Westchester High School football coach David Williams said this season he is confident that his team can capitalize on its preseason work ethic for a competitive run in the Western League.

In Williams’ first season as coach last year, the Comets struggled with injuries and finished the year with a 3-8 record after losing in the first round of the Los Angeles City Section Invitational Division playoffs.

“We were very inexperienced even among the upper class and the record showed it,” Williams said.

While Westchester may have lacked experience last year, Williams also said the players were not committed to working hard in the off-season.

This season Williams said the players’ attitude about work has changed and he expects the team to make improvements.

The Comets happen to play in the same league as rival Venice High School, which has won three consecutive Western League titles.

Although Venice appears to be the “dominant force” in the league, Williams said his team still expects to challenge each of its league opponents.

“Venice is the class of the league and it’s what we aspire to, but I think we can be competitive with all of the teams in the league,” Williams said.

Westchester has a group of top returning players to help lead the way, including senior running back Gregory Ray, who was injured for part of last season but was still a force for the Comet running game.

Ray was rated by the Los Angeles Times as the number-five returning running back in the City Section.

Another running back expected to step up is junior Desean Rogers. Senior Duron Sylvester will return as quarterback, and senior Bobby Young will return at center.

Other top players include senior tackle and tight end Justin Thompson, senior free safety Anthony Sanford, junior cornerback Darren Starks and sophomore middle linebacker Stephan Weicks.

Westchester will also get help from many key players who have moved up from last year’s freshman team, which ended with a 9-1 record.

Williams said the Comets prepared well in the off-season by lifting weights and running track, and are more committed to working hard for the season.

The keys to success for Westchester this season will be to avoid injuries like those suffered last season and not make the mistakes typical of a young team, Williams said.

The Comets may expect to make a competitive run in the league, but Williams acknowledges that the pre-league schedule “is not an easy one.”

Westchester will open the season against Morningside High School at 7 p.m. Friday, September 9th. Other key non-league games include San Pedro High School and Cathedral High School.

The Western League season for Westchester begins at home against Fairfax High School Friday, October 14th.

“We have to be better defensively in terms of stopping the run,” Williams said. “We also need to be balanced on offense and throw the ball effectively, and we’ve laid a good foundation to do that.”