Zack Giuliano remembers the atmosphere at the University of Pacific in Stockton in early December 2008, when the Hilmar High football team was overwhelming Central Catholic High — which boasted players that were normally larger and stronger than most high school teams — in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V Championship game.
The Yellowjackets won that game.
A freshman at the time, Giuliano felt the excitement and he couldn’t wait for his turn.
“Makes me want to win one now,” he said recently.
It’s funny that he says that. Coach Frank Marques says this year’s players remind him of that 2008 championship team, in terms of “raw talent and athleticism.” He continues: “The question is: Is this year’s team going to play like the 2008 team?”
Giuliano hopes so.
He wasn’t just at the championship game to support the Hilmar varsity players but also his brother, Austin — a tight end/defensive end at the time. The younger Giuliano remembers his brother telling him that the Central Catholic players were like NFL players, in terms of build and speed.
This season, Zack Giuliano — a two-way starter at running back and defensive end — is ready for anything. He understands that the game and players will be quicker after moving up from the junior varsity level. He was persistent with his summer workouts, focusing on weight training and agility. He says he’s not much of a “juker,” but he isn’t afraid to go “head-to-head” with a defender.
Marques is confidence in the first-year varsity player.
“I like his intensity,” said Marques, whose Yellowjackets return to the Trans Valley League after a five-year absence. “I like the way he practices hard on every play. He goes 100 percent every time. He’s a good model for everybody to follow.”
Giuliano will be part of a Yellowjackets group that features a nice combination of experience and newcomers. Hilmar has a lot of speed, Marques says. The team also returns nine seniors, with most of them playing important roles in 2009.
Late last year, Hilmar lost its starting quarterback, Quinton McCown, to a season-ending injury. Andrew Olson was inserted in as the QB. But Marques said that because of the circumstances, Olson will do just fine this season.
And Marques expects the same thing from Giuliano.
Giuliano expects the same from himself.
“The game’s going to be a lot quicker,” he said. “The coaches are going to expect a lot more. There will be tempo and high speed. The coaches will want us to push it hard.”
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