Preparing for battle: 2021 varsity football

Jack Watson

The shriek of a whistle pierces the air, triggering leg muscles to tense, knees to drive up and 30 helmeted heads to burst forward as one. Cleats bite into the turf and rubber flies as feet pound the earth. Five seconds later, the exhausted athletes get back on the goal line to do it again. The varsity football team is conditioning for their first game of the season on March 20, which will take place 491 days after their last one on November 15, 2019. 

Senior and team captain Zach Ginsburg was ecstatic when the team found out they would have a season and has loved being back with his teammates.

“I love football, and all these other guys do too. We really haven’t been able to practice a lot at all this year, but putting on the pads and the helmet –– there’s a lot of energy, it’s a whole different kind of practice and it’s been really really fun,” Ginsburg said. 

The team’s starting offense is undoubtedly senior-heavy, but junior Clayton Grace will be taking over arguably the most important position: quarterback. Senior running back Thomas Johnson will seek to fill the shoes of Luke McKernan, who rushed for 1314 yards last year and earned a spot on the Marin County Athletic League’s (MCAL) All-League First Team Offense. Ginsburg, who has committed to play as a wide receiver at Washington University in St. Louis, will headline the receiving attack.

Every practice the team runs a lap after stretching to loosen up and prepare for drills.

Much of the team’s starting offense also starts on defense. Ginsburg and Johnson play cornerback, while Ryan Marshall and Jimmy Phelan anchor both the offensive and defensive lines, aided on defense by standout Alex Pagan. Leading the linebackers will be Damon Gerstein and Sam Davis, who play wide receiver and fullback, respectively.

The team only has five games scheduled for this season, but senior Gerstein, a team captain alongside Ginsburg, plans on making the most of them.

“Our main goal is to reclaim the MCAL title that we won last year and go undefeated. We only have five games, but losing just one of those games would be a heartbreaker,” Gerstein said. 

Ginsburg understands what it will take to achieve those goals described by Gerstein and is prepared and dedicated towards going undefeated.

“It’s going to take a lot of work to win. We’re coming out here five days a week, so when we’re out here, we [need to] bring not just our bodies and physicality, but our minds too,” Ginsburg said.

Gerstein believes that no matter what, they will be a tough matchup for their opponents. 

“My message is just for the other teams to be ready,” Gerstein said.

The varsity football team will begin their season on March 20, away against Tamalpais High School.