid” who will take snaps at running back, receiver, tight end and even quarterback.
“He can do it all,” Pruitt said of Myers, who transferred from St. Francis High last year. “He hit the ground running.”
Wilber is also a transfer student; he played for Pruitt as a freshman at Mountain View High three years ago. The linebacker/tight end “is a key guy,” the coach said. “He leads by example.”
Quarterback Lambie Lanman is one of the few returning starters on offense. The studious senior is “working hard” to learn Pruitt’s offense, according to the coach.
“He texts and calls me all night long,” Pruitt said with a chuckle. “He won’t leave me alone.”
The coach added that Lanman – who also excels in baseball – is drawing interest from Ivy League colleges.
“I don’t think there’s a better quarterback in the league,” Pruitt said. “He’s a team leader, and nobody works harder.”
Look for speedy receiver Victor Ruiz to be among Lanman’s favorite targets.
“He’s an amazing kid who works hard,” Pruitt said of the senior, set to start at safety on defense. “He’s going to be an explosive player for us this year.”
Lanman shouldn’t have trouble finding two other players in the mix at receiver – 6-4 Patrick McColl and 6-3 Matt Schoner.
“Patrick is a great kid and he’s very intimidating,” Pruitt said. “Max is one of our fastest kids.”
Schoner is the team’s kicker as well and is vying to start on defense at cornerback.
Patrick Vargas “is going to carry a lot of the load” at running back, Pruitt said. The 5-9, 165-pound sophomore “is fast and has really good vision,” he added.
Sean Lanoza, a junior, is at fullback.
If bigger is better, the offensive line should be solid with the likes of Pati, Phillip Almeda ( 5-11, 240 pounds) and Henrik Berner (6-4, 260 pounds), a transfer from Norway.
While Los Altos has more size than a year ago, the increase in the number of players may prove even more important to the team’s success. The Eagles began last season with a 34-man roster and were down to only 18 healthy players a month later, forcing them to forfeit a game.
Los Altos is up to 40 players this year.
“We have a great turnout so far,” Pruitt said. “I’m really proud of the kids.”
The Eagles are scheduled to scrimmage against host Carlmont 7 p.m. Friday and open the season 1 p.m. Sept. 7 against visiting Burton of San Francisco.
2013 preseason football: Los Altos High School - Photos by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier