By Zack Farmer
A number of issues plagued the Balboa football team last season.
Injuries, eligibility issues and cohesiveness all played a part.
All of them reared their ugly heads in the team’s Sept. 10 non-league game against Oakland Tech, when the Buccaneers lost a lead in the final minute to fall 26-21.
The loss spiraled the Buccaneers into a five-game losing streak, which included the first three league games, something the team will need to remedy if it hopes to make a return to the Academic Athletic Association playoffs.
“We just broke apart as a team and that affected our whole season, so we really need this good start this year,” said senior captain Kendrick Martin.
The Buccaneers’ most disappointing loss came in a 19-14 contest against Marshall. It was the Phoenix’s only league win of the season.
Balboa missed the playoffs by one game, trailing Lowell and Lincoln, who tied in third place at 4-3.
“We went through a lot of adversity with injuries and everything like that and still made it pretty close to the postseason,” said Balboa head coach Alvaro Carvajal. “I’m pretty sure the energy right now around the guys and the staff is we’re ready to get going and competing again.”
Balboa finished 3-4 in league only a year after playing in the AAA title game. It would have been Balboa’s first title since 1984.
“It’s very important because we don’t have a lot of seniors this year,” Martin said of getting off to a good start. “We’ve got a lot of people coming off JV who I believe can play and they have to believe in themselves.”
The Bucs rallied back toward the end of the season and won three of the final four league games, including a 14-8 win over Lowell.
“Versatility is going to be a big part of our formula from week to week,” said Carvajal, who is heading into his fourth year as head coach. “We’ve got a number of guys that are going to contribute with that part of our game plan.”
The Buccaneers saw the departure of all-AAA first-teamers Andres Arellanos and Luis Moran, but will return senior running back Antoine Crecy, who was an all-league second-team selection, along with junior running back/linebacker Jahlil Batiste.
They will also hope to get a boost from junior Prince Taouma and senior Daniel Pipkins, but Balboa needs to make sure its players are going to be on the field, and Carvajal placed an emphasis on getting work done in the classroom and in the weight room.
“Where we started right after the year was the classroom,” Carvajal said. “That was the first battle we had to win. We did well with that. The second thing was just really committing ourselves to the weight room, staying healthy.”
The Bucs will also look to their third quarterback in the past three years to run their version of the spread offense.
Arellano and fellow graduate David Lantow shared the quarterback duties a year ago, but struggled with the position. Now the Buccaneers will hand the reins over to junior Ozvaldo Orossco, who played on the junior varsity squad last season.
2012 Schedule – AAA games in bold
Week 0: Sat. 9/1 – vs. Kennedy (Fremont), 2 p.m.
Week 1: Sat. 9/8 – @ Terra Linda (San Rafael), 2 p.m.
Week 2: Sat. 9/15 – vs. Jefferson (Daly City), 2 p.m.
Week 3: (Bye)
Week 4: Fri. 9/28 – vs. Lincoln @ Kezar Stadium, 7 p.m.
Week 5: (Bye)
Week 6: Sat. 10/13 – vs. Washington, 2 p.m.
Week 7: Sat. 10/20 – vs. Lowell, 2 p.m.
Week 8: Sat. 10/27 – vs. Mission @ SOTA, 2 p.m.
Week 9: Sat. 11/3 – vs. Marshall, 2 p.m.
Week 10: Fri. 11/9 – @ Galileo, 2 p.m.