James Gilmet’s signature game of the 2016 football season came in the playoffs — the place where stars are made.
In Arroyo Grande’s thrilling win over Westlake in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 first-round game, the sophomore rushed for 225 yards and a touchdown. It was the sixth time that season Gilmet rushed for more than 100 yards in a game. Most of the season, one that saw him amass more than 1,100 yards and nine touchdowns, he was able to rack up yards using a combination of speed and power, along with benefiting from an experienced offensive line and a balanced offensive attack.
In his upcoming junior season, it’s his team.
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“He is going to be the marked man in our offense. Last year, everyone was worried about (quarterback) Sawyer (May) and (wide receiver) Matt Sill and all these other guys,” Arroyo Grande head coach Mike Hartman said. “This year, everyone is going to know who he is.”
Adding to the challenge, all five starters on the offensive line have graduated, leaving little experience up front. The only thing that remains, it seems, are the high expectations — and power.
Gilmet has added more than 10 pounds to his bulky 6-foot frame and comes into the season weighing around 205 pounds. He will need it for the extra carries and added weight of leadership.
“It’s kind of like I am being a coach for the younger kids now,” Gilmet said, adding he has missed the input he used to receive from former head coach Tom Goossen and May. “It’s been pretty hard.”
But with a junior and a sophomore still fighting to see who will start at quarterback at the varsity level for the first time, Arroyo Grande will stick to its running roots and hand it off to Gilmet and a host of other running options including seniors Josh Evans and Michael McLean.
Gilmet’s goal for this season?: Rush for over 1,000 yards again, score at least 10 touchdowns and lead Arroyo Grande to its third-straight PAC 5 title, with an eye on improving the team for next season.
Hartman’s expectations of Gilmet are less complex.
“I expect him to be tired at the end of the game,” Hartman said.
The Tribune 2017 prep football preview
Over the coming days, The Tribune will roll out its 2017 high school football preview looking at teams, top players and story lines from San Luis Obispo County schools leading to the opening of the season Friday. Find new daily content online at sanluisobispo.com/sports and in the Sports section starting Sunday.