Cloverdale squad small in numbers but big on talent
The varsity football Eagles will be fired up and ready to roll as they kick off the 2021 campaign this month in the long awaited season opener.
Cloverdale will start the fall schedule with a bye this week, but will visit St. Vincent High School in Petaluma for the season opener on Saturday, Sept. 4 in a 2 p.m. varsity kickoff.
After losing the entire 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cloverdale will have a vastly different look this year under veteran coach Greg Alexander. The 2021 squad will feature a relatively small but talented group of players, many eager to prove themselves in their first year of varsity football.
“We are very excited about the season,” Alexander reported. “Our group of kids have been phenomenal this year in regards to attitude and effort. We couldn't be more excited to play after not playing last year and ushering in a beautiful new field.”
One huge positive following an idle 2020 was the completion of Cloverdale’s sparkling new all-weather John Allen Memorial Field, a synthetic turf that puts an end to the mud bowls of Octobers and Novembers past. Instead, the new digs will allow the team to take advantage of speed and quickness, features that fans will notice this year.
The Eagle’s offense will be led by gifted junior Caden Axell, who possesses a rifle arm and has the mobility to elude pass rushers. The stable of running backs includes senior David Alvarez, junior Kayden Hemphill, sophomore Diesel Cavallo, and juniors Edgardo Ruiz, Ayal Fitchelberg and Ryan Moffett.
Senior receiver Gabe Wlodaczyk will be a featured target and big-play man every time he touches the ball. Junior Griffin Garrison is an outstanding blocker and will see plenty of action at tight end.
The Eagle’s offensive could develop into one of the league’s best, possessing both strength and athleticism. Manning the trenches are Casey Lemley, Desmond Driver, Roman Carrillo, Javier Alvarez, Jose Alvarez and Ashton Phillips.
“Our line has the potential to be very good — it’s probably the most physical up-front we’ve been since I’ve been here,” Alexander noted. “All of these guys have been monsters in the weight room. They move well and are the smartest group I've had here.”
As always, the Eagles will be in a dogfight for the upper echelon of the NCL1, but have set realistic goals that include a return to the postseason in November.
“Our goal is always to win our league, which is a tall task with the Middletowns of the world holding a firm grip on our league since I’ve been here,” Alexander said. “Our expectations are simple, just to compete day in and day out.”
The Eagles got their first taste of competition last week in a scrimmage hosted by Montgomery, turning in an impressive showing.
“We scrimmaged against Monty, Justin Siena and Stellar Prep,” Alexander reported. “We held our own versus much bigger schools, so I’m very pleased so far.”
The Eagles will open the 2021 schedule with two straight road games, making their home debut on Friday, Sept. 17 against Piner.