Ontario HS trying to get with the program

Last year appears to have been the year for Ontario High’s football team.

The result of a banner 2008 season: a second-place finish in the Mt. Baldy League and a swift exit from the playoffs courtesy of a 42-21 loss to Menifee Paloma Valley (to Ontario’s credit, Paloma Valley lost their next game by just 8 to eventual CIF champ Rancho Cucamomga).

Ontario returns just three players that started a game last season, all of which are linemen. EVERY SINGLE SKILL PLAYER IS GONE. Ontario coach Steve Randall is saying all the right things about trying to prove he’s built a program, but he isn’t veiling understandably lowered expectations.

“We did a lot to turn the corner last year as a football program,” fourth-year coach Randall said. “We might be able to make a run for the playoffs but we also realize there will be a lot of trial and errror. ”

However, Randall proclaimed this year’s team potentially more talented than 2008 squad.

Ontario is, undoubtedly, more talented at some positions this season than last, according to Randall. “But once you’ve been through the battles,” he said, “you can’t replace that experience.”

The Jaguars aren’t catching any breaks either. Their projected starting quarterback, Hector Ochoa, tore the meniscus in his knee in July. After surgery, he isn’t expected to be ready for the season opener.

Defensive tackle Justin Randall, the coach’s son, is likely the only player with college potential. The 6-foot, 263-pound senior is one of the three returning starters.

“Don Lugo was young last year,” Steve Randall said of the 3-7 Conquistadores. “We might be in that position this year.”