Season preview: Football looks to thrive with freshman quarterback Hulme

September 6, 2023 — by William Cao
The team’s offense forms a huddle during the third quarter of the game against Santa Cruz on Sept. 1. The Falcons won 69-0.
After starting their preseason with a 1-1 record, the 24-man roster and coaching staff are determined to start a winning streak.

Head Coach: Stephen Matos

Last year’s record: 1-6 

Recap: After dropping to the Peninsula-Lake league last year, the Falcons had only one league win last season against Lynbrook. A small roster and no substitutes left players fatigued and injury-prone by the fourth quarter of each game, making it difficult to secure wins.

Key Matchups: Cupertino, South San Francisco and Gunn

Star Players: Seniors defensive back Cooper Call and wide receiver Tristan Hoang; juniors running back Keion Ashjaee-Marshall and offensive and defensive line Tevita Pahulu; freshman quarterback Anson Hulme

Key losses to graduation: Middle linebacker Charles Jarvis; running back Conner Call; cornerback Max Timmons; running back Paolo Navarro; wide receiver Seth Hulme

League: Peninsula-Lake

Prognosis: 

After a disappointing 28-6 season opener loss against Prospect at home on Aug. 25, the Falcons bounced back with a historic 69-0 home victory against Santa Cruz on Sept. 1.

Junior captain running back Keion Ashjaee-Marshall piled up 267 yards and four touchdowns while freshman quarterback Anson Hulme completed 11 out of 15 passes and threw for 290 yards and five touchdowns. 

“Everyone was focused and we worked very hard during [the practices leading up to Santa Cruz] to fix everything that didn’t go well previously,” Hulme said. “Everyone studied their playbooks and knew what they were doing.” 

In fact, the team’s rigorous training and preparation began long before the games against Prospect and Santa Cruz. Since June, head coach Stephen Matos along with members of the coaching staff have set up almost daily scrimmages and conditioning-oriented sessions. Players spent  mornings weightlifting in the Ray Goni Fitness Center followed by practices later in the day.

After last year’s quarterback — Shane Timmons — transferred to Los Gatos High for his senior season, Hulme was tabbed for the role. He admits that the summer preparation was stressful since he had never previously played a traditional 11-man football.

“It was a lot of early mornings because practice started at 8 a.m., and we had to arrive at 7:45 a.m.,” Hulme said. ”For me, it went longer most days because I had quarterback meetings [with the coaching staff], so [I spent] around four hours [on football] every day.”

Despite the intensity of his training, Hulme noted that he enjoys spending time with the team and playing alongside his cousin, senior defensive back Cooper Call. Hulme said that he never had the opportunity to play with a full team for youth football leagues such as Pop Warner Youth Football. 

With his inexperience, however, coaches and other players have been quick to support and familiarize the freshman with his role, and they praise Hulme for his immediate presence within the team. 

“Hulme came in as a natural-born leader,” Matos said. “We dealt with adversity with some of our players transferring, but this was a blessing in disguise. Although there will be bumps and bruises along the way because he is young, I believe Hulme is fully equipped with the physical, mental, and emotional traits needed to lead a varsity team to success.” 

With the strong leadership from key players and support from the new varsity offensive coordinator Darrell Adams — a former professional football player himself — the team is determined to build a winning streak in upcoming games at Harbor High on Sept. 8, Cupertino High on Sept. 22 and Mills on Sept. 29.

“It’s going to be a fun year, and I am excited to see how the team plays together,” Matos said. “Last year, we laid the foundation down, changed the culture and won a few games. This year we are expecting to compete for a league title.”

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