By Bonta Hill
The last stop on the preseason football preview train brings us to a school that accomplished a feat that no other Academic Athletic Association school can boast about — win a championship in football, baseball and boys’ basketball in the same season.
The feat wouldn’t have been possible by Washington without success on the gridiron last fall.
The Eagles won the first leg of the triple crown with a 36-6 romp against Balboa in the ninth Turkey Day championship in school history, capping a 10-2 season.
“[Winning a championship] last year was a great season for us and a great win for us and we had a lot of good kids,” said Washington head coach Karl Finley.
However, for the Eagles to repeat last season’s success, they’ll have to do it with a lot of fresh faces.
“Our numbers are lean this year, and we don’t have too many guys coming back from last year,” Finley said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who haven’t played football before high school, but they’re motivated and are real good kids. We’re just trying to teach them the game of football.”
With the inexperience factor and pressure of repeating as champions, Washington has already been dealt some difficult cards this offseason.
Washington is faced with missing last year’s starting quarterback, Aram Gevandian, who could be out for the first two months of the season due to an injury to his thumb.
Junior Simon Ma will take over for Gevandian as the Eagles’ starting quarterback heading into their season opener Sept. 10 against El Camino.
Throw in the fact that the Eagles didn’t have access to the school’s weight room this summer, and it will be even more of an uphill climb to replicate the championship formula from a year ago.
“Aram broke his thumb and we’re still waiting on the verdict with him. It’s a huge hit we have to absorb,” Finley said. “We’re catching up on the weight training as well. [Renovating] the weight room is for the betterment of the school, but it hurt us and now we’re trying to catch up with the weight training.”
Senior Lajarie Mabrey, who enjoyed his Thanksgiving last year with a game-high 172 yards rushing and a touchdown, will be the featured back in the Eagles’ single-wing attack. He’ll be leaned on, along with Jaime McHenry, to fill the shoes of departed running backs Jeremy Jetton and Galen Hall.
Mabrey knows he’ll be counted on for leadership and has no problem taking over that role. So far he’s liked the progress of the additions from junior varsity.
“Being a leader on this team, the young guys are always watching what we seniors do,” Mabrey said. “The best example I can set is to work hard at all times.”
Senior Joshua Kidd, who’s entering his third year on varsity, will be responsible for leading an offensive line that will have to replace Kevin Liu, Jonathon Zhang and Anson Jiang.
Senior Abraham Rivera will be starting at middle linebacker for the Eagles, and even though his team is thin across the board, he believes they’ve got the talent to be special again.
“We got some great athletes coming back,” Rivera said. “We’re going to come out and do our best.”
2011 Schedule – AAA games in bold
Week 0: Bye
Week 1: Sat. 9/10 – vs. El Camino (South San Francisco), 2 p.m.
Week 2: Sat. 9/17 – vs. Oakland, 2 p.m.
Week 3: Sat. 9/24 – vs. Irvington (Fremont), 2 p.m.
Week 4: Fri. 9/30 – vs. Lowell @ Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Week 5: Sat. 10/8 – vs. Marshall @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
Week 6: Fri. 10/14 – vs. Lincoln, 3 p.m.
Week 7: Sat. 10/22 – @ Burton, 2 p.m.
Week 8: Fri. 10/28 – vs. Mission, 3 p.m.
Week 9: Fri. 11/4 – @ Galileo, 3 p.m.
Week 10: Sat. 11/11 – vs. Balboa, 2 p.m.