The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

The Student News Site of Harvard-Westlake School

The Harvard-Westlake Chronicle

Football’s Quest for Destiny

Eze Baum

Intense heat scorched the face of safety Boaz Maydew ’24 on the floor of Hamilton Gym as he found himself sweating at 7 a.m. in neither the comfort of his bed nor home. The extreme soreness in his legs following the previous day’s squats made him want to go home even more,  but the thought was cut short when Football Program Head Aaron Huerta yelled loud and clear behind him as the team’s Football Overnight Camp resumed.

The team’s preseason training, a three-day period known as Football Overnight Camp, consists of morning and afternoon practices each day, as well as two nights of sleeping in Hamilton Gym. Maydew said although most of the time is used for training, spending time with teammates strengthens bonds among the team.

“[Football Overnight Camp] is an iconic football tradition because it isn’t just a soul-breaking, rigorous three days and two nights of hard work and dedication on the field,” Maydew said. “It’s also a time of bonding, which is essential to being a great team. Being together nonstop for 72 hours does wonders for team chemistry, and we are definitely a better team because of this tradition.”

In their previous season, the team ended with an overall record of 6-4 and a league record of 3-1, losing to Grand Terrace High School in the first round of the Division VIII California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS) playoffs Nov. 4. Wide Receiver Aidan Greenfield ’24 said the team hopes to come back stronger from last year’s playoff loss.

“The early exit from last year has been motivation for our entire team throughout spring and summer training,” Greenfield said. “My main goal is to do my part in putting the team in the best place come October to make a playoff run. We have the roster, but we just have to execute.”

Maydew said he has confidence in the team’s ability to win games and a championship this season.

“My ultimate goal this season is to win a [championship],” Maydew said. “We have a great group of players, and we have it in us to go far this year as long as we put in the work. We are a smart team, we can break down other teams’ offenses and defenses and we have to use that to our advantage. The plan is to just learn our playbook one week at a time and be ready to execute come gameday, which is going to bring us the most success.”

Maydew said he has accepted his new leadership role with the loss of last year’s seniors.

“Losing last year’s seniors had a big impact on us as a team, but that only gave us rising seniors more motivation to step up and be who they were,” Maydew said. “I consider myself the fire of the team, meaning I bring energy and competitiveness, and that’s what I really lean on as a senior leader. I have full faith in all my teammates that they can play ball at a high level and sometimes they just need a little push to get going.

Cornerback Elijah Williams ’25 said his personal goal is to earn his playing time as a rising junior with more opportunities to play at a higher level. 

“My goals this season are just to prove to myself and [Head Coach Aaron Huerta] that I’m worthy enough to play on a varsity level, and I plan on accomplishing this by focusing in practice and really taking in all the information that my coaches tell me,” Williams said.

Huerta said the team needs to approach the season one week at a time and stay healthy in order to make the playoffs.

“This year, our goal is to get better every week,” Huerta said. “We’ve got a mix of a young team and an old team, but we’ve got to focus one week at a time. Another thing is staying healthy, taking care of our bodies, because last year if we’re healthy in that game eleven, I think we make a run.”

Another goal of the Football Overnight Camp this year was choosing a starting quarterback. Although the season has begun, Aaryan Mehdi Williams ’27 and Jim Coleman ’26 are still competing for the starting spot. Head Coach Aaron Huerta said limiting turnovers, protecting the ball and being an active facilitator will make these quarterbacks successful.

“A big thing is not turning the ball over,” Huerta said. “Taking care of the ball is most important, but they also need to adjust to the defense. Another important thing is not trying to make the big play since we’ve got a lot of athletes on this team on the outside, like a great running-back duo. Let them do the work and be the facilitator. If they get the ball out quick, trust their reads and do the small things, then success will come for them.”

Greenfield said he will focus on his role as a receiver to make the job of quarterback easier. 

“I believe both of the quarterbacks have worked hard to put themselves and the team in a position to succeed,” Greenfield said. “My job isn’t to determine who is better, but to make it as easy and simple as possible for these young quarterbacks to make plays come game time. Whether that’s calming them down or making a big play, it’s on me to make up for the adjustment that any young player would feel in their first  varsity season.”  

Maydew said the two quarterbacks’ different styles will allow the team to have viable options depending on the situation at hand.

“I think both of them are easily capable of starting,” Maydew said. “They are just two different types of quarterbacks so I think it’s just going to be a matter of who fits into our game plan more week by week. [Coleman] has really showed up this past offseason and [Mehdi Williams] can throw a nice ball so the battle for starting quarterback won’t end anytime soon.”

Although Mehdi Williams received the first snap in the season opener, the starting quarterback for the season is still undecided. The team began their season with a 28-0 loss against Burroughs High School on Aug. 18. 

Camilo Arroyo ’26 said Mehdi Williams could improve his offensive awareness.

“I think [Mehdi Williams] could’ve been more organized on offense,” Arroyo said. “Knowing what his job is, knowing how to execute it and absolutely going full speed 100%.”

Arroyo said the defense’s coverage on opposing receivers was a positive takeaway from the game.

“Our coverage was decent,” Arroyo said. “Every time [Burroughs] ran for verticals,  they couldn’t really get any receivers open. We kind of locked them up in that area. I think [Williams] and cornerback Kurtis Walter ’27 locked up.”

The team plays Venice High School at home Aug. 25.

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