By Dante Quazzo
The 2010 season was not kind to the Lowell High School football team. In fact, it was one of the worst in the school’s recent history.
The Cardinals finished just 1-8 (1-6 in Academic Athletic Association play), with their only win coming in the final game of the season, and were outscored 341-143.
Despite last season’s struggles, Lowell head coach Danny Chan sees reason for optimism heading into the 2011 campaign.
“Our personnel is going to be different, as is the quality of our personnel,” Chan said. “Toby [Kuang] is going to be better at linebacker, and we’ll have a bolstered offensive line with [Hiromi Fujita].”
Chan’s players share his optimism for the upcoming season. Combine that enthusiasm with several returning players, and Lowell looks to come out much stronger than last season.
“We have a lot of experience coming back,” said Kuang, a senior running back and linebacker. “We’ve been putting a lot of time into the weight room, and it can only go up from here.”
The Cardinals are known for their run-heavy, double-wing offensive system, with up to four players in the backfield on a given down. While Lowell is still dedicated to the run, they’ll be adding some more twists come this season.
“It will be an interesting year this year, because we’re going to do more misdirection,” Chan said. “We’ve been a smash-mouth [team] for the last 10 years, and we’re going to switch it up just a little bit.”
Ball control and time of possession is a key part in the Lowell game plan, and they hope to wear down the opposing team’s defense and keep its offense off the field. A big part of controlling possession for the Cardinals running game is its offensive line, anchored this year by Fujita, a junior.
“I think we’re going to have one of the fastest lines we’ve had in a long time,” Chan said. “Hopefully they stay healthy. We’ve had problems with injuries, but we’ll take care of that this year.”
Fujita struggled with injuries last season, and is looking forward to contributing and being a leader on this season’s squad.
“I felt like I was a leader last year too, but when I got injured it was hard for me to still talk the same way to the team,” Fujita said. “Being on the sideline, it was just really different.”
Lowell’s defensive struggles last year were well documented, as the Cardinals gave up many big plays en route to allowing almost 38 points per game.
The Cardinals will need to prevent the big plays that haunted them last year, and Chan is well aware that tackles need to be made by his defense.
“We’re a bend-but-don’t-break kind of defense,” Chan said. “We’ll have a three-year starter back in Will Zolan [at linebacker]. Our run force is great, which we haven’t had in a couple years.”
Lowell will open its season at School of the Arts against Bret Harte of Angels Camp on Aug. 27, and will be looking forward to the Battle of the Birds opening AAA play when it faces off against Washington at Kezar Stadium on Sept. 30.
2011 Schedule – AAA games in bold
Week -1: Sat. 8/27 – vs. Bret Harte (Angels Camp) @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
Week 0: Bye
Week 1: Bye
Week 2: Sat. 9/17 – @ Redwood (Larkspur), 2 p.m.
Week 3: Bye
Week 4: Fri. 9/30 – vs. Washington @ Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Week 5: Fri. 10/7 – @ Burton, 3 p.m.
Week 6: Thurs. 10/13 – vs. Galileo @ SOTA, 3 p.m.
Week 7: Thurs. 10/20 – vs. Balboa @ SOTA, 3 p.m.
Week 8: Fri. 10/28 – @ Lincoln, 3 p.m.
Week 9: Sat. 11/5 – vs. Marshall @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
Week 10: Fri. 11/11 – vs. Mission @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
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