Bishop Amat’s turnaround: How Sweet it is …


Ehh, since Freddie is gone til Wednesday, I figured I’d take over the Amat beat in his stead. So here is your Lancers’ update following the bye week and heading into Friday’s game against Loyola.

Few things can make a coach frown like a bye week when his team has started to play its best football of the season.

Count Bishop Amat High School’s Steve Hagerty in that group as his team had won three consecutive games before last week’s bye. Now, Hagerty has to hope all the momentum the Lancers had built up hasn’t gone away with two, big Mission League games left on the schedule.

“I’ve never been a fan of the bye simply because kids like routine and you break their routine,” Hagerty said. “It’s not a huge concern, but if I had my way, I would prefer to play 10 straight.”

Amat hosts Loyola on Friday night in its last home game of the regular season. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. due to web streaming by FOX Sports.

It’s real simple for the Lancers, who are 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the Mission League: win the next two weeks and the PAC-5 playoffs are a certainty, maybe even a league championship. Lose one or both, and things could get complicated.

Although Loyola enters Friday’s game at 0-4 in league and eliminated from playoff contention, Hagerty knows the looseness of playing the role of spoiler could actually be to the Cubs’ advantage.

“They’re scary because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Hagerty said. “We respect them because we believe in the pride and traditions of their program. They’re going to come to play. They’re going to be free and less restrictive. They’re going to just let it rip and that’s a dangerous opponent for us coming off a bye or not.”

If the Amat team of October shows up, no matter how loose Loyola plays, it may not matter. The Lancers haven’t lost in the Halloween month despite entering it with a 2-3 overall record and a league-opening loss to Crespi.

There have been several factors in Amat’s emergence. Quarterback Damian Garcia has become one of the top passers around. Running back Torreahno Sweet has gone from reserve to one of the most dangerous weapons in the Lancers’ arsenal. And because of Sweet’s emergence, Anthony Camargo has been able to concentrate on his core position of linebacker, where his impact has helped shore up the Lancers’ defense.

Garcia just missed breaking Pat Haden’s single-game passing yardage school record in Amat’s win over Chaminade. It was the junior’s best performance of the year as he threw for 429 yards and four touchdowns.

“It’s been a good blend of him trying to figure out what we want him to do and what he wants to do,” Hagerty said of Garcia. “He’s tough kid. He’s the type of kid where bullets are flying by him and he’s unfazed by it, and that’s an intangible quality.

“Every week he’s got a new injury and he keeps figuring out a way to get up off the floor. I think a lot of us saw potential in him.”

The Lancers were loaded with weapons on the outside thanks to receivers like Tyler Vaughns, Trevon Sidney and Brandon Arconado. But with little to no running game to go with it early in the season, the offense wasn’t as dynamic as it is today. Sweet has changed all that and also helped the defense get better in an indirect way.

“It’s almost like getting a transfer kid to come in because what it does is put one of our best defensive players (Camargo) back on that side of the ball as a full-time guy,” Hagerty said. “Torrie’s run the ball well. I think he sees the field well when he has the ball in his hands. He’s not a burner, speed-wise, but I think he’s definitely shown he has some power to him.

“With every week, he’s gaining more confidence. He definitely has worked hard and earned the right to be where he is now.”

Amat fans can only hope that the product they see on Friday night is the same one they saw the three previous games before the bye week. If the Lancers do win out and make the playoffs, they can use any help they can get in terms of seeding and draw in the playoffs where several Southland powers await.

It hasn’t always been an easy task for Hagerty to sell his team on the importance of situations, but he’s hoping that taking advice from coaches when it comes to things like urgency is another area where his team improves.

“There was a certain point in the season where it was like ‘Guys, we’re done if you don’t get moving. You realize that, don’t you?'” Hagerty said. “That was at a time when they needed to get moving and they did. They’re great-natured kids. I really like this team. They’re really fun to be around. And when they get down to it, they can really get after it. It’s just whether or not they get after it enough.

“I think they understand what’s at stake. They’ve all worked way too hard and come from places they didn’t want to be to just go away easily.”

