When Life Gives You LemMons
First year head Coach Matthew LemMon wasted no time making one thing clear, standing outside the Varsity football team’s weekly film session Monday afternoon. This year’s helmeted Hawks are going to compete at a high level. “They’re a hard working, passionate bunch, that much has been clear to me since I came on in the spring,” LemMon said. “I’m so excited to get out there and show the rest of the league what we’re made of.”
Football has been a huge part of LemMon’s life from the moment he could wrap his hands around the pigskin. His family leads a rich tradition of impressive football success. “My grandfather played for the Philadelphia Eagles, and my father played football at Cal.” He said. “Growing up in the east Bay and with the family history in Cal football, I went to almost every home game growing up.” LemMon was a prep standout at St. Mary’s College High School in Albany, before heading to San Diego State where he played from 2009-2012. “I feel like I have a lot of knowledge to give these guys, so far I’ve seen nothing but positivity and hard work.”
There is a different attitude in and around the 2017 Tam varsity football squad, an easy coaching transition in the offseason made a sometimes tumultuous process, one that is embraced whole-heartedly by the program.
“Coach has created an atmosphere of toughness and accountability. I’ve never been pushed so hard in my life,” senior captain Jackson Moore said. “He really believes in us and we know he has our back, our confidence as a group is right where it needs to be.”
Junior quarterback Cooper Carroll echoed that sentiment. “Coach expects a lot out of us,” Carroll said. “Everything is a lot more up tempo, we are really coming together as a unit, staff and players.”
Carroll will lead an offensive attack that is largely made up of new starters and first year varsity players. LemMon will be faced with the task of filling the void of Tre’Chuan Berkley, Jack Dickson, and Jordan Smith, last season’s three most productive offensive players. Moore and fellow senior Gabe Villavicencio will see the majority of touches on offense, while sophomores Crewe Hutson and Ben Reade will each play vital roles in the attack.
“Offensively we still have yet to come together,” Coach LemMon said. “I see huge potential, we just have to find ways to keep guys fresh while playing on both sides of the ball. I’m a bit worried but also excited to see the finished product on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Hawks will bring home the bacon on defense this year, with a menacing front seven that will be a force to be reckoned with. Highlighted by senior Tristan Mitchell, the Hawks in the box will look to stifle Marin running backs.
“Tristan has been very impressive,” LemMon said. “I knew he was a big boy, but I didn’t know he would be such a dynamic defensive player.” Football has been a part of Mitchell’s life since he was a kid, and hopes to cap off his youth football career with a successful season.
“Coach has worked us so hard the whole summer, as a team I’d love to see us host and win a playoff game or two. If we are firing on all cylinders I know we’ll be tough to beat,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell will be joined on defense by senior standouts Cooper Jacobs and Pedro Mira. The pair of tackling machines will play at middle linebacker and defensive tackle, respectively. Tam’s D line is poised to wreak havoc, despite the departure of last year’s super freshman, Jamar Sekona, to Marin Catholic.
The Hawks are 1-0 after a dramatic win at Piner to open the season. They host Balboa on Saturday September 2, before starting league play September 17 against Marin Catholic, a daunting test to start the MCAL campaign. Coach LemMon wants to eliminate any pre-disposed negativity surrounding games like MC and San Marin, expressing supreme confidence in his bunch no matter the opponent.
“I know MC is good, I know San Marin is good, but they’re not unbeatable,” he said. “I’ll take our 23 guys over anyone’s 50 or 60 everytime.”