One would think that the La Mirada High School football team has been breathing fire all week as it prepares for Friday’s Southeast Division first-round playoff game against Santa Fe.
After all, the Matadores have been booted from the postseason in the first round in each of the past two seasons, with last year’s exit as the No. 2 overall seed a particularly painful moment. But atonement for the recent past, surprisingly, isn’t an issue, according to head coach Mike Moschetti.
“Different team, different kids,” Moschetti said. “It’s football. The whole goal is to win the championship. Whether you get beat in the first round or the third round, what difference does it make? Are you going to have a parade for going to the quarterfinals or the semifinals?
“I don’t understand people. To be honest with you, I don’t care what anybody thinks. I think we do a great job here. Our kids are working their butts off. I’m not going to dwell about things that happened in the past.”
La Mirada is the No. 2 seed in the Southeast Division for the second straight year. The Matadores did it by going 7-3 and sweeping the Suburban League for the second consecutive season. Last year, La Mirada drew a rough first-round assignment in Salesian, which was an at-large berth out of the rugged Angelus League.
In that game, the Matadores had 15 penalties and three touchdowns called back because of penalties and ultimately suffered a 24-18 loss. This year’s first-round assignment is Santa Fe, which went 4-6 overall but was third place in the Del Rio League.
“Santa Fe doesn’t like us and we don’t like them,” Moschetti said. “We’ve got a lot of respect for Coach (Dave) Pierson, but the programs don’t like each other.”
One big reason why there may be animosity between the two schools centers around the transfer around of former La Mirada quarterback Christian Lara, who spent his first three seasons at Santa Fe before transferring to La Mirada in the 2014 offseason.