Run early and run often is the mantra for the large majority of Academic Athletic Association football teams, but not for Balboa High School.
Unlike its AAA counterparts, the Bucs, who travel down the Peninsula to face Sequoia on Friday at 7 p.m., aren’t shy about putting the ball in the air, operating through coach Alvaro Carvajal’s spread offense.
“The kids love it,” Carvajal said. “They love that they get to put the ball in the air and make plays.”
Carvajal learned the intricacies of the scheme when he played at NCAA Division II Bemidji State in Minnesota.
The system is complex, but in Carvajal’s second year at the helm of the program, he has confidence in its ultimate success.
But three losses to start the season hasn’t helped the Bucs’ cause, and after Carvajal’s 4-6 record in his first year, detractors have had reasons to complain.
“I have no doubt that it will be successful,” Carvajal said. “I have no doubt that we’ll be able to fly in this offense. You don’t see a lot of people in The City teaching the nuances of the spread and the passing game because it’s not something you can just jump into. It takes a lot of time and you need to study a lot of film.”
Running the offense is senior quarterback Kerati Apilakvanichakit, who has no problem putting the ball in the air 30-40 times a game.
“The biggest thing about operating the spread is you have to have a guy who can throw and run, but you also need to be a smart kid,” Carvajal said. “We go through a lot of film just to get better, but he understands what to look for.”
Last Saturday, however, under constant pressure from an athletic Analy defense, Apilakvanichakit threw five interceptions and was sacked seven times.
“Those interceptions had a lot to do with the pressure he was under,” said Carvajal, also noting several injuries to the Bucs’ offensive line. “We came out flat against Analy.”
This week, the final nonleague matchup of the season, presents another stiff challenge for Balboa, hitting the road to play a tough Sequoia team that knocked off 2009 AAA champion Galileo earlier in the season.
“If we come out fast and execute our game plan, I see us competing to the end and winning,” Carvajal said.
Despite being considerable underdogs against Sequoia, the elimination of errors will be the key for the Bucs. Along with the five interceptions against Analy on Saturday, they also had a staggering 17 plays for negative yardage.
“In football, at the end of the day, it’s a competition with yourself,” Carvajal said. “We’ve been losing that battle.”
Preps sports coverage provided in partnership by The San Francisco Examiner and www.SanFranPreps.com.