By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
If San Dimas High School wins its second CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division football title in three years, it will do it the hard way.
The Saints were without a home field for the 2011 season and played home games at Citrus College or Bonita High School while San Dimas’ football stadium underwent improvements, including the installation of an artificial surface, and will be ready in 2012.
Even more challenging, however, is what lies ahead in the playoffs.
When San Dimas routed Azusa, San Gabriel and Monrovia in consecutive weeks in September by the combined score of 131-16 – including a 59-6 win over San Gabriel and a 31-14 win over defending Mid-Valley Division champion Monrovia – who would have thought the Saints might have to do it all over again?
San Dimas (10-2) already has taken care of one rematch.
After beating Azusa 41-16 in the second week, San Dimas fought off the Aztecs again in the quarterfinals with a 30-23 victory to set up another rematch on Friday.
San Dimas (10-2) will visit San Gabriel (8-4) in Friday’s semifinals at
7 p.m., with the winner advancing to next week’s title game.
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So, how does San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow feel about facing a team it defeated by 53 points a few weeks back?
“We need to make sure we don’t take anyone lightly, that’s for sure,” Zernickow said. “In the first game (with San Gabriel) we had a favorable matchup. Their defensive structure helped us a little bit.
“This game will be much different. They’ve made some adjustments and have a lot of guys going both ways now. They’ve got better players on the field at all times, and they’re playing with a lot of emotion, so it’s a totally different game.”
Rematches are nothing new for the Saints.
When San Dimas won the 2009 title, it avenged an early season loss to Monrovia by defeating the Wildcats in the championship game.
In 2010, San Dimas won the nonleague meeting and Monrovia beat San Dimas in a semifinal rematch en route to the Mid-Valley title.
If San Dimas advances to the championship game, it will face either Monrovia for the third consecutive year or Covina, a team that defeated San Dimas 39-21 to win the Valle Vista League title.
“I think the rematches we had with Monrovia have paid off in terms of learning how to play somebody twice and how to make adjustments,” Zernickow said. “It’s hard to beat somebody twice, especially in the playoffs. They’re more motivated from the get-go to play you.
“But the motivation only lasts about a quarter, then it turns into a regular football game.”
San Dimas’ biggest concern Friday is San Gabriel quarterback Andy Guerrero, a dual threat who delivered a game-winning, 21-yard pass in the final minute to lift the Matadors to a 40-38 victory over Arroyo.
Guerrero finished with 233 yards passing and four touchdowns. He also ran for 140 yards and two more scores.
“He (Guerrero) kind of had the magic that night,” Zernickow said. “He’s a headache for anyone, and I’m sure the rest of their team is looking forward to playing us.”