Every offseason is different and coaches are always looking for ways to test their teams in preparation for the upcoming season. Practice has been underway in Williams for weeks to prepare for a big season opener in Paradise on Friday at 7:30 PM.
Williams varsity Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator Jeff Lemus paired with Offensive Coordinator Ben Haney and Assistant Coach Brian Darden, despite being the underdog for this week’s game, look to make their presence known on the field.
“If we can remain healthy and play all three phases of the game, we will be a difficult team to play,” said Lemus. “Our goal is to be competitive and make a run in playoffs.”
Out of the 35-person team, the Yellowjackets will have 11 returning players: four on defense and four on offense. Position of starting quarterback will be occupied by Williams High School senior Mo Hernandez, who will have big shoes to fill from the 2018 season quarterback, Hunter Polvsen.
“Mo has a great understanding on the offense and a good quick release,” stated Lemus.
Also on offense, Sam Navarro will be a powerhouse receiver for the Jackets, with 42 receptions for 494 yards and five touchdowns in the 2018 season. Ozzy Ruiz and Caesar Ambriz will also be big contributors.
“We will run a pro-style spread on offense, similar to last year, but with more tight ends,” said Lemus. “Defensively, we have also made changes. This year we will run a 46 Bear (4-6) defense rather than the 5-3 defense last season.”
Williams will have several athletic players who will run and cover from sideline to sideline. Returning senior Aldo Ambriz fits just that description with 57 tackles and two sacks on defense and a total of 956 yards on offense last season. Free Safety leading tackler Navarro will also be one to watch on defense, after leading the Jackets last season with 64 tackles and five interceptions.
“Nose guard Alexis Pineda is an experienced defensive player who is oftentimes double teamed, and will be one to watch,” said Lemus. “His stats last year sat at 57 tackles and two sacks. Ambriz is the fastest player on the team. He is a game breaker who creates match problems offensively.”
Williams had a 6-5 overall record, 3-2 in the Mid-Valley League, last season. Tough competitors will be last year’s league winners East Nicolaus and Mt. Shasta. ■