  • Real talk

    Garcia is a Football player first… he is a tough kid. The kid has the confidence in his arm to throw a strike with pressure in his face. His footwork is also there to where the defence is like where is the ball. He has made some mistakes on the field don’t get me wrong but this kid has the look of a legit QB in the pac 5. The receiving core is doing a good job of fighting for the ball at its highest point and catching it before turning up field. Sweet is also keeping those legs moving after first contact for those extra yards. What can I say about the D these boys are hunters out to eat.. Hawks in the secondary that are hitting. The play calling is very impressive right now. The throws to the flat to number 1 will kill teams because it brings those DB up if not we will take that all night. This whole TEAM has me proud to wear that A on my jacket, truck, shirt.. Most importantly this team has that belief in them selfs to where things might not be going as planed to keep believing that things are going to turn around this next play. Garcia is a leader that needs to slide when he runs up that middle on a broken play we need this kid on the field. I’m sure every one here knows all of this already, but I had to give this TEAM their props I have been hard on the past teams, but there is a expectation which comes with putting that helmet on with that A on it. One game at a time….. Go AMAT.

  • AramT

    If this had been posted on Fred’s blog, aka if he was at work today and scalped it, it would have about 90 comments so far. Little Joey’s mom saying don’t to mention the field goal/extra point team while doling out the credit. Jcaz saying how Long Beach Poly better be ready. Joe Amat talking about how they knew all along Damian and Sweet would spur a midseason run.

    But hey, some people don’t like runny yolks, I guess.

    • Joe Amat

      Read it not long after you posted it. Nothing new here. Though Joe Amat might have said, “Sweet should have been getting carries all along – then it might not be viewed as “a midseason run”

      • Joe Amat

        …and as long as there is toast or hashbrowns – runny yolks are fine

    • jcaz

      I did once say that Amat was going to take the Jackrabbits to the wood shed the second time we met them in the playoffs. But unfortunately, we didnt follow though.
      It was frustrating because I really believed Amat had their number that year especially because they Poly had gotten trounced so well in an earlier loss that year to Narborne, and, because of the fact that in that first playoff loss, they didn’t show us any respect what so ever at the end of that game. I felt it was revenge time.
      But alas, another disappointment.
      I can however say with more certainty this time around, that perhaps this year out of any other, Amat has a very good chance of actually making an incredible run in the playoffs.
      Having said that, im also being up front in saying that f they dont get very far that there should be a price to pay.
      The fact is that the coaches score the points. he kids do and when they make a mistake, such s fumbling at the 3 yard line against Tesorro or getting the ball striped from your hands against LB Poly, at the end of the day, it falls squarely in their hands to prepare their team.
      Lets see how this all plays out before we start sizing them up for championship rings

      • Real talk

        I felt the same as you about Amat the second time around also, but what I saw IMO was poly had the mental edge on us. At that time I felt like we where missing what this team has shown and that’s “The Dog in them” I felt like the coaching got rattled and it trickled down to the players.

    • OnBLUE

      Don’t forget the In-n-Out truck. And nicely written article, AramT.

  • Pac5fan

    This is one of the better all around teams Amat fielded in 20 years. Solid at the key skilled position, QB, RB, WR’s and a nice big OL to boot. Also the Defense, LB’s Wiley and Camargo are the best since the 94 team. The beauty is that most of the starters are Juniors. Hell, they’ll definitely be a team to reckon with next year!

  • GP AKA Green Machine

    What would be sweet would be a playoff win. This kid is nice, i Absolutely love his tough style and swagger…He looks like a D1 prospect to me. We have been here so many times before…I don’t consider this a turnaround just yet…If these players perform in the playoffs to produce a win, then all praises to Amat, and shame to the doubters. Regardless of whether they win a playoff game, the Amat Stars will receive offers. Players like Sweet Vaughns and Sidney’s legacy has to be the class that got Amat back to winning in November! I know they have to take care of bizness in league first….but that is a no brainer…if they lost the last two games and didn’t make the playoffs, is just unthinkable. I believe they are going to get there, but I don’t know who they will play, and quite Frankly it does not matter. They have to win that game. Even a 2nd round loss will fuel a awesome senior year for these players, maybe even semis or better. If they don’t win they still could have a memorable year next season…. But we would be right back here wondering if BA can get it done…Gaining Confidence is huge as Hagerty has pointed out in this article. Losing confidence can be just as devastating….

    • AramT

      Amat could really use a game with Corona Santiago or Norco or Lakewood in the first round … get that win (not saying it will be easy vs. those teams, but it will be easier than playing a Trinity team). If they taste that playoff victory, then a big run to the semis could be forthcoming. And that’s what it will take to shut me up about needing relief. Because then there’s just no arguing whether they belong. None of this matters, though. They’re a great group of kids and deserve all the success in the world.

      • GP AKA Green Machine

        I agree, BA really does need a lesser opponent in the 1st round. Once you get the monkey off your can work. Mtown had a title-less 120 yrs in lower division football. Once they won it and got that monkey off their back, they became a “Lower Division power” and earned a promotion to lower-mid level football, ( That’s right EASTSIDE SGV, you too are in #lowermidlevelfootball). You have to view Amat the same as you view the teams like La Cananda or anyone who can’t win playoff game on their level. No one is praising them. It does not matter if Amat plays Pac 5, we have to treat them the same as El Monte or SEM etc…If you can’t win in the playoffs…what else matters… occasional 2nd place league finishes, etc even in the pac 5 don’t mean anything in the big picture of belonging…unless their is a huge upset…the teams that go out in the first round are sacrificial lambs…That’s why Monrovia will be playing it’s first Central playoff game, like it was the CIF championship.

        • jcaz

          I know this sounds so cliché, but any team in the PAC5 really can beat any other in the playoffs.

          On any given Sunday so to speak.

          Interestingly, Amat thought they once had a “lesser team” in a playoff one year, when they seemingly got a good draw with a Moore league team not named Poly.

          But, unfortunately, Lakewood beat them just like Poly had, so maybe you have something of a point there.

          Having said that, let’s not forget that Amat actually has won a playoff game, and let us not forget also forget that it was against a “dreaded Trinity league team” so it’s not as if they cant bet them ok

          • GP AKA Green Machine

            Well at some point you have to beat all the good teams to win a title. When someone is upset the pac 5 in round one…the next game may be a lesser opponent Amat should be ready to play Bosco or Norco. Does it matter when you play them…I say no.

      • jcaz

        Aram, to be a champion you got to play who’s in front of you. This whole idea that the Trinity league is the next best thing to sliced bead is silly.

        If Amat has to play them then they will.

        After all, if Amat were to play Santa Margarita once again, who do you think would win this time around eh ?

        • OnBLUE

          That Trinity league is ridiculous. Santa Margarita vs. Amat #2 would be a good game. Probably a shoot out now. SM stood toe to toe with JSerra…game was tied 14-14 at the start of the 4th. SM lost by only a TD. SM also beat Servite and Orange Lutheran who has a very good team. Servite is not having its best season BUT they’ve lost to SM, OL, and Mater Dei by a combined 11 points! Servite has a good team this year regardless of record. They play the best because they have a top program…not as good as Bishop Amat’s…but close. haha!

          You know what would be an awesome first round game? Long Beach Poly! Man…we gotta beat those Jackrabbits. Just once! Those wabbits are so unpredictable and when the playoffs start they totally transform into this giant, ugly, and hungry green and gold machine that just wins…and wins. Man we gotta beat them! LOL!

          • jcaz

            So, your saying that we should take on an Elmer Fudd mentality if we meet those silly wabbits again eh ?

            I like that. Who knows, maybe it will work this time around.

            Anyhow, yes, they’re all very good teams, but like I always like to say to people……… “they put their pants on one leg at a time, just like we do.”

            BTW, isn’t the trinity league something like 0-3 or 0-4 against Bishop Gorman this year ? I guess that must mean that they do lose don’t they ?

            Just saying…..

  • JM

    No mater what team Amat plays in the play-off . It’s going to be a grind it out competition. FYI…Amat started unofficially “The Play-off’s” when league games started. Mission league is tough !