By Bonta Hill
After missing out on the playoffs in the last three seasons, Balboa High School has lived by a certain motto this offseason.
The process; getting better everyday and being productive.
“We’re in the weight room all day and that’s really been our motto all year,” said Balboa head coach Alvaro Carvajal. “The guys have approached it with a purpose and the results are starting to show.”
On paper, last season turned out to be bleak for the Buccaneers. Finishing with a 4-6 overall record and 3-3 record in the AAA, Balboa finished tied for the fourth in the league, but missed out on the final playoff spot due to its loss to fellow fourth-place finisher Lincoln.
Carvajal, in his second season at the helm for Balboa, will look to earn the Bucs’ first playoff berth since 2006.
“Last year was a huge culture change with how we did things. The biggest thing was the kids believing in how they good they were,” Carvajal said. “When the kids finally started believing, the results were good. It was just a little too late.”
The Bucs started their preparation for the 2010 season in early January, which at first was not to the delight of the team.
That tune has changed over time.
“In the beginning, everybody was like ‘Ah man, football season is over’ and we were tired and lazy,” said third-year varsity player and team captain, senior Christian Pulusian. “But as the months came on, we started to get used to it.”
Pulusian will be a key offensive threat for the Bucs, lining up at wideout and running back, but he may have the most impact on the defensive side of the ball. As a linebacker in 2009, Pulusian led Balboa in tackles.
Carvajal expects big things out of Pulusian, as well as senior quarterback Kerati Apilakvanichakit and junior David Lantow, who will play receiver this season on varsity, after quarterbacking the junior varsity team last season.
Apilakvanichakit has taken his leadership to another level as he gathers the wide receivers on the weekend to play a little pitch and catch.
“On weekends, I get the receivers together and we work on chemistry,” Apilakvanichakit said. “You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don’t have chemistry, what’s the point?”
This offseason also saw 12 players participating in the UC Berkeley football camp.
“We did really well [at the camp],” Carvajal said. “We played against the recruit team and did really well [overall]. The kids really started to believe in the system.”
Pulusian also saw the benefit in playing against top-tier talent.
“Playing with guys who are Division I players, we did pretty good,” Pulusian said. “That actually gave us the mentality that if we did well against them, we can dominate in the AAA.”
One player Balboa will miss greatly is last season’s Receiver of the Year in the AAA, Emil Hebert, who will be attending City College of San Francisco this fall.
“He was a game-changer and brought everything to the table,” Carvajal said. “[He was a] real good competitor and did what we asked of him. I can’t say anything bad about him and I wish him the best.”
Balboa is excited about a new field being installed this summer, as the days wind down to the the Bucs’ home opener against Analy of Sabastopol on Sept. 18.
Balboa also has had a successful fundraiser program which has enabled the team to get new equipment, new blocking sleds and a new quarterback net.
“We’ve got a great booster club here and you can feel the spirit around Balboa now,” Lantow said. “We’re excited to get on that new field and start a new era of Balboa football.”
The Bucs aren’t looking too far ahead, however, as they must remind themselves daily of “the process.”
“It’s just about getting better day by day, play by play, game by game,” said Pulusian.
2010 Schedule (AAA games in bold)
Sat. 8/28 – @ Riordan, noon (Scrimmage)
Sat. 9/4 – vs. Kennedy (Fremont) @ Washington (Fremont), Noon
Fri. 9/10 – @ Oakland Tech, 7 p.m.
Sat. 9/18 – vs Analy (Sabastopol), 2 p.m.
Fri. 9/24 – @ Sequoia (Redwood City), 7 p.m.
Sat. 10/2 – vs. Marshall, 2:30 p.m.
Fri. 10/8 – @ Galileo, 3 p.m.
Sat. 10/15 – vs. Lincoln. 2:30 p.m.
Fri. 10/22 – vs. Lowell, 3 p.m.
Sat. 10/30 – vs. Washington, 2:30 p.m.
Sat. 11/6 – vs. Mission @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
Fri. 11/12 – @ Burton, 2 p.m.