The football teams at Los Altos and Mountain View highs enter the season with a lot more in common than being part of the same school district.
Both squads are coming off stellar seasons – advancing to the semifinals of their respective playoff divisions – but now find themselves without several key players and the head coaches who led them there.
Here’s how the teams shape up as they prepare to kick off the 2022 campaign this week.
Los Altos High
Mike Garrity embarks on his first season as a head coach, replacing Dave DeGeronimo, who left for Palo Alto after guiding the Eagles to an 8-4 record and their first playoff win in 15 years.
Garrity inherits a 33-man team with only seven returning starters as it transitions into what should be a more competitive El Camino Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, now part of the Peninsula Athletic League. Along with Cupertino and Gunn, which it shared the El Camino title with last year, Los Altos must contend with newcomers Santa Clara, The King’s Academy and Sequoia.
The loss of quarterback Jimmy Flynn, a first-team all-leaguer as a sophomore who moved out of state, leaves the Eagles with a big hole to fill. Juniors Noah Beedon and Drew Rafferty competed throughout the summer for the job. After Friday’s scrimmage at Fremont, Garrity named Beedon the starter, though he said Rafferty will rotate in. Beedon was the starting QB on the frosh-soph team last season; Rafferty, whom Garrity called “a great football player,” will start at safety and possibly receiver.
Expect Zach Fagin to be both quarterbacks’ favorite target. The senior speedster is coming off an all-league season and will line up at receiver and running back.
“I think he’ll have a great season,” Garrity said of Fagin, who will also start at defensive back. “We’ll use him in a lot of ways.”
Senior Tom Schumann also will be used as a receiver and running back, in addition to playing in the defensive backfield.
The team’s leading rusher may change from game to game, as Garrity said senior Ben Bacchi and juniors Andrew Campos and Fernando Oseguera will get plenty of carries as well.
The offensive line is in flux; all-leaguers John O’Sullivan and Fady Youssef graduated, but Garrity is optimistic about the unit.
“They’re shaping up,” he said. “We don’t have a ton of big guys or a lot of depth, but they’re working hard and competing.”
Garrity noted that center Rafael Arce, a returning starter, “is doing a heck of a job.” The senior also starts on the defensive line.
The coach called senior linebacker Lance Kluge “the heart of the defense.”
As for expectations, Garrity said he doesn’t like to look too far ahead but rather focus on the next opponent. However, he likes Los Altos’ chances of competing in the revamped El Camino.
“I keep hearing that this will be a ‘rebuilding year,’” he said, “but I think we have the kids to make some noise.”
The Eagles host Independence 7 p.m. Friday.
Mountain View High
The coach who engineered the Spartans’ turnaround in recent years, Shelley Smith, retired after taking the team to the Central Coast Section semifinals for the first time in 19 years. Enter Tim Lugo, who guided Saratoga to the playoffs six times in his 14 years as coach.
And unlike at Saratoga, Lugo has plenty of players to work with. Mountain View has 44 players, a double-digit increase from 2021.
“This has been fun,” said Lugo, whose Saratoga team shrank to 16 players by the end of last season. “At practice, you want to have bodies available for depth and to scrimmage each other.”
Mountain View returns 17 players (nine starters) from last year’s 6-6 team. Junior Kevin Conway is at quarterback, replacing graduated all-leaguer Jackson Steffen. Conway, the backup last year, is having to learn Lugo’s pass-heavy offense that will feature multiple formations.
“We’ve thrown a lot at him, and he’s really picking things up,” the coach said. “We’re in good hands with him.”
Lugo also raved about the receivers Conway has at his disposal: returnee Drake Wilkening, fellow senior Din Alaee in the slot and junior Alexandro Silver, up from the frosh-soph.
Returning running back Dillon Daniels “is primed for a big year,” Lugo said, as he expects the junior to gain a lot of yards on the ground and as a receiver out of the backfield.
Mountain View “is four deep at tight end,” according to the coach, with seniors Andre Guimaraes and Wes Dunkle leading the group.
Lugo said the biggest question mark is the offensive line, which is young and returns only senior center Luis Roque, also a starter on the defensive front.
“His experience is huge for us,” the coach said.
Middle linebacker Alex Bocchieri, a junior, “has been unblockable in practice,” Lugo noted, and is part of a formidable unit that also features Guimaraes and sophomore Viliami Sekona.
The SCVAL’s move to the PAL barely changed the De Anza Division the Spartans play in, which figures to be formidable, and Lugo said his squad has a shot of finishing in the top four.
The Spartans visit King’s Academy 7 p.m. Thursday.