Anzar High junior Isaac Kapadia will take over as the starting quarterback for the Hawks football team in the upcoming 2023 season, which kicks off against Stuart Hall on Aug. 26 10am. (Juan Reyes/Hollister Free Lance)

Anzar High football head coach Greg Brazil has high hopes to break expectations this upcoming season because for better or worse—usually for worse—they have always had a reputation in the Pacific Coast Athletic League as the low man on the totem pole.

Some would even go as far as calling the Hawks the punching bag that opponents use to give their players some inspiration or perhaps attempt something new if their season is going well.

On top of it, Brazil also feels an expectation for how Anzar reacts to having that reputation. 

“I’m hoping that the football team can come out this year and break expectations,” Brazil said. “I want to sit at the end of the year at that League meeting with the other coaches with a smile on my face saying I told you so.”

The Hawks last season finished with a 3-5 overall record and placed third in the PCAL 8-man football division, going 2-2 in league play.

Senior running back Julian Martinez is part of a solid mix of returning players along with new players looking to make an impact in 2023. 

“It feels a little nerve racking, it’s our first game in a while,” he said. “First game I’m looking to ball-out, have some good stats. Not just for me but for the team, too.”

Brazil—who was the offensive coordinator under former head coach Rowan Tupuivao—wants to emulate what they did last season along with a few new wrinkles to become one of the highest scoring offenses in the league.

He said the Hawks will rely on the running backs to help set up the pass game, taking opposing defenses and trying his best to condense them in the middle of the field early in the game.

Junior quarterback Isaac Kapadia, who last season played as a tailback, will take over the offense. He has some big shoes to fill after Max Castro’s departure due to graduation. 

“I think everything is clicking for us,” Kapadia said. “Still need more chemistry with them because we’re a really new team…But I think we’re really improving, just need to get more people out here because we can’t do anything with only 15 sometimes.”

Anzar is still plagued with having a smaller roster than most schools due to a student enrollment of just 328 kids, according to the U.S. News and World Report website. They currently have 17 eligible players for this weekend’s season and home opener against Stuart Hall of San Francisco on Aug. 26 at 10am. 

Brazil’s goal is getting the new players up to speed, getting them used to the offense and understanding their mentality on defense. 

Last season, the Hawks took the lead in most games going into halftime but then general fatigue and injuries started to happen.

“You can never plan for that,” Brazil said. “This year, what we’re really trying to do is make sure that every player from our top veterans like Julian [Martinez] to our brand new freshmen that are coming out, are knowledgeable and able to hold their own on the field.” 

Brazil said last year’s goal was to bring the program back and attempt to add gravitas to the program. So, the focus was much more on formations and getting the football knowledge instilled into the players. 

The downside was the coaching staff wasn’t able to work with the underclassmen.

The veteran players this season became much more inundated with the system and helped the younger players including Martinez, who Brazil believes can be the best player in their league. 

Brazil also praised sophomore linebacker Andres Garcia as one of the best defenders and has potential to earn the league’s defensive player of the year award. Fellow teammate sophomore Justin Vermilyer is another underclassman that has stood out to the first-year skipper.

“We have got some boys who are some of the hungriest people that have been around,” Brazil said. “I expect them to bring their intensity and their everything every single game so that they can walk off proud of themselves.” 

Kapadia said the goal is to win a league championship and hang that banner inside the gymnasium for the first time in the program’s history.   

“I would feel proud just knowing that we did that,” he said. 

Anzar will compete against Crystal Springs Uplands, Pinewood, Priory and Trinity Christian for a shot at the PCAL 8-man football title. Martinez said he wants to take the Hawks to the next level and feels like the program is headed in the right direction.

“I’m gonna do the most I can to get us 10-0, 8-0 and try to have a winning winning season,” he said.

Anzar Hawks

Head coach: Greg Brazil (1st year)

League: Pacific Coast Athletic League 8-man football division

Last year’s record: 3-5, 2-2 (3rd in PCAL)

Postseason: Did not qualify

2023 schedule

Aug. 26: Stuart Hall, 10am

Aug. 31: California School for the Deaf, 3:30pm

Sept. 9: at Riverdale Christian, 11am

Sept. 14: Cornerstone Christian, 3:30pm

Sept. 23: Laton, 3:30pm

Sept. 30: Harker, noon

Oct. 6: at Priory*, 4pm

Oct. 13: Crystal Springs Uplands, 3:30pm

Oct. 20: Trinity Christian, 6pm  

Oct. 27: at Pinewood, 3pm

*Pacific Coast Athletic League game

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