LIVERMORE -- The Livermore High football team is eager to change the status quo.
Senior leaders and two-way stalwarts Sam Ogee and Kevin Amaral are determined to be impact players in an impact program, a year after the Cowboys finished 2-9 overall and 0-6 in the East Bay Athletic League.
The harsh reality is Livermore hasn't beaten anyone other than Granada in the EBAL in over a decade. But the slate is clean again.
"It doesn't matter if we win preseason games because we can do that," said Ogee, who has an offer from Cal Poly. "We have to break through the barrier of winning (in) EBAL and seeing ourselves as a contender, because I know people around the school see us: 'Oh, we're not going to win. It's Cal, and we're Livermore.' We need to break through that barrier."
The Cowboys will get another chance to break through in their EBAL opener against Foothill on Sept. 27. They open the season at Benicia (8-4, 2012) on Aug. 30.
"The kids are good kids, high-character kids," Livermore coach Greg Haubner said. "But it's one of those things where we got to work our way through some stuff. We've got to prove not only to other teams but prove to ourselves that we belong in this league and belong winning in this league.
"We need to prove that we can win in this league."
The run-oriented Cowboys expect to enjoy more success because they have a strong offensive line and some talented, but inexperienced, skill-position players. Senior wideout Andrei Kasten, a standout sprinter and triple-jumper in track, is an intriguing newcomer/big-play threat. Haubner says the 5-foot-10 Kasten is a "freak athlete" who can dunk a basketball with two hands from a standing start underneath the rim.
The offensive line will feature Ogee, Everett Powell, tight end Corbin Cofer, and Amaral, a do-everything center who is also making the switch on defense from lineman to middle linebacker. Other key players are RB/LB Jacob House, RB/DB James Silva, RB/DB Taylor Disbrow and quarterback Travis Adams.
Adams played quarterback at the freshman and junior varsity levels, but missed most of last season with an injury, so he's bit of a wild card.
"Our basic idea is we run, run, run," Amaral said. "We're a run-first team. We'll run probably two-thirds or three-fourths of the time, and we'll play-action pass and we'll throw it over the top for first downs."
Amaral would like to see the Cowboys return to the North Coast Section Division 2 playoffs but with at least a 5-5 record this time. They lost to Dublin in the first round of NCS last season.
Haubner considers Ogee and Amaral to be important team leaders. Ogee (6-4, 277) is also exceptional in the classroom
"His academics are off the charts," Haubner said. "He's a 4-plus GPA guy. He's a pretty special individual. He's a wonderful young man. He's a real good kid."
Amaral seems willing to do everything he can to help the team succeed. He agrees that he's a leader by example.
"I play as hard as I can, and if I see someone doing something wrong I'll say 'Hey, this is what you need to do,' and I'll demonstrate it for 'em so they know what to do next time."
The Cowboys know what they need to do. They just have to go out and do it.
Aug. 30 at Benicia 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6 HAYWARD 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 NORTHGATE 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 ARROYO 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Foothill* 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 at San Ramon Valley* 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Amador Valley* 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 MONTE VISTA* 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 CALIFORNIA* 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 GRANADA* 7 p.m.