Football home opener cancelled due to air quality restrictions

By Austin Block

The game could have been intense. It could have been filled with pressure, clutch plays, unbelievable touchdowns, and all of the excitement that comes with a popular team playing its opening game at home in front of loyal fans.

Instead, the varsity football team had a scrimmage last Friday night after the Los Angeles Unified School District forced Franklin to forfeit the 7 p.m. game scheduled to take place at the Upper School due to air quality concerns.

“I’m really frustrated. It’s my opening game of my senior year. A lot of people were going to be there excited to play… it doesn’t always work out,” cornerback Maddie Calvert ’10 said. “I think more than anything people are just tired of hitting your own teammates, playing against your own teammates day in and day out.

We’ve been doing that throughout the spring and summer. Now we were ready to go play somebody else.”

The varsity football team will now begin its season this Friday against Lynwood at Lynwood Middle School. It will play its first league game on Oct. 16 against St. Bernard at St. Bernard High School.

The team lost a number of vital players to college last year, including quarterback Sean Berman ’09 (55.9 percent completion percentage, 18 touchdowns, 165.8 yards per game), running back Te’Rhon O’Neal ’09 (1231 yards, 5.95 average yards per run, 136.8 yards per game, 9 touchdowns), wide receiver Corey Vann (46 receptions, 627 yards, 69.7 yards per game), and Del Rey League Most Valuable Player at safety Kimo Thorpe ’09.

The only returning starter on the offensive line is Jake Lasker ’10 and the only returning starter on the defensive line is Conor O’Toole ’10.

Berman is being replaced this year by Max Heltzer ’10 and Oliver Lowry ’10.

Jamais Jones ’12 and Terell Willard ’11 will be the new running backs.

“Sean Berman was the general of this offense for two seasons, and it will be tough to replace him. But we have two outstanding QBs in Max Heltzer and Oliver Lowry,” slot receiver and fullback Greg Comanor ’10 said.

There was also major turnover on the coaching staff this year with five new coaches coming in. Those coaches are offensive line coach Micah Reed, who was the captain and center for UCLA last year, former USC star Ulysses “Junior” Thurman, who coached the Wolverines in 2005 and will coach the secondary, linebacker coach Zac Volet, kicking coach Tony Peters, and Will Gilmore, the coach for the safeties.

Eumont said the team’s goal is to win the Northwest Divisional Championship and said their most difficult games will be against Del Rey League teams.

They need to win at least three of the four league games to insure that they make the playoffs.

One of those teams is two-time defending league champion Serra, which defeated the Wolverines 24-7 last year.

The Wolverines trained at the Upper School over the summer and had to survive six-day “Hell Week,” during which they stayed at the Upper School the entire time and slept in Hamilton Gym.

A typical day of Hell Week, which ran from Monday Aug. 17 to Saturday Aug. 22, included getting up at 6 a.m., two practices, two positional meetings, swimming or lifting, and free time.

“The weather was way too nice,” Eumont said. “The players had to close the Hamilton Gym doors at night because it was too cold!”

“Hell week was very difficult. Not just Hell Week, but the next week, which consisted in two practices a day in 100 plus degree weather in full pads. It was rough,” Comanor said. “Hell Week is a way for guys to come together and build as a team. It sounds like hell, but it ends up being a great time to bond with teammates.”