By Aram Tolegian, SGVN twitter.com/ChemicalAT
By now, most high school football teams have their key position battle figured out. Not San Gabriel.
The Matadors will be using tonight’s three-way scrimmage against Mountain View and Los Altos to decide who will be the starting quarterback and running back next week when the season begins with a home game against Animo South Los Angeles.
Tonight’s scrimmage will be a scripted contest and is at Los Altos High in Hacienda Heights, with kickoff at 5 p.m.
Battling it out for the quarterback job is Temple City transfer Mikal Quintanilla and Marqus Valenzuela. The Matadors also have last year’s original starter Eric Alvarez, but he has switched positions and is third string in case of injury.
“We’ve got a pretty interesting competition that’s been going on since spring,” San Gabriel coach Jude Oliva said. “Both those kids are looking real good right now. I feel pretty blessed with having both these kids back there. And then having a No. 3 like Eric always helps.”
Whoever wins the job will have some big shoes to fill. Last year’s starter, Andy Guerrero, was one of the best in school history and was the Star-News Player of the Year after throwing for more than 3,000 yards and rushing for more than 1,000.
Typically when teams are still undecided between two players at quarterback this late in camp, it means that both aren’t very good. Oliva said the opposite is actually true at San Gabriel and that’s why naming a starter is taking so long.
And the same goes for running back, where Joseph Mayorga and Steven Garcia are still vying for the starting job.
“I think it’s definitely a plus for us because at both those positions those guys are that good and they’re pushing each other every day and they’re competing,” Oliva said. “It’s great to see. It makes our team better and makes them better. It just makes us strong at both positions.
“We’re looking to see where those guys are going to be at, especially going against someone else. Seeing that different opponent and competing against somebody else, we’re going to get into some adverse situations there.”
Having such an obscure opponent in Week 0 won’t be easy on the Matadors.
Not much is known about Animo South Los Angeles other than that they’re from South Los Angeles and have speed.
“They have quite a few athletes and they were real young last year,” Oliva said. “I know they were a game above .500 and went to the semis in the small division that they were in. It should be fun to see some speed.”
San Gabriel opened last season against Muir and wanted to do so again this season, but the Mustangs opted to take on Inland Division power Upland instead.