Diamond Ranch High School football coach Roddy Layton has gained a reputation for his ridiculously difficult nonleague scheduling habits – as in Oaks Christian-three-years-in-a-row ridiculous. BUT after a 1-7 start last season, that philosophy landed Diamond Ranch in a CIF title game.
Even Layton might have a hard time topping Damien’s slate this year. The nonleague schedule coach Greg Gano inherited in his first year at Damien included not one, but two defending CIF champions.
Though Damien emerged from its nonleague murder’s row with a 1-4 record, anybody who takes a closer look knows the Spartans are vastly improved from their 3-7 team of last year. I promise the rest of the Sierra League has taken notice.
In its season opener, Damien put a scare into defending CIF-SS Central Division champ Rancho Cucamonga before two late TDs helped the Cougars pull away for a 27-14 win. Last week Damien lost by just three points to defending CIF-SS Southeast Division champ Charter Oak.
Those two teams may not even be the best on the Damien docket so far. That distinction may go to private school power La Puente Bishop Amat.
The week after Damien suffered a 29-20 loss at its hands, Bishop Amat took down defending STATE champion Ventura St. Bonaventure in overtime.
Damien’s only hiccup is a 40-7 loss to another traditionally strong private school, St. John Bosco. Even the team that appeared weakest on Damien’s nonleague schedule, Claremont, is 3-1. Though Damien is responsible for its lone loss – the 24-0 victory is the Spartans’ lone win.
The Sierra League already has three teams in defending tri-champs Ayala, Chino Hills and Glendora, who are well above average. How Damien will fit into that mix will be interesting, to say the least.
We’ll find out quickly as Damien begins Sierra League play next week with Chino Hills, then takes on Glendora before meeting Ayala. The Spartans finish with Diamond Bar and then Chino.
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