DANVILLE -- Things are looking up with the Monte Vista High football team. Literally.
The Mustangs resemble a bulked-up basketball team up front with three players who are about 6-foot-5. Moreover, quarterback Nikita Zamora, who is 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, figures to be a more commanding presence in the pocket over the slimmer 2012 model.
"He's had a good summer," Monte Vista coach Craig Bergman said of Zamora. "He's getting a lot of looks from schools. Nobody's pulled the trigger on him yet, but things are close. He's probably put on 15 to 20 pounds of muscle. He was a little lean last year; he's really thick and solid. Turned into a great leader."
Zamora sounded very much in command after a recent weight-lifting session, praising his offensive line for "picking things up quickly," which helps him work quicker in the complex offense.
"One of our goals this year is to keep the momentum going," Zamora said. "If it's the first drive of the game, the last one before the half and the first one to start the second half, we're going to try and keep momentum. We definitely like going out and scoring points as fast as possible. We like to keep pressure on the other team to try to keep up with us."
Bergman raves about his big and agile front five. Tight end Erik Mensendiek stands 6-foot-6. Left tackle Brendan Landman (6-5, 235) has an offer from San Jose State and a few other schools. Left guard Caleb Thomas (6-3, 270), right guard Julian Goldman (6-4, 275), right tackle Cody Dalton (240) and center Jason Washington (6-0, 215) are also solid up front.
"Most of them are pretty long and lean. They're athletes," Bergman said of his front line. "They run well. In high school football that can go a long ways."
Monte Vista will have a mostly new receiving corps. Speedy three-year starter Marco Zamora is a standout who runs textbook routes. Others in the receiving mix are Ben Wensley and newcomers John Kaiser and Peter Stanton.
"We've got a nice mix of returning guys and some news guys that I think are gonna really contribute," Bergman said. "We're not young, but inexperienced in a lot of spots. But the kids have played a lot of football and I expect them to be pretty good."
With ex-1,000-yard runner Zack Chang at Willamette, junior Zach Cribb is poised to high-step in at running back. RB/DE Jack Rood will bull for tough yards.
But the biggest key will be Nikita Zamora.
"As he goes, so will we," Bergman said. "If he has a good year, I think we'll be OK. If he struggles we could struggle."
Attrition took a heavy toll on the 2012 Mustangs, after a rousing 6-1 start. They couldn't really replace two injured two-way standouts late in the season.
They ended with four straight losses, including 55-29 to Pittsburg in the North Coast Section Division I playoffs. Monte Vista routed the same Pirates 44-14 in the third week of the season.
"We hung in there, but we couldn't finish any games at the end. We kind of ran out of gas," Bergman said.
Landman says the team looks to go unbeaten in nonleague play. Other team objectives are to beat California for the second straight year and to avenge a loss to rival San Ramon Valley.
"Mine and (Nikita Zamora's) goal this year is just to keep our team going," Landman said, "because I feel like last year some of our seniors stopped pushing us as hard as we wanted, so everyone just started lackadaisical playing. So we want to keep everyone going for 10 games of the season and finish out as strong as we can and have a good senior year."
Bergman expects another tight battle in the EBAL.
"Week in, week out dogfight as usual," Bergman said. "I think anybody can beat anybody on any given day."
Aug. 30 CASTRO VALLEY 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 at Berkeley 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 PITTSBURG 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Amador Valley* 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 FOOTHILL* 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Granada* 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 CALIFORNIA* 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Livermore* 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 DE LA SALLE 7 p.m.
Nov. 8 at S. Ramon Valley* 7 p.m.