The Avalon Lancers were thrown a curve ball just weeks before their 8-man season starts when returning quarterback Jose Gomez transferred to Nebraska. The lone senior on the team, Antonio Ramos, has taken over as signal caller and fourth-year head coach Michael Forcella said it won’t change anything offensively.
“We’ve still got quite a few returners and some good talent so we have some pretty high expectations,” Forcella said. “They’re a low-key group that’s hungry for some contact. They have that veteran energy.”
The junior class is full of three-year starters who suffered though a disappointing 2-6 campaign in 2017, and Avalon scheduled this season as a redemption road through teams like Animo Robinson and Foothills Christian. The Lancers lost those two games last year by a combined score of 92-16.
Junior captain Beto Martinez is a best player and unquestioned leader by example at Avalon. He’s a three-year starter at wide receiver and defensive back, and was named the schools Athlete Of The Year a few months ago. Martinez led his team with seven touchdowns last season.
“We’re also going to get Beto more involved in the run game after he put on even more muscle in the offseason,” Forcella said. “He’s one of those kids I don’t have to worry about. He’s not going out to the parties and doing stupid stuff. He’s a low-key, very few words type of kid off the field. When he puts the helmet on the field he’s a different person. That mindset is contagious for the rest of the team.”
Martinez and Ramos will try to hook up as much as possible while being protected by the offensive line of junior Micheal Marino and sophomores Gustavo Hernandez and Uriel Hernandez.
Three-year starter and junior captain DeAngelo Reyes is returning at full back, and junior Jose Silva will be the starting running back behind him. Silva played tight end last year, but has dropped weight and picked up speed in the offseason. Junior Calvin Rios also dropped weight, and is moving from offensive line to tight end.
The Avalon defense has to replace defensive end Cristobal Hernandez and his 15 sacks from last season. His younger brother, Uriel, will be one of the lineman trying to do that alongside Rios and Reyes.
Junior Jose Silva is a third-year starter at middle linebacker where Forcella said he’s a natural.
“He’s a prototypical linebacker,” Forcella said. “He reads the ball very well and he’s probably the hardest hitter we’ve had on our team. Ever.”
Silva will be joined by Ramos at the other linebacker spot while Martinez returns to his spot in the defensive secondary. Sophomores Juan Hernandez and Allen Campos will play both corner back positions where Forcella said his team will run more zone coverage this year, much like they did in 2015 when they won the CIF State championship.
“We have a ton of speed so I think it’s going to be really beneficial this year,” Focella said. “This is one of if not the fastest groups I’ve had.”