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Head coach more confident, experienced going into second season

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East Union head coach Willie Herrera keeps a close eye on things during a recent practice in preparation for the upcoming 2012 VOL season.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

POSTED August 23, 2012 1:49 a.m.

It is tough to imagine a 1-9 football season being a success.

Yet, the bumps and bruises experienced by East Union during head coach Willie Herrera’s first season served a purpose. Herrera would love to have won another five or six games, but learning from each game they lost is as valuable.

East Union opens Herrera’s second tour through the Valley Oak League with an even tougher schedule, without the services of their record-setting quarterback from a year ago and way more questions than answers.

Only, none of that deters Herrera. It seems to inspire the Lancers’ leader instead.

“My expectations are for it to be absolutely, 100 percent better than last year,” Herrera said. “In every aspect of it all; from coaching, from the energy out here, accountability, discipline, the teaching aspect and the caring, every aspect when it comes to coaching I want to get better at.”

The Lancers will depend on its key core of players to provide on both sides of the ball. Nearly three-fourths of the team can play both ways, giving Herrera options for his spread offense and 3-4 base defense.

Senior Aaron Ramos and sophomore Lucas Garcia are intertwined in a battle for the starting quarterback spot left vacant by Joe Menzel, who transferred to Manteca High. Mark Aguilar will be the top returner in the Lancers backfield, sharing time with Brennan Koeller.

Herrera earned the respect of his VOL counterparts in his debut, dropping three games by a touchdown or less and another by 10 points. They also found themselves tied with playoff-bound Manteca late in the second half of the season finale.

 “Every coach wants to win,” Herrera said. “I want to win every single game, but what I want is for us to be better than day one. If we’re better day two then we were day one, great, and the same for day three over day two. The end result of being better than we were before.

“It’s believing in something bigger than yourself. Believing in this school and believing in your teammates.”

Hererra took over after Mike James’ 10-year run, inheriting a program that made a return trip to the playoffs, but suffered monumental losses in senior leadership. His particular method towards earning success begins with discipline and emphasizes the importance of being committed as a program.

If the Lancers are only able to come away with one victory this season, it will not be because the team is lacking direction.

“This does feel like my program,” Hererra said. “We experienced a lot of growing pains last year just trying to figure stuff out. I definitely feel like this year we are 100 percent in. Getting the job in February last year, I would have come in earlier and done some things different. But now I’ve had a whole year and I have learned along this road, too.

“There is no doubt that I feel like this is my ship, and this ship is going places.”

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