The 2019-2020 was an up and down season for the ‘Jackets as they struggled with consistency, at times playing brilliantly, then unexpectedly coming up short to teams it appeared they should have beaten.
Yet, with just one senior, Mo Hernandez, the team’s leading scorer and an All-MVL selection, as a regular starter, the overall youth of the team may have made that unpredictability inevitable.
- WILLIAMS YELLOWJACKETS
- 2020: 11-15, 4-5
- 3rd place Mid-Valley League
- 2nd round NSCIF Division V playoffs
- Coach: Jeff Lemus, 3rd season (26-27)
Still the tribulations of last season could potentially pay off as the majority of the returning players they will count on got valuable minutes against quality competition, as third year head coach Jeff Lemus stated, “ We have a lot of guys coming back with plenty of game experience.”
One such player is sophomore Leo Trujillo, the ‘Jackets second leading scorer a season ago when he averaged 11.4 points per game and received All-MVL honors as a freshman.
Now with a year of varsity experience under his belt, Williams will rely heavily on Trujillo’s considerable offensive talents.
Also set to make significant contributions in 2021 are a trio of seasoned veterans in seniors in Emiliano Garcia, Ozzy Ruiz and Harmon Kahlon.
Garcia, the ‘Jackets’ big man, steadily improved last season, averaging almost nine points per game, and will need to be a presence in the paint in addition to providing leadership for a still relatively young squad.
In the backcourt Ruiz (8.7 ppg), a third year varsity player, is a high-energy guy on both ends of the court, while Kahlon (6.7 ppg) is smart with the ball and is another of the team’s leaders.
While Williams will not have a great deal of height this season, they will be quick, and the ability to control the pace of the game is something Lemus finds particularly exciting about this squad.
“This is as fast a team as we’ve had since I have been coaching, and it will allow us to push the ball a lot more. I can’t wait to see our guys on the court,” Lemus said.
Handling the point guard duties this year, according to Lemus, will be sophomore Brian Rosales, who as a late season call-up in 2020, averaged 8.4 points in five games.
Also expected to make important contributions are senior Brian Guevara along with juniors Jayr Ramirez, Miguel Rivera and Sam Lopez, as they will provide much needed depth, and even more athleticism to the squad.
One circumstance that could play in the ‘Jackets’ favor is the redesign of the Mid-Valley League, which saw the exit of Durham and East Nicolaus while Biggs, CORE Butte, Los Molinos and Maxwell, who were a combined 47-52, have joined.
Consequently, the Yellowjackets should have an easier route to the NSCIF Division V playoffs, where a season ago, after knocking out Trinity in the first round, they fell to No. 1 East Nicolaus in the second round.
However, if the season does materialize, Williams still may be at a disadvantage given they have yet to return to in-person instruction and thus have had less direct contact with their student athletes.
Still, like everything in the COVID era, only time will tell, but one thing is certain, that the young Yellowjackets have the potential to be in the mix in 2021. ♣