The Wilcox Chargers football squad enters the 2017 season coming off back-to-back seasons with a 4-2 league record. Entering his third season as Head Coach, Paul Rosa now has the task of piecing together a significantly younger roster. But despite losing a number of key seniors from last season including Richard Herrera, Isaiah Chavez and Hesekaia Tali Finefeuiaki, hopes remain high for another strong season. With last year’s junior varsity squad going undefeated (10-0), the thought process is that these younger players can help push varsity to another level.
“Out of the 22 starting spots, I think only six of them are seniors. [They’re the] youngest team since I’ve been here,” remarked Coach Rosa after Tuesday’s practice. “Everything our JV squad does is the same as varsity. I know every player in our program and I think we’re ready to get things going.”
“We have some younger guys who stepped up their game last year,” commented senior offensive and defensive tackle Manny Sandoval. “They went 10-0 last year, so we’re pretty excited to have those type of linemen coming up to varsity.”
In their run-dominant scheme, the Chargers are going to have to rely heavily on the legs of senior starting quarterback David Hernandez. The third-year varsity player was part of a three-headed monster rushing attack last season alongside Herrera and Chavez. However, with the latter two graduating Hernandez will have to carry a heavier load, particularly early on in the season.
“[David] is gonna need to have some big games for us,” noted coach Rosa. “He’s our best player and is going to have to come through for us with his leadership and experience. He started all eleven games last year, that will hopefully make a big difference.”
“We have a lot of underclassmen, so I need to take on more of a leadership role, not just on the field, but also off the field,” admitted Hernandez. “Got to make sure we’re on time [getting] out to the field and stretching properly—the little things.”
Both Hernandez and Sandoval were more than complimentary of Rosa’s practice sessions leading up to the season. While they admit their coach can be hard on them at times, the consensus between the two was that the head coach has a knack for knowing when to be bad cop and when to be good cop.
“If we slack off we will have to hear him yell pretty good,” joked Sandoval. “But overall he’s a great coach. I’m glad to have him for my last year.”
“Our practices are fast-paced and tough, you can’t lose your edge. If you don’t go hard, the next person is going to go hard and hit you in the mouth, it’s that kind of football at Wilcox,” added Hernandez. “Coach Rosa is certainly energetic, tough on us at times, but you know it comes from a good place. He genuinely cares about his players and is just trying to make sure we play the right way—to play Wilcox football.”
The Chargers will kick off their season when they host Monterey Trail on Friday, August 25.