Can 2009 become the new 2007?
In June, the West High football team graduated the winningest team in program history, a core of players who won a Tracy Raiders title as eighth-graders, lost out to Lincoln for a freshman San Joaquin Athletic Association title, and then proceeded to win back-to-back Tri-City Athletic League titles as juniors and seniors, going undefeated in league play in the process.
Many of those players were two-way starters for two years. The shoes they left — 18 pairs of them, all told, on both sides of the ball — will be hard to fill indeed, even by the seniors who played with them and the incoming TCAL-title winning sophomores.
Just how hard of a task that is will become more apparent tonight when the Wolf Pack scrimmage Hayward Area League opponent San Leandro.
“We’re not very good right now — we make a lot of mistakes, we don’t know our assignments,” West coach Steve Lopez said before practice Thursday. “One of our big things is our experience. I’m hoping we’re going to get a lot better as the games go on.”
Only four starters return. Hulking fullback Tyler Kenton is back, and two of the linemen who helped clear holes for him, Issac Wyant and John Gallagher, are back with him along with end Anthony Salsedo.
A quarterback controversy has been in the works all summer, with sophomore Junior London battling it out with senior Sergio Alvarez and junior Frankie Cabrera for the top spot.
It’s not even clear who will join Kenton in the backfield. Junior Sheldon Ligon was explosive for the sophomore Pack, but senior Stefan Washington is there, too.
All the linebackers and corners are new, meaning that the starters against Tracy on Sept. 7 might be decided tonight.