Lightning bidding to take step up

Third-year coach Tolver, players have a familiar goal in mind: unseating St. Margaret's atop league.

August 26, 2011|By Matt Szabo,

If the Sage Hill School football team didn't get enough of its coaches over the summer, the players could watch two of them every Thursday night on television.

Defensive line coach Akbar Gbaja-Biamila and secondary coach Ricky Sharpe were on the summer reality show "Expedition Impossible" on ABC, trekking across the mountains and deserts of Morocco.

Gbaja-Biamila and Sharpe were teamed with their former San Diego State teammate, Robert Ortiz. The trio did well, finishing fourth out of 13 teams after the season finale Thursday.


The Academy League season isn't expected to be as treacherous for the Lightning, who scrimmage at The Bishop's of La Jolla on Saturday and open their regular season at home against Fairmont Prep on Sept. 2. And Sage Hill definitely doesn't see a league title as an impossible dream, not after nearly dethroning rival St. Margaret's last season before falling, 10-6.

Sage Hill has not won a league title since the program attained varsity status in 2002. The Lightning also have never beaten the league champion Tartans, although last year was the first time the game was decided by less than three touchdowns.

"This is the year," Sage senior tight end/linebacker Ford Hanour said. "Changing of the guard."

Third-year Lightning Coach J.R. Tolver believes it can happen, too. But Tolver said he got some perspective recently while driving and listening to the radio.

"This song by Drake and Lil Wayne came on," Tolver said. "One of the lines in the song is, 'I went shopping yesterday, talk is still cheap.' I told my guys that. We say we want to be Academy League champions, we say we want to be CIF champions, we say we want to beat St. Margaret's. But we've been saying the same thing for the last three years. So let's put the talk away and go out and earn it.

"Do I think it can happen? Yeah. But I'll say the same thing every year. If we lost 20 years in a row, I'd say the 21st year, 'Yeah we can beat them.' I think at this point, we know we've closed the gap. They know we've closed the gap. It's just a matter of us going out and putting it all together. If we're saying we're going to change the guard, then let's change the guard."

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