The Santa Clara Bruins are one of a handful of schools in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League that have had to go up and down between the high level De Anza Division and the lower level El Camino League in recent seasons.
The current SCVAL bylaws (for all sports) have one of the top teams in the El Camino each season move up to the De Anza the following year, while one of the bottom teams in the De Anza drops down to the El Camino. Oftentimes a team like the Bruins will win the El Camino one season, which they did in 2018 by going 5-1, and then struggle when moving up the next season. Santa Clara went just 1-5 in the De Anza in 2019, their only win coming against Fremont, a school who also bounces back and forth between divisions on a regular basis.
While one might assume this means the Bruins are in for another tough season since they remain in the De Anza Division, don’t let their 1-4 record from the 2020 COVID-shortened campaign fool you. For several reasons, one shouldn’t be shocked if the Bruins end up having a .500 or better season this fall. That one win last season came over Milpitas, a De Anza Division mainstay, a school that in the recent past has made the division a four-team juggernaut with Wilcox, Los Gatos and Palo Alto.
The road for the Bruins to a .500 record won’t be easy, but there is an avenue to get there. If Santa Clara can win three out of their four non-league games against Galileo, Overfelt, Del Mar and Los Altos to start the season, they will set themselves up for a chance. Division games against Milpitas and newly promoted Homestead will be the best chances Santa Clara has at finding wins four and five.
From watching the Bruins practice, they will surely be a competitive team. Long-time Bruins’ Assistant Coach Andrew Calderon has taken over as Head Coach this season, and there remains plenty of continuity within the staff and players. Senior quarterback Aiden Rangle is once again working with offensive coordinator Justin Malae. The two worked together during Rangle’s time on JV.
“I’m excited, a lot of energy out here at practice and I got my old offensive coordinator back,” said Rangle after practice on Monday. “That will be really fun to play for him again.”
Not only will Rangle be playing his senior year with a familiar offensive coordinator, but he will also be playing behind a bulldozing offensive line. All five of Santa Clara’s starting offensive lineman look like they have the size to play at the next level.
“Our line is looking pretty good this year, probably better than the last couple years, I feel pretty good back there, behind them,” added Rangle.
“We got a pretty solid O-line, we’re all pretty big,” chuckled Bruins’ right tackle Amos Talalele, who is listed at 6’5” 320. “I know we can move people around.”
The Bruins’ lineman will attempt to start moving defenders around and creating space for their skill players when they open the season Friday, Aug. 27 at home against Galileo.