By Phil DaileyThe La Jolla High School football team is coming off a 3-8 season, but for head coach Rey Hernandez, there is reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season.
“We got a good group of seniors coming back, we got some good senior leadership,” the fourth-year head coach said. “We’re just gonna work and try to get better.”
On paper, there is reason for the excitement as well. Leading the way for the Vikings this season is the return of All-Western League running back Kenny Martey. Martey led the team with 815 rushing yards and five rushing touchdowns last season.
“We expect Kenny to step up and have a good year,” Hernandez said.
The team also expects Conor Irwin, who was injured a majority of last season, to give the Vikings added depth at running back.
In total, the team should have 11 returning starters back on offense and defense.
On the defensive side, the Vikings will be led by two seniors, linebacker William Geary and safety Dylan Walsh.
“He’ll be the nucleus of that group,” Hernandez said of Geary.
Hernandez will also have to replace Bobby Schuman, who was the team’s quarterback the last few seasons.
David McColl will be the team’s starting quarterback this season, a senior who completed 6 of 11 passes last year in the backup role.
Hernandez also expects major contributions from this senior-led team with center Tom Graham, wide receiver Billy Penny and defensive backs Jack Irwin and Dylan Walsh.
“Our goals are to take it one step at a time, try to get better every game and improve, try to find guys to fill in the key positions,” Hernandez said. “We had a good summer and have a positive start to the season.”
Hernandez thinks the varsity squad will have close to 40 on the roster.
A new-look Western LeagueThe Vikings will still play in the Western League, but there will be a few changes. Gone are Hoover and Serra, which join the City League (along with San Diego, Morse and Patrick Henry).
The revised Western League is now comprised of La Jolla High, Mission Bay, Madison, Point Loma and newcomer Kearny, which went 8-3 last season.