Washington High School first-year football coach Peter Graham said the returning players on his team got bigger, stronger and faster during the offseason.
The Eagles hope that combination translates into more wins, which was in scarce supply last year as they finished just 2-7 overall and 2-4 in San Francisco Academic Athletic Association league play. Graham, a longtime teacher at Washington who has 11 years of previous varsity coaching experience on the East Coast, is cautiously optimistic on his team's chances in contending for a league title and a possible appearance in the annual Turkey Bowl.
"We have a core group of guys who did all the right things and were dedicated in spring practice and summer workouts, but it's just hard to tell right now how they're going to do against live competition," Graham said. "Right now we're just competing against ourselves, so it's too early to be making any bold projections."
If Graham has his way, Washington will be punishing teams with a potent running game led by talented tailbacks Ricky Johnson, Jason Hung and Saadiq Anderson. Graham said all three players are fast and can bust off a big gain on a moment's notice.
"Ricky is elusive and the fastest out of the bunch, and Saadiq is a little stronger and runs more north-south," Graham said.
Junior Ramon Cuthright-Sun, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound quarterback, possesses a strong arm and figures to be a threat to run with the ball, too. The offensive line looks plenty capable with Christian Eik leading the way. If versatile lineman Jesse Kats can return from a knee injury in time for the Eagles' first league game on Oct. 4., it will further strengthen what should be one of the team's more solid units. In Ben Mustari, Jorge Ortiz and Wesley Chan, Washington's linebacker corps should be one of the strongest in the AAA.
"Ben is one of our impact guys, and he's not afraid to put a big hit on someone," Graham said.
Free safety Kevin Phung is essentially the quarterback of the defense, as he will be counted upon to make all the calls and recognize what the opposing team's offense is doing. In addition, Phung has the talent to be strong in pass coverage as well as solid against the run.
"Kevin is going to help us prevent big plays from happening," Graham said. "He's also got great speed and mental toughness, something you want all your kids to have."