Football enters new winning era under Coach Talley

Adam Kreitzman

The scoreboard read 61-13 in favor of Redwood as time expired in the fourth quarter of a blowout win over Drake, marking the first time in seven years that the varsity football team has achieved a winning season and qualified for NCS.

The stout defense coupled with a potent rushing attack headed by junior Nick Calzaretta was once again the storyline of the Giants’ victory. According to first-year head coach Allen Talley, their ability to run the ball was the main catalyst for the impressive turnaround this season.

“This year we were able to build an identity of running the football,” Talley said. “Our opponents would always come into the game focused on trying to stop the run, but they still couldn’t stop it.”

Talley added that the versatility they have at the running back position allowed them to thrive on the ground.

Junior Nick Calzaretta breaks a tackle against Drake en route to a massive gain.
Junior Nick Calzaretta breaks a tackle against Drake en route to a massive gain.

“Obviously we have Nick [Calzaretta] who can do a bit of everything, but we also have a power back in [junior] Kyle Fulton and a change-of-pace speed back in [senior] Jono Chu,” Talley said. “It keeps the defense off-balance so that they do not know what to expect from us.”

According to Calzaretta, the new coaching staff this year has done a masterful job.

“Week in and week out the coaches have done a very good job of preparing us for the upcoming game,” Calzaretta said. “I think that [coaching] has been the main reason for our success this season.”

The team faced adversity early on in the season, dropping their first two games and watching both Calzaretta and senior Enzo Tallerico, their top two offensive players, temporarily go down with injuries. However, they were able to turn things around with a 14-7 win against Terra Linda, and channeled the momentum into their next slate of games when Calzaretta and Tallerico were healthy.

Junior Trevor Foehr assumed the new role of starting quarterback after the 0-2 start, and has led them to a 5-2 record in their last seven games.

“Trevor has always had the physical tools to be successful,” said senior Jake Curhan, a three-year varsity player and Cal commit on the offensive line. “He has developed into a very good game manager this year, and he still has the potential to improve down the line.”

Junior safety Alex Wilson echoed Curhan’s praise of Foehr.

“We have definitely surrounded him with support as he has adapted to a new position that he has only played for two years now,” Wilson said. “He has definitely stepped up and worked hard this year and it is showing on the field.”

The football program has been trending upwards as of late and is in a good place under Talley, according to Curhan.

“Since the team relies upon a lot of juniors, they will return a lot of starters next year,” Curhan said. “They are just going to continue to get better and better, and I think this group will be able to do something special.”

According to Talley, the consistency of the team on a weekly basis allowed them to string together some impressive wins.

“Other than a couple of hiccups, we played well every week, which is very important if you want to be a good football team,” Talley said.

Talley added that the effort put forth by the team this year is vital to how the program will fare in the future.

“The seniors have tried to start something this year, and hopefully the juniors on this team will carry that over to next year and continue to get better,” Talley said.

According to Wilson, being a junior-heavy team hasn’t kept them from exceeding preseason expectations.

“We lost a ton of players last year, including almost the entirety of our defensive starters,” Wilson said. “A ton of juniors have stepped up this year to fill in the holes. I think part of the reason we have played well is because a lot of us have been teammates since middle school and we are familiar with one another. We have incredible chemistry and it has made a huge difference out on the field.”

Wilson credited Talley with bringing in a coaching staff that could elevate the team to the next level.

“Talley is a huge motivator, and he has brought with him a bunch of coaches with tons of coaching experience,” Wilson said.

Wilson singled out offensive coordinator Christopher Augusto, a former assistant under Jeff Tedford at Cal, as a coach who has stepped in and strengthened the offense.

“Coach Augusto established a new offensive system that has worked really well this year so far,” Wilson said. “The offensive revival has been one of the most important parts to our run in MCAL this year. Our defense has always been strong, but adding an extra strength to our team allowed us to win some games with our offense instead of having to hold teams to a low amount of points.”

Before NCS playoffs, the team will have a huge matchup with rival Marin Catholic, the top-ranked team in MCAL.

Despite recent struggles against Marin Catholic in years past, Wilson believes they present a tough matchup for the reigning MCAL champions.

“We are riding a huge wave of momentum this year, and I think we definitely have a shot to take down [Marin Catholic],” Wilson said.

However, Wilson acknowledged that the upcoming game will be very tough.

“Marin Catholic has a very good team, but I am confident in our team and we are all very aware of the magnitude of this game,” Wilson said.

The final regular season game will take place at Redwood on Saturday. With a win, the Giants would likely finish at third place in MCAL, and continue their current momentum into NCS playoffs.

As for what the future holds, Wilson was optimistic about how the program will fare in the future under Talley.

“I think he’ll be able to carry the team far in the near future,” Wilson said. “Especially with the coaching assistants he brought in, he should be able to develop the younger kids into good football players.”

Talley said that the increased effort of the players bodes well for the future.

“The kids are the reason for everything good that has happened this year,” Talley said. “As long as we can keep up the participation and hard work we will be able to have success.”

Curhan hopes to defeat Marin Catholic in his final MCAL regular season game.

“We have never beaten Marin Catholic in my time at Redwood,” Curhan said. “To be able to go out with a win against Marin Catholic would be pretty special.”

Next year, they will have 17 returning starters, including impact players such as Wilson, Foehr, Calzaretta, and Fulton.

According to Curhan, Calzaretta is the most effective offensive player in the league.

“He has really come into his own this year,” Curhan said. “He has become a beast out of the backfield that is almost impossible to bring down without multiple people. I think that he is easily the best running back in the entirety of MCAL, it’s not even close.”

Wilson said that the ceiling on the team’s potential is very high.

“I think we are just going to keep improving next year,” Wilson said. “If all goes as planned we will be able to do some damage in MCAL and hopefully go down in the record books next season.”