The Chula Vista Spartans have taken their lumps over the past few seasons as the program has steadily rebuilt since Judd Rachow took over the head coaching reins in 2005. However, the sky could be the limit this season for the Spartans.
Rachow’s squad enters the season as the team picked by other Metro-Mesa League coaches to win this year’s league title and go on to represent itself well in the San Diego Section Division I playoffs.
Rachow remains cautiously optimistic but also realizes he does have something special to work with this season.
“There are some very exciting expectations for this year,” the CVHS coach said. “We have the talent to go far. It just depends on us getting the right mentality. If we can do that, everything will take care of itself.”
Top returners on offense read like a dream: running back Jevante Reed, receivers Richard Walker and Ray Holden and quarterback Ricky Estevez.
Estevez, who was thrust into the signal-calling position as a sophomore, threw for 1,709 yards and 16 touchdowns last season.
Holden caught 53 yards for 765 yards and five touchdowns last season while Walker grabbed 33 aerials for 493 yards and five scores.
Reed established his name with a 389-yard rushing performance in a 41-38 non-league loss against Aliso Niguel toward the end of last season. He rushed for 1,278 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 2011, averaging 7.4 yards per attempt and 128 yards per game.
Reed led the team with 15 touchdowns; he also finished the season with 206 receiving yards and four TDs via the air lanes.
The Spartans defeated Escondido, 30-0, in the opening round of the playoffs, then drew eventual Division I champion Poway in the quarterfinals, dropping a 42-14 contest to end their season at 6-6.
Chula Vista expects to be balanced this season on both offense and defense. Several of the team’s offensive stars, such as Reed and Walker, also expect to earn their share of kudos on defense.
Reed will also play linebacker while Walker expects to also see duty at free safety.
Hui Wolfgramm (fullback/linebacker), Maake Wolfgramm (cornerback) and Adrian De La Vega (cornerback) help comprise the talented Spartan secondary.
De La Vega was credited with two picks and a fumble recovery last season.
Holden, Walker and Reed were second team all-league offensive selections last year while lineman David Zavala was a second team all-league pick as a junior in 2011.
Estevez underscores the rampant enthusiasm that permeates the team.
“We’re very excited,” the CVHS quarterback said. “We have a lot of weapons, a lot of experience. We also have some newcomers. We just want to keep competing and working hard.
“As for myself, I will put my trust in my offensive line and my teammates.”
Earning that trust are linemen Erubey Delgado, Ray Samuels, Sergio Ruiz, Alexis Sanchez and Zavala. Rachow predicted the team will be “solid up front.”
New to the group is Samuels (6-3, 350), who moves to tackle, allowing Zavala (6-1, 315) to move to guard. “That should solidify the strong side,” Rachow said.
Sebastian Medina, a junior, joins Hui Wolfgramm in the middle of the defense.
Chula Vista met two of its upcoming Metro-Mesa opponents in a summer passing tournament in July, defeating Bonita Vista (36-12) before dropping a 25-19 decision in the championship game to defending league champion Olympian.
OHS coach Gil Warren was quick to point out his team’s victory against the Spartans in the passing tournament outing (without a full complement of linemen and defensive specialists) meant “absolutely nothing.”
Rachow agreed with the veteran coach.
“I’m very proud of the way we’ve played over the summer,” the CVHS coach said. “We’ve played some good teams. I’m very happy with the way our team performed both physically and mentally. We hope to build on this for the upcoming season.”
Chula Vista Spartans 2012 Schedule
31: Granite Hills at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
7: Chula Vista at Sweetwater, 7 p.m.
14: Chula Vista at Hilltop, 7 p.m.
21: Mira Mesa at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
28: Chula Vista at Brawley, 7 p.m.
5: Eastlake at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
12: Bonita Vista at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
19: Olympian at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
26: Chula Vista at Otay Ranch, 7 p.m.
2: Tesoro at Chula Vista, 7 p.m.
San Diego Section 2012 Preseason Rankings
(2011 records denoted)
Top 10: 1. Helix (12-1); 2. Oceanside (9-3-1); 3. Cathedral Catholic (12-1); 4. Mission Hills (8-4-1); 5. Poway (12-0-1); 6. Vista (7-6); 7. Eastlake (8-4); 8. La Costa Canyon (9-3); 9. Valley Center (12-1); 10. Steele Canyon (8-4).
Others: 11. Lincoln; 12. St. Augustine; 13. Mira Mesa; 14. Westview; 15. Chula Vista; 16. Olympian; 17. Madison; 18, San Pasqual; 19. Grossmont; 20. (tie) Carlsbad, Santa Fe Christian; 22. Christian