Are you ready for some football? This is the first of 10 daily posts we will make in which we will answer questions involving the upcoming East Bay high school football season. We head to the West Alameda County Conference for the first question:How good will defending WACC-Foothill champ San Leandro be this season?
Answer: Very good. Perhaps even better than last season.
Last year, the Pirates dropped four of their first five games before racing through their WACC-Foothill schedule with an undefeated record. San Leandro’s season ended with a North Coast Section Division I playoff first-round loss to San Ramon Valley.
“We have a lot of pieces, a lot of quality guys coming back. We will make a big push for league once again” said San Leandro coach Brad Bowers about his team this year. “That is always our goal, to win league and to get in the (NCS Division I) championship game against De La Salle. That’s always where we want our goals to be.”
Leading the way, of course, will be UCLA-bound Stephen Johnson. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior is being looked at as a slot receiver/defensive back, said Johnson when he announced his college decision on July 8. But the returning WACC-Foothill Offensive Player of the Year will return as quarterback for the Pirates, as well as a defensive back. Johnson, who threw for 939 yards and rushed for 728 last season with 20 total offensive touchdowns, played parts of his freshman and sophomore seasons as San Leandro’s signal-caller before becoming the full-time starter last year.
“Your best athlete, you want to have the ball in his hands as much as possible,” said Bowers about playing Johnson at quarterback. “He is a quality quarterback for what we are doing and what we are asking of him. It’s a no-brainer to put the ball in his hands as much as possible.”
Although San Leandro has only four returning starters on offense and two on defense, many of its reserves saw a lot of action last season.