OAKLAND -- Ashley Sherman is 67 years old, so calling him a rookie head coach as he enters his first season heading up the Oakland Tech High football program is a little misleading. He has been at the school since 1972, heading the wrestling program and assisting with the football program.
So call him a "veteran-rookie."
"I've been coaching for a long time but I didn't realize -- when you switch over from wrestling to football, there's some things you have to bring with you," Sherman said. "There's a different mentality out there. In a football game, you beat each other over the head. Then you shake hands and go home. In wrestling, you wrestle them and then you have to see him for the next three hours."
Sherman said it definitely creates a different kind of camaraderie among athletes.
Although Sherman is taking the reins for the first time, he said there will be a lot of continuity for the Bulldogs this season. Most of the coaching staff for last year's team, which reached the Silver Bowl before falling to McClymonds, returns. Several key players are coming back as well, including starting quarterback James Lewis. Now a senior, Lewis completed a huge 27-yard touchdown pass to Michael Adams to break a 22-22 tie in last year's Oakland Section playoffs -- a game Oakland Tech ended up winning 44-36. Lewis finished that game 9 of 14 for 161 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior running back/wide receiver/safety Jahi Davis is also back and should be one of the Bulldogs' top playmakers. Senior wide receiver/running back/cornerback LaMarr Davis should be as well.
Senior Mekhi McFall should anchor a young line, an area where Oakland Tech needs to develop some depth in order to have a successful season. That line will feature a pair of juniors new to the varsity -- Tavonte Kiel and Jerry Katoa.
Sherman said the numbers are good this year -- 38-40 are working with the varsity and another 40 are working with the junior varsity. He said there is another large group of players who have expressed interest in playing football but haven't gotten their physicals yet. Sherman said he's been working to recruit players from other sports, including lacrosse and soccer.
He added that there is plenty of talent that, if it develops, could lead to a return to the Silver Bowl.
"We definitely have the talent that can compete," Sherman said.
8/30 BETHEL-VALLEJO 7 p.m.
9/6 at Pinole Valley 7 p.m.
9/13 BALBOA-S.F. 7 p.m.
9/20 at Pitman-Turlock 7:30 p.m.
9/27 at Liberty 7 p.m.
10/18 SKYLINE* 3:30 p.m.
10/25 at Castlemont* 3:30 p.m.
11/1 at Oakland* 3:30 p.m.
11/9 FREMONT* 2 p.m.
11/16 at McClymonds* 2 p.m.