There they were on a warm mid-August afternoon, practicing under the watchful eye of head coach Judd Rachow in preparation for that Friday's Blue-White intrasquad scrimmage game at Chula Vista High School.
These are the 2010 CVHS Spartans and it might take a program for fans to get accustomed to all the new names on the roster.
“We graduated just about everybody,” Rachow said succinctly. “If I had to use one word to describe our season this year, it would be challenging.”
While the roster may turn over each year, there is one constant in high school football: neighborhood rivalries.
The Spartans appear to have cornered the market in the department in the Metro Conference with a trio of rivalry games: the Kiwanis Bowl against Hilltop, Legacy of Pride Game against Sweetwater (the trophy is a 1930s-era helmet) and another with an unnamed prize against Castle Park.
Chula Vista’s extensive roster remodel is expected to make all three games hotly contested affairs this season in a year fraught with the large-scale exodus of talented graduates.
“The other schools are pretty much in the same boat this year as we are,” Rachow said. “It seems that everybody lost key people to graduation.”
Taking over the signal-calling duties for departed quarterback Victor Perez, a Spanos All-Star Game honoree in July, is sophomore Richard Estevez. The varsity newcomer has a lanky body build and isn’t afraid to venture from the pocket but has yet to develop a powerful physique. But the Spartan spirit already appears instilled in him.
“First year being varsity is exciting and nervous but I want to get that banner all three years,” Estevez said.
Rachow’s squad will play six non-league games this season in the slightly reworked Mesa League with the departure of Hilltop to the decidedly new-look four-team South Bay League. The Spartans look to be challenged with games against La Costa Canyon, Mira Mesa and Encino Crespi but have kept their local rivalry games to add spice to their schedule.
Chula Vista’s three rivalry games come in the span of five weeks — all on the road. The Spartans visit Sweetwater on Sept. 10, then travel to Hilltop the following Friday. CV closes out non-league play with an Oct. 8 contest at CPHS.
“It’s going to be challenging but I feel we can be competitive if we stay disciplined,” Rachow said. “We have some good talent here this year — it’s just not experienced at the varsity level. It might take a couple of scrimmages to see where people are best suited.”
Legacy of Pride Game
Sept. 10: Chula Vista at Sweetwater
Sept. 17: Chula Vista at Hilltop
Battle for the Boot
Nov. 5: Bonita Vista at Eastlake
Nov. 5: Southwest at San Ysidro
Battle for the Bell
Nov. 12: Southwest at Mar Vista
Nov. 12: Montgomery at Castle Park