Arroyo Valley embraces recent past

The 2007 season was a pretty darn good one for Arroyo Valley High School. The Hawks, led by smooth quarterback Robert Fuller and a bevy of quick, talented receivers, passed their way to a 7-3-1 record and advanced to the second round of the CIF-SS Central Division playoffs.

After a 4-6 hiccup with a young team a year ago, second-year Hawks coach Marcus Soward sees a lot of parallels between his 2009 squad and the team that was setting school records left and right two years before. And he’s pretty sure that the end result will be just as good, if not better, than what the 2007 Hawks authored.

“When I see this team, I see 2007 all over again,” Soward said. “We struggled last year finding that quarterback that could really break down defense with his arm. I’m pretty sure we got a good one and you’ll see us flinging the ball around a ton.”

Soward’s excitement is based on the ability of junior quarterback Michael Yearwood and a fleet of receivers led by seniors Damon Ogburn and Steven Williams. Yearwood, who moved to San Bernardino from Los Angeles last season, has been spending the off-season breaking down film and perfecting Arroyo’s past-happy spread offense. Meanwhile Ogburn and Williams, along with every other Hawk skill-position player, competed on the track team to pick up speed and lock down techinque.

While Arroyo’s offense is expected to be an aerial circus, the defense will be led by Ofa Fifita. Fifita, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior, has plugged the middle of the Hawk defense since he was a sophomore. He’s also been popular on the Division I recruiting circuit, receiving offers from Washington State, Washington, UNLV, Colorado State, Nevada and Hawaii.

“Ofa is a lot like (Oregon State signee) Michael Philipp from last year – a quiet, understated kid that will lead by example,” Soward said. “He’s very good in the classroom and is a ‘yes, sir; no, sir’ kid with adults, but when he gets on the field, he brings it.”

After last season’s finale, a loss to Colton, Arroyo Valley players met at midfield saying that ‘On Monday, next season starts.’ With that next season coming up quick, the Hawks are confident that it will have a better ending.

Arroyo Valley’s schedule (Home games in CAPS, league games with *)

Sept. 11 – HEMET WEST VALLEY
Sept. 18 – at Rialto
Sept. 25 – EISENHOWER
Oct. 2 – vs. Alta Loma (Chaffey College)
Oct. 9 – SILVERADO
Oct. 16 – at Colton*
Oct. 23 – at Pacific*
Oct. 30 – SAN GORGONIO*
Nov. 6 – at San Bernardino*
Nov. 13 – CAJON*