QB Gage Pucci leaves Damien for Rancho Cucamonga … from here he looks like the favorite to be the Cougs’ starter …

Gage Pucci, who played quarterback at Damien for the past two seasons, transferred to Rancho Cucamonga last week.

Pucci threw for 1,498 and 15 touchdowns last season, but also had 17 interceptions. Given that Rancho graduates last year’s starter Adam Friederischen, Pucci looks to have a decent chance to be the Cougars’ starter this fall.

But Rancho coach Nick Baiz said the competition is wide open and probably won’t be determined for quite a while.

“Everyone on our team is going to have a chance to compete,” Baiz said. “we’re nowhere close to naming a starter right now. We’ll have some good competition, though.

“I haven’t even seen him (Pucci) throw yet. It would be extremely premature to comment on him.”

Also in the mix, according to Baiz, is last year’s freshman and JV starting quarterbacks. Rancho begins spring practice on Apr. 29 and will host its own passing tournament on May 18.

As for Damien, this makes just about entire the team a rebuilding project for new head coach Mark Paredes. With Pucci, at least Paredes had QB figured out, but now that changes.

Aram’s take: This looks like a well-calculated move by the Pucci group. And kudos to them for doing their due diligence and going somewhere where there’s no returning starter to sweat. Rancho is a big-time program, but has lots to replace in terms of skill guys. The Cougars do always have a great talent base, so they could simply reload. For Pucci, he had a decent set of skill players to work with at Damien, but not much in the way of a offensive line. That probably changes at Rancho and maybe with a better overall supporting cast we’ll see the best there is to see of Pucci. As for Damien, Paredes is really going to have to work his magic.

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