How do you replace these guys?
Leon (left) and Salmon (right).
It was the end of an era for Arroyo football when QB Dominic Salmon and WR/DB Sergio Leon played their last games, respectively, against South Hills in the second round of the CIF-SS Div. VII playoffs last November.
Salmon and Leon were not only special because they were the catalysts of a strong three-year run for the Knights football program, but also because they were instrumental in helping change the complexion of Knights football during their time on-campus. Arroyo, with a capable QB like Salmon and legit deep threat like Leon, played with an explosiveness not common of Mission Valley League teams. Yes, what I am saying is that the Knights could pass first and run second. It was a lethal and rare combo.
In contrast, Rosemead this past season was what you’d expect from a typical MVL power. The Panthers ran the ball and played defense. Passing wasn’t a strength.
South El Monte reached the semis this past season and Arroyo did so in 2004 because THEY COULD PASS. These weren’t one-dimensional offensive teams. There weren’t opposing defensive coordinators thinking “If we can just get Arroyo or South El Monte down and they have to pass, we got ’em.” Both aspects had to be respected. I credit much of this league-wide sea change in philosophy to Salmon and Leon.
You could win during the regular season with either style. Rosemead proved that last season. But you’re not going past the second round of the playoffs if you can’t throw. Rosmead also proved that.
So, with Salmon and Leon gone, can Arroyo realistically expect to be as balanced offensively? Probably not. QBs like Salmon or SEM’s Lee Aguirre aren’t an everyday occurrance in the MVL. Please keep in mind that I haven’t seen Salmon’s replacement. I have no idea if Jim Singiser is going to try and stick with the same offensive philosophies or reign things in because of the new talent.
My vibe is that things must be played conservatively at first. I think Arroyo is going to be more ball-control. Going back to the roots, so to speak. I don’t expect to see Salmon’s replacement to come out winging it with multiple receivers in the pattern on each play.
Arroyo is a mystery team simply because of the quality of player that’s graduating. Remember, Salmon and Leon also played a major role in the secondary. Leon gave Arroyo a DB that could match up to the other team’s top speedster and usually shut him down. Again, this type of athlete isn’t common in the MVL.
Here’s the sked:
Temple City (toss-up)
Warren (probable win)
El Rancho (win)
Mountain View (win)
South El Monte (win)
El Monte (win)
Projected record: 7-3 or 6-4
Mission Valley League: Favorite
Playoffs: Definitely. Second round is the ceiling.
Pasadena, Azusa and Nogales are gone from the nonleague sked. The series against Pasadena produced some thrillers, so it’s kind of sad to see it end. Alhambra, Warren and Tustin replace the above games. The Knights are playing a deceptively tougher nonleague this season. Not sure this is the best year for that, but like I said before, “scheduling up” is the new coolest thing.
I expect Arroyo to finish its nonleague at either 3-2 or 2-3 and that would be a success.
The MVL schedule sets up nicely. The Knights will be heavily favored over Gabrielino or El Monte in the final two weeks of the season and that should mean either locking up the league title with those wins or securing the No. 2 slot out of the MVL in the playoffs.
Arroyo’s new division is basically the same. La Habra and the Freeway League replace South Hills and the San Antonio League, thus making it possible the Knights season lasts into the second round.
I am not as high on South El Monte this season as other people. The MVL boils down to Arroyo and Rosemead, in my opinion. All three teams lose a lot of talent, but only Arroyo and Rosemead have shown the ability to continuously reload thru the years. The league title will be decided in Week 8 when the Panthers and Knights battle.
2006 GLENDORA SCHEDULE + ANALYSIS COMING SOON …