ALBANY -- It may take some time for he and his players to see tangible results, but Albany High football coach John Trotman Jr. has no doubt the Cougars are headed in the right direction.
In preparation for the 2012 campaign, Trotman has instilled an offseason weight-training program, has hired more assistant coaches and has seen his participation numbers on the team increase from the year before.
"We were able to get a fresh start to the offseason in January," said Trotman, who was hired as the Cougars' coach in April 2011. "Now guys have a basic understanding of the offense and defense. Last year, we didn't put in half of the offense. It was all pretty basic.
"Now we're running things at a pretty high level. It's a great group of guys. They've worked hard."
The Cougars are eager to put the 2011 season in the rear-view mirror. They allowed just over 40 points per game in seven Bay Shore Athletic League contests, and finished league play with a 1-6 record.
Now in the new Tri-County Athletic League Stone Division, which appears to be more balanced from top to bottom, the Cougars are looking for better things this season. Other schools in the league are De Anza, Kennedy-Richmond, Hercules, John Swett and Richmond.
"I think it's pretty wide open," Trotman said. "Kennedy should be a good team, and Hercules made the (North Coast Section) playoffs last year. But we're excited."
Among the Cougars' leaders on offense this
That experience in the backfield should be of help to sophomore quarterback Bobby Natsagdorj, who had a 13-yard touchdown pass to Jarin Panigbatan against Mt. Eden but also threw two interceptions.
Trotman knows there will be some growing pains with his young players this season, but likes what he saw from Natsagdorj in training camp.
"He looks good," Trotman said. "He's one of the few guys that we brought up from the junior varsity team, and he played Pop Warner. So far, I've been impressed."
Some of the Cougars' top players on defense this year figure to be linebackers Quinn Miyashiro, Alex Oyle and Dom Pelesauma. Junior Skyler Forrest will see playing time on both the offensive and defensive lines.
Albany plays at Tennyson on Sept. 1, and plays its first home game against Piedmont on Sept. 7. The Cougars open league play at Hercules on Oct. 5.
"The kids have bought into what we're selling," Trotman said. "We have 35 players on the varsity team right now. We're kind of young, but we're excited about the season."
8/24 at Mt. Eden L 17-7
9/1 at Tennyson 1 p.m.
9/7 PIEDMONT 5 p.m.
9/15 at St. Mary's 2 p.m.
9/21 AMER. CANYON 5 p.m.
10/5 at Hercules* 7 p.m.
10/12 JFK-RICHMOND* 5 p.m.
10/19 RICHMOND* 5 p.m.
10/26 at De Anza* 7 p.m.
11/2 at John Swett* 7 p.m.
* League games
Home games at Cougar Field