The Don Lugo baseball team is off to a 12-0 start that has also resulted in a No. 1 ranking in Division 4.
The Conquistadors are taking the field with a new look. There have been wholesale changes in personnel as just one starter returns. But longtime coach Joe Marcos stepped down and the team is now being headed by his former top assistant in Jeff Abel.
Abel stops short of calling this team an overachieving team however.
“We had some young players that I knew had potential but I wouldn’t say we’re overachieving,” Abel said. “Maybe some guys have developed a little faster than we thought they would.”
The Conquistadors have won two tournaments that they have hosted – one a preseason tournament and one a spring break tournament. Among the more notable wins were one over Glendora and another over formidable small school power Woodcrest Christian.
Abel has gotten stellar performances from several players including senior outfielder-pitcher Benny Aguilera, the only returning starter from last year’s squad.
Among the other big contributors are junior Josh Ibarra, a backup last year, and junior pitcher-third baseman Nolan Fernandez, who came up from the junior varsity at the end of last season.
Abel also singled out the contributions of shortstop Albert Luevano, left fielder Khoury Bethley and pitcher Joshua Torres – all sophomores.
“The best thing about this team is these kids act like a family and they get along well on and off the field,” Abel said. “That’s one thing that has helped get us where we are. We have a long way to go but it’s definitely a good start.”
Next up for Don Lugo is a Mt. Baldy League game against Montclair (8-5, 1-2) on Wednesday.
Don Lugo Athletic Director Joe Marcos didn’t have to look for to find his replacement as baseball coach at the school. That job is going to Jeff Abel, his varsity assistant the last three years and a coach for the Conquistadores lower level teams the three years before that
Abel had to go through the interview process along with other candidates but was deemed the right person for the job. He has been in the profession for 30 or so years, also previously having coached at Chaffey and Alta Loma as well as at Montclair where he worked with the softball program.
He also spent some time at the collegiate level working at Pomona-Pitzer.
“There is a track record of success in this program,” he said. “I just want to continue the what has been done here before me.”
Abel expects a smooth transition since he already knows the players with whom he will be working. One minor thing will change. He’d like to bring a bit of the new technology into the program such as putting together highlight packages for his players to help expose them to colleges.
Marcos, who announced his resignation in the spring, was reluctant to post rosters or individual stats so as not to divulge much to the opposition. Abel says he hasn’t decide whether or not to post statistics but he will make sure there is a roster available for all.
Marcos started at the school as a walk-on assistant in 1975 and did that until getting the head coaching job in 1985. He picked up his 500th win late last season.
He has been athletic director since 1999 but plans to resign as athletic director at the end of the school year.
Coach Joe Marcos talkes about his team earlier this season.
The Don Lugo baseball team registered a 10-3 win over Montclair in Mt. Baldy League play and that meant a milestone 500th win for veteran coach Joe Marcos.
He says he wasn’t aware such a milestone was approaching but his assistants made him aware. His players also knew of the feat, which provided a little more incentive.
Marcos became the head coach in 1985 but was an assistant coach for nine years before that.
“It all goes so fast,” he said. “It’s really hard to think back that far and single out a team.”
Marcos said it’s hard to single out a win or a team but recalls a 1999 team that marched all the way to the CIF semifinals before losing to Hart and a then known pitcher in James Shields, who now pitches for the Padres and really put himself on the major league map in coming up with Tampa Bay.
He also remembers Don Lugo squaring off against a Damien team that then included Mark McGwire. That was during his tenure as an assistant.
Marcos has been athletic director at Don Lugo since 1999 and credits assistants Jeff Abel and Scott Makrow for their help at times when he is late for practice while tending to administrative duties.
With the win the Conquistadores improved to 16-5 overall and 9-1 in Mt. Baldy League play. They are ranked fourth in CIF Division 4.
The California State Athletic Directors Association just held its 46th annual conference in San Diego. More than 400 athletic directors were on hand and some locals were among those recognized.
Joe Marcos of Don Lugo was selected one of the Athletic Directors of the Year for the Southern Section. He has been at the school coaching since 1974 and has served as athletic director since 1999.
Mike Hinkle of Chino and John McGaha of Garey were among the four winners of the Norm McKenzie “Rookie of the Year” award for those who have held the position less than five years.
A couple others honored are slightly out of the Bulletin’s coverage area but lets get their names out there – Matt LeDuc of Northview and Rod Tilton of Glendora.
Any award recognizing an athletic administrator is well deserved. Those individuals spend countless hours attending sporting events and tending to administrative work, oftentimes at the expense of family time.