After 8 long months without high school football, Los Altos Football is back with an overhaul from last year’s team. This year the Conquerors moved up to Division 5, got a new coaching staff, and are reloaded after a staggering 37 Seniors graduated from last year’s team.
New Coach Hector Spathias was hired to lead Los Altos Football after successful stints with Bassett and Montebello. He steps into a position last held by Dale Ziola, who resigned after six seasons. Coach Spathias decided to keep many traditions Los Altos Football has held over the years. He continued the annual Turnbull Canyon Run, where athletes run up Turnbull Canyon and come back down for a huge breakfast cooked by parents. Spathias also kicked off Fall practice at 12:01am, a tradition known as “Midnight Madness” that Ziola brought to Los Altos.
Spathias is a California native who grew up playing multiple sports including baseball, basketball, and football. He was driven by his mentality of always working to be a better player, which led him into the coaching ranks. Coach Spathias earned coach of the year honors as a baseball coach at Bassett, in addition to resurrecting a Bassett football program that had not seen a winning season in a decade. Spathias gave those athletes a chance to experience the feeling of winning before he moved on to coaching the offensive line at Montebello High School.
The Conquerors had a late start, but Spathias commented about the team’s improvement throughout the summer, “The team has improved a lot. In the first passing league we were getting lit up. Although later in the summer the team improved and participated in the Rams Passing Tournament, and finished really well in the Bonita Tournament.” Spathias later discussed some team goals for the season, “We want our kids to compete every game, as hard as they can, we would like to win more than we lose, make the playoffs and see what happens from there.”
Starting defensive tackle, Isaac Cruz feels good about the new head coach, “He is a relaxed guy, and a good football coach.” Wide receiver Rene Zaldivar commented, “It’s a new coach, a new year, he is a great coach, a great leader. The staff is great, and the team is looking forward to the next couple of weeks.”
The Fall season got started on August 17th as the Conquerors took on the Montebello Oilers and Covina Colts in the preseason scrimmage. The night was headlined by impressive runs from shifty Senior backs Anthony Lopez and Keith Anderson. Many starters were out on the offensive side including quarterback Kody Olmos. With Olmos out, Sophomore quarterback David Hacegaba helped drive the Conquerors down the field. The Oilers were unable to do much offensively throughout the night, which allowed the Conquerors to cruise to an easy 10-0 victory. As for the game against Covina, both teams struggled to score until the Colts scored in the final minutes winning 6-0. Los Altos showed that they can compete this year as Spathias commented, “The team did really good. Even with some of our offensive guys out we were still able to move the ball down the field.”
The team as a whole are striving to make the playoffs, but many San Gabriel Valley coaches believe this team will win only 2 to 3 games. With 37 seniors graduated it is understandable why those may feel the team is destined for a long season. Though many people did not know the underclassmen had strong season at the JV and Freshman level. The JV team finished 8-2 while the Freshman won the league title. This year’s revamped roster has some key starters returning in linebacker Gil Vazquez, quarterback Kody Olmos, and defensive back/running back Anthony Lopez.
Kody Olmos will have to adjust to his five new linemen, but has two standout receivers in sophomore Rene Zaldivar, and senior Quinn Peoples, while Lopez and Keith Anderson will be taking most of the reps at running back. As for the defense, seniors Tommy Rodriguez and Nick Ruiz will contribute at the linebacker position, and junior Isaac Cruz, as well as seniors Stephen Kemp and Vincent Ciffa will hold it down in the trenches. Another player to watch out for is senior defensive back Esteban Castro, who had a huge summer on the passing league circuit.
This Conqueror team is definitely going to play with a chip on their shoulder and something to prove to their doubters. Los Altos faces off against San Marino at home on Friday August 25th at 7pm. This game will be no easy feat for the Conquerors as San Marino is looking for their first victory against the team after going 0-2 the past two match-ups.