The Olympian Eagles program reached an apex last season with a perfect 10-0 regular season, the school’s first league championship and first playoff victory and a trip to the San Diego Section Division IV quarterfinals. Despite key losses to graduation, head coach Gil Warren feels the Eagles program has become just that — a bona fide football program.
“What’s different from the past is that we now consider ourselves to be a self-regenerating program,” said Warren, whose team stretched its season-opening unbeaten streak to 11-0 following a 45-7 first-round playoff win against Santana last year. “It’s true that we lost some key players to graduation but now we feel we’re in a position to deal with that with the people we have returning the and overall depth in the program.”
There is reason for optimism for another strong showing this season and the prospect of winning another league title, though in another league. Olympian moves to the new Metro-Pacific League this year as part of a realignment of the Metro Conference into three playing circuits.
Leading the charge, both literally and figuratively, will be a trio of running backs: Alex Cornist, Dre Gibson and Ian Autman. The trio combined for more than 2,000 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns in 2009, with Cornist pacing the pack with 877 yards and 15 touchdowns. Gibson rushed for 604 yards and scored 11 TDs while Autman gained 608 yards and scored seven times. A first team all-league pick, Cornist also scored on two pass receptions to lead the team with 17 touchdowns.
Add to the mix the scrambling ability of new quarterback Cobrin Humphrey and the Eagles appear extremely dangerous.
Humphrey touchdown passes to Nik Castro, Andre Snowden and Randy Jones in a 19-12 passing tournament victory against Montgomery over the summer in the first of what expects to be several championship meetings down the line between the two schools, now both charter Metro-Pacific League members.
“It looks like we might be able to pass the ball,” Warren noted. “But we’re going to be primarily a running team with those three returning running backs. We’ll pass the ball enough to keep the other team’s defense honest. It’s going to help us.”
The Eagles look to score high in the defensive department as well. Santana Leomiti earned first team all-league honors as a sophomore linebacker last season while Asante Gibson (defensive back), Jacob Samuel (linebacker) and Humphrey (defensive back) all were accorded second team all-league defensive honors.
Olympian appears deep in the secondary, with junior Devin Flores and senior Brandon Casillas joining Leomiti and Cornist in the linebacker unit and senior Steven Exum joining Castro, Samuel, Autman and both Gibsons in the defensive backfield.
Leomiti (running back) and Exum (wide receiver) will also see duty on the offensive side of the line of scrimmage.
Flores, Samuel and Casillas combined for 13.5 sacks last season. Leomiti led the team with 81 tackles in 2009 while Asante Gibson totaled 68 hits to rank third on the team, followed by Samuel with 65 stops (fourth on the team). Casillas had three fumble recoveries while Humphrey and Castro each had two interceptions.
“We’re going to force things on the other team,” Warren said.
Going 10-0 in the regular season might be a task this year with a major upgrade in the team’s schedule. Olympian will play three Division I teams this season, including a home match-up against Torrey Pines, three Division II teams and a pair of Division II squads. The Eagles have two Division IV foes on their schedule: Madison and Mater Dei Catholic.
The schedule upgrade is in line with the continued upgrade in the quality of the Olympian program. “I don’t know how this will affect our record in our first five games but we’re certainly going to try our best,” Warren said.
The Eagles kick off 2010 regular season play with a Sept. 10 non-league game at Granite Hills.
2010 Varsity Schedule
10: Olympian at Granite Hills, 7 p.m.
17: Torrey Pines at Olympian, 7 p.m.
24: Olympian vs. Bonita Vista at Southwestern College, 7 p.m.
1: Olympian at Madison, 6:30 p.m.
8: Mater Dei at Olympian, 7 p.m.
15: San Ysidro at Olympian, 7 p.m.
22: Olympian at Hilltop, 7 p.m.
29: Olympian at Montgomery, 7 p.m.
5: Castle Park at Olympian, 7 p.m.
12: Sweetwater at Olympian, 7 p.m.