In 2009 and 2010, the Hillsdale football team put together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in ages.
The last two years, however, saw the Knights take a step backward. But with a number of key returners in key positions this season, coach Mike Parodi is hoping the Knights once again build toward a Peninsula Athletic League Lake Division title and a spot in the Central Coast Section playoffs.
“When you go through [the Lake Division], there are things you have to worry about,” Parodi said. “All we try to do is focus on us. With that, I feel like we have a pretty good squad. If we play to our capabilities, we should have a pretty good year.”
Hillsdale has the bulk of its offense returning. Cole Carrithers returns for his second year under center and, after a strong season in 2012 in which he was an all-Lake Division selection, he is expected to be even better this season.
“He has 10 (varsity) starts under his belt. He gets our system,” Parodi said. “He’s been in our program all four years. He’s been a quarterback all four years and he has started all four years. He’s a true quarterback.”
Joining Carrithers in the Knights’ spread-option attack are receivers Brandon Butcher and John Paran. Butcher was one of the team’s best pass catchers last season and the three have spent much of the offseason working out together.
“Evidently, they were working out on their own all spring,” Parodi said. “They know the routes.”
Parodi said he will have a number of running backs on which to lean this season, starting with returner A.J. Bernal, who led the team in rushing last season. Giancarlo Boscacci can be effective when healthy and junior newcomer James Hollon will be in the backfield mix as well.
“[Bernal] got a ton of great carries last year and we have a couple of good youngsters,” Parodi said. “[Bernal’s] leadership is huge. It’s great when one of your better players is one of your hardest working players.”
Charged with protection and opening holes on the offensive line are a pair of returning seniors: Taran Poss, a three-year varsity player, and David Galten.
A lot of the players Parodi will lean on in the offense will have to do the same on defense as well. But Parodi said his team has a little more depth this season, which should allow some of his front-line guys to get a rest from one side of the ball.
“Defensively, we have decent depth,” Parodi said. “We have just enough depth where we can be flexible and (stay) fresh.”
Parodi said he looking for big things from defensive lineman Sam Smith, a guy Parodi says has a non-stop motor.
“He plays hard every play, to exhaustion,” Parodi said. “Then we’ll give him a breather and send him back out there.”
The biggest thing for the Knights this season is having 15 returners on the 40-man roster. They know what is expected of them and they should be intimately familiar with Parodi’s system. Now, it’s all about execution.
“This group of kids, they have been through this. They’ve seen this program be pretty good and then have seen it take a couple steps back,” Parodi said. “They said, ‘We don’t want to be where we were.’ It shows with the effort they put out in the spring and summer.”
Coach: Mike Parodi
2012 record: 2-3 PAL Lake, 2-8 overall
Key returners: Cole Carrithers (sr., QB); A.J. Bernal (sr., RB/LB); Giancarlo Boscacci (sr., RB/LB); David Galten (sr., OL/DL); Taran Poss (sr., OL/LB); Brandon Butcher (sr., WR/DB); John Paran (sr., WR/DB).
Key newcomers: James Tostado (jr., LB/WR); James Hollon (jr., RB/DB); Shawn Charan (jr., WR/DB).
2013 schedule (home games in CAPS): 9/6 @ Half Moon Bay, 7 p.m.; 9/14 @ Lincoln-SF, 2 p.m.; 9/20 vs. ALVAREZ, 7 p.m.; 9/27 @ Alameda, 7 p.m.; 10/11 vs. CARLMONT, 3 p.m.; 10/18 @ Jefferson, 7 p.m.; 10/25 @ Mills, 3 p.m.; 11/1 vs. EL CAMINO, 3 p.m.; 11/8 vs. KING’S ACADEMY, 3 p.m.; 11/15 vs. ARAGON, 7 p.m.