National Anthem, Cougar Style

SLV junior Malakai Lawton plays the Star Bangled Banner at the Aug. 27 opening game in Felton.

San Lorenzo Valley Coach Dave Poetzinger says he wants to take this season one game at a time. But looking at his roster, and the results of his opening dismantling of San Francisco’s Balboa High, it must be hard for him not to look ahead to his BIG games against Scotts Valley on Oct.22 and Aptos on Nov. 5.

The Cougars lost to Aptos, winner of five straight league championships, by just two points last year, and fell in five overtimes to Scotts Valley 52-51.

This year, 21 players in those games are back on the field for the Cougars.

Many of this year’s seniors have played together since junior high school.

Poetzinger ticks off the plusses for this year’s team.

Three of last year’s starting four defensive linemen are back: junior Mark Carling, 6-1, 210;  senior Marcus Khokar, 6-3, 245, and senior Ryan Kinch, 6, 200.

His three all-league linebackers are back: Jack Gentry, 6, 205, Ryan Levitra, 6-1, 190, and Jackson Turner, 6-2, 215.

“It’s really a good front that’s coming back,” he said.

This unit let one 75-yard touchdown run slip through against Balboa, then held them to minus-three yards the rest of the game.

On offense, kicker and quarterback Tanner Murray moved back into that position after a year as wide receiver last year. In his first game, he was 6-for-6, for 178 yards.

Poetzinger’s son, senior running back Scott, tallied 550 yards rushing last year, and is stronger this fall.

And he has Joe Oard. The state finalist in the 400 meters last spring, Oard came out of the starting gate in a sprint, catching 5 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns. He led the league last year.

“Remember, we’re the smallest public high school in the county,” Poetzinger said, knowing full well that a key injury can hurt his team’s chances more than some other teams with more depth.

That’s why he was happy to report weight and strength gains over the summer from some of his key players.

He intentionally scheduled big schools – two or three times the size of SLV – in his first non-league games, to toughen his crew physically and mentally for league play.

Observers have tapped SLV and rival Scotts Valley as the two teams with the best shot at ending the 30-game league winning streak of Aptos.

The Cougars are off to a good start.

   2016 SCHEDULE


Aug. 27,  2 p.m.

Balboa (San Francisco )


Sept. 2,  7 p.m.

Homestead (Cupertino )

at Homestead High School


Sept. 10,  2 p.m.

Santa Clara (Santa Clara )

at San Lorenzo Valley High School


Sept. 16,  7 p.m.

King’s Academy (Sunnyvale )

at King’s Academy


Oct. 1,  2 p.m.

Capuchino (San Bruno)

At Capuchino High School


Oct. 8,  2 p.m.


 at San Lorenzo Valley High School


Oct. 14,  7:30 p.m.


at Soquel High School


Oct. 22,  2 p.m.

Scotts Valley

at San Lorenzo Valley High School


Oct. 28,  7:30 p.m.

Santa Cruz

at Santa Cruz High School


Nov. 5,  2 p.m.


at San Lorenzo Valley High School

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