GHS Football: Ready to reload

Gilroy's quarterback Jamie Jensen hands off the ball to Lelan

Of all the things Gilroy High head football coach Rich Hammond
has tried to drill into his players over the course of spring
practices being held the past two weeks, the main point has been
that last season’s run to the Central Coast Section championship
won’t mean a thing come next season.
If anything, that success will only make things more difficult
for the Mustangs.
Of all the things Gilroy High head football coach Rich Hammond has tried to drill into his players over the course of spring practices being held the past two weeks, the main point has been that last season’s run to the Central Coast Section championship won’t mean a thing come next season.

If anything, that success will only make things more difficult for the Mustangs.

“The fact of the matter is; one, the expectations are raised when you have success,” Hammond said, “and then two, going up the hill the second time is a lot harder because everybody knows you’re coming.”

Having snuck up on several opponents last year, Gilroy – which put together the most productive passing attack in CCS history during the 2007 season – will have a bullseye on its back starting with a Week 1 home game against Archbishop Mitty on Sept. 12.

Public enemy No. 1 will be quarterback Jamie Jensen, who shattered every passing mark in GHS history, as well as many CCS records, by throwing for 4, 323 yards and 41 touchdowns. Despite losing key contributors at the offensive line and receiving positions, Jensen thinks the offensive unit for this upcoming season could be even better.

“Our offense is coming along,” Jensen said before practice Wednesday. “We have some young guys. I think we’re just going to reload.”

His targets will include Sean Hale and Dante Fullard, who combined for 1,820 yards and 15 TDs receiving last season, wideout Lelan Gettys and a newcomer to the varsity level in tight end Steven Martinez.

A quarterback for much of his career, Martinez missed last season due to academic problems. With Jensen now filling the signal-caller position, Martinez, who is back on the right track in the classroom, admitted he is more motivated than ever to contribute.

“I’ve never played receiver before, but I know I can catch,” Martinez said. “And I’m fast enough, so I can score.

“Most of my family last year was pretty down on me, so I’m trying to do my family proud (this year). That’s my goal.”

One noticeable addition to the Mustangs’ football family is Chris Vasseur, Gilroy’s new defensive coordinator.

Most recently, Vasseur served as a D-coordinator at Los Altos High School after working as an assistant to San Jose State Associate Head Coach Keith Burns. Only 24-years old, Vasseur is a high energy guy that preaches “playing fast.”

“X’s and O’s are important, but the most important thing is to have [players] arrive (to the ball) in a bad mood,” he said.

Operating out of a 4-4 base, Vasseur’s defense will offer “a lot of illusions. Most times what you see is not what you’re going to get.”

Three returning starters on the defensive side who have stepped up as leaders so far, according to coaches, are safeties Tony Travis and Richie Sotelo, and middle linebacker Lukas Fortino.

“Because of Tony and Richie Sotelo, I’ll be able to install a lot of packages,” Vasseur said.

“[Fortino] is smart and able to adjust on the fly.”

Overseeing everything, Hammond has been impressed with the passion on display by the defense.

“I think the defense has done very, very well over the course of the spring,” Hammond said.

Still, to match or exceed the school-record of 10 wins, as well as capture another Tri-County Athletic League title, which was the first outright league title for the Mustangs since 1981, more work will have to be done.

“It’s been a productive spring, but I still don’t think we’re anywhere near the commitment and work ethic we need to be at in order for us to be champions,” Hammond said.

“I guess that’s why we have the summer.”

Here that boys, double-days are just around the corner.

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