Can't wait for sequel
August 8, 2019 | View PDF
You can smell it in the air. The green grass is being tended, the fields being prepared for another season of gridiron battles. This is my favorite time of the year, as the football teams begin practice, each team looking for that big season in which they are on top of their respective leagues, that dream of a championship in their sights.
It seems that on the college level, and even on the high school level, the challenges schools face are pretty much the same each year. Sometimes, the challenges can be a little different, depending on the experience of the team. Last year’s Generals squad had a season for the ages, dominating opponents on a level not seen in this area for decades. And last season was not just a magical season that saw every bounce of the ball seemed to go their way.
That brings to mind my life-long love affair with the Oakland, or Las Vegas, Raiders. A few years back, Derek Carr and his squad seemed to have the Midas touch. Every time they were in danger of losing a game, there was a special play that saved them, or a call went their way, letting them pull the game out. They won seven of nine games that were decided by three points or less that year. Unfortunately, the season pretty much ended when Carr went down with a devastating injury, and the Raiders went down with him.
Unlike that fairy tale season that the Raiders had, last year’s Generals did not have to rely on last-minute heroics or a high-powered offense to outscore their opponents. True, the Generals offense, led by Alex Aguilar, was a great show that racked up record-setting totals in scoring and yardage. But, that was not the whole story. The defense pitched three shutouts, and kept their opponents under 12 points in all but two games. This was a well-rounded, total team effort.
Looking to this year’s squad, even with the loss of several key players on both sides of the ball, this team is not the remnants of a fairy tale team. This team is more a testament to a system that was put in place by Coach Gerald Pierucci that gets everything out of his players that they have, exploiting their strengths, while working to excel on both sides of the ball.
The players are fitter than teams in past years due to their training in and out of the weight room, allowing them to keep their game on point no matter if it is the first quarter or the end of the fourth.
Shafter has had some good teams in the past 20 or so years, a few able to make the playoffs and advance into the post season. But today’s Generals walk with a swagger that was not there in years past. Generals football is a way of life, and Pierucci’s Generals seem to live it with a confidence that comes from believing in the system in place and themselves as players.
Will this year’s squad dominate like last year’s team, destroying their opponents, playing more than 50 percent of their games with a running clock in the second half? I don’t think there will be a season like that one by any team in the area for a long time. But, today’s Generals are still a special group that knows the bar has been set high and are ready to meet the challenge that is before them. With the returning players they have, added to the players from the highly touted JV squad from last year, this year’s team is going to be every bit as exciting to watch.
Generals football is back and is here to stay for quite a while!
Jamie Stewart is editor of The Shafter Press. His opinions are his own, and do not necessarily represent the paper or its management.