ALBANY -- The first question for Steve Werren is obvious -- how does the football talent level at Albany High match up with what he was used to when he coached at El Cerrito, when he was an assistant (and head coach for one season) from 30 seasons ending in 2007?

"The talent level is different but the schedule is also different. At least the way the schedule is set up there can be competitive equity," said Werren, the new football coach at Albany. "There's a drop off in speed. However, the enthusiasm, the attentiveness of the kids has been outstanding."

Werren has only about 29 players on the roster, although most days, he has 25 bodies at practice.

"The biggest problem is going to be the depth, just like any school with limited enrollment," he said. "Our first string should be competitive with the teams on our schedule. Our first string will match up fine against anybody. But we're one-deep. That's it."

Needless to say, many players will be lining up on both sides of the ball.

"When we go our ones against twos, we don't have enough people," Werren said. "We only have about (eight or nine) linemen right now. That's the type of thing you try to minimize, but we'll definitely have to have guys go both ways because of the numbers."


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Things weren't helped when junior running back Tristan Taylor tore his labrum in one of his shoulders. Werren said Taylor was going to be one of the team's best backs. Also, Skyler Forrest, Albany's biggest lineman, broke his ankle last week in a non-football-related scenario, Werren said.

All is not negative however. Werren said that returning quarterback Nick Sternad could have started at El Cerrito when he coached there. The offensive line has potential -- again, Werren said his tackles could have competed for a starting job at El Cerrito.

Most of all, Werren has a Bay Area legend standing next to him on the sideline. Hall of Fame coach Frank Milo, who helmed El Cerrito for 20 years after spending 17 at Richmond, will serve as defensive coordinator. Milo coached El Cerrito to a win over De La Salle in 1989 -- the last time the Spartans lost a regular season game to a Bay Area team.

"I feel Coach Milo is the greatest defensive coordinator in the area," Werren said. "(His defenses are) smart, aggressive. They accumulate a lot of turnovers. They put pressure on the offense. He doesn't sit back. He likes to pressure the offense. He will never go into a game unprepared."

Coming off of consecutive 2-8 seasons with a 1-9 year the season before that, goals are modest, at least in terms of wins and losses.

"I want to make this high school experience the most positive I can for them," Werren said. "I wrote, '10 Friday nights and a lifetime to remember them' (on the locker room white board). The high school experience is the best time of your lives."

Schedule
8/30 MT. EDEN 7 p.m.
9/6 ST. PATRICK-S.V. 7 p.m.
9/13 at Piedmont 7 p.m.
9/20 ST. MARY'S 7 p.m.
9/27 TENNYSON 7 p.m.
10/11 HERCULES* 7 p.m.
10/18 at Kennedy-Rich.* 7 p.m.
10/25 at Richmond* 7 p.m.
11/1 DE ANZA* 7 p.m.
11/8 JOHN SWETT* 7 p.m.
Home games in CAPS
*TCAL-Stone game

More football coverage
Look for more high school football preview stories in next week's Berkeley Voice, El Cerrito Journal, and online at www.contracostatimes.com/high-school-sports