The Don Lugo football team made great strides in the last two years under coach Luis Garcia. Well a veteran has taken over the reigns and should keep the ship headed in the right direction.
Greg Gano, who has had stints at Hacienda Heights Wilson, Damien and Los Altos, has retained most of the previous coaching staff and there are a lot of returning players so the transition has been a smooth one.
The Conquistadores were impressive over the summer winning two passing league tournaments. If nothing else, Don Lugo will start the new season with momentum and confidence.
“Those things don’t always mean a lot but we did beat some good teams,” Gano said. “I think we opened some eyes. We’re very excited about starting the new season.”
Of course it all starts and ends with a quarterback Don Lugo has one back in junior Rudy Garcia. He spent most of the season as a backup but had to step in when starter Dane Ford got injured late in the season and did an admirable job.
There are plenty of other starters returning too though, particularly along the offensive line, an area that Gano singles out as the strength of the team this season..
That unit is led by center Trevor Goulet, who will also play on the other side of the ball. Others pitching in there will include seniors Chris Torres, Tito Torento and Aaron Ngyuen and junior Chris Randazzo.
The Conquistadores graduated their top two rushers, one of those Ford, but there are plenty of contributors ready to shoulder the load – most notably junior Khoury Bethley, senior Zak Murray and sophomore Chris Perez.
The stable of receivers features senior Kendale Taylor, juniors Daniel Munguia, Thomas Delgado and Nico Lara, a transfer from Chino who won’t be eligible until the sixth week.
The biggest question mark appears to be the defensive line but Gano isn’t overly concerned. That group is headed by seniors Jason Gardner and Connor Wilt, junior Andy Esparza and sophomore Jack McNaughton.
“We have players at every position,” he said. “We don’t have as much experience there. We just have to find the right combination.”
Bethley and Taylor will also be important to the defensive effort in the secondary.
Among the others expected to be big contributors defensively are linebackers Tzion Dixon, Anthony Miller, Steve Quijada and Albert Luevano.
“The job really has energized me,” Gano said. “I can’t wait for the first game.”
Don Lugo plays a difficult non-league schedule, starting with Warren on Aug. 26. That’s a foe that went 8-3 last year. Other teams on the schedule are reigning league champions Pomona (Miramonte) and Northview (Valle Vista) as well as Chino and Rancho Cucamonga who look to be among the best teams in the Inland Valley this season.