Coach Hernandez and his new field …

The Warriors have to be excited to play on that …

La Puente’s new football coach Ray Hernandez

I wonder what SGV team (s) will be next to have field turf installed on campus? It sounds like Hernandez has them pretty excited at LP. I don’t think it’s going to take a quantam leap for the Warriors to jump back into the Montview League race. That’s going to be an interesting race this year … here’s the article …

Warriors getting fresh start
Hernandez begins rebuilding process
By Scott Galetti Staff Writer

LA PUENTE – Construction at La Puente High School this summer is not limited to backhoes.

Yes, workers are busy putting the finishing touches on improvements in the school’s football stadium – including the installation of Field Turf, the first artificial turf of its kind at an East San Gabriel Valley high school campus. But construction also has been taking place within the Warriors football program.

The first step was to bring in a coach who would improve the quality of the team and lead it back to the top of the Montview League.

Prior to spring practice, the rebuilding began. Ray Hernandez replaced Edward McMillon II .

“One of my goals had been to become a head coach and (La Puente) seemed like a good place to take that opportunity,” Hernandez said. “The opportunity arose here and it just seems like a good fit with the school and the community.”

Hernandez, 32, worked as defensive coordinator for five varsity seasons at Rosemead High under long-time friend Matt Koffler, who was the head coach at La Puente during the 2003 season before returning to Rosemead.

La Puente athletic director Jose Espinosa had no reservations about hiring Hernandez, despite the fact he had no previous head coaching experience.

“(Ray) brings experience working as a defensive coordinator, and every person we talked to said he was ready to be a head football coach,” Espinosa said.

“We wanted somebody to come in fresh and eager to take over the program and he was our guy. It’s been exciting since day one of spring practice because of what he brings to our football program.”

After sharing the league championship in 2000 and 2001 and winning an outright title in 2002, the Warriors have suffered through some lean times with an 8-21 record over the past three seasons.

“My No. 1 goal is to make the La Puente High School football program the best program in the area, and that’s a tall order,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to keep working until that day comes, however long it takes.”

His first challenge will be to resuscitate an offense that averaged 7.1 points per game in 2005. To do that, the first-year head coach plans on establishing the run behind senior quarterback Luis Rodriguez, who hasn’t played football since his freshman season.

Winning is something Hernandez was familiar with at Rosemead. The Panthers finished the 2005 season with a 10-1 record. Hernandez and Jimmy Arellanes, who took over as head coach at Northview High, were two of four Panthers assistants to take advantage of this success to land new jobs.

In Hernandez, Koffler believes the Warriors got the right man.

“What he’ll bring to them is disciplined football, the complete knowledge of the game and how to work and train and motivate the kids,” Koffler said.

Hernandez’s immediate goal at La Puente is to set the foundation of a winning program. He believes his team is on the right track.

“These kids have really responded well, working hard all summer long,” Hernandez said. “They’ve taken to the offense and defense and we’re expecting some good things.”

Hernandez believes the new field will bring an added psychological boost to his players, as well as the community.

“The kids see the field and take a higher sense of pride, and I think it’s going to do a lot for the community as well,” he said. “I think the field is going to bring a lot of people out, so if we can provide a good product for them and win some games, that will help a lot.”

and became the Warriors’ third head coach in four years

(626) 962-8811, Ext. 2213

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