By Aram Tolegian, staff writer
San Dimas High School isn’t the only place experiencing a numbers boom due to recent football success. Azusa coach Joe Scherf reports that his usual headcount of 60 players has grown to 75 as the Aztecs ready for spring ball. The reason? Azusa’s march to the Mid-Valley Division semