Fred J. Robledo
Damien football coach Greg Gano was finally able to exhale following Friday’s 24-0 victory over Claremont, but now he takes another deep breath with parochial rival Bishop Amat in town next.
The undefeated Lancers (2-0) visit the Spartans (1-2) on Friday after Gano and Co. desperately avoided an 0-3 start. “You can say that again,” Gano said. “You don’t want to face those guys spinning your wheels and with your confidence shaken, and that’s really what it’s about for us.” To continue reading, click thread
The Spartans held their own in a season-opening 27-14 loss to defending Central Division champion Rancho Cucamonga, but looked like they didn’t belong a week later, losing to St. John Bosco 40-7.
“Talent? We’ve got the talent; it’s confidence,” Gano said. “Our kids have to really believe we can beat them (Bishop Amat); if not, it’s going to be a struggle. This could set the tone for a lot of good things, especially confidence-wise.”
Lancers coach Steve Hagerty realizes it’s a big game for several reasons. Although the Lancers have won two straight, they have done so against struggling Dominguez and West Covina, who are 0-5 combined.
Not only is the Lancers’ offense struggling, but quarterback Jerry McClanahan has struggled. If he continues to take steps back, sophomore Rio Ruiz could be called on before the Lancers get into the meat of their schedule, beginning next week with a huge nonleague game at home against St. Bonaventure, the top-ranked team in the Northern Division.
Then there’s the territorial bragging rights, and the feeling that both schools compete for the same kids, which always makes this matchup inviting.
“We know they’re a better football team (than 1-2),” Hagerty said. “You can see it; they do the basic stuff better – blocking, tackling – and are aggressive.
“They have played a better schedule than we have, and I know I get in trouble when I say that, but there is no shame in what happened to them against Rancho Cucamonga and St. John Bosco.”
The Spartans’ big concerns are not just moving the chains against the Lancers’ stingy defense, but containing running back Jay Anderson and standout receiver Darien Johnson.
“Those (two) guys concern us because we don’t have a lot of great team speed,” Gano said.
“We can’t just let them break tackles. We have to be physical up front.”
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