"Hell Week" for the Malibu High Sharks football teams began this week with an unprecedented showing of players. The first game of the season is Sept. 10 at Vasquez High.

ttack from bigger, faster Sharks imminent


he Malibu High School football team began “Hell Week” on Monday with an unprecedented showing of players. More than 70 students, by far the largest turnout of players the program has seen, began their school year early by commencing preparation for the upcoming Sharks football season, the team’s eighth campaign.

There are 18 returning seniors and experienced juniors among the varsity team’s expected 30 players. Many returning players spent long hours in the weight room during the off-season working with trainers and strength coaches. The hard work has paid off, as gains in strength and size have provided great potential on both sides of the ball.

Standout players from the summer workouts include tight end/linebacker Matt Nechak, a 6-foot, 3-inch, 210-pound senior, who is counted among the team’s strong Division 1 college prospects. Outstanding play is also expected from fullback/defensive end Andrew Heric (6-feet, 235 pounds); linebacker Johnny O’Neil (5-feet, 11-inches, 210 pounds); defensive end Kieran Doody (6-feet, 2-inch, 225 pounds); and nose tackle Spencer Schwartz (5-feet, 10-inces, 200 pounds). Having allowed only 123 points last season, Malibu’s even speedier defense is hungry to show that they can improve on their performance.

With an offensive line that averages 235 pounds per player, varsity head coach Rich Lawson expects that Malibu has a good chance to make it to the playoffs this season. The line is anchored by guard Noah Flores (5-feet, 10-inches, 230 pounds) and tight end Thomas Oden (6-feet, 5-incehs, 275 pounds), who will lead the blocking for a potent offensive attack.

Junior tail back Miles Edman (6-feet, 170 pounds) shattered junior varsity records last year, racking up more than 2,200 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns. Running behind bigger and faster blockers than ever before and having gained strength from demanding off-season workouts, Edman will continue to be a potent weapon for the Sharks’ offensive attack.

Varsity quarterback Jonathan Briggs, who has fully recovered from a knee injury that sidelined him for all of last season, will enjoy the advantage of having speedy Jason Puklus at the wide receiver position. Puklus, who also serves as a cornerback, has shown great gains in strength through his hard work in the weight room.

Both the varsity and junior varsity squads finished last season by winning their last three games. Junior varsity head coach Nick DeLeo expects that the depth of this season’s team, with many returning players among more than 40 team members, will allow them to improve on last year’s 6-3 record.

Lawson anticipates even more students joining the football program as the academic semester gets underway. Lawson and his coaching staff are working overtime to prepare the varsity and junior varsity teams for their first game on Sept. 10 at Vasquez. The Sharks’ first home game will be played under the lights on Sept. 17 against Ribet Academy. After drawing more than 1,500 fans to last season’s Homecoming night game (thought to be the largest gathering of Malibuites ever), the Sharks’ 2004 home schedule will include four night games.