The Serrano High School football team seemingly had Perris Citrus Hill right where it wanted it during their CIF-SS Eastern Division semifinal matchup last December, up 15-11 with just under three minutes left. But unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, that scenario didn’t treat them well in 2008.
Citrus Hill, which had been throttled by Serrano’s physical, aggressive defense for the first 45 minutes of the game, deftly marched 80 yards in two minutes to score the game-winning touchdown, grabbing an 18-15 lead and providing the Diamondbacks with a rallying cry for the 2009 season.
“We have to finish, especially on defense,” Serrano coach Ray Maholchic said. “Of our four losses last year, three came due to us tiring in the fourth quarter and allowing the other team to score. That’s something that we’ve been working on correcting. We have to be able to hold teams late.”
The Diamondbacks usually have senior-dominated lineups, shuffling waves of first-year senior starters into the fray during preseason practice. But Serrano has a couple of elite players returning on the defensive side of the ball in linebacker Chris Kilmer and defensive end Everett Beed. Beed, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, has already verbally committed to UNLV, along with running back Dionza Bradford.
“It’s great to have guys with that kind of talent,” Maholchic said. “It’s something that the coaching staff takes a lot of credit in. We talked to their parents 17 years ago and made sure that everyone was on the same page. We made sure that they made Everett and Dionza as big, fast and strong as they are.”
All joking aside, Bradford is going to be a beast for Mojave River League defenses to bring down. As a junior, Bradford ran for over 1,000 yards despite splitting carries evenly with Cory Diederich before Diederich got hurt later in the season. Bradford will get the lion’s share of carries against for the Diamondbacks, but Maholchic is expecting junior running back Benny Maciel and senior wide receiver Paul Williams to shoulder the load.
Serrano’s schedule (Home games in CAPS, league games with *)
Sept. 4 – at Paraclete (Antelope Valley College)
Sept. 11 – at Silverado (Victor Valley HS)
Sept. 18 – UPLAND
Sept. 25 – PALMDALE HIGHLAND
Oct. 2 – at Golden Valley (Canyon Country Canyon HS)
Oct. 16 – at Rim of the World*
Oct. 23 – at Apple Valley*
Oct. 30 – HESPERIA*
Nov. 6 – at Ridgecrest Burroughs
Nov. 13 – SULTANA*