The Diamond Ranch football team is coming off a 7-4 season that included a loss to eventual CIF champion San Marino in the first round.
The Diamond Ranch football program is on its fourth head football coach in as many years in Eric Martinez, previously the defensive coordinator at Upland. Usually that means your program is in turmoil and you haven’t been winning, but that isn’t exactly the case.
The Panthers were 7-4 last year, going 7-3 in the regular season and dropping a first round playoff game to the eventual CIF champion. The school decided to part ways with Jimmy Welker in the spring.
Martinez says his association with Upland landed him instant credibility with his team and players jumped on board early in the process. The new coach is hoping that will translate to success in the tough and balanced Hacienda League and a playoff run.
“The kids know what we accomplished there and the caliber of competition we played so I think that did help. The bought in to what we wanted to do right away and they have worked hard,” he said. “The biggest difference here is numbers. I have 80 kids and at Upland we had 150.”
Martinez said the defense will boast much the same philosophy it did last year but the offense will look much different. Instead of the spread offense with multiple quarterbacks Martinez is going to a power running game. He thinks he has the right personnel to do so and singles out the offensive line as the strength of the team this season.
Heading that group are junior tackles Ryan Roh and Matthew Burks.
Both of the quarterbacks Welker used last year graduated. It looks like the starting nod will go to senior Justin Tong, who Martinez thinks will do a good job of managing the offense.
The backfield will feature senior Chase Steward, sophomore Connor Clark and junior Augie Arellano.
Top defenders will include senior defensive back Donald Green, senior dedensive end Julius Sulia, junior corner Devin Dabich and junior defensive back Alec Flangan.
Green and Flanagan should also see time at wide receiver.
“We have some talent,” he said. “Our weakness is probably just numbers.”
Diamond Ranch starts the new season on Aug, 26 at South Hills, which also has a new coach in Matt Bechtel who came over from Chino Hills where he helped that team to a Baseline League title and semifinal playoff berth.