The El Cerrito High School football team is not taking the easy path in its quest to repeat last year’s championship caliber season.
El Cerrito won the league title and had an undefeated record until it lost to Marin Catholic High, 31-28, in the North Coast Section Division III title game last fall.
Sutter High was also undefeated until it lost to that same Marin Catholic squad, 23-7, in the Northern California title game
The tough season opener is no accident.
El Cerrito High head football coach Kenny Kahn called Sutter High’s coaches to arrange the top-flight preseason match-up. He wanted his team to hit the ground running in 2013.
“We want to be ready to take on challenges right from the gate,” said Kahn.
The El Cerrito High team lost 18 seniors to graduation. However, Kahn said this year’s 36-man squad has a number of starters who have played varsity for the past one or two seasons.
Among them is quarterback Keilan Benjamin, who is a senior this year. Joining him are wide receiver Jalen Harvey, outside linebacker Derik Calhoun and cornerback Adarius Pickett. All are seniors with varsity experience.
“We have a strong core who know how to play a balanced game,” said Kahn.
The coach is hoping to get the same vibrant community support the team enjoyed last year.
“We don’t just play for ourselves. We play for the community,” he said.