Cougar football players prepare and experience excitement for the season

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Photo: Ian Blair

It is that time of year again. Our football team is preparing for a much anticipated season with very high aspirations.

Our school has a history of dominance in football. Coming off of the very successful past seasons on JV and Varsity, including a CCS appearance, it appears as if this tradition is returning. This year’s football team is a group of “brothers” that are building to continue this success. When asked how he felt about the team, Senior Robbie Carling answered, “I feel pretty confident, this team is looking pretty strong  We are coming off a good season last year and we are looking to build off of that.” The team has been dedicated to working hard to achieve the goal since the start of summer. The coaches were able to see the hard work and chemistry of the boys from the very start, Coach Matt McMillan reiterates this message by saying “I feel we got forty, forty-one guys who are working really hard and have sacrificed from each other for the common good that is that team.”

At the beginning of every athletic season, there is an optimistic outlook from the team. This season falls under the category of being a large chapter of a story that has been a part of our school for years.  This winning tradition is very likely to be continued once again. The Varsity football captains, Nick Salibi, Jake Hampton, Michael La Capria, Logan Levitre, and Brighton Hart feel the same way. As Captain Nick Salibi put it, “I feel like this team has the ability to go even further into CCS, but all that matters is that if we put in the work. If you put in the work, you go far.”

As it has been the past couple years, the strength of the league has been very strong. This year in particular is no exception. The strength of the league is strong and the football team is readily preparing for a really trying year. It is the players and coaches that want to prepare for the year and for league by playing much stronger schools in this preseason. Coach McMillan put it in these words, “The biggest thing is getting through that preseason healthy, it is a different set of teams. Last year we were able to impose our will on some teams that we played during preseason. We are playing some teams that would give Aptos a game.  It is just simply business.”

It seems that everyone is buying in this year, though it takes a program to create exceptional teams for years to come. Last years’ JV team had an incredible season as well, finishing at 9-1, and they are looking to continue this success. Sophomore Captain, Trent Walker said, “I think we have a solid chance at matching, if not doing better than last year’s team. There are a lot of new freshman, but they are learning fast and they are getting it done.”

This positive outlook is present throughout the team. It begins with the leadership of the coaches and how they handle the team. Returning head coach Stephen Johnson said: “ Looking into this season, I am feeling pretty optimistic, we are looking to fine-tune a lot right now. I think that we are really getting things down early this year. So I feel that we have a pretty good chance at winning league this year. As long as the boys are buying in and focused on that goal of winning each game one at a time, this could be the year where these boys get a league championship at the JV level.”

Everyone is excited to get the season started. Football season brings with it renewed rivalries and the competitive spirit of years’ past. These rivalries often make for the best games of the year. The games where, no matter what the venue, you mark it on your calendar in anticipation. For captain Ben Kanter, that is the game against Scotts Valley, “I’m looking forward to playing Scotts Valley at their house. We know last year’s game was really interesting. The rivalry really came alive in last year’s game, so playing them is going to be a lot of fun this year.”

It really takes a combined effort to achieve a common goal in any sport. The hard work and determination to win is present in this year’s football program. They are working for the same thing, all it will take is a week-by-week attitude, approaching each team with the same determination they have been expressing since the summer workouts. Could this be the year where SLV football returns to glory at the top? The upcoming season will tell.

By Ian Blair

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