Mid-Valley Division: Eric Alvarez makes brilliant switch from QB to OLB; Matadors ready for San Dimas tempo.

Ever since Andy Guerrero took over at quarterback at San Gabriel High School, there’s been one name that seemingly went into virtual anonymity:

Eric Alvarez.

Alvarez, a junior who once was the starter at quarterback, was in a fierce competition with Guerrero that started over the summer and didn’t come to an end until midway through the season. They shared duties until Guerrero’s sudden rise at the start of the Almont League season put an end to a two-quarterback system that was producing inconsistent results.

Guerrero’s statistics seem to validate his promotion. He has passed for 2,712 yards and 26 touchdowns while rushing for 1,251 yards and 13 touchdowns.

It’s that ability to be a dual threat that makes Guerrero and the Matadors (8-4) a much different and more dangerous team as they prepare to take on San Dimas (10-2) for the second time this season in the CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m. at San Gabriel.

But Alvarez now is making a big impact by switching to defense. Alvarez, one of four team captains, is considered by San Gabriel coach Jude Oliva to be one of the smartest players on the team, a player who brings exemplary leadership skills as an outside linebacker with 48 tackles.

“It speaks volumes about his character and his versatility,” Oliva said. “Him being able to take a step back and get into a different role and make a big impact on our defense is huge.

“He’s one of those kids that will do anything for the team. He’s very intelligent and took that intelligence from offense to defense, helping us make our checks and calls.”

There’s no animosity now that Guerrero garners the attention. In fact, Alvarez has become a fan of Guerrero’s flashy style and helps him whenever possible from the sideline.

“He’s standing there watching from the sidelines,” Oliva said of Alvarez. “Whenever there’s a break he goes over to Andy and tells him, `Remember what coach said’ and this and that. He’s very helpful.”

Familiar foe

When San Gabriel met San Dimas in the third week of the season, the Matadors were in disarray. The offense wasn’t clicking, to say the least, and that was accentuated in a 59-6 loss.

Any coaching staff will say it’s never easy to beat an opponent a second time in the same season, and San Gabriel hopes that theory proves right. The Matadors, despite the early season shellacking, look back on that game as a lesson learned, and Oliva is glad he scheduled that game because he now has a better understanding of how San Dimas brilliantly executes the Wing-T offense with an impressive tempo.

“South Pasadena ran a similar Wing-T offense and Alhambra runs it, too,” Oliva said. “And no disrespect to those teams, but San Dimas really runs it to perfection.

“There’s not much deception of what’s going on, but they run it so darn effectively it puts a lot of pressure on teams.”

From running power plays to counter plays, the Saints make it tough for opposing defenses to stop. Then there’s the tempo.

“I think understanding the tempo in which they run it and seeing it first-hand will help us more this time,” Oliva said. “The first time we weren’t really ready for that tempo.”

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