Football gears up for a fresh season

The Warriors football team practices drills on the field as Coach Featherstone watches the potential wide-receivers. Photo credit: Jorge Villa

With the return of the fall semester comes the return of the Warriors’ football team as they look to bounce back from a less than stellar 2014 season.

The Warriors ended their season last year with a disappointing loss against Long Beach City College, their season’s record being 3-7 and 1-5 in the National Central Conference.

As they enter the new fall season, the Warriors look to start the season strong and to “get out of the gate early,” Coach Featherstone said.

“We’ve worked really hard, we’re bigger, faster, and we are now even more together as a team,” Featherstone said.

Even with the disappointing previous season, Coach Featherstone was still able to find positives among the negatives.

“We had a lot of good finishes, and by the end of the season, the kids had played hard,” Featherstone said. “We, unfortunately, also had a lot of concussions.”

Featherstone’s biggest goal for the Warriors this season is for the players to stay healthy.

“If we can stay healthy, I think we can really be in the hunt [for playoffs],” Featherstone said. “We have always been a team that has been able to hunt. We’ve had four years in a row where we’ve come close to the National Championships. We just have to take one game at a time, because we have a tough conference.”

Featherstone had no favorites when it came to players, giving praise to all various aspects of the team.

“We have three really good quarterbacks,” Featherstone said, “[and] we have a better offensive line. We are loaded with strong receivers who are fast and who can have the ball stick to their hands. We have really good defensive linemen, strong linebackers, and a fast secondary.”

Freshman quarterback Blaise Booth, coming from South Torrance High School and Salesian High School, is “definitely” proud to be part of the program.

“Being around new people, it’s like a brotherhood,” Booth said.

Booth hopes to transfer anywhere where he can get a scholarship and a good education, and hopes to play for the Seattle Seahawks in the future.

Sophomore quarterback Jorge Hernandez’s favorite part of working with the program is the way that everything stays the same while trying to adjust to the new players.

“I really love the tradition they have,” Hernandez said. “We work hard, we practice hard.”

Among the wide receivers on the team, the two standouts seem to be Dajuan Purham and Russell Shaw. The two receivers have both cited their families as big influences for their career goals, Shaw citing his father specifically, who is a former Warrior football player himself.

The most charismatic players on the team appeared to be defensive players Austin Vaimili and Joe Toliauli, as they brought plenty of energy and laughs to practices.

Sophomore defensive end Vaimili, who’s played football since the age of six, cites his “Pops” as his biggest influence for the sport, and hopes to stay in California to play.

“I want to transfer to USC,” Vaimili said, “and if I go pro, I want to play for the Oakland Raiders.”

His favorite part about being a Warriors is “playing with all the homies.”

Freshman defensive tackle Toliauli, hailing from St. John Boscoe High School, hopes to continue to play football wherever he transfers to, but does not plan to play professional football.

“I want to be a kinesiologist,” Toliauli said. “I’ll be Austin’s sports trainer one day in the future.”

He enjoys working with his teammates and with Coach Featherstone, calling his fellow players “a good group of guys.”

The Warriors first game is on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. against Pasadena City College, and will be played at Redondo Union High School.

Update Sept. 26, 2015: Corrections were made in the spelling of a few players’ names.