“We have a chance of having a really good season this year,” junior guard and linebacker Anto Bidanian said. “We’ve got a good passing game, good linebackers. We’ve got a tough schedule ahead of us, but I’m pretty confident in our team’s abilities.”
Kimball head coach Steve Anastasio said that Bidanian and wide receiver-middle linebacker Chris Sampino have emerged as team leaders in the second year of Kimball football.
Though every other team on the Jaguars’ schedule is made up of juniors and seniors, the Kimball team is all juniors and sophomores. That means they have to get fired up against squads in which most starters will have the advantage of at least one year of varsity play.
Sampino said the players are bracing for those first games, and he’s confident they’ll be ready.
“Some of the younger guys have moved up,” he said. “They hit real hard, and they’re playing at our level.”
He said the lessons of the gridiron are easier to understand now that he and other returning players have had a year to see what they need to accomplish, both on a play-to-play and on a game-to-game basis.
“The plays are coming together faster than they did before, because they’re easier to understand,” Sampino said. “It seems like the team is coming back together. We’re getting real close, because people on this team have been together two years or more.
“Everything is moving way faster than last year. We all know each other, and we’re doing it again, but this time we’re going harder.”
He added that his team’s enthusiasm is clear in the effort players put into their workouts.
“The weight-training program at Kimball has pushed everybody on this team. Our stamina is way higher. Everyone is running faster. Nobody gets tired. We can just keep going, going and going,” Sampino said.
Anastasio said the Jaguars will need that extra effort. He has a total of 24 players, so every player will get lots of game time.
“The kids have stepped up, and they know they’ll play all the time, so that gets them excited,” he said. “We’re trying to train them to have a real positive attitude and learn to control the things we can control.”
It will still take those first few games to know how his players will measure up, however.
“It’s hard to pick a strength, because we’re young, but we’ve got strength at the skill positions,” Anastasio said.
William Snell and Evan Owens are the starting tailbacks, he said, and Austin Griffith and Zack Johnson are the Jaguar quarterbacks. All are sophomores.
“They’ve proved their worth and will definitely play, and will play both sides of the ball,” he said.
Kimball opens at home today, Sept. 3, against Cosumnes Oaks, also a second-year program, but it has varsity experience in the Division IV Sierra Valley League.
“All those Elk Grove teams have been pretty good the past few years,” Anastasio said of Cosumnes Oaks and other teams in the Sierra Valley League.
Also looming are games against the other Tracy high schools.
Anastasio coached all of the players on the West varsity team when he was the Wolf Pack’s sophomore coach, and he knows Tracy aims to live up to its status as defending league champion.
Then, the Jaguars will get into their seven-game Valley Oak League season with a home game Sept. 24 against Manteca High.
“Those first three games are going to be grueling, and it doesn’t get any easier with the likes of Manteca, Sonora, Sierra, all previous playoff teams,” Anastasio said. “Our first six games will be real tough, but it will show us where we’re at.”
KHS 2010 football
Today, Sept. 3: Kimball vs. Cosumnes Oaks 5/7:15 p.m. (S/V)
Sept. 10: Kimball at West 5/7:15 p.m.
Sept. 17: Kimball at Tracy 5/7:15 p.m.
Sept. 24: Kimball vs. Manteca* 5/7:15 p.m.
Oct. 1: Kimball at Oakdale* 5/7:15 p.m.
Oct. 8: Kimball vs. Sonora* 5/7:15 p.m.
Oct. 15: Kimball vs. Sierra* ** 5/7:15 p.m.
Oct. 22: Kimball at East Union (Manteca)* 5/7:15 p.m.
Oct. 29: Kimball at Weston Ranch*, 5/7:15 p.m.
Nov. 5: Kimball vs. Lathrop* 5/7:15 p.m. * Valley Oak League game ** Spirit Week