Thanks in large part to a greater familiarity with its offensive scheme last year, the San Luis Obispo High football program made big strides.
The Tigers are hoping that having one more year of that experience will lead to even bigger steps this season.
A year ago, during its second season executing a triple-option offense implemented by coach David Kelley’s staff at the start of 2009, San Luis Obispo averaged 111.3 more yards of total offense from the previous season, increased its per-game scoring by 8.3 points and committed one fewer turnover per game.
“We’re same-old, same-old,” Kelley said. “We’re doing what we do, and we’re going to try to do it better.
“They know it now,” he said of the system. “They’ve got three years of experience under their belt. It’s just like riding a bike.”
The upswing that took place last season reached a crescendo with a 38-17 win over then-defending PAC 7 champion Righetti, which at the time was in first place and boasting a 10-game league winning streak.
It came after another convincing piece of evidence for the Tigers’ turnaround, a 34-12 win over nonleague rival Morro Bay, which was a reversal of the Pirates’ 34-10 win in 2009.
“We’re really acquainted with it,” senior right tackle Skylor Gram said of the triple option. “We’ve been getting rep after rep every day. Practice makes perfect.”
San Luis Obispo closed last season losing its final three league games to finish 2-4 (4-6 overall), missing the playoffs. This year’s squad, which is up to 43 players from 34 in 2010, is looking to build upon the momentum shown last year.
“It’s coming together well and everyone’s working hard,” junior quarterback Garrett Giovannelli said. “This year we’re trying to work on finishing more. We want to get through that fourth quarter.”
Giovannelli has taken over for Anthony Maez, an efficient dual-threat who graduated after accounting for 2,004 yards of total offense and 20 touchdowns as a senior.
“It’s pretty tough,” Giovannelli said of following in Maez’s footsteps, “but he’s been giving me a lot of lessons and helping me out a lot.”
Running backs Trevor MacLeod, Bryan Coburn and Jake Lacy each bring experience from last year into this season. They’ll be running behind an offensive line that Kelley pointed to as one of the Tigers’ strengths.
Right guard Jack Ferguson is also one of the area’s best middle linebackers. Ferguson, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior, was the Tigers’ second-leading tackler last season with 101.
Two other linemen, Cole Foubert (at left guard and defensive tackle) and Gram (defensive end), are also expected to be regular contributors on both offense and defense.
Coburn (cornerback) and MacLeod (free safety) also figure to start on both sides of the ball, while Marek Johnson and Jacob Flores are welcome additions to the linebacker corps.
San Luis Obispo will also be able to utilize one of the leading kickers on the Central Coast, senior Tanner Kahn, who displayed field-goal range out to 40 yards last year.
The Tigers open the season at Kingsburg, the defending CIF-Central Section Division 3 champion, Friday at 7 p.m.