FOOTBALL: Alhambra could pass on the run in 2008

Alhambra High School appeared in the Crescenta Valley passing tournament and showcased some lightening speed.

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Above: Alhambra wide receiver/defensive back Mitchell Crockom.

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Above: Alhambra coach Gil Ruedaflores, center, talks to his team at the Crescenta Valley tournament.

Here’s a look at the 2008 Moors.

Alhambra High School saw its first action of the summer during the Crescenta Valley passing tournament at the Glendale Sports Complex.
The Moors (7-4 in 2007) will enter the 2008 season without the lightning-quick running back combination of Dushine Smith (1,285 yards and 14 touchdowns) and Anthony Brown (1,188 yards and 19 TDs).
Although replacing those players won’t be easy, change could be good for the Moors.
“The difference in the team is that we’re not going to be as run-oriented as last year,” Alhambra coach Gil Ruedaflores said. “We’re going to open it up.”
Ruedaflores plans on taking advantage of what could be a huge advantage at wide receiver – speed.
Junior to be Mitchell Crockom possesses speed, and then some.
Crockom, who led the Moors in receiving a year ago with 375 yards and five TDs, showcased that speed both at wide receiver and at defensive back at the CV tournament.
“My expectation for Mitchell is when it’s time for him to make plays in crucial situations, he’s able to do it with his talent and knowledge of the game,” said Ruedaflores, who will be entering his 20th season. “The most important thing is his feel for the game. He knows where he has to be and knows who he has to beat.”
Fellow junior Darrian Cazarin has a year of experience under his belt at quarterback after throwing for 420 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago, as well as a lengthy playing relationship with Crockom.
“Mitchell has a lot of confidence in his quarterback and they’ve worked a lot together, that’s the key,” Ruedaflores said. “They won a championship together and they almost won it as tenth graders so they have that formula that they need which is confidence.”
The Moors coach feel Cazarin is ready to step up and have a solid junior season.
“Darrian’s a hard worker, he always watches film, he’s a good student of the game and he’s a good leader,” Ruedaflores said.
Wide Receiver
Joining Crockom at wideout will be sophomore Vai Peko, another speedster who will also see action at running back, and Bryan Gonzalez, who is also the team’s kicker.
“We have a good core of receivers and simply because one of our receivers may be double-teamed, that’ll open up the running game a little bit,” Ruedaflores said.
Peko’s uncle, Domata Peko recently signed to play with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Running Back
Ruedaflores isn’t worried about running back, although he acknowledges that things will be different with Daniel Imaa and Kaleo Branco.
“We’ve got linebackers playing running back, so it’s three yards and a cloud of dust,” Ruedaflores said. “Daniel Imaa is a Division I linebacker whose being recruited by a lot of colleges and he’s a fullback, and Kaleo Branco is another linebacker that has 4.6/4.7 speed.
“We just need five yards from them, not like Anthony and Dushine where they would get 40.”
Christian Ramirez, Jeremy Lewis and Andrew Salas will provide the bulk on the offensive line.
Look for the Moors to try to beat teams via the pass this season.
“Our plan is to establish a good running game with a good passing game and play 50-50,” Ruedaflores said. “We need to be able to run and throw 50-50 and not put all the pressure on the quarterback.”

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