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2011 HS Football Preview: Minutemen Eye Improvement, Smart Play

After great success last year, Concord High's varsity football team narrows focus on improvement and playing "smart football" this year.

Concord High's varsity football team is coming off an impressive 2010 season and looking hungry for another successful campaign.

Last year the Minutemen finished with a 13-1 record and were winners of the California Interscholastic Federation North Coast Section Division II championship.

The team's success can be largely credited to a potent offense, which outscored rivals with a season average ratio of 2-1. Overall, the Minutemen offense accounted for 7,029 yards and 96 touchdowns last season.

This coming season, Concord High will have to overcome the loss of quarterback Ricky Lloyd, who threw for 4,451 yards and 52 touchdowns, and rely more heavily on a running game and solid defensive performances.

Olito Thompson, junior, will start as a running back for the Minutemen this season and he is aware of how important consistent play at his position will be for the team.

“Whenever we do run the ball, my role is to get out there and make it happen, make magic happen,” said Thompson. “[I have to] get as many yards as I can and put us in a good situation … because our schedule is tough.”

The man at quarterback this year will be junior Jacob Daynes. He definitely has big shoes to fill, following Lloyd, but Daynes has a certain look in his eyes; the image of determination and eagerness to prove himself can be clearly seen while he throws to teammates in practice.

Daynes said he has been working hard during the off-season to be ready to play and have a good year.

“I’ve been working hard this off-season. I’m showing up every practice,” he said. “My team is counting on me and I’m counting on my team, so there’s a lot of work to be done.”

Junior Terrence Young contributed significantly last season with his 1,216 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Those numbers made him the second leading receiver last year and his 18.1 yards per catch indicate he will be the go-to receiver in 2011.

Young is confident Daynes will get the job done for the Minutemen after seeing improvement from the quarterback this offseason.

“He has stepped up all summer, working out [and] working hard,” Young said. “He has progressed to being a lot better quarterback than anyone thought he would be ... so we’re gonna be good.”

The defense for the Minutemen will be pivotal this season, and the six returning starters definitely give the team an advantage at being dominant on that side of the ball.

One of those six returners is senior Trent Mahler. The 6-foot-2-inch defensive end put up impressive numbers last year, leading the Minutemen with 140 tackles — 98 of them solo and 42 assisted. Nine were sacks.

Mahler believes in working endlessly and sees room for improvement in all areas of his game, a mentality that can come in handy for Concord High in 2011.

“Nothing is ever the best, I gotta keep getting better and keep doing more and more. I just work hard and try to win games,” said Mahler.

Getting better is something the entire team is working on this summer.

“We have to work on every aspect of our game," said senior defensive tackle Willie Thompson. "Our passing game, our running game, our defense, everything.”

Head coach Brian Hamilton thinks his defense will be stout and will be the team’s best asset.

“I think in the past we’ve had a good position group, whether it was good [defensive backs] or good linebackers or good D-line,” he said.

“I really think for the first time in a long time at Concord High, at all three levels, our defense is pretty special, pretty dynamic,” Hamilton added.

Hamilton said he doesn’t expect his team to pass for over 4,000 yards again but does believe they can be successful by playing smart and consistently in all areas of football.

The coach said focus is on playing "sound football." Blocking, running the ball and completing passes that will allow Young and other Minutemen receivers to exploit open space and gain yards after the catch are all areas the coach is emphasizing during practice.

“Are we '4,500 yards through the air' dangerous?’ No, but I would’ve told you the same thing last year before our first snap,” said Hamilton.

Stay tuned to Patch for updates and game coverage throughout the 2011 season. 

If you don't already know the Minutemen's 2011 schedule, here it is:

Date Opponent  Location and time  Sept. 2     Cardinal Newman  CNHS 7:00 p.m.  Sept. 9        Amador Valley  AVHS 7:00 p.m.  Sept. 16   
 Kennedy Fremont  TAK   7:00 p.m.   Sept. 23      American  CHS  7:00 p.m.  Sept. 30  Heritage   HERITAGE 7:00 p.m.   Oct. 15  Ygnacio Valley  YVHS 1:00 p.m.  Oct. 21  Clayton Valley  CVHS 7:00 p.m.  Oct. 28   Mt. Diablo  CHS 7:00 p.m.
 Nov. 4   College Park  CPHS 3:00 p.m.  Nov. 10  Northgate  CHS 7:00 p.m.  Nov. 18, 19  1st Round NCS Div II   CHS  Nov. 25, 26  2nd Round NCS Div II    CHS  Dec. 2, 3  3rd Round NCS Div II  CHS  Dec. 10  NCS Div II Championships  Undisclosed

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