By GERARDO RECINOS
These past two seasons haven’t gone to plan for Coach Rory Gentry, but as he winds down his time as a coach at Alhambra, all the elements could be in place for him and his team.
Last year the team lost its last link to an Alhambra program that played in North Coast Section when Blake Johnson graduated. So none of the players currently on the team have ever seen a playoff game.
“This is the third year we’ve been together, and we’re seeing a real uptick on the talent on our team,” Gentry said. “We think with the way our league is structured and the way we’re going to be playing, that we have a real good shot in our league.”
The new Diablo Athletic League sees the Bulldogs take Dublin, Las Lomas and Campolindo off their schedule, a welcome move after tough losses last season.
But on the other hand, Miramonte stays on the schedule, as does Acalanes. Both of those teams not only qualified for NCS, but also won a playoff game.
“We’ve been talking since day one of this year, saying we control our own destiny. And that’s what we’re really trying to focus on,” Gentry said. “I don’t like the way the first two years went.”
Gentry put in some work to do his part to make sure the team was ready to push forward for one last stand to try and get these seniors a playoff berth. The coach retook a lot of coaching classes, read new material, and prepared himself as best as possible.
Injuries took their toll on the Bulldogs in the past, but there is a more realistic chance that they can do some stuff.
The foundation was set three years ago. Returning players like Hunter Bradford and Corey Drevno have been with the program since they were freshman, and now see leadership roles as juniors. Jack Fuller spent a lot of time since his sophomore year chasing players down the wings in defense rather than attacking.
Now in his senior year, he’ll take charge of leading the lines as the striker up the middle.
“If you look up and down, these are people who have been battle-tested over two years, and now they’re coming into their own as either juniors or seniors,” said Gentry. “We’re starting to see a better level of play.”
Junior Nick Silva is one of the prime examples of that. He’s grown physically and matured as a player since his senior year, and is the anchor in the team.
“As Nick goes, is how we go,” Gentry said.
The same could be said by Gentry about Bradford. When speaking of his central defender, Gentry echoed the sentiments he had about Silva and reused them for Bradford. “He makes things happen,” the coach said about Bradford.
Younger players like sophomore Reagan Cole, and freshman Marco Garcia will also feature a lot in the squad and will be part of the foundation set for the team. Jackson Favors is another freshman who will play at almost any position he is needed. He adapts well and plays the ball well, according to Gentry.
The Bulldog boys start league play Jan. 6, when former Diablo Foothill foe Las Lomas comes to visit Alhambra on a Friday night.