Brentwood football looks to reverse the trend.
For the Indians, it’s been one year in the playoffs, one year out the past four years. Brentwood rallied to win four of its final five games last season and earn the No. 8 and final seed to make the playoffs.
How much of a hunger to return to the postseason fuels the Indians?
“It’s a big motivation,” said senior tight end and linebacker Jose Contreras, who had 72 tackles last season. “It’s our main goal, just trying to make it back to playoffs.”
Brentwood returns key players at key positions, starting with Hernan Funes, a senior running back and middle linebacker who averaged 5.3 yards a carry for 475 yards with 60 tackles. He’s the leader of the defense now, too.
“He’s making all the calls now, he’s pushing other kids,” coach Jon Sorbera said. “He’s teaching other kids, so he’s made huge strides. And having him back, he’s just a tough old-school nasty kid, so we want that kid on our side.”
Funes would rather just let his play do his talking.
“We’re looking good,” he said. “We’re working hard out here every day.”
Brentwood also returns quarterback and cornerback Kyle Niehr, who recorded 700 all-purpose yards as the starting signal caller last season in a pistol-option offense. He admitted the 0-3 start last season was tough for him personally but he feels more comfortable entering his second season as the starting quarterback.
“It was my first year as well as a bunch of other guys on the team,” Niehr said. “We were a really young team last year so for the first time being on varsity, we started off slow and we started picking it up at the end of the season so I feel that we will carry that over into this season and start off with a nice bang.”
Sorbera is excited about returning Tyjuan Nelson, who did a little bit of everything for the Indians last season -- lining up as slot receiver, running back and wildcat quarterback on offense. At 6-2, 190 pounds, Nelson is also the starting free safety and kick returner. He recorded 1,090 all-purpose yards last season.
“Just make plays for my team and be a team player,” he said. “We’ve been looking forward to this season since freshman year.”
The biggest question mark for Brentwood stems from line play. The Indians graduated all of its defensive linemen, but return all three linebackers.
Sorbera said he has high expectations of this season’s senior class stemming from junior varsity success. The seniors themselves feel the same way and want to be the team to break the trend of going to the playoffs only every other season.
“All of the seniors want it,” Nelson said. “We got a good senior class so hopefully we can do it again.”