New season brings big changes for San Rafael

Casey Sully’s offense racked up some big scores last season as the Tam High football team pushed to a third-place MCAL finish. Now, he hopes to have similar success as he takes the reins with San Rafael’s program.

Sully, the former offensive coordinator at Tam, was hired as San Rafael’s new head coach in the offseason after Mark Lubamersky left at the end of the 2021 season.

“San Rafael is a very unique place to be, especially in Marin,” Sully said. “I mean, you can just look at the diversity here. It is awesome to experience, especially compared to a lot of the other schools in the county. You have a very unique base.”

Teams across Marin County returned to organized practices for the first time on Monday, some with an eye toward defending championships and others in a building mode, trying to climb the ladder of the MCAL hierarchy.

They don’t have much time before the season kicks off under the Friday night lights. The Bulldogs (4-6, 2-5 MCAL last season) are scheduled to play their first game of the season at Santa Rosa on Aug. 26.

“The offense this year will look relatively similar to what Tam was running last year, just because I was calling the plays there and designing the offense,” said Sully, who brought his playbook with him in the move. “I think we have the personnel here to do it. We have a few players who are really talented.”

That includes senior quarterback Charlie Grant and senior receiver O’Marion Beard.

“The new coaches bring something new to the table that we didn’t have in previous years,” Beard said. “I’d like to see us come together and come out strong in games. We’re usually a second-half team, but if we can come out with that energy at the start, we can put the game away early.”

Sully is joined on the San Rafael sidelines by some familiar names, including assistant coach Loren Mollner, who worked with Tam’s defensive line last season, and Russell Chang, who was part of the Hawks’ junior varsity coaching staff. Sully also recruited former Tam quarterback Aidan Newell and receiver Cooper Marshall to join his staff.

San Rafael and Tam meet in the MCAL opener on Sept. 23. The Hawks defeated the Bulldogs 42-6 in their previous matchup on Oct. 16.

“The pressure is on us to perform,” said Grant, who is expected to start under center for the Bulldogs. “We don’t want to let our coach down or embarrass ourselves and him against Tam, since he’s coming from that program. We’ve got to make him proud and show that this is not the same old San Rafael program.”

The Bulldogs have a big challenge ahead, not only from Tam, but also powerful Redwood and defending NCS division champions Marin Catholic and San Marin. San Rafael, along with Archie Williams, Novato and crosstown rival Terra Linda, will all be battling to improve their showing in the MCAL.

In eight-man football, the Branson School launches the defense of its NCS crown.

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