Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The football teams at Mountain View and St. Francis highs enter the season with hopes to continue their success – both made the playoffs last year – while Los Altos High aspires to significantly improve on a dismal 2011 campaign.
All three squads lost a slew of starters to graduation, including their quarterbacks, so other players will not only have to step in but step up for them to reach these goals.
Here’s how each team shapes up for the 2012 season, slated to kick off Friday for St. Francis and a week later for Los Altos and Mountain View.
Los Altos High
League: Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division.
Coach: Rudy Alcala, first year.
Last year: 1-9 overall; 0-7 in SCVAL De Anza Division (last place).
Key returnees: TE/LB Conrad Rogers; OL/LB Paul Hernandez; QB Christopher “Lamby” Lanman; WR/DB Victor Galvez; WR/DB Michael Andris; OL/DL Daniel Morris and David Davis.
Top newcomers: QB Steven Lee; OL Dakota Kratzer; OL/LB Josh Williams; RB/DB Mac Kliman,; RBs Dimitri Trembois, Alan Encial and Daniel Kahan.
Outlook: Overmatched in the SCVAL’s upper division last year, the Eagles should feel right at home in the lower portion of the league, in which small rosters are the norm. Even with only 32 players, Los Altos should be able to survive – if not thrive – in the El Camino, a division it won two years ago. Alcala, the junior-varsity coach the last six seasons, said his young team’s strength lies in the trenches. Returning starter Hernandez anchors an offensive line that includes Morris, Kratzer, Williams and Davis. Morris will start on the defensive line as well. Questions remain at the skill positions, however. The coach said the Eagles “have two good candidates” to start at quarterback in juniors Lanman and Lee, and it appears the competition for the job will carry into the season. Lanman has the stronger arm and varsity experience (playing in a few games last year), while Lee is more mobile. Alcala doesn’t expect Lee to play in the opener, though, due to a nagging wrist injury. Four players are in the running at running back, all of them new to varsity. Together, they “should make for a strong group,” the coach said, noting that Kliman brings speed, Trembois strength. Encial experience and Kahan “a lot of heart.” The receiving corps took a major hit with the injury to senior starter Anthony Otey – who Alcala said tore his ACL over the summer – leaving Los Altos with little experience. The coach likes the potential of speedy seniors Galvez and Andris, who – combined with senior tight end Rogers – “could be the best trio we have had for years.” Rogers will be counted on at linebacker, too, teaming with Hernandez and Williams to form a solid unit. The defensive backs are unproven, Alcala said, as Otey was the lone returning starter among a group featuring Kliman, Galvez and Andris. Expect the Eagles to be tested early – their four non-league games to start the season are against teams that made the playoffs a year ago. But that’s exactly what Alcala said he wants “to see where we stand.”
Opener: 3:15 p.m. Sept. 7, hosting Santa Clara.
Coach’s quote: “We’re going to turn things around. We’re going to get better and stronger and become a team that can compete.”
Mountain View High
League: SCVAL De Anza Division.
Coach: Toure Carter, second year.
Last year: 6-4-1 overall; 4-2-1 in division (third place); lost to Milpitas in Central Coast Section Division I quarterfinals.
Key returnees: RB/LB Marcus Jones; WR/DB Anthony Avery; OL/DL James Tilton, Sam Parker and Alex Gutierrez; WR/DB Anthony Avery; LBs Devin and Chad Schaumberg; S/FB Francisco Mires.
Top newcomers: QB Will Fischer-Colbrie; TE/DE Frank Kapp.
Outlook: The Spartans were the surprise of the De Anza last season, placing as high as third for only the second time in 15 years. A repeat feat will be challenging for a team with a reduced roster (from 39 to 33 players) and several sizable shoes to fill, including those of all-leaguers Mike Butler (quarterback), Ken Hampel (tight end) and Malik Letatau (offensive line). Jones is back, however, and expected to lead the team in rushing for the third consecutive year while also starting on defense. The senior has “emerged as a real leader,” Carter said, and is drawing interest from Division I colleges. Fischer-Colbrie takes over at quarterback, and the coach likes what he’s seen from the 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior. Fischer-Colbrie not only has a strong arm and plenty of poise, Carter said, but he’s a hard worker who took part in six football camps over the summer. Look for Avery, coming off a solid sophomore season, to become one of Fischer-Colbrie’s favorite targets. Carter said the receiver is “looking awesome.” The coach also expects big things from Kapp – a 6-4, 205-pound sophomore and the son of former NFL quarterback and Cal coach Joe Kapp – at tight end and defensive end. The offensive line has experience and size with returnees Tilton, Gutierrez and Parker, all seniors. Linebackers Chad and Devin Schaumberg, twin seniors, and senior safety Mires are key cogs on defense. Mountain View’s CCS hopes hinge on staying healthy – something Carter called “crucial” with so few players – and getting a few wins before embarking on an arduous league slate that includes six teams coming off playoff seasons.
Opener: 3:15 p.m. Sept. 7, hosting Sacred Heart Prep.
Coach’s quote: “We’re not as stacked as last year, but we have a great nucleus of guys with three years of varsity experience. The mentality is there and the focus is there – now we’ve got to put the pieces together.”
St. Francis High
League: West Catholic Athletic League.
Coach: Nick Navarro, third year.
Last year: 6-6 overall; 4-3 in league (fourth place); lost to Palo Alto in the CCS Open Division semifinals.
Key returnees: TE/DE Shane Artim; S Domenic Andrighetto; LB Grant Tinker; WRs Charlie Clarke and Austin Woodard; QB Mike Lauck; OL Brody Nakama and Eric Gonzalez; DE Eddie Wadors.
Top newcomers: RB Landon Baty; DL John Powers; RB/WR/DB Alex Andrighetto; NT Jack Casarez.
Outlook: Although graduation gutted the Lancers – nine all-leaguers, including first-team selections Durell Crooks (halfback) Braden Bishop (receiver) and Colin Johnson (quarterback), took the cap-and-gown route in May – they aren’t alone. Every team in the WCAL lost several standouts. While Navarro said those seniors will be missed, he expects his young players to “rise to the challenge” of replacing them and “pick up where they left off.” Lauck, Johnson’s backup last year, is now under center. Navarro said the senior “has done a phenomenal job,” and praised his competitiveness, leadership and knowledge of the offense. Look for Lauck to spread the ball around, throwing to the likes of returning tight end Artim and fellow seniors Woodard and Clarke at receiver. Baty, a junior promoted to varsity late last season, is expected to carry the load at running back. He has “great explosion and vision,” according to Navarro, and is in line to start at safety as well. Seniors Nakama and Gonzalez, honorable-mention all-leaguers last year, solidify the offensive line. The defense features returning starters Domenic Andrighetto at safety, Tinker at linebacker and Wadors and Artim at defensive end. All are seniors. Navarro has also liked what he’s seen from three juniors new to varsity – defensive linemen Powers and Casarez, and defensive back Alex Andrighetto (Domenic’s brother), who will also see action at receiver and running back. With so many first-year starters on his team and the others in the WCAL, the coach said he has “no idea” who will win the league title. It’s a safe bet, though, that most of the squads will make the playoffs; seven of the eight qualified in 2011. And St. Francis faces two more teams coming off playoff years, Oak Grove and Palma, to start the season. If the Lancers make CCS, they will have earned their spot.
Opener: 7:30 p.m. Friday, hosting Oak Grove.
Coach’s quote: “The kids are working hard. We’re pushing them pretty good and they’re responding well. Everyone’s excited to get the season going.”