Damien coach Mark Paredes sounds off about Baseline League, playing Amat in future …

With the votes counted and Damien headed back to the Mt. SAC Area for league grouping and into the Baseline League beginning next fall, Spartans football coach Mark Paredes isn’t exactly breathing a sigh of relief.

Before Damien won its arbitration hearing to get out of the parochial grouping, the Spartans appeared on their way to being in a PAC-5 Division league along with several catholic football powers.

Now, Damien will be in the Baseline League where it traded the likes of Bishop Amat, Notre Dame and Serra for Upland, Rancho Cucamonga and Chino Hills. Not exactly a huge relief.

“I like the league we’re in now and it’s a good opportunity to play great competition and I’m looking forward to it,” Damien head coach Mark Paredes said. “To me it doesn’t matter. We’re going to work hard and be ready to play in whatever league we’re going to be in.

“Whether we’re in the Pac-5 or where we are now, it’s really neither here nor there because we are where we are and I’m really excited about being in the Baseline League.

Damien went 5-5 in Paredes’ first season. The Spartans were hit hard by transfers out of the program following the leadership change of former head coach Greg Gano and the transition to Paredes. But still, Damien managed to beat Chino Hills in the final week of the season.

The Spartans’ nonleague schedule was unaffected by the league change and a few former Sierra League foes in the form of Ayala, Charter Oak and South Hills appear on it.

Notably missing is Bishop Amat, which Gano took off the schedule before leaving. Paredes, who originally said he didn’t like the idea of playing Amat because of his ties as a former coach of the Lancers, has softened on that position a bit and said Amat is likely to be added back to the schedule if an opening arises in the future.

“I’m going to say it straight out — I’ll play Bishop Amat,” Paredes said. “Right now our schedule is full and we’re not moving anything. But in the future I’d be open to anything.

“Coach Hagerty called me and he wants to play us. We’ll go ahead and we’ll play Bishop Amat if we have room in our schedule. Right now, we don’t.”