MARTINEZ -- Taylor Poyadue showed off some nifty moves for the Alhambra High football team last season and earned recognition as one of the top running backs in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League.
This year, the senior might be even tougher to slow down.
"He's very productive and has gotten even better in the last year," Alhambra coach Alan Hern said of Poyadue, a first-team all-league selection as a junior. "He did track in the spring and his speed has improved. His only weakness was that he kind of (lacked) that breakaway speed. In camp this summer he did well against some good competition."
The Bulldogs hope that with Poyadue and some other key starters back, they can improve on last year's disappointing 3-7 season.
The biggest thing will be staying healthy. Last year, projected starting quarterback John Miller suffered a season-ending injury just before the first game of the season, forcing the Bulldogs to improvise at one of the most important positions on the field.
Leo Costa was thrown into the fire as a sophomore and dealt with his own injuries, but gained valuable experience sharing time under center with Mitchell Wilson.
The starting quarterback job now belongs to Costa, who had shoulder surgery in the offseason.
"He's further along than most juniors," Hern said. "We're definitely better off than we were last year (after Miller's injury). We've been good running the ball the last three years, now we're trying
Costa will have a solid backup in sophomore Josh Evans, who was the starter over the summer while Costa was recovering from his surgery. Evans could also see time at receiver and defensive back.
But the running game is where the Bulldogs will likely shine again this year.
In addition to Poyadue, Hern also thinks he has good options in junior Harits Abdurroman and sophomore Ciozanne Foster.
"Taylor will be the star, but the other guys will be good, too," Hern said. "We have good depth at tailback and a lot of the line coming back."
That experienced offensive line, which includes Miguel Lara, Joe Pierce and Camran Parhar, is another reason for optimism.
There are some holes to fill defenisvely, though Nick Revetta and Jose Gonzalez bring experience to the secondary.
Now the team just has to avoid the injury bug, a neccessity with just 31 players on the roster.
"We have talent, we have good guys," Hern said. "If we can keep them all upright, we'll have a good chance."
8/24 at College Park (DVC) 7 p.m.
8/31 RANCHO COTATE 7 p.m.
9/7 CARDINAL NEWMAN 7 p.m.
9/14 at Maria Carrillo 7 p.m.
9/21 at Las Lomas* 7 p.m.
10/5 DOUGH. VALLEY* 7 p.m.
10/12 at Dublin* 7 p.m.
10/19 CAMPOLINDO* 7 p.m.
10/26 ACALANES* 7 p.m.
11/3 at Miramonte* 7 p.m.