ANTIOCH -- The Deer Valley High football team has had an entire summer to stew over a disappointing end to the 2011 season.
After winning the first two games in Bay Valley Athletic League play, the Wolverines lost their last three. Narrow losses to Freedom and Heritage were sandwiched around a 42-28 loss to Antioch that handed the Mayor's Cup back to the Panthers and prevented Deer Valley from making the North Coast Section playoffs.
"We couldn't finish a football game," coach Rich Woods said. "We can't fall in that area. We have to come out of that."
There are definitely pieces in place to engineer a quick turnaround. That starts on offense, where running back Shane Pooler and quarterback Nsimba Webster return to guide the Wolverines.
Pooler was especially impressive in 2011, earning first-team all-league honors after taking over when starter Matt Smith went down to injury. Woods said Pooler has looked good in the offseason, and said a key on offense will be Pooler's ability to stay healthy for the entire season.
"We've changed our offense and defense a little," Woods said. "There's a little different tempo right now. That's helped give us a different look."
Part of the change in philosophy has come by necessity.
Longtime defensive coordinator George Smylie left the program in the offseason to spend more time watching his grandson play football. His departure has been something the team, and most especially Woods,
"When you're talking about losses," Woods said. "That's probably our biggest loss."
There won't be any time to learn on the job. Woods has always scheduled a tough nonleague slate and this year is no different.
Both Sac-Joaquin Section Division II finalists are on the schedule, with a game at Folsom on Sept. 14 and home against Vacaville on Sept. 28. They'll also wrap up the season with back to back BVAL road games at Freedom and Heritage.
"We know we're one of the contenders," Woods said. "But we've got to step it up mentally."
Aug. 31 at Rod.-Fairfield 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 7 COLLEGE PARK 7 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Folsom 7:15 p.m.
Sept. 28 VACAVILLE TBA
Oct. 5 ANTIOCH* 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 at Liberty* 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 PITTSBURG* 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Freedom* 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 2 at Heritage* 7 p.m.
* BVAL games
Home games in CAPS