Orion Woods is one of the top returning players for Sobrato High. The Bulldogs host a 7 on 7 tournament on Friday.
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After winning the Blossom Valley League West Valley Division championship two years ago and finishing second in the division last season, the Sobrato High football team earned a promotion to the Santa Teresa Division for the upcoming season. It’s a rather big step up for the Bulldogs, who go from playing in a C division to a B division. 

“Our whole team is really excited,” said Orion Woods, an incoming senior middle linebacker. “We’re ready, we see it as a challenge and we’re accepting that challenge full speed.”

Woods takes over the all-important middle linebacker position for the graduated Jonathan Sheets, who is set to play for Chapman University. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Woods will be playing the position for the first time after spending the last two seasons on the offensive and defensive line. Woods views the position change as nothing but a positive since he feels comfortable at his current weight. 

“If I want to play at the next level, I would be too small to play on the line,” he said. “So I saw it as a necessary change.”

Woods is essentially the captain of the defense, reading the opposing offense, calling its plays out before launching himself like a heat seeking missile whenever a ball carrier approaches his vicinity. 

“It’s definitely different being on the line and in the trenches as opposed to standing up (the starting stance),” he said. “At linebacker, I’m having to be more light on my feet and light on my toes. I have to be able to cut fast and get to the running back or whoever comes in my zone.”

Woods won’t be able to tackle when Sobrato hosts a 7 on 7 passing tournament on Friday—contact is not allowed and players are pad free—but the Bulldogs plan on continuing their upward trajectory against the other teams in the tournament, including Christopher, Gilroy, Prospect, Independence and Andrew Hill. 

“Our summer practices have been getting progressively better and better,” Woods said. “We’re clicking on things that we haven’t clicked on before, and the players are really taking everything the coaching staff is giving us. Coach V (Viliame “Billy” Vuniwai) is set and ready to go. He’s pumped up and has a positive attitude all the time, which helps the team.”

Visitors to the 7 on 7 tournament will have the option for BBQ food and Hawaiian shaved ice. Sobrato will also stage a Luau on Aug. 22, the same evening there will be a pep rally in front of the gymnasium, Vuniwai said. The first-year Sobrato head coach knows the importance of fundraising, and providing hearty food to the masses is one way to increase the team’s fundraising total, which will go to transportation, gear and miscellaneous items. 

Woods said the team has gotten progressively better in the 7 on 7s, noting Sobrato has competed in five or six tournaments this summer. 

“With each 7 on 7, our offense has gotten better by running cleaner routes, and our defense has gotten better by being able to lock the other team down,” he said. “We’re playing more as a team, and our specific goal is to get in that mindset that we’re going up a league and every game is going to be a battle. We have to play to the final whistle. We need that perseverance from everyone.”

Woods said quarterback Jordan Sheets has made huge strides in his game as last year was his first ever playing the quarterback position. 

“Jordan is looking pretty good,” Woods said. “He’s definitely better than last season. He’s gotten a better feel for the position. You can tell he’s more light on his toes and being able to react to when DBs are cutting in or if there is a linebacker in the middle. He’s better at reading the plays now. I also feel our team is better than last year. We had only five to six seniors last year, and I feel this year our seniors are stacked. We’re are ready to go and show what we can do.”

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