Jewish Academy Lions tune up for season opener

All over the United States, football fever is in the air. Whether its professional, college, or high school, Americans love their teams. The San Diego Section CIF high school football programs opened up their seasons with controlled scrimmages last week, including the San Diego Jewish Academy Lions.

Playing an independent schedule last year, this year the Lions have nowhere to go but up. Last year the Lions were 0-5 in their initial venture in 11-man football. Up until then, the team has always played 8-man tackle football. But San Diego Jewish Academy is now in the situation of being a little too big at 186 students and according to CIF rules, 175 students would qualify them for 8-man competition league play.

“We could have maybe played in 8-man league this year,” said Charlie Wund, athletic director and former Lions head football coach. “But, because of the Jewish holidays, we would have had to rescheduled a lot of league games. Right now, I can’t tell you what our position will be for 2009.”

The Christian Life Academy football team, which competes in the 8-man Citrus League, visited the Lions Den last Friday for a controlled scrimmage. In the scrimmage, each team begins on their 20-yard line and runs 10 offensive plays and then switches. The second half was played under regular rules with 12-minute quarters and scoring.

The Lions looked sharp, dominating the second half of their scrimmage under regular rules, shutting out Christian Life 21-0.

‘I’m very proud with our team’s performance today,” said Head Coach Pawen Dhokal. “Defense is our strength this year. We have good players at every defensive position. My expectation of the team this season is to continue to improve. Our young guys will be getting more experienced, and the older guys will be getting more confident. This year we expect to really click. The guys have been working really hard year round. The players understand the game more. Last year, we had only 15 players and this season we have the number up to 22 players. Injuries and fatigue were big factors last year, where some guys were playing both ways. I think the attitude is great and we will be positive for this year. This will be a breakthrough season. I can’t see us repeating 0-5 this season. One example that shows our players are mature and positive was something overheard in the locker room. One player told me that ‘I know why we have eyes in front, so we can always see forward.’”