Struggling with the loss of many key players and an undersized squad, the varsity football team looks to rebuild and refocus as the season opens unsuccessfully. Led by first-year head coach Bill Waggoner and quarterback junior Tim Vanneman, the team faces what might prove to be an uphill battle in the competitive De Anza League.
“We are inexperienced this year; we’re a smaller team both physically and in numbers,” Waggoner said. “I think going into the season, there was a perception that we’re going to have a hard time competing at the De Anza level.”
Currently 0-5 with losses by large margins, the team has found little success thus far.
“We’re all very dedicated towards creating this program that will become more consistently competitive, and I know that will happen, it just takes time,” Waggoner said.
Players have mixed expectations regarding the rest of the season, yet most seem to agree that major success is out of the question.
“We expect to do the best we can and finish the season about at least Mountain and Saratoga,” senior Ezran Uygur said.
This lack of success is, according to players, mostly due to low numbers of returning members, yet the team has tried to progress forward instead of dwelling on lost players.
“We’re just got to move on; if we quit on one person we quit on the whole team,” Tim said. “I think our attitudes have been good towards that, because we’ve stuck together and haven’t fallen apart.”
Of the 31 on the roster, there are 2 sophomores, 16 juniors and 13 returning seniors. Key players include Tim, wide receivers juniors Scott Abramo and Roy Abousamra, tight end junior Kelly Clark, running back junior Mike Lopez and punter and safety senior Andrew Moore.
Many players who were expected to participate are not currently playing this year, whether due to other commitments, alternative sports or a lack of desire to participate. Senior Giuliano Santine found the fluctuating coaching staff too difficult to work with, contributing to his decision to not play this year and focus on wrestling.
“I’ve played football a long time, starting at Pop Warner when I was little,” Giuliano said. “I love to hit. But there’s new staff every year, and it’s frustrating when I work hard and get on top of a coach’s list and then they leave and I have to do it all over again.”
Sharing a similar interest in wrestling, senior Enrique Calderon chose to work out twice a day with other members of the wrestling team instead off participating in the football program.
“I would hope that there would be some pride at a school level, that kids would look at the opportunity to improve the team as something they would want to join in and help with,” Waggoner said. “There’s a very short window in someone’s life when they’re in high school, and these are memories that they just can’t get back. Football, for most people, ends at high school.”
The low number of participants means that many players have to start both ways, playing multiple positions on offense, defense, and special teams.
Despite having to work harder than the average team, according to Waggoner, the players currently participating are likely to gain a great deal of maturity and benefit vastly from the experience.
“They’re learning a great life lesson, which is to me one of the important things that comes out of playing football, and that is sometimes life doesn’t deal you what you want, sometimes life is difficult, and this is a microcosm of that for their future,” Waggoner said. “I think the important thing is to help them realize that they have to stick it through, work hard, and win, lose or draw we can only work with ourselves and get better, and these kids are dedicated to that.”