High School Football Season Preview
The Encinal and Alameda high school football teams will kickoff their 2019 seasons this weekend. Both teams have high expections after stellar seasons last year.
Alameda High School (AHS) went 8-3 overall and 4-1 in the West Alameda County Conference (WACC) Shoreline League last season. They finished in a three-way tie for the division crown with Hayward High School and Tennyson High of Hayward.
Last year’s Hornets were a senior-laden team with many returning starters. This year’s team will rely on many first-year starters including senior Eric Jarecki who will replace last year’s starting quarterback Padraig Lane. Jarecki will try to match last year’s Hornets’ offense that averaged 37 points per game and scored more than 40 points in five games.
AHS will have a few returning starters. Dewayne DeGuzman and Kyle Arndt will be relied upon for offense and defense as dual-threat players. Wide receiver Mauricio Reyes is also expected to have a big impact this year.
Offensive line play will be a major factor to the success of the Hornets this season. The offensive line will be headed by senior offensive guard Gabriel Zuno. Fellow offensive lineman Diego Barajas is also a returning starter. Both players weigh more than 280 pounds.
The defense will consist of several newcomers. Tanner Mackenzie, Jason Nguyen and Nicolas Velasquez are all expected to play major roles on the Hornet defense this year.
The Hornets’ coach Paulo Sunia is entering his third year. The Hornets improved dramatically in year two after Sunia’s 4-7 inaugural season at AHS. The Hornets are looking for another dramatic leap this season to advance further in the North Coast Section (NCS) Div. III playoffs. Last year the Hornets were eliminated in the first round, 48-21, to Miramonte High of Orinda.
AHS begin the 2019 season against Shoreline League newcomer Oakland Military Institute (OMI), at Emery High on Aug. 24. This is OMI’s first full season as a varsity football team.
Encinal High School (EHS) went 8-4 overall and 3-2 in the more-advanced WACC Foothill League last season. The Jets finished third in the Foothill League behind NCS Div. II champions Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland, who went 5-0, and San Leandro High School who went 4-1.
Unlike the Hornets, the Jets are returning many starters from last year’s squad. Senior David Romero-rienholz returns for his second year as the starting quarterback for the Jets. Last year he threw for more than 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. He will be joined by plenty of weapons on offense.
Senior Teddy Oliver and junior Keirr Stewart will be key wide receiving targets for Romero-rienholz. Both players had more than 20 receptions last year. Seniors Archie Cole and Isaiah Smith will spearhead the Jets’ dual rushing attack on the ground. Cole rushed for 749 yards on 113 carries for a 6.3 yard-per-carry average. He also scored 10 touchdowns on the ground. Smith rushed for 323 yards on just 68 carries. He scored two rushing touchdowns.
The Jets are also returning key contributors on the defensive side of the ball including senior Jezaiah Naigulevu. The linebacker led the team last season with 133 total tackles including 11 tackles for loss and four sacks. Junior defensive back Vincent Nunley led the Jets last year with three interceptions. Stewart and Smith will also contribute in the defensive secondary.
Last year the Jets beat Petaluma High School, 49-0, in the first round of the NCS Div. III playoffs. They were eliminated by Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa, 56-21, in the quarterfinal. This year the Jets are a Div. V team and are expected to be in the mix for the NCS crown.
Keith Minor is in his second year as the head coach of the Jets. EHS’ 2019 season begins with a match up against Washington High of Fremont tonight. on the road. Last year the Jets beat the Huskies, 41-0, at Stargell Field.