Hesperia looking to find balance

The opening of Oak Hills High School in 2009 threw Hesperia High School for a bit of a loop. Going into the third season of coexistence, the schools still haven’t found a way to balance each other out.

“We are basically a team full of sophomores and seniors,” Hesperia coach Jeremy Topete said. “A lot of the 8th graders that were going to be freshmen two years ago went to Oak Hills and are juniors there right now. Hopefully soon both schools will stabilize a bit.”

The Scorpions hope that the stabilization will help the Scorpions get back to where they were pre-Oak Hills, as Hesperia won a combined 21 games in 2007-08, winning the Mojave River League title in 2008. Hesperia has struggled mightily in its first two seasons under Topete, winning only four games, only one of which came last year. And the Scorpions will go to ball-control to try to improve.

“We are going to try to shorten the game and avoid turnovers, especially early,” Topete said. “Too many times last year we committed the early turnover, got down real quickly and weren’t able to come back. We are going to try to prevent that from happening again.”

Luckily for the Scorpions, they’ll have a returning quarterback to execute that plan. Senior James Manibusan (5-11, 190) will return after heading the Scorpions last year and will have two returning seniors at wide receiver in Rodney Viramontes (6-3, 190) and Rueben Smith (6-0, 170). Junior Montague Cherry (5-9, 210) is expected to handle the load at running back.

While the Scorpions have quite a bit of skill-position talent, the lines are a bit of an issue. Junior Jarrett Jefferson (5-10, 240) will play both the offensive line and defensive line, as will returning senior starter Victor Arteaga (6-0, 235).

The Scorpions will have quite a few players playing both ways, as Manibusan will see time at linebacker while Viramontes and Smith will play in the secondary. Topete is also high on senior linebacker Dennis Nguyen (6-0, 212) and sophomore LB Elijah Wallace (5-11, 170).

Hesperia schedule (Home games in CAPS, * indicates league game)

Sept. 2: at Ridgecrest Burroughs
Sept. 8: vs. Granite Hills (Apple Valley HS)
Sept. 16: VICTOR VALLEY
Sept. 23: PALM DESERT
Sept. 30: at Jurupa Valley
Oct. 7: KAISER
Oct. 21: at Apple Valley*
Oct. 28: SULTANA*
Nov. 4: at Oak Hills*
Nov. 10: SERRANO*