In its third season, Anzar football thriving

Anzar quarterback Samuel Jimenez completed 7-of-11 passes for 127 yards in last week's loss to Pinewood.

In only its third year of fielding a football program, Anzar High has made remarkable progress.
The Hawks went 1-6 in 2011, 2-6 last year and have a good chance of finishing this season with four to five victories. Slowly but surely, coach Luis Espinoza has made football one of the go-to sports for male athletes at the San Juan Bautista school.
“Getting the wins are great, but at the end of the season, my goal is to have kids tell other kids they had fun playing,” said Espinoza, whose team hosts Crystal Springs Uplands-Hillsborough on Friday at 5 p.m. “Because if you do that, more kids will come out to play. And that gets the program moving.”
And thriving. With a 30-man roster — Anzar’s largest since the program’s inception — Espinoza finally has a decent amount of depth at a number of positions.
Espinoza, who is an on-campus teacher, has recruited a number of kids from other sports to try out for football.
He found a gem a couple of years ago in star tailback Sergio Gonzalez, who has rushed for a combined 293 yards in the last two games. Agile, quick and strong, Gonzalez never played football until his sophomore year in high school.
“I saw him at one of the school’s soccer games and also had him in my Spanish class,” Espinoza said. “One day I ask him to come out for the football team, and he kind of smiled before asking, ‘What am I going to do?’ I told him that we’d figure out a position for him.”
Or three. Gonzalez also starts at cornerback and spells Sam Jimenez at quarterback on occasion.
As talented as he is, the senior actually didn’t play running back at all in 2012. On offense, Gonzalez was a wide receiver for his first two years before switching to running back this season.
“With his speed and ability to get open, we had him at receiver on offense,” Espinoza said. “And he liked hitting, so corner was a natural fit. And what can you say about what he’s done at running back — it’s been phenomenal. He just keeps getting better and better. With a lot of our kids, it’s simply a matter of exposing them to the game and making it a great experience.”
The Hawks (2-3 Mission Trail 8-man league) are coming off a 52-40 loss to Pinewood-Los Altos Hills. Despite racking up 411 yards of total offense — including 274 on the ground — Anzar trailed the entire way.
That’s because the Hawks couldn’t stop Pinewood QB Kevin Tracy, who completed 16-of-18 passes for 283 yards and four touchdowns.
“Their receivers were just too fast, and it was almost impossible to match up with their speed,” Espinoza said. “Even when we had them covered, their quarterback threw a nice ball.”
Once again, turnovers hurt the Hawks, who lost three of their six fumbles. Pinewood converted two of Anzar’s three turnovers into 14 points, and the other Hawks’ turnover came inside the Pinewood 10-yard line.
“We should be able to beat them (Crystal Springs Uplands), but it depends on how well we hold on to the football,” Espinoza said.
Crystal Springs Uplands (2-2, 1-2) couldn’t field a team last year due to a shortage of numbers, but it has been a strong team in the past. However, all signs point to Anzar being a superior team.
Especially with tight end Victor Flores in the mix. A 6-foot-3, 200-pound junior, Flores had a season-high six receptions for 92 yards against Pinewood.
Flores is one of the biggest targets in the league, and he’s formed a nice connection with Jimenez, who was 7 of 11 for 127 yards in last week’s loss.

Leave your comments