1. CONTAIN THE BIG PLAY: Monrovia can put teams away with minimum plays. If San Gabriel can’t contain the big plays you can bet it’ll be a long night for the Matadors. Monrovia is capable of scoring easy with deep pass plays or on a run that gets away becuase of poor tackling. It’s that simple, and, yes, De’Shawn Ramirez and Marquise Bias are that good.
2. PROTECT YOUR QB: Andy Guerrero could take a beating if his line gets too overwhelmed. Guerrero’s success can be credited to an O-Line that’s found a way to give him just enough time to find the open receiver or open lanes. Word to Guerrero: throw the ball away and run for your life when 18 comes your way. Beware of giving away blind spots, take advantage of bubble screeens and keep the defense guessing.
3. COMMUNICATION: There’s no way San Gabriel can line up with man coverage against Monrovia. Just. No. Way. Monrovia’s size, speed and athleticism dwarfs San Gabriel’s. This is going to sound like a cliche, but total team effort is the ONLY way the Matadors have a chance. So when San Gabriel is defending in zone communication will be key. Where’s the receiver? What happens if….? San Gabriel is gonna have to rally to the ball and not allow for confusion to slip in. Joey Villalobos (140 tackles, three interceptions) will anchor the secondary, but he’s going to need help when receivers break loose.
4. CONTROL THE PACE: San Gabriel its offense to stay on the field. Three-and-out ain’t gonna cut it because San Gabriel doesn’t have the weapons to trade punches with Monrovia. For every Andy Guerrero and Alex Villalobos ther’s a Blake Heyworth, De’Shawn Ramirez, Marquise Bias, Luke Williams, Marquise Harris, Anthony Craft, Mason Bryant, etc. Somehow, some way, San Gabriel needs to keep this game close. If it’s withine two possessions in the third quarter, who knows? Upset alert?
5. KEEP FOCUS: Last but not least, San Gabriel can’t get flustered by all the hype. They’ll have to find a way to keep their nerves calm, though it may prove easier said than done. San Gabriel is making its first finals appearance since 2003, but this team was barely old enough to really know that Santa Claus doesn’t exist the last time the Matadors were here. Jude Oliva and Don Bernard were part of the 2003 coaching staff. They’ll have to do everything they can to tell them every detail and what to expect on Saturday. This will truly be a home game for Monrovia with the game actually at Monrovia. A lot of green everywhere and a huge sign on the scoreboard to remind San Gabriel whose division it belongs. Keep the miscues to a minimum. Monrovia can really exploit that and make you pay for them. Penalties negating plays and pushing San Gabriel back will only make the uphill battle that much steeper.