By Bonta Hill
The past three years for Washington High School have been solid, including two Turkey Day appearances, along with last season’s AAA regular season championship.
However, with the success, the past three seasons have ended with disappointment in the playoffs, as the Eagles have seen their championship aspirations dashed at the hands of their longtime rivals at Lincoln in each season.
“Lincoln has been our nemesis,” said fourth-year head coach Karl Finley. “The kids are aware of that, but they’re not talking about it too much.”
After finishing 7-3 overall and 5-1 in league play to tie eventual AAA champion Galileo for the regular season championship, while also taking the annual “Bell Game” from Lincoln, Finley believes this is his strongest team yet.
Seniors Kevin Liu and Anson Jiang lead an offensive line that returns all five starters and senior middle linebacker LeVander Moore, in his third season on varsity, anchors the Eagles defense.
In all, the Eagles return nine players on defense, and seven on offense, including the explosive backfield combination of Galen Hall and Jeremy Jetton. Finley also expects big things out of fullback Calvin Lee.
“Last year we were a young team and we have a lot of continuity from last season,” Finley said. “We were unsure how we were going to do and we were surprised on how we did with such a young team.”
Moore believes his team has enough to replace four key players off of last year’s squad, including outgoing quarterback Brendan Gleason, who will be replaced by junior Aram Gevandian.
“Last year’s team was something special. We were like a family and we worked so hard to accomplish what we did last year,” Moore said. “With the experience we have back, all we have to do is get the young guys up to speed. We can do some special things and finally get that Turkey Day.”
The primary focus this offseason has been on weight training and conditioning.
For the first time in the Finley era, the Eagles have had consistent accessibility to the weight room. Due to construction at the school, trying to lift weights was a struggle at times in the past.
“It helps us focus on weight training, because the last few years we were strong in the beginning, but we started to get weaker towards the end of the year,” said Lee. “Hopefully it can pay off for us at the end of games.”
The Eagles are also set to get a new turf field, yet, there isn’t much excitement or buzz from the players about it.
“The kids I’ve had in the past might have been jazzed up about the new field, but this group doesn’t say much about it,” Finley said. “Their focus is just on working hard and getting better everyday.”
Something could be different about this flock of Eagles, as they seem to be more of a blue-collar team, as opposed to the brash and cocky bunch that have walked thru the halls in years past.
Finley likes it that way and feels good about where this team can go this season.
“For the most part, the core is back, and they’ve won a league championship,” Finley said. “If we stay healthy, with the experience we have, we can get to where we need [to be].”
2010 Schedule (AAA games in bold)
Sat. 9/4 – @ Vanden (Fairfield), TBA (Scrimmage)
Sat. 9/11 – @ El Camino (South San Francisco), 2 p.m.
Fri. 9/17 – @ Oakland, 7 p.m.
Sat. 9/25 – @ Irvington (Fremont), 7 p.m.
Fri. 10/1 – @ Lincoln, 3 p.m. (Bell Game)
Fri. 10/8 – vs. Lowell @ Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Thur. 10/14 – vs. Mission @ Kezar Stadium, 2:30 p.m.
Sat. 10/23 – vs. Burton @ SOTA, 2:30 p.m.
Sat. 10/30 – @ Balboa, 2:30 p.m.
Fri. 11/5 – vs. Marshall @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
Thurs. 11/11 – vs. Galileo @ SOTA, 2 p.m.