By Charlie Peters
While making decisions about who should fill the vacant 19 starting positions during this offseason, Lowell football head coach Danny Chan will be looking at just about everything. Everything, that is, except statistics.
“I don’t even know many yards each guy gets,” Chan admitted. “We don’t really have stats, because we’re so team-oriented.”
Chan isn’t ignorant of the numbers. Rather, he believes that any focus on individual statistics has the potential to hamper team success. Following a 4-5 season (4-2 in league play) that placed Lowell third in AAA, the Cardinals are buying into the idea that Chan’s team-first approach is the key to returning to the top of the division.
“Football is a team sport,” quarterback Jordan Lee said. “It doesn’t matter how many yards an individual gets, as long as the team gets to the end zone.”
Perhaps the biggest key to the 2010 season will be how quickly the young players adjust to the varsity level, as the Cardinals return only three starters.
“When [the young players] don’t have experience, they’re fearful,” Chan said. “If we can get through that fear with some our guys, we could really turn our team into something special.”
Most coaches shy away from playing young, inexperienced players, but Chan doesn’t have much of a choice in 2010.
“Usually coaches would say, ‘This is a rebuilding year’ since we have a young team. But we can’t say it’s a rebuilding year, because that would tell the seniors that we’re giving up,” Chan says. “We can’t do that at Lowell.”
Chan knows the history of Lowell football as well as anyone. The seventh-year head coach anchored the Cardinals’ offensive and defensive lines from 1989-1991, squads with a foundation predicated upon a swarming defense and a run-heavy double wing back offense. Nearly twenty years later, not much has changed.
“We’re a gang tackling team,” Chan said of the 2010 Lowell defense, which is usually among the league leaders in points allowed. The defense this year will feature fresh faces as only linebackers Kensie Lee and Will Zolan return from last season.
Similarly, the offense will be made up of ten new starters, as tight end Matthew Lee is the only one with experience as a varsity starter. The players lining up on offense may change, but the run-dominant offensive play calling will not.
“We’ve been successful with the double wing offense, and we’ve done it for the last ten years,” said Chan. “It’s more team oriented than just throwing it up and having a guy catch it.”
When the Cardinals do throw the ball, Lee will be the one in command, in his first year under center.
“He brings a pretty good arm,” Chan said of his senior quarterback. “We’re going to try to use [his arm] a little bit this year.”
But don’t expect the Cardinals to re-write the playbook.
“Last year we showed a little spread-out formation, but I don’t guarantee we’ll go with that [this season],” Chan said.
Instead, Lowell will rely on its double wing backfield made up of Richard Quang and Yuriy Torchiyan. Both seniors are relishing the opportunity to carry the ball for a team dedicated to establishing the run.
“Whether the [other] team knows what we’re going to do or not, it doesn’t matter,” Torchiyan said. “You can try to stop [the run], but we’re just going do what we do.”
Lowell is aware that 2009 AAA champion Galileo and Washington have reloaded for another run at a league title. As a result, the Cardinals made an early commitment to their 2010 season by showing impressive attendance at voluntary offseason workouts.
“Our main thing is to get better than you were yesterday,” Torchiyan said. “I tell the other seniors, ‘This is our last year. You can’t give up.’”
2010 Schedule (AAA games in bold)
Sat. 8/28 – @ St. Mary’s (Albany), Noon (Scrimmage)
Sat. 9/11 – vs. Paradise, 2 p.m.
Fri. 9/17 – vs. Redwood (Larkspur), 3:30 p.m.
Thurs 9/30 – vs. Mission, 3 p.m.
Fri. 10/8 – vs. Washington @ Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Thur. 10/14 – @ Galileo, 3 p.m.
Fri. 10/22 – @ Balboa, 3 p.m.
Fri. 10/29 – vs. Marshall, 3 p.m.
Thur. 11/4 – vs. Burton, 2 p.m.
Fri. 11/12 – vs. Lincoln, 2 p.m.