With his first class of seniors finally taking the field in year three of Citrus Valley football, Blackhawks coach Peter Smolin is starting to see his vision for the Blackhawks program take shape. But he realizes that Citrus Valley isn’t quite at the “normal” stage yet.
“We are still going to be young,” Smolin said. “We’ll be pretty junior dominated – I think we only have six seniors that will start this year. But these guys are starting to look like men. Physically the difference between now and two years ago, even now and last year, is significant.”
One of the “men” Smolin is referencing is junior tight end Luke Taylor. Taylor (6-5, 240) has already started to create some buzz on the recruiting trail, as he was invited to USC’s Invite-only summer camp this year. Starting quarterback Dalton Douglas (6-4, 210) and offensive lineman Nick Hospodar (6-4, 255), also juniors, also pass the looks test with flying colors.
Hospodar is a rarity on the Blackhawks though, as Citrus Valley is low on size and high on smaller skill-position players, something that Smolin hopes his team will be able to work around.
“I think that we’ll be pretty athletic and pretty quick, but the key to our season is how we stand up to other teams in the trenches,” Smolin said. “I have no doubt that our effort will be there, but it could eventually turn into a question of physics.”
Assuming that the Blackhawks get adequate blocking, they will possess a solid one-two punch at running back to complement Douglas. Senior fullback Jason Snow (5-10, 175) excelled at tailback a year ago, rushing for 1,045 yards and nine touchdowns on 165 carries. But he’ll get moved over to fullback thanks to the return of senior Andrew Gonzales (5-9, 155) – who missed last year with a broken clavicle after leading the Blackhawks in rushing in 2009.
Defensively, the main two stalwarts returning for Citrus Valley is senior defensive tackle Stanley Glass (5-10, 210), a first-team all-Mountain Valley League selection last season, and senior defensive back Tyler Means (5-10, 175).
Citrus Valley schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)
Sept. 2: NEW WESTMINSTER (B.C.)
Sept. 9: at Palm Desert Xavier Prep
Sept. 16: at Indio Shadow Hills
Sept. 22: MURRIETA MESA
Sept. 30: SANTA ANA CALVARY CHAPEL
Oct. 14: RIVERSIDE NOTRE DAME*
Oct. 21: at Rim of the World*
Oct. 28: BANNING*
Nov. 4: at Jurupa Hills*
Nov. 10: RUBIDOUX*