Chino Hills running back Grady O’Donnell looks for running room in last year’s playoff loss to Great Oak.
The Chino Hills Huskies made quite the entry into the Baseline League last season. Coach Matt Bechtel’s team was second behind an Upland squad loaded with Division I talent and gave the Highlanders all they could have wanted in the head-to-head battle between the two.
The new season gets underway in about a month and the Huskies again loom as a formidable threat.
“There are a lot of good teams but we should be in the mix,” said Bechtel, whose team went 8-3 overall and 4-1 in league play. “We went in last year thinking we were going to compete and we did.”
The Huskies return several key players on offense, most notably running back Grady O’Donnell, who rushed for 697 yards in nine games, much of that coming after Brysen Charbonier got injured.
Curtis Price (681 yards) is also back, along with younger brother Vos, the team’s top receiver from last year.
It always helps to have linemen back and the Huskies have a couple veterans in R.J. Stripling, Matt Kivler and Conner Garcelli.
The biggest question mark comes at quarterback where Bechtel is looking for a successor to the graduated Zac Sturdivant. The candidates are junior Borgogno and senior Caleb Arreola.
Arreola is the more experienced, having gotten some time last year, most notably in the playoff loss to Great Oak when Sturdivant was out injured.
Borgogno, who has committed to Cal State Fullerton for baseball, did not play last year but was the starters for a freshman team that went 9-1 in 2013.
“If the season were starting tomorrow it would probably be Arreola just based on experience,” Bechtel said. “But it doesn’t so we’ll see how it plays out.”
Senior linebacker Anthony Rosales is the top returner on defense. Among the others are corner Josh Zappala and safeties Craig Worthley and Max Masad. Bechtel is also looking for good things from Dylan Tucker, who played behind Trent Goens last season.
Among the key newcomers are wide receiver-corner Jaylan Brown, a transfer from Eastvale Roosevelt, and wide receiver Devon Blakely, from Summit. Defensive lineman Oscar Burgueno and linebacker Michael Meza are up from the junior varsity and will also be impact players.
Bechtel prefers to look at his team as the darkhorse, although most football enthusiasts know better.
“Upland is still the champion and until someone knocks them off, they’re the team to beat,” he said. “I also think Rancho is going to be very good.”
The Huskies open the season against local rival Ayala on Aug. 28.