Players, coaches excited for beginning of football season

The Vikings line up at the line of scrimmage on Friday, Oct 29, 2021, during the senior night game win against Milpitas. A year later, according to current senior linebacker Oliver Marburg, he has high hopes for the upcoming season. “I’m just excited to compete, try to win some games, and make it back to the playoffs like we did last year,” Marburg said. “Last year didn’t end the way we want it to, lost first round, but this year, I’m excited to stretch that farther and make connections with all my new teammates.” (Photo: Benjamin Grimes)

After a dramatic season and change in management last year, players and coaching staff from the Palo Alto High School football program are eagerly anticipating the start of the 2022 fall season.

David DeGeronimo, the new head coach as well as former Greene Middle School Physical Education teacher, said the greatest challenge for the team will be the adjustment to the new coaching staff. 

“The bottom line is to, as a team, get better every day,” DeGeronimo said. “Right now, they’re getting used to the differences in the coaching system, how we practice, and there are some differences, so they got to get used to that. So the goals [this season] are to understand our new system.”

Senior linebacker Oliver Marburg said the changes in the coaching system have been beneficial and motivating. 

“It [the coaching style] is more intense, and that’s what makes us a better football team,” Marburg said. “Our practices are longer. We were in full pads more often. There’s a lot of things you get used to, lots of things are different. He [DeGeronimo] wants to win, and he’s told us that he was part of this coaching staff that won the state championship here. And he wants to do that again.” 

According to DeGeronimo, one of his biggest goals is to make this season memorable for the outgoing seniors.

“A lot of times when the new coach comes in, he might look to the younger guys and ride out the seniors,” DeGeronimo said. “But that’s not me. We need to win now. We need to win for the seniors now. It’s important to not miss a beat and actually just take the next step as best we can.” 

According to Marburg, he hopes the seniors will create a strong team dynamic and serve as role models for younger players. 

I think it’s really important that younger guys have a good leader, so they can step into that same role,” Marburg said. “It’s really important to up the level of maturity. We’re a big part of the school. A lot of people come out to watch us, and we need to be good role models.”

This year, 54 freshmen and sophomores have joined the football team, an increase in underclassmen DeGeronimo attributes to his time as a middle school teacher.  

“I think part of the advantage of working at Green Middle School is that the kids already have a relationship with me,” DeGeronimo said. “We had a very good turnout of freshmen. When anything’s shiny and new, new coach, new coaching staff … all the kids are curious, and kids want to come out.”

DeGeronimo emphasized how another goal of his is to potentially establish a freshmen team given the increase in players.

“There’s enough freshmen. It’s a matter of how many sophomores,” DeGeronimo said. “Right now, the sophomores are about 15, which is typical of a [football] program these days. I’d love to get about 30 sophomores and 30 freshmen. If I can do that, we’ll have a freshman [practice] schedule, and the sophomores will play [on] the Frosh team.”

Freshman Aryav Singh said being on the team is a big commitment but he is excited to be a part of the Viking community.

“I am most excited about learning new skills in football, making new friends, and playing other teams whether we win games or not,” Singh said. “As a freshman on the team, I learned it is a big-time commitment. Practices are every day for two and a half hours, but the practices are really fun. … The coaches are encouraging, want to teach you new things, … how to become a better football player.”

According to DeGeronimo, building up the community of the team is essential to success on the field. 

“We’ve introduced the Paly mantra, and the P, the L, the A, and the Y all stand for something,” DeGeronimo said.”It’s perseverance, attitude, leadership, and yearning — that’s building a culture that might maybe they’re [the team] not used to. We’re building culture. We’re building camaraderie. We’re building positivity and doing everything as a team to get better.”

The Vikings will play their first game of the season 7 p.m. Friday at St. Ignatius High School.