LIVERMORE -- Granada High senior Casey Soltis looks ready. He sounds ready, but is he really ready to be The Guy With The Ball in the Wing-T package?

"I'm ready," Soltis said during the Matadors' first practice on Aug. 12.

The Matadors plan to get the ball in Soltis' hands as much as possible.

"I'll be quarterback sometimes. I'll be running back sometimes. I'll be wide receiver sometimes. Where ever they'll need me, I'll go," Soltis said.

Of course, it's not just about Soltis, who is headed to Oregon on a baseball scholarship. The Matadors have a strong returning group, led by senior quarterback Tyler Offill, and a burning desire to return to the North Coast Section Division I playoffs after falling short the past two years.

Soltis said the Matadors, who were 4-6 overall and 1-5 in the EBAL last year, are working hard and trying to get better every day.

"There's gonna be a lot of the load that needs to be carried by a lot of people," Soltis assured. "Everybody needs to step up. It's not just me, everybody needs to do well in order for me to be pretty good."

Reece Backman, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound offensive tackle/defensive end, will be a key two-way force. The Matadors should be decent front up front and have a nice array of skill players. Granada coach Tim Silva likes his bunch, but offers a realistic appraisal.


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"This team will be similar to those we've had." Silva said. "We've got a good group of kids, and our margin for error is like most teams ... Last year we lost to Foothill by seven and had Amador beat before we collapsed; and competitive against San Ramon. You're right there. We're not good enough where we're laying on anybody. We're not really big. We're not overly athletic, but they're quality kids that have worked hard."

Backman has been impressed with Soltis' athletic ability and drive.

"He's a good player," Backman said. "We all respect Casey. He plays his butt off, and that's what we like to see. I think we'll depend a lot, heavily, on him."

Backman said he has room for improvement as a player and a leader.

"We all have a lot to work on as a team and individually," Backman said.

Making the playoffs is a big goal.

"We want to go to NCS this year, that's what we're looking for," Backman said. "I think we can do it. We have the guys. We just need to commit to each other and get it done."

The Matadors' athletic program got a boost in the spring when Granada won the EBAL baseball title for the first time in 21 years.

Could there a be carryover in the fall?

"The whole school felt pretty good about how we did," Soltis said. "I think we kind of came together a little bit. If it comes onto the field we'll have to see, but there's not too many baseball players out here."

The powerful EBAL, with its storied rivalries and veteran coaches, forces football teams to up their games.

"I like this league a lot because you get to see how you compare to a lot of people," Backman said. "Monte Vista and San Ramon Valley, and all those good teams ... Cal, Foothill, even Livermore sets up a challenge because they always have good athletes. Yeah, it's a good league. I like this league. It shows me where I'm at, and where our team is."

2013 schedule
Aug. 30 WINDSOR 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 at Antioch 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 at G.. Valley-Merced 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Newark Mem. 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 at California* 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 MONTE VISTA* 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 S.R. VALLEY* 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Foothill* 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 AM. VALLEY* 7 p.m.
Nov. 7 at Livermore* 7 p.m.
*EBAL games