Building a football program from scratch is not an easy task.
But Stuart Hall has found early success, and after two seasons, the Knights have their legs under them and now have something tangible to shoot for — a league championship.
“Because it was my first year last year and it was only the second year of the program, guys feel like they still have something to prove to themselves and others,” Stuart Hall coach Richard Robinson said.
Stuart Hall finished 6-3 last season, playing an entirely independent nonleague schedule, but will play this season in the Mission Trail Athletic League, an eight-man football league. In its first season in 2010, Stuart Hall played in the Coastal League, which had most of the same teams that will be in the Mission Trail this season.
“We’re a younger team, but we still feel like we’re in a good position,” Robinson said. “Now that we’re part of the league, we want to win the league.”
The league includes Anzar of San Juan Bautista, Alma Heights of Pacifica, Pinewood of Los Altos Hills, Trinity Christian of Monterey and Woodside Priory of Portola Valley, three of which the Knights played last season.
Stuart Hall won all three of those games.
The Knights will miss graduated quarterback Laboyd Ricard, who had been the quarterback as long as Stuart Hall has had a football program, along with four other starters, but the club remains confident.
Ricard’s departure may also lead to the offense being run differently, but that could depend on who will be at the quarterback spot.
Last year’s sophomore standout, Ethan Hankins — primarily a running back and defensive back who led the team in touchdowns and interceptions — is a candidate to snatch the starting quarterback spot, but there are still more students trying out with school getting back into session this week.
“Interest is definitely building,” Robinson said. “The underclassmen are coming to the school wanting to play football. I believe it will continue to bring more kids into the school that are interested in playing football.”
That interest has brought out a large freshmen class that has Robinson confident about this year’s team and the future of the program, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Travon Hicks, whom Robinson described as the team’s hardest hitter, returns for his senior season and will anchor a defense with high expectations.
Returning lineman Nick Lukito will also provide some much-needed leadership to the young Knights squad.
“Last year, we felt our defense set the tone,” Lukito said, “and feel like they will pick up where they left off. I think our defense will be pretty solid if they stay healthy.”
Preps sports coverage provided in partnership by The San Francisco Examiner and SanFranPreps.com