LIVERMORE — Nothing excites a high school student body quite like a successful football team, which explains those loud cheers in Cowboy Nation.
Livermore, guided by first-year head coach John Wade and piloted by dual-threat quarterback Shaun Smith, is off to a 3-0 start for the first time since 2011. The Cowboys are coming off a hard-fought 20-14 win up north at Windsor (2-1), and they will travel to winless Healdsburg this week.
“This is exciting, it’s very exciting,” said Wade, an on-campus teacher at Livermore for two years who has vast experience at Dublin and Miramonte. “The competition that we’ve been playing against has been pretty good. Windsor was very good, and we were able to win that game, which I thought was a very good benchmark for where we’re at right now.”
Other Bay Area unbeaten teams off to feel-good starts include Hayward (3-0), which has won its first three games for the first time since 2006; Half Moon Bay (2-0), which finished 3-7 in 2018, and No. 24 Seaside (2-0), which moved into the Bay Area Preps HQ rankings after upsetting Bishop O’Dowd.
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The Cowboys’ refreshing start has the student body, and the community, revved up with East Bay Athletic League play just a couple of weeks away.
“Yeah, everyone seems really excited,” says Smith, one of 17 junior starters on the young squad. “Our fans, our student section, goes crazy. We have one of the most packed stadiums ever around EBAL, so the atmosphere is really good, really upbeat. We want to continue that all the way through league.”
Wade agrees that having a good football team “kind of carries over for the rest of the year as far as kids getting excited about other sports and supporting each other. It’s been a real good situation so far. The kids have been coming out and the weather’s been nice and they’re excited that we’ve been winning.”
Smith (5-10, 145), who had a 25-yard touchdown run against Windsor to give the Cowboys a 14-7 lead, can attest to the Cowboys’ football camaraderie.
“I’ve been playing with these guys forever, man, since we were like in fifth grade,” Smith said. “Our brotherhood just brings us together, that’s been really helping us win. One of the most hard-working (group of) guys I’ve been around. We never take a play off, we always work hard to the end of the fourth quarter.”
The Cowboys have taken their lumps in the formidable EBAL through the years, and things will get tougher this season when they host Monte Vista, currently ranked No. 5, on Sept. 27, a week before opening EBAL Valley Division action at home against Dublin. But Wade can sense something special starting to take shape in the program.
Another positive is they added a football class this year at the school, which helps them smooth out the edges off the field.
The Cowboys’ junior class expects to win. They had an 18-2 overall record at the freshman and junior varsity levels the past two years, both losses coming to De La Salle. Wade describes his young group as “very talented with a great attitude and incredible work ethic.”
“We have a winning mentality,” Smith said. “We’ve done it since the freshman year, going 9-1 as freshmen and 9-1 as JV, so we’re used to winning. We like winning. We hope to continue that all the way through varsity for the next two years.”
Source: East Bay Football: Hot start revs up Livermore’s student body