Woodside football head coach Josh Bowie said that before practice ends, he’ll huddle his players up and ask a very simple question.
“What is the most important game?”
And as a unit, the Wildcats respond, “the next one.”
The key there isn’t the question itself — as players, you’re taught never to look past the opponent in front of you. But it’s the unity the Wildcats are showing in the stages of the year that has the Woodside coaching staff excited.
“I think our guys have been working hard since last year,” Bowie said. “We had our first scrimmage Friday night and the guys made a great account of themselves. They’re getting better. They’re progressing.”
Ironically enough, on the day the Daily Journal talked to Bowie about his 2013-14 Wildcats, the opponent they had just faced, was themselves. And that’ll be the biggest thing for Woodside if they plan to compete in the Peninsula Athletic League Ocean Division following a season when they went 3-7 overall and 1-4 in the PAL — not to beat themselves.
But despite the win-loss record, Bowie said he sees his team moving forward.
“What we were looking to do from the jump is to improve the work ethic and getting them to work together,” Bowie said. “They need to challenge each other. And they’ve been doing that since January. Each day, it’s about being better than you were the day before. I think if we can do that, we’ll be more successful than we year last year. This team is trying to create its own identity and show what Woodside football is all about.”
Right now, Woodside is all about a young influx of talent coming up from a frosh/soph team that went 9-1 last season. And perhaps no one from that group is more important than quarterback Robert Wang, who assumes the starting QB duties for the Wildcats.
“We felt he had all the necessary leadership characteristics and he has the skills to guide our offense in a different direction,” Bowie said.
That direction is an emphasis on a handful of playmakers. Chief among those is last year’s quarterback, Josh Holman, who moves to the wide receiver position where Bowie believes his skills are better suited and more useful to the team.
Along with Holman, there is Tommy Cook, who’ll see a lot of time in the slot. Then there is last season’s breakout star, the now-junior David Teu.
“He’s gotten bigger, faster and stronger,” Bowie said of Teu. “I think we get the ball into that trio’s hands, it’ll make me look pretty good as a coach.”
Bowie described his offensive line at a “good quality, work in progress.” The bulk of the responsibility falls on Adagio Lopeti. At 6-4, 305 pounds, Bowie said he definitely has the size to play with anybody in the PAL, maybe even the section. The line will run through him and a couple of promising, but youthful, cogs from last year’s frosh/soph.
“The more they play together, the better they’ll be,” Bowie said.
But the biggest question mark of the Wildcats comes on the defensive side where last year they yielded almost three times as many points as they scored.
“It’s a group that is trying to establish its identity,” Bowie said. “We’re trying to be fundamentally sound with everything we’re doing and try to limit the mental mistakes. We struggled last year against the passing teams that we faced.”
For that, Cook will play at one of the corner position with a year of experience under his help. He’ll be joined in the secondary by Dylan Maynard and Holman.
At the linebacker position, Oscar Costantini will play a key role. “He’s fast. He like to hit people. He’s very aggressive.”
Francisco Moran will anchor a scrappy defensive line.
“The biggest hurdle for us is us,” Bowie said. “If we can come out and do what we’ve been practicing and execute, we’re confident we have the tools and we have the talent to compete. We need to stay fundamentally sound and limit our mistakes. If we can do that, we can compete against the likes of Burlingame, Aragon, Half Moon Bay — everyone actually. No one in this league is a pushover. Each team presents a different challenge. We have to embrace those challenges and we’ll have a good year.”