By Ben Enos
Thursday, August 20th, 2009 at 12:05 pm in East Bay Football.
Back to East Contra Costa today to discuss one of last year’s offensive powerhouses, Freedom.
Maybe no team lost more offensive firepower than Freedom. With names like Runner, Rodriguez and Gupton gone, what will the Falcons’ offense look like in 2009?
There’s really no getting around the fact that Freedom lost almost the entire cast from a show that was good enough to star on Broadway last season. Who exactly is gone? Try QB Ryan Rodriguez, RB Cameron Gupton, RB Lex Reyes, WR Roman Runner, WR Cody Peebles, TE Deon James, and linemen Michael Carbone, Cody Juarez, Jose Gonzales, and Jeremy Parsons.
I’m not a rocket scientist, but losing 10 guys who played significant minutes doesn’t sound like a recipe for future success.
But here’s what you’re forgetting if you’ve already written off the Falcons. They have one of the best coaching staffs around, led by head coach Kevin Hartwig. The program is really solid, which means the kids coming almost always have a chance to succeed.
And, the cupboard isn’t necessarily altogether empty. RB/KR Timazray Shepherd returns to carry the load in the backfield, and OL/DL Daniel Marcel should provide leadership in the trenches.
The real question is who will replace Rodriguez, who was certainly one of the best QBs in the area last year. Right now, it looks like junior Jordan Willis will be the man under center, and I would guess that you can expect some growing pains in a fast-paced, complex offense. He won’t have proven targets like Runner, Peebles and James, but look for the Falcons to utilize Shepherd in the passing game in much the same way they used Gupton.
Defensively, there are also holes to fill. Zach Ternes, Justin Baffico and Jess Hendricks made a heckuva linebacking unit last year and they’re all gone. Peebles and Gupton were very good defensive backs that will need to be replaced. Shepherd will step in for Gupton at one corner, and Marcel will be the leader up front. The Falcons did have a tendency to allow a few too many points against good teams though (41 to College Park, 42 to Pittsburg, 48 to Foothill), so some new blood might be a good thing.
All in all, Freedom should once again be in the discussion for the BVAL title. On paper, Pittsburg is probably still the favorite in my mind but Deer Valley, Freedom and an improved Heritage squad could be right on the Pirates’ heels. The strength of the league is never conducive to an easy rebuild, but Freedom could be in a good position to make a quick one.