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The Heritage football team will enter the season as a young squad looking to prove that it belongs in the deep Bay Valley Athletic League (BVAL).

The upstart Patriots graduated 36 seniors from last year’s 7-5 squad, bounced in the second round of the North Coast Section playoffs – but 14 seniors remain to carry the team.

“Honestly, we are going to be young, but we’ll surprise some teams,” said head coach Don Sanders. “We are going to be a hardworking group. I am fairly upbeat about our season.”

Junior Trevor Moorman and sophomore Asher Haynes, both newcomers, are competing for the starting quarterback position. Juniors James McNorton, Kevin Moore and Adam Smith and seniors Christian Borja and Joaquin Gonzalez anticipate being the big boys up front protecting the quarterback and opening holes for a running back by a committee that is expected to include junior Tony Zalec and sophomore Hanai Muhammad, among others.

Whoever ends up as starting quarterback will throw to a wide receiving corps of senior Daniel Simone, Anthony Ford, junior Kendrick Shaw, junior James Williams, senior Hunter Dixon, sophomore Brad Ehlen and senior Hayden Goldston.

Meanwhile, McNorton will join senior Gabe Cortez, sophomore Gerrick Dacpano and newcomer Otha Johnson to hold down the defensive line. 

Linebackers Jimmy Grossi, a senior, Ehlen and Zalec will bolster the defense.

Sanders said he’s been especially impressed with the team’s work ethic in practice.

“We are grinders, we are workers,” Sanders said. “I think we are viewed as the underdogs, and I think we are going to keep grinding and keep working and keep getting better every day.”

Heritage’s nonleague schedule features a quintet of 2017 playoff teams: San Ramon Valley, Foothill, Kennedy, Amador Valley and California.

“Our preseason and regular season is definitely a challenging one,” said Sanders. “The BVAL is always challenging and, preseason-wise, I have added some quality teams like Cal and Amador, Foothill and SRV. We have our work cut out for ourselves, and we are kind of excited about it.”

Heritage Patriots 2018 Schedule

Aug. 17, 7:15 p.m. vs. San Ramon Valley

Aug. 24, 7 p.m. vs. Foothill

Aug. 31, 7 p.m. at J.F Kennedy

Sept. 7, 7 p.m. vs. Amador

Sept. 14, 7 p.m. at California

Sept. 21, 7 p.m. vs. Pittsburg*

Sept. 28, 7 p.m. at Antioch*

Oct. 5, 7 p.m. vs. Deer Valley*

Oct. 19, 7 p.m. at Freedom*

Oct. 26, 7 p.m. at Liberty*

*BVAL games