Football: Falcons look to bounce back next season after moving down league

March 1, 2018 — by Siva Sambasivam and Alex Wang

For the first time since 2007, the football team will be moving down a division to the El Camino League for the 2018 season.

The demotion is a result of a disappointing 1-9 season in which they were drubbed by powerhouses such as Wilcox, Milpitas and Los Gatos.

Falcons coach Tim Lugo thinks that last year was a true wakeup call and forced both players and coaches to re-examine the program.

“1-9 makes you take a hard look at everything you do and right now I’m still going through that process,” said Lugo. “Clearly something was broken last year.”

The Falcons were not blown out every game, though, with four of their losses being by one score.

According Lugo, if the Falcons had won even three of those close games, they would have made CCS. However, Lugo also understands that the transition to the El Camino League will offer many benefits.

In El Camino, they will face traditionally weaker opponents such as Monta Vista and Lynbrook. The annual Los Gatos game will also now be a non-league rivalry game.

“I think we will do really well in the El Camino League, and it will boost the team’s confidence,” junior running back JJ Wang said. “But personally I always like to play the best teams because that’s how I get better.”

Lugo added that team can use the disappointment about moving down and turn it into motivation to compete for a CCS title in the lower league and get back to the De Anza Division.

“We are going to be playing guys that actually look like us, and we will also have a chance to compete for a CCS title in the B-league,” he said. “That’s our motivation right now, and that goal is actually realistic.”

In previous years, everything would have had to go the Falcons’ way in order for them to win the Open Division playoffs, but because they are in the lower league, the path to a championship is seemingly easier.

The discrepancy between the skills of the lower and upper division has exposed a true problem with football in 15-team Santa Clara Valley Athletic League.

There are three hugely talented teams and three bottom teams struggling to stay alive, Lugo said. The Falcons are usually in the middle of the pack and find it difficult to compete with stacked teams like Milpitas and Wilcox.

“There have been some merger discussions to get more like schools to be with each other,” said Lugo. “People are starting to realize that football is a different animal. If you get beat by 35 at a basketball game, your feelings are hurt and you are embarrassed, but you leave in one piece. In football, guys get hurt.”

He said safety is of the utmost importance to parents nowadays and that parents are generally more inclined to let their kids play if they know that they will be competing with kids of similar sizes and athletic abilities.

However, a few players still believe the Falcons can compete with the higher division teams.

Sophomore wide receiver George Bian is one student who thinks moving to a lower division is unfortunate, but also sees it as potentially great because the team will be more competitive. Lugo also believes the team cannot take its foot off the gas pedal against the lesser competition.

Players sometimes think they are better than the opponents and do not give the same effort that they used to give.

“That’s why our challenge is, if we really want to be section champions, we have to continue to play at the level we have always played at, even if the schools we are playing might be a step below us,” Lugo said.

Many changes are occurring to help the football team achieve success. In fact, the team is ramping up its workouts, and they already have started lifting weights and doing other off-season conditioning, Lugo said.

In addition, a new wide receivers coach will be hired to address an area where the team was lacking last season.

Along with moving down a division, these changes will be made in hopes that the team can win more games and increase fan attendance.

“In the end, it’s about cheering for your school and not who you play,” Bian said.

Like years past in the El Camino League, the football team hopes to control the division and win the division title, and if so, the Falcons are likely to move back up to the De Anza Division.

“I know if we work really hard we will be able to move back up the following season,” Wang said.

 

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