Football preview: Western Christian’s got skills

Compiling statistics as the season went along last year, Mike Mendoza and Christian Solis made themselves impossible to ignore. Then a sophomore and junior, respectively, at Western Christian, the quarterback-receiver duo kept topping the statistical charts we compile each week at the Daily Bulletin. When it was all said and done in 2009, Mendoza threw for 1,600 yards and Solis, who missed the final three games with an injury, had 35 receptions for 612 yards and five touchdowns.

Once these two had my attention last year, Western Christian entered Christian League play, which was not kind to their statistics. Coach Scotty Kirkpatrick is hoping that will change this year, though the new Ambassador League – which includes the former Christian League – is tougher with the addition of CIF champion Linfield Christian. If the Lancers are to enter the playoff picture after a 1-9 season last year, it will likely be on the strength of their skill players.

Mendoza, however, also threw 22 interceptions opposite 10 touchdowns last season. Over the last six games of the season he threw 14 interceptions and four TDs. Solis, meanwhile, had 16 receptions for 374 yards through three games of the season but wasn’t as strong as the season wore on.

The main reason for the drop-off was the decimation of the rest of the team, according to Kirkpatrick. At one point last season, the Western Christian roster dwindled to 22 players.

“Our biggest problem was our depth,” Kirkpatrick said. “At one point we were missing three starters and everybody was going both ways so that was like six starters missing.”

Depth is less of a concern this season, but the Lancers have other issues to deal with.

“This league is going to be tough with powerhouses like Aquinas and Ontario Christian who I expect to be competitive again,” Kirkpatrick said. “Our goal is to be a contender for the league title and to make the playoffs. Barring injury I think we can do that.”