For the Galileo High School football team, the question is this: Will its offensive line be merely average or dominant?
If it’s the latter, then the rest of the teams in the San Francisco Section Academic Athletic Association should be put on high alert. That’s because the Lions, who finished 4-6-1 overall and 3-3 in league play last year, return some of the most dynamic players in the AAA in running back-linebacker Ronzel Fox, slot-cornerback Dontell Jackson and quarterback-free safety Kyle Nelson.
Fox is arguably the best tailback in the league, a 5-foot-10, 190-pound senior who punishes opponents with his downhill running style. Last season Fox rushed for 1,113 yards on 137 carries, averaging a hefty 8.12 yards per attempt while also scoring 16 touchdowns. Fox also had a long run of 99 yards, showing his explosive ability. Speaking of explosive, Jackson has speed to burn.
The 5-8, 150-pound Jackson had just 19 receptions a year ago, but Galileo was forced to run about 70 percent of the time, limiting the production of the receivers. If fifth-year Galileo coach Mark Huynh has his way, the Lions will be throwing with much greater frequency in 2013 with returning quarterback Nelson at the helm. Nelson had a respectable 46.2 completion-percentage rate for 1,204 yards last year, but he has made tremendous strides in the offseason.
“Kyle is the one guy we don’t want to lose,” Huynh said. “He’s a Division I baseball pitching prospect, but the transition has been harder for him as a QB. This year he really looks comfortable out there.”
Issac Armstrong, a fleet-footed, 6-1, 180-pound tight end-linebacker, figures to see a lot of passes thrown his way. “If I’m game-planning against us, I’m looking to stop Issac,” Huynh said. “He’s a feared receiver, has great hands and runs good routes.”
Led by 5-8, 185-pound guard Johnson Huang and 5-10, 205-pound tackle Conrad Mo, Galileo returns a solid offensive line. Defensively, Galileo has two terrific defensive ends in Kris Balarezo and Terrell Jeffrey, and a solid linebacking corps led by Fox and Jamari Hilliard-Vasquez. Tackle Jose Gato — the team’s best defensive lineman — is currently sidelined with a knee injury, but Huynh is hopeful he’ll be back in time for league play.
In addition to being a dynamic player on offense, Jackson’s impact on defense could be even more profound. One of the best cornerbacks in the league, Jackson routinely stifled the opposing team’s top receiver last season.
“We’re expecting more of the same from Dontell this year,” Huynh said. “He’s a shutdown corner.”