By Sam Adams
Led by a nucleus of veteran players, the Wolverine football team enters the new season following last yearâs playoff run after months of summer training. The Wolverines have advanced to the CIF tournament for two straight years, losing in the second round last year to Oak Park.
The teamâs first challenge is this Friday at home when they play Franklin.
With the luxury of a core of seasoned varsity starters including quarterback Sean Berman â09, running back Terhon OâNeal â09 and wide receiver Corey Vann â09, the offense can afford to cultivate the younger players on the team.
“Thereâs a number of guys that really paid the price of being veteran players and showing other players by example,” head coach Vic Eumont said.
The number of returning starters allowed the team to refine their game.
“We were able to implement a deeper playbook this year on offense because so many of us already knew the old plays,” returning starting center Jake Lasker â10 said.
Key returners on the defensive side include Kimo Thorpe â09, Joe Cadiff â10, Jeremy Cairl â09 and Jordan Tolson â10.
The Franklin game is critical to the Wolverinesâ playoff ambitions, Eumont said. Franklin, like the Wolverines, finished with a record of 8-4 and lost in the quarterfinals of the CIF tournament. They also play in the city division in which the caliber of teams played is higher, Eumont said. He went so far as to compare the team to that of Carson in prior years, including the team that was upset by the Wolverines two years ago.
“[Franklin] will be bigger, faster, stronger â hopefully we will be Wolverines and be incredibly ferocious,” Eumont said.
After the Franklin game, there will be another defining game for the season against Lynwood at home. The two games will, in the coachâs mind, serve to set the tempo for the entire season.
The summer practicing schedule was retooled this year. Traditionally, Eumont said, the team practiced for six weeks, followed by a three-week break. The team then returned for “hell week,” during which the players slept in the gym and had multiple practices each day.
This year, though, the team practiced for only five weeks before the break, but added a week of lifting to get back into shape before the training camp officially began. This new schedule, Eumont said, allowed the players to get back in shape before the intensity of the week.
“We were much better prepared, and in much better condition to start so I think our kids have learned a lot more in this camp than in the past,” Eumont said.
Berman, the returning quarterback, spent the summer before his senior season attending numerous quarterback camps.
“When he wasnât playing volleyball then he was playing at several different college quarterback camps around the country, all without missing any of our practice,” Eumont said. “He is set to have a great year.”
On the coaching staff, there are a number of new hires, as well as coaches filling new capacities. Dylan Washausen was hired as the Wolverinesâ receivers coach from Burbank Burroughs, a school that the Wolverines have played against in past years. Former eighth grade head coach Fernando Castro was also promoted to the varsity team.
In addition to the returning starters that are expected to provide stability and experience to the team, there are a number of players new to the varsity squad that are expected to make an impact. Alistair Belton â09, a first-year football player and lacrosse expatriate, has impressed the coaching staff as a lineman. Tony Pothoulokis â09 is moving up from JV this year, and that the team needs for him to step up this year, Eumont said.