During the last week of July, the Augustus Hawkins High School football team began preparing for its upcoming season. The team has Varsity experience despite their youth, noted head coach Mil’Von James.
The Football program at Hawkins High began in 2013, James started as coach of the Junior Varsity team. However, the J.V. team played better than the Varsity team. The J.V. players then were promoted to Varsity and James became the Varsity coach during that season, according to James.
“We really put all the focus on our younger guys,” said James. “They were going to be here the next three or four years, so we built our team on them.”
For all of its focus, the team has seen impressive results so far.
This season, over 15 starters are returning, mainly sophomores and juniors, according to James. The football team has ascended from Division III to Division II, the same division as Manual Arts and Fremont, according to the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF).
“I know we’re in a new league and all that, but it’s just the same as last year. We’re gonna come out and play and win games,” said Hawkins sophomore receiver Jalen Hall. “Basically we just work hard here at Hawkins, nothing is given to you. If you want it, you have to earn it and that’s basically what we’re trying to do here.”
Last season, the team’s effort got them the fourth seed in the Division III playoffs. They would fall to Los Angeles High School in the third round, 43-42, according to the CIF City Section website.
“At the end of the game, I felt that we all tried our best, we all fought to the end,” said cornerback and wide receiver Robert Lewis. “It was a lot of mental errors made that game.”
Lewis is going into his senior year at Hawkins and has verbally committed to Boise State University after their coaches saw him in practice and offered him a scholarship a few weeks later, Lewis noted.
“I couldn’t even have that offer without these coaches and my teammates…especially God,” he said.
He described the team as hard working, motivated and competitive.
Among them is junior corner back and running back Greg Johnson, a four-star player who rushed 2371 yards and 20 touchdowns last season, according to Yahoo Sports. Johnson cites his older brother, Clark as a major source of inspiration.
“When I was young, I watched him play Pop Warner and he just taught me how to play,” he said.
The team practices by running, weight lifting, and working evenly on offensive and defensive plays.
“Our team was beasting last year, but I think this year we’re going to be better,” said junior receiver Joseph Lewis. “My goal for this season is to go over 2000 yards.”
Willie Ray Griffin, a defensive end and right tackle, is going into his senior year. He plans to bring stronger defense to the team this year.
“When I’m on defense, playing defensive end, I plan on getting eight tackles a game, that’s what I’m striving for, that’s one of my biggest goals,” said Griffin.
Augustus Hawkins will play against View Park High School on their season opening game on August 28th at 7pm.