Football: Falcons hopes of CCS still alive

October 20, 2009 — by Karthik Annaamalai and David Eng

Last season, the Saratoga High football program was out to prove that they belonged in the De Anza league, one regarded as the most competitive in the area. Although many fans doubted that the Falcons would be able to contend in this tough division, the squad showed these skeptics otherwise with their 4-6 record.

This season, second-year head coach Tim Lugo wants to advance to the CCS playoffs.

“At the start of every season, we set a new goal for ourselves,” said Lugo. “Last year, it was establishing ourselves in the [De Anza] league. This year, it’s making CCS.”

Between Saratoga and their postseason hopes, however, stand five staunch opponents in Wilcox, Los Gatos, Homestead, Mountain View and Cupertino. The Falcons must win at least three of these next five games.

“Our chances are still good,” said Lugo. “We still have a shot of making CCS.”

A key to winning these games will be the Falcons’ rushing attack, led by senior running back Grant Thomas.

Averaging nearly 300 rushing yards per game, the Falcons hope their strong ground attack will force opponents to focus on controlling the line of scrimmage rather than the aerial attack. Senior quarterback Vinnie Carstens looks to take advantage of the opportunity.

“Our running game has come a long ways and now our passing game is finally coming along as well. I think we have a great team and getting better each week is the big goal right now,” said Carstens.

Lugo gave his senior quarterback in high praise.

“[Carstens] has been great this season, maturing as both a quarterback and a leader,” said Lugo. “We can count on him to get us into the right formation and make the right reads.”

Another key to success will be Saratoga’s unusually young defense, comprised of two sophomores, five juniors and only four seniors. Although the young Falcon defense struggled in their first few appearances, Lugo noted that it has made “considerable progress.”

“Our biggest problem on defense is being structurally incorrect,” said Lugo. “And that is a direct result of our [youth]. It’s part of the growth process that we need to go through as a team to get better.”

Senior defensive end Adam Oreglia, who averages 10 tackles per game, leads the young defensive unit.

“Early in the season, we saw a lot of mistakes that our players made just from lack of experience and being stressed out from the game, so we practiced a lot to ensure everyone was doing the right thing. I think we’re going to be in the right spots moving forward in the season,” said Oreglia.

This has very much been the culture of the team as the season has progressed—seeing problems and finding solutions. The team has taken a little from each game and has grown a lot from it, according to Carstens.

Despite the Falcons’ innate physical disadvantages, particularly against teams like Milpitas that are bigger, stronger and faster, they have fought through with a strong work ethic.

“Our team has a whole ton of talent this year and we’re very hard working,” said Oreglia. “We’re definitely shooting to be the best and we’re looking to go 48 minutes in every game. Whether we’re behind by 30 or ahead by 30, we’re going to go all out for 48 minutes. As a team we look really good this year and we’re really close.”

The Falcons have not been very close in league play thus far, losing their first two league games by greater than 20-point margins. They are 2-3 overall.

Key mental errors plagued the defensive unit playing away against the high-flying Palo Alto Vikings passing game, resulting in a demoralizing 41-17 loss on Oct. 2 .

The following game, Saratoga’s defense faltered again against a high-octane and well-rounded Milpitas Trojan offense at home on Oct. 9. They allowed 350 total yards to the physical, speedy team, losing 55-21.

Because of printing deadline, the Falcon was unable to cover the team’s game against the 3-2 Wilcox Chargers in the print edition. The Falcons will travel to play the Los Gatos Wildcats in a showdown between cross-town rivals tonight.