La Puente 35, South El Monte 6 — Ray Hernandez’s return to La Puente wasn’t a memorable one. The Warriors jumped out to a quick lead and never looked back, improving to 3-1 while the Eagles dropped to 0-4.
Tesoro 34, South Hills 21 — The Huskies were shorthanded and clearly outplayed, but still only trailed 14-6 before giving up a touchdown in the final minute of the first half to go down 21-6. In the second half they played them even, it just wasn’t good enough.
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Pregame: These haven’t been the best of times for South El Monte High School’s first-year coach Ray Hernandez. It’s not just that the Eagles are 0-3, but that two of those losses were a 63-3 defeat to Norwalk and a 56-0 hammering by San Dimas. The Eagles showed life in a 14-7 loss to undefeated Workman, but now Hernandez has to return to La Puente (2-1) at 7 tonight, where he spent three years as the head coach before quitting the program with some games left in the 2008 season over philosophical differences with the school’s administration.Hernandez’s beef with La Puente officials was over how he disciplined players, and with the school not backing Hernandez in his opinion, it paved the way for his move to South El Monte after longtime Eagles coach Erick Escamilla stepped away to take time off.
New Warriors coach Brandon Roher was a teacher at La Puente while all this happened, but he also was an assistant football coach at Glendora eager for his first head-coaching opportunity.
Roher knows what this game means to his players.
“The boys are definitely excited for this game,” Roher said.
“But I keep reminding them it’s just another game and to focus on the task at hand. I don’t want them getting all caught up in the other stuff.
“(South El Monte) is still a good team; they have played some very good football teams. They will be pumped up and want to end their losing streak. It won’t be easy.”
Roher has done a superb job reviving a program that finished 1-9 and was in disarray after ending last season with three straight losses and back- to-back shutout defeats.
The Warriors opened 2009 with big wins over Gabrielino (28-7) and El Monte (34-13) before suffering their first loss, against undefeated Baldwin Park, 27-7, last week.
One of the big reasons for the Warriors’ success is their balance on offense behind quarterback Garrett Hrey, who is averaging 145 yards and completing nearly 60 percent of his passes.
On the ground the Warriors are even more efficient, averaging 277 yards.
Tesoro vs. South Hills
at Covina District, 7
Even though the Titans (1-2) are struggling by their standards, the Pac-5 Division opponent for the Huskies (1-1) is coming off a 45-14 win over El Modena after losses to San Diego’s Mission Hills and undefeated Fountain Valley.
“They’re a south Orange County school with tons of talent, money and a great coaching staff,” Huskies coach Steve Bogan said.
“We scheduled them with the idea that playing quality teams improves our quality, but right now we’re real banged up. Let’s just say we’re glad we’re not playing for a nonleague championship.”
The Huskies didn’t play well in a 37-10 loss to La Habra, partly because the injuries are piling up.
Sophomore running back Jamel Hart and senior two-way starter Andrew Roddy will both miss tonight because of sprained MCLs. Linebacker Rayes Barrera is injured, receiver/corner Miles Bevel is doubtful, and receiver/quarterback Jacob Shirley hasn’t practiced because of an infection.
Even third-string running back Issac Ramirez is doubtful because of a hip flexor. “It is what it is,” Bogan said. “A lot of practice this week is mental. We’re younger than we would like to be, but you still have to buy into the same things.”
The Huskies are making a switch at quarterback, turning to sophomore Vincent Hernandez over junior Brock Booth.
“It’s not a knock on Brock, we’re trying to find a rhythm and combination that makes things happen,” Bogan said. “I will probably get more involved offensively than I normally do.”
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