The Pomona High School football team can no longer get away with flying under the radar. Last year the Red Devils won their first CIF title since 1951, capturing the Mid-Valley Championship.
So head coach Keith Richardson’s team is now the hunted not the hunter. The Red Devils also graduated 20 or so players, some of them key contributors on both sides of the ball so their loss is even more costly.
The pressure is, no doubt, on.
“We know people are focusing more on us this year,” Richardson said. “We have to rise to the challenge. We have some very good players but they may not be ones people know right now.”
The Red Devils (11-4 last year) did inherit a couple of transfers who will be counted on heavily. One of those is senior quarterback Aaron Sandoval who came over from Chino Hills and will be the starter.
Sandoval’s arrival will allow Darreon Lockett, to slide over to a receiver slot for which he is better suited. Lockett will also see time on defense.
“He is one of those players that can help you in a lot of places,” Richardson said of Lockett. “But this is more of a true position for him.”
The other big new arrival is senior Chris Jackson, the top player last year at Garey who will also play at wide receiver and defensive back.
Other key newcomers are junior wide receiver Ricky Lua, brother of Manny who was a key player on last year’s team, as well as senior Denario Critton who competed in track last year but did not play football.
Among the holdovers from the title-winning team are senior linebacker-safety Brian Lamb, senior offensive lineman Christopher Mendez and junior lineman Joel Trujillo.
Leonard Hudson is back as offensive coordinator but Richardson will no longer be defensive coordinator so he can oversee the entire game. John Brown, who was on staff, will head the defense.
Pomona starts the new season on Aug. 28 at Oak Hills. It begins defense of its Miramonte League title on Oct. 16 against city foe Ganesha.