ORINDA -- The Miramonte High football team has been so consistently good for so long that even when there are some major question marks, optimism and expectations are still high.
That's the case this year. The Matadors graduated 22 seniors, including three-year starting quarterback Ross Anderson and nine other all-league players, but that doesn't mean there's a major rebuilding project laying in front of second-year coach Jack Schram and his staff.
While it'll be tough to replace Anderson's production both running and throwing the football, Schram likes the group he has.
"I think we always have good schemes and always work really hard," Schram said. "Our offseason conditioning program is excellent. We don't have a lot of size, but we didn't have a lot last year either. We're trying to run schemes predicated more to what we do well."
Junior Drew Anderson (no relation to Ross) won the starting quarterback job and showed off his arm in the Matadors' season opener against Marin Catholic-Kentfield last Friday.
Anderson completed 16 of 31 passes for 171 yards in the 31-14 loss to last year's North Coast Section Division III runner up. He threw two touchdown passes and was intercepted twice before leaving the game with an injury in the fourth quarter.
"It's tough to find a quarterback with Ross's running ability," Schram said. "(Drew's) throwing arm is exceptional, his reads are really good and he's a big kid with room to
Should the injury keep Anderson out for a longer period of time, the Matadors also have Max Fernbacher and Nick Sheehan at quarterback. Fernbacher was the varsity backup last year, but Schram said he's nursing a sore shoulder. Sheehan took over when Anderson left the Marin Catholic game.
The Miramonte quarterbacks will be protected by a line that returns three starters, led by offensive guard Evan Epstein.
The receiving corps no longer includes Diablo Foothill Athletic League first-team selection Jack Pietrykowski, but Zati Williams and Marshall Deutz are back and will be top targets. Williams caught two touchdown passes against Marin Catholic.
As for the running game, Schram says it'll be a role filled by committee after the graduation of Luke Carrillo. Conor Bruen and Matt Solit will be among those receiving carries.
Defensively, Miramonte has just as many holes to fill, particularly at linebacker and in the secondary.
Deutz is the only returning starter at defensive back and the Matadors will have to replace all-league linebackers Kelly McGonigle and Joey Rottici.
Micah Spalding is back to anchor the defensive line.
With what should be their toughest nonleague game out of the way, the Matadors will face Eureka, Analy-Sebastapol and Alameda before Diablo Foothill Athletic League competition begins.
8/24 MARIN CATH. L, 31-14
9/1 at Eureka 1:30 p.m.
9/7 ANALY 7 p.m.
9/14 at Alameda (Thompson) 7 p.m.
9/21 at Dublin* 7 p.m.
9/28 CAMPOLINDO* 7 p.m.
10/5 at Acalanes* 7 p.m.
10/19 D.VALLEY* 7 p.m.
10/26 at Las Lomas* 7 p.m.
11/2 ALHAMBRA* 7 p.m.
* League games