Count Claremont among the many schools that are coming off disappointing showings in 2016. And yes, like most of the others, the Wolfpack are going to take the field in 2017 with a new coach in Shane Hile.
Hile remains optimistic even though he has a couple of huge voids to fill. Running back Duy Tran-Sampson, who carried the offense the last three years, has graduated and moved on to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo while Soloman Tuliaupupu, one of the top-ranked linebackers in the country, transferred to Mater Dei in the spring.
But Hile, previously on staff as an assistant at Upland, chooses to focus on what he can control.
“We can’t worry about who is not here, we have to work with the guys that are here,” he said. “The ones that are here have bought in and are working hard and it’s one of the closest knit groups I have been around.”
The offense will be much different for the Wolfpack, 37 overall and 2-3 in the Palomares League a year ago. The passing game was almost non-existent in recent year thanks to the presence of a dominant back but HIle expects more balance this season.
He also has the benefit of a solid quarterback in junior Reggie Retzlaff who had to sit out the first five games last year after transferring from Webb and has looked good thus far.
“We’re excited about seeing what he can do wit a full year under his belt,” Hile said of his quarterback. “We’re definitely looking for a better balance. Of course you like to run because that opens it up for the passing game but we want to be able to do both.”
Senior running back Drew Johnson, who was on the junior varsity last year, will inherit the spot vacated by Tran-Samspon. He’ll have help front from senior linemen Noah Gonzalez and Ryan Bush, who will also be key players on the other side of the ball.
Senior linebacker Tommy Viat will head the defensive effort.
There are no holdovers from the previous coaching staff. Dillan Clark, previously at Citrus College and Upland High School, will serve as coordinator while Anthony Hile,the coach’s son, will be defensive coordinator.
The new coach likes the work ethic he has seen out of his team. One of the concerns this year will be depth with the number of total players in the program down considerably. The good thing is that the programs biggest numbers i in the freshman class so there is room to grow.
Aug. 23 – At Norte Vista
Sept. 1 – At Upland
Sept. 8 – Damien
Sept. 15 – Pomona
Sept. 22 – At Alta Loma
Oct. 6 – Glendora
Oct. 13 – South Hills
Oct. 20 – At Bonita
Oct. 27 – Ayala
Nov. 2 – At Diamond Bar