Pomona made it to the CIF semifinal before losing to Sierra Canyon last fall.
The Pomona High School football team is just two years removed from a storybook season that ended with a CIF title. The Red Devils (10-3, 4-0 in Miramonte League) were also pretty good last year, marching all the way to the semifinal before losing to eventual champion Sierra Canyon, 65-26.
But this season second-year coach Keith Richardson will have his work cut out for him. The Red Devils return just a few players with significant experience and they start out the season with a game against defending CIF champion in Oak Hills.
So they young team is going to have to get better – fast.
“We’re going to be very young,” Richardson said. “You have years like this when you graduate a lot of guys and are basically starting over.”
Returning impact players are lineman Oliver Deerr, running back-corner back Chris Trimble, wide receiver Ricky Lua and defensive end Joel Trujillo – all seniors, But that’s about it
Richardson was fortunate to get a couple significant transfers with brothers Roy and Robin Wiley coming over from Montclair.
Roy, who will play linebacker and wide receiver, was the Daily Bulletin’s All-Inland Valley Newcomer of the Year last year as a sophomore. Last year he tallied 125 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 interceptions, caused 7 fumbles, blocked 2 punts and a field goal.
Robin, now a senior, will see time at safety and wide receiver. He had 52 catches for 359 yards and 3 touchdowns last year.
“It’s definitely a great to have them, especially in a year we lost so many guys,” Richardson said. “They’re going to have to play a lot on both sides of the ball.”
Sophomore Mariano Verdusco will be the starting quarterback. He is up from the freshman team.
Richardson also singles out senior corner back-wide receiver Nygerron Crouch and sophomore fullback-linebacker Talon Cobb as players off the junior varsity who should contribute greatly.
Rebuilding or not, Pomona is capable of repeating as league champion. The Miramonte isn’t one of the tougher leagues by the time league play rolls around Pomona will have played some quality competition.
“That’s always our goal – to win a league title,” Richardson said. “We can do that. We just have to keep getting better.”