Sequoia football coach Rob Poulos has finally achieved one of the goals he had when he first took over the Cherokees program: to field two, separate offensive and defensive units comprised of one-way players.
Unlike a lot of teams that have many of their best players playing on both sides of the ball, Poulos has the depth and talent to keep a two-platoon system in place.
“Last year, we were a one-and-a-half platoon (team),” Poulos said, meaning most of his top players played full time on one side of the ball and part time on the other. “We have very few kids who started on both sides of the ball. It’s hard with [our] no-huddle system”
Why the obsession with have fresh players? Given his team’s up-tempo offense, Poulos doesn’t want his offensive players burning their energy on defense unless absolutely necessary. Poulos’ no-huddle system puts the pressure on opposing defenses to keep up with the Cherokees’ go-go style.
“We can adjust on the fly,” Poulos said. “We’re trying to find ways to be faster and keep the defense on their heels. You definitely can see the kids who have been in the system, who are moving faster and getting faster.”
While a lot of spread offenses rely on the pass, the Cherokees — at their heart — want to run power football. They definitely have the power with running back Matt Jenkins, an ultra-rare four-year varsity player.
“I think he’s going to be a load at running back,” Poulos said. “Teams are going to have to have an answer for him. I think it’s going to trigger a domino effect.”
Jenkins is also one of a handful of players Poulos has tabbed to play both ways this season.
Jenkins’ work will hopefully take the pressure off the quarterback, who also serves as a de facto halfback in the Cherokees’ system, in addition to making the right reads in the passing game.
Poulos said there was still competition for the starting spot between Cameron Greenough and Saave Brown. Greenough, a senior, appeared in eight games for the Cherokees last season, accumulating 362 yards of total offense — 173 yards passing, 189 yards rushing.
“Cam’s been there before. He got some serious reps with varsity (last year),” Poulos said. “He’s got a strong arm and he has an explosive step this year didn’t have last year.”
Brown, a junior, guided the junior varsity team to a 5-5 record. The only thing he lacks is varsity experience.
“[Brown] has size (6-1, 250 pounds) and he throws a solid ball,” Poulos said. “He can run our stuff.”
Just by the nature of the offense, the Cherokee receiving corps will get a lot of looks and this year the task of catching passes falls on a returning senior wideout Bobby Sehl, who caught 20 passes for 231 yards last season, and a couple of newcomers: senior Liam Clifford and junior Brady Stubblefield. The offensive line is anchored by Ed Tatola.
Defensively, the Cherokees should be every bit as fast and explosive as their offense. The anchor to the unit is junior safety Tommy Lopiparo, who was in on 57 tackles last season as a sophomore, with a sack, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“I think he’s going to dominate from his position. He’s going to be able to react and come downhill with a purpose,” Poulos said. “He’s one of the guys who impressed us last year.”
Dylan Anderson is another key defender returning at defensive back, giving the Cherokees a potent 1-2 punch in the defensive secondary. Eduardo Alvarado will hold down the linebacking unit.
Defense comes along faster than the offense. … Offense is always a work in progress,” Poulos said. “I like what I’m seeing on the defensive side of the ball. They’re flying around. They’re starting to get a feel for their assignments.”
Coach: Rob Poulos
2012 record: 3-2 PAL Ocean, 9-3 overall
Key returners: Ed Tatola (jr., OL); Tommy Lopiparo (jr., DB); Ben Sehl (sr., WR); Matt Jenkins (sr., RB); Eduardo Alvarado (sr., LB); Dylan Anderson (sr., DB).
Key newcomers: Saavae Brown (so., QB/RB); Brady Stubblefield (jr., WR); Liam Clifford (sr., WR).
2013 schedule (home games in CAPS): 9/6 @ Fremont-Sunnyvale, 7 p.m.; 9/13 vs. MONTA VISTA, 7 p.m.; 9/20 vs. WOODSIDE, 7 p.m.; 9/27 @ Cedar City-Utah, 7 p.m.; 10/11 @ Terra Nova, 7 p.m.; 10/18 vs. MENLO SCHOOL, 7 p.m.; 10/25 vs. MENLO-ATHERTON, 7 p.m.; 11/1 @ Sacred Heart Prep, 2:45 p.m.; 11/8 vs. SOUTH CITY, 7 p.m.; 11/15 @ Carlmont, 7 p.m.