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Published November 27th, 2019
Lamorinda Freshmen and JV Teams - Foundations for Success
From Left: 35- Robby Horst, 30- Dashel Weaver, 28- Robbie Mascheroni, 2- Greg Palamountain, 36- Lucas Concepcion, 59- Maddex Mastrov and 26- Brendan Comerford Photo provided

If you were to peruse the rosters of the Acalanes, Campolindo and Miramonte football teams, every player would have at least one thing in common - at one point, they all played for a freshman and/or JV team. These are teams that practice and play as hard as the varsity players but generally perform in front of much smaller crowds, primarily made up of parents and friends.
Having an undefeated team at any level merits great appreciation due to its rarity. Three years ago, the Miramonte Girls Water Polo team and the past two years, the Acalanes Girls Water Polo teams have gone undefeated and were duly praised.
Flying way under the radar this past fall, there were two teams that went through their seasons undefeated. They were the Campolindo freshmen football team that went 10-0 and the Acalanes JV football team that went 9-0. The closest margin of victory for Acalanes was by 22 points and they averaged 38 points while only giving up 2 points per game. They also earned local bragging rights by defeating Campolindo and Miramonte by a combined score of 71-0. Campolindo had only three games that were decided by seven points or less and returned the favor by defeating Acalanes by a score of 49-12
Acalanes' varsity head coach Floyd Burnsed witnessed the commitment the JV team showed all season: "They are a very dedicated group. These kids lifted on Tuesday and Thursday at 6:45 a.m. and we always had a great turnout each of those days."
As a rule, Burnsed keeps his sophomores on the JV roster but "when there was a need where we had an injury or two on the varsity, we would bring up some of the sophomores for that game and then send them back to the JV."
Burnsed brought up a number of their sophomores to the varsity for the playoffs though few get to see the field. "It's a huge jump from their sophomore to their junior year," said Burnsed. "That's why it's going to really help them coming up with us now to see how we practice and play. It'll give them a leg up."
The Don's JV team did not have an easy schedule defeating teams like Vintage (10-1), Oakland (7-3), Las Lomas (7-2-1) and Campolindo (7-3). Head coach Greg Young appreciated how special his team was this season: "It wasn't just the athletic talent of this group. There was tremendous leadership along with a hard-working personality, a passion for the game and a fearlessness made for football. It all just came together." The success of the team was no surprise to Young as he had been the team's freshmen head coach the prior season that had an 8-1-1 record: "We predicted that we would be undefeated this year."
The health and depth of a team can always dictate the success or failure of a season and for Acalanes, the team stayed remarkably healthy, said Young: "We only had one player that went both ways, which was running back Evan Malmquist, but he also shared the running with Dante Montgomery while starting on defense. We had 20 players that started and we dressed 42 out of 42 for our last three games. There were no concussions or broken bones, which I feel is as impressive as our points on offense and defense. "
The individual statistics for the players were as impressive as the team's record. Malmquist averaged 9.2 yards/carry and scored eight touchdowns. Logan Ketchum had 14 tackles when called up to the varsity and averaged seven tackles/game for the JV, quarterback Luke Suza completed 71.4% of his passes and threw 24 touchdowns and only two interceptions and wide receiver Will Berrian caught 30 passes and scored 13 touchdowns, averaging 21.2 yards/reception.
It's the consistency of the program that Young feels led to the team's current success: "With Coach Burnsed, we are able to have the same offense, defense and special teams."
For Young, it's the players that are ultimately responsible for the team's record: "As soon as the season ends, they're back to work. They believe in their hearts that they have a destiny as a varsity team they will go far and they're all about working hard and that leadership permeates throughout the team with a real positive attitude. They're a joy to be around."
With a freshmen team, it's a lot harder to predict how your season is going to evolve, says Campolindo head coach Darell Breedlove, in his eighth-year coaching for the Cougars: "It's always tough to know in advance with a freshmen team how good it will be. They've mostly played in flag football leagues. You never know what you're going to get. We were blessed this year with an abundance of talent and kids that had a strong aptitude as well as an understanding what a team situation is."
For freshmen teams, it's primarily a learning experience, says Breedlove: "At the freshmen level, there is a ton of teaching that goes on before the season and it continues throughout the year. The hardest things to get are the fundamentals of football. We were fortunate to have a pretty solid group that paid attention, better than any other freshmen team that I had coached before and they really worked to improve on their fundamentals and how we approached the game which is why we performed so well."
The value of a freshmen team is not lost on varsity head coach Kevin Macy: "We are fighting to keep our freshmen team going. Some schools are more than willing to drop their freshmen football teams and if we took that path, we just wouldn't exist. Everyone here is invested at every level. The freshmen, JV and varsity integrate very well together."
Breedlove attributes the success at Campolindo to Macy: "Kevin is a coach for all of the teams. When I have a specific question or need for an upcoming game, I ask him what drill he recommends and what method he believes would help the team get through this obstacle the best and he brings it over and we go through it and the kids learn a ton."
The connection between Breedlove, assistant varsity coach Bill Levy and Macy goes back 50 years to junior high school and when they played together on the same high school football team. It's this connection that contributes to the consistency of the program, says Breedlove: "Whatever you got that works, we're going to share it with the other groups."
The test of character for the freshmen teams can be as strong as it is for the varsity, even as they learn the physicality, subtlety and nuances of the game, according to Breedlove: "The improvement of the players through the freshmen year is astronomical. There was great athleticism and commitment that our team brought this year. In our first game at Rio Vista, it was 104 degrees and was played on a dry grass field. We were severely tested in a lot of areas and we had to put our quarterback, Dash Weaver, in at linebacker where he forced a fumble late in the game allowing us to win 25-22. It's those type of situations where kids get tested and they show their stripes."
It's the entire freshman experience that Macy deems so crucial: "The freshmen need to know who their leaders are and let the leaders elevate and learn that experience. We play with a commitment that these kids have to each other and develop a spirit in the way they play."
Breedlove concurs with that assessment: "Many of the kids play other sports so they're not coming to us without a competitive background. However, they do have to buy in to the program and there's a lot to learn. You don't get them all in at the freshman level but if you get enough of them, you can have success. Our 10-0 record was a great accomplishment but you don't go in anticipating or making it your goal to go undefeated. You want to see great improvement, you want a wonderful time and you want to build a rapport with the kids so they stay in the program."
Macy is not above having sophomores on the varsity with one proviso: "We'll only bring up sophomores to the varsity if they're going to play. We brought up seven freshmen to dress for our playoff games (pictured) because it's an honor for these kids to witness the game from the sidelines."
The freshmen that earned that distinction are: QB/DB Dashel Weaver, LB/FB Robby Horst, RB/S Greg Palamountain, RB/LB Brendan Comerford, OT/DT Maddex Mastrov, WR/DE Robbie Mascheroni and RB/WR/DB Lucas Concepcion.
"They've all done a great job," Breedlove says. "It's a real opportunity for them to get guidance by being around the varsity players and learning what it's like on that level."

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