On paper, Monrovia and Rosemead high schools look evenly matched. But make no mistake, both teams are different in their own unique way.
Payback will be on the mind of one team and perhaps redemption on the other when the Wildcats play host to the Panthers on Friday night at 7:30 in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.
It’s no secret both teams are fueled by a relentless ground attack.
Marquise Williams wearing green for Monrovia and Tra Sumler wearing maroon for Rosemead.
Williams relies on his quickness and ability to exploit open holes while Sumler is a specialist at bouncing off tackles and muscling his way down the middle.
Both teams will attempt to establish the run, and it’ll be interesting to see how the oppressed team responds when the holes are nowhere in sight.
Enter the quarterbacks.
Senior Angel Alejandre is averaging 176 yards passing per game and has 2,110 yards on the season with 16 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Sophomore Nick Bueno has held his ground, passing for 1,001 yards, 10 touchdowns and three interceptions.
Those numbers, however, can be deceiving.
“Alejandre is a senior and very good quarterback,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said,
“not that our quarterback isn’t. We’ve asked (Bueno) to do less than Rosemead asked
Alejandre to do, but both quarterbacks are very good in the system that they run.
“With (Bueno) we have him do a little less and as he matures we are asking him to do more and more.”
“(Bueno) does a good job of scrambling when he goes back to pass,” Rosemead coach Matt Koffler said. “He really hurt us in Week 2. He can make some plays but the other running backs, not just Marquise, do a good job for them. We know we’re going to have our hands full.”
Though Rosemead and Monrovia both are run-oriented teams, the Wildcats rely more on a ground attack than the Panthers do.
But despite the lower numbers than Alejandre, Bueno certainly is more than capable of catching defenses off guard with his deft passing ability. That Bueno’s numbers are lower than Alejandre’s is by plan.
“Our offense is based on deception and taking what they give us,” Maddox said. “we run plays to exploit that, whether it’s with our run or pass.”
The argument has been made the Panthers are much more physical up front on both sides of the ball.
“I would not agree,” Maddox said. “I think they’re a physical team but we’re just as physical.”
The key to coming away with a victory?
“It’s going to come down to the team that makes least mistakes,” Maddox said.
A lot has changed since Week 2 when Rosemead handed Monrovia a 42-21 defeat, a game in which Sumler did not play the second half after a first-half ejection.
“We’ve grown as a football team since then and I’m sure they have as well,” Maddox said.
Despite the No. 1 seed, Monrovia is aware of the tough task at hand.
Added Maddox, “Rosemead’s the most complete team we’ve played all year.”
Despite beating the Wildcats in Week 2, the Panthers didn’t earn a seed but at this point of the season it’s not a big deal.
“The seeding wasn’t a big deal,” Koffler said. “We approached every game like it was a championship game because that’s what it is.
“Now we’re looking at Game 3 in a championship environment.”
Now that’s a big deal.