The South San Francisco football team is back in the Peninsula Athletic League’s premiere division.
And if you ask head coach Frank Moro, and anyone else wearing the blue and white, despite losing a great core of players to graduation, the Bay Division is exactly where they belong.
“It really hasn’t changed,” Moro said about the South City philosophy. “We really hadn’t had a whole lot of changes in our preparation. We’re still going to play the way we play whether they put us in the Bay, the Ocean, the Lake, the Pond, whatever.”
It’s this swagger and intensity that has typified the latest Warrior surge up the PAL ranks. South City isn’t here to just play around and take the growing pains that come with moving up from the Ocean.
The reigning Ocean champions are here to play and win.
“That’s the thing about South City football. There are guys that are ready to step up —hard-nosed, tough kind of kids. It’s been similar. Maybe the names have changed a little, but you’ll see the same hard, aggressive running game and good, hard-hitting defense. We’ll go out and get you.”
South City represents one of three teams moving up to the Bay Division and in a lot of ways, they’re in the best shape because of their physical size and team speed. Always known as a team that flies to the football defensively, how that speed and size translate to the Bay against the likes of Terra Nova, Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo-Atherton will be the key for South San Francisco.
And boy, do the Warriors have some big guys.
“We start right there being big and strong,” Moro said of starting quarterback and returning PAL Ocean Linebacker of the Year Maligi Maluia, who took over the QB position last year just in time to see the Warriors run the table in the Ocean. He’s listed at 6-2, 245 pounds with a cannon for an arm and a summer worth of footwork drills in his back pocket.
“He’s smart,” Moro said. “He’s got a strong arm. He’s matured as a quarterback. You’re going to see a difference in him. You’re going to see a quarterback that gets deep in the pocket and deliver a good ball with good technique. And when he gets out of the pocket, he’s as dangerous as any back in our league.”
Joining Maluia in the backfield are a quartet of backs trying to fill in some very big running shoes. Dupra Goodman and Michael Fuimaono are returners who will see the bulk of the work.
“They’re two hard running backs,” Moro said.
But they’re definitely not alone. Cesar Torres comes up from the frosh-soph along with Gustavo Pulido.
“They’re very similar backs,” Moro said. “It’s just going to be which one is going to take charge.”
Along with that quartet, the offensive explosion should come from wide receivers Orlando Garcia and Tyler Kehai, as well as the versatile Mo Mabutas.
The offensive line took a hit over the summer with the graduation of some key players.
“Our offensive line is going to be young,” Moro said. “But they’re fast, they’re athletic, they’re big. The problem is, on our offensive line, we speak five different languages. So, we’re young and we’re learning the game. But the bright side is, they’re big, they’re fast, they’re strong and when they figure it out, they’re going to be good.”
Terrell Townsend (6-5, 240 pounds) is expected to lead that international group of lineman, who Moro said have forced him to learn a bit of Spanish, Tagalog and even Portugese.
Speaking of Townsend, he and the rest of the defense has Moro very excited about South City’s ascent.
“I’m really excited to see those guys play,” Moro said.
Along with Townsend, Jason Quiles is turning heads.
“He’s technically sound,” Moro said. “We’re going to be able to pressure some quarterbacks and it’s going to be tough to run against us. It’s going to be fun. We love to play defense. We love to go up against these guys.”
Moro said South City is deep at the linebacker position, with Maluia returning to defend his Linebacker of the Year crown. Jawad Oweis is in the LB mix along with Torres and Kalone Pua.
“Fear is not going to play a part in what we do,” Moro said about playing in the Bay Division. “We have no problems playing anybody. It’s going to come down to whether we can understand what we’re doing.”
Coach: Frank Moro
2012-13 record: 7-4 overall, 5-0 PAL Ocean
Key players: Maligi Maluia (sr., QB/LB); Dupra Goodman (sr., RB/LB); Michael Fuimaono (sr., RB/LB); Ceasr Torres (jr., RB/LB); Gustavo Pulido (jr., RB/LB); Mo Mabutas (jr., RB/WR/DB); Orlando Garcia (sr., WR/DB); Tyler Kehai (sr, WR/DB); Terrell Townsend (jr., OL/DL); Jason Quiles (jr., DL).
2013-14 schedule (home games in CAPS): 9/6 SANTA CLARA, 7 p.m.; 9/13 Capuchino, 3:15 p.m.; 9/20 Half Moon Bay, 7 p.m.; 9/27 BURLINGAME, 7 p.m.; 10/11 MENLO-ATHERTON, 7 p.m.; 10/18 Terra Nova, 7 p.m.; 11/1 MENLO, 7 p.m.; 11/8 Sequoia, 7 p.m.; 11/16 El Camino, 2 p.m.