Thursday, April 19, 2007

What'll they do on senior ditch day?

Ready for a shocker? The San Luis Obispo boys volleyball team fields 12 seniors. Twelve!

Are your socks still on? Well, let me put it this way. Twelve 12th-graders are enough to field two separate lineups of seniors.

And it really gets put into perspective when written like this: With 15 players total, only a maximum of three will be returning next season — as long as none decides to go pro.

That “go pro” line would have been a joke if hadn’t already happened.

Would-be sophomore Hawk Hatcher isn’t back with the team after a standout freshman season last year. Word is he’s breaking into the pro beach volleyball circuit, but that’s for another blog.

Back to the seniors.

Imagine you’re a high school coach. (Maybe you ARE a high school coach. I wish I knew who read this stuff.) Now imagine replacing 80 percent of your team in one offseason.

Not just the starters, 80 percent of the whole team.

Sock check.

And it’s not as if high school athletics actually puts a premium on returning players or anything. Well actually, that’s exactly how it is.

Here’s a behind the scenes tidbit: I voted the Atascadero High football team No. 1 in every one of the Tribune’s Top 10 media polls this past season — from week 0 to week 10 — because, by my count, the Greyhounds had the most number of All-County players returning.

No, I’m not an A-town homer. Before moving to the Central Coast in February 2006, I’d only driven through SLO County a few times. I knew nothing about high school football tradition around here.

But who dominated the area? Atascadero. And it might have been because they had a lot of returning seniors.

So when I called San Luis Obispo volleyball coach Jon Hastings about naming his dominant hitter Curtis Abram the Athlete of the Week a couple weeks ago and found out he was losing all those seniors, I had to at least jokingly ask.

“Are you going to retire after this one, coach?”

He denied it. Laughed about it. Maybe thought about it?

Nah, and here’s why.

Two of those three players set to return are sophomores Julian Demalleville, a mini version of Abram, and 6-foot, 6-inch Shane Kennedy, tabbed a college volleyball prospect in the Tigers’ official program.

I’d like to see what the unofficial program says about him, but in a 3-0 win over Righetti Wednesday, Kennedy looked pretty good. He had a season-high seven kills. And Demalleville’s consistently been one of the team’s top three hitters all season.

San Luis Obispo looks like it’s on track to win its seventh straight league title, if it can get past Arroyo Grande on Tuesday and run the table.

The Tigers might have an uphill battle if they get a chance to go for No. 8, but all things 12 considered, it wouldn’t be that big of a surprise.


Anonymous said...

Football fans. Who has the most returning All County, All League players for the upcoming 2007 season?

Anonymous said...

I here SLO has 7 returning All League/County players. Is that the most?