James Logan

COACH: George Zuber, eighth season

2012 RECORD: 12-2.

KEY RETURNEES: MLB/QB/WR Mose Fualaau, Sr.; DB/RB/WR Ahki Muhammad, Sr.; OL/DL Fino Elisaia, Sr.; MLB/FB Tino Mafi, Sr.; OL/DL Jihad Sharif, Sr.; FS/WR Karson Wethington, Sr.; OL/DL Jose Zamora-Lajes, Sr.

KEY NEWCOMERS: QB Christian Leota, Jr., up from JV; RB/S Douglas Lealao, Jr.; OL/DL Aaron Griffith, Jr.

KEY DEPARTURES: QB Jeffrey Prothro, RB/LB Warren Miles Long; TE/LB Ryan Bua; DE/FB Ansar Mohammed; WR Amalani Fukofuka; RB/DB Damond Beasley; C Andrew Melero.

UNION CITY -- The James Logan High football team will take a little journey into the unknown this season.

Members of the James Logan High School footbal team run drills during practice on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 in Union City, Calif.  (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News
Members of the James Logan High School footbal team run drills during practice on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 in Union City, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) ( ARIC CRABB )

After a smashing 12-win season and a runner-up finish in the North Coast Section Division I playoffs, the Colts lost some serious firepower to graduation, including the dynamic backfield of East Bay Player of the Year Warren Miles Long (Northwestern), Damond Beasley and dual-threat quarterback Jeffrey Prothro (Texas A&M for track). Also gone is wideout Amalani Fukofuka.

In their new normal, the Colts appear stout on the lines and even more unified than last season. They plan to be accelerating as the finish line approaches.

Coach George Zuber says if his team, in its second year as an independent, can survive a tough schedule that includes games against Del Oro-Loomis, San Ramon Valley and De La Salle, it could be "dangerous" in the playoffs.

The Colts will feature converted running back Ahki Muhammad, a Nevada commit and team leader, along with a good, quick defense. A seasoned offensive line is also a strength area.

"Ahki is a dynamic guy. He's never been running back for us, but he's looking really good," Zuber said. "But I don't know how it's going to go. Hopefully, he'll surprise a lot of people."

Junior quarterback Christian Leota, up from the junior varsity, has a strong arm although he's not as mobile as Prothro. Leota got some varsity experience after being called up for the playoffs last year.

Members of the James Logan High School footbal team run drills during practice on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 in Union City, Calif.  (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News
Members of the James Logan High School footbal team run drills during practice on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 in Union City, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group) ( ARIC CRABB )

Victor "Mose" Fualaau is a fine all-around athlete who can play slot, tight end, wideout, quarterback, even tail back.

Running back/middle linebacker Tino Mafi will fortify an otherwise pretty young linebacking corps. The Colts, who averaged 41 points a game last year, are strong in the secondary with two of three defensive backs returning.

Those predicting a big backslide from Logan, annually one of the East Bay's premier programs, might be in for a surprise. The Colts welcome the tough schedule and any other challenges.

"I feel the tougher our schedule is the more battle ready we'll be for the playoffs," said Fino Elisaia, an offensive guard/defensive tackle in his fourth year in the program. "That's going to be our mindset going in. You'd rather play a hard schedule than an easy one."

Depth could be another key factor as the big games pile up. Elisaia believes the team's biggest strength will be on the line.

"The depth that we have and the hard work that we've put in is going to get us to where we need," Elisaia said. "I really don't like looking back to last year because it's in the past; we all have to look forward to the future and rely on our hard work."

The athletic Muhammad (5-9, 178) also likes the team's discipline and unity.

"Last year we had a great team that was very physical," Muhammad said. "But this year I see a lot of people that are able to do their assignments better and work better as a team than as individuals."

Muhammad was asked what it took to earn a Division I scholarship.

"It all matters about the hard work because there's a lot of people that are athletes that are just on their butt all day," he said. "But once you start becoming a football player and hitting the weights and the field and flipping tires all summer, then that will get you there. You get in what you put out."

His Logan teammates would concur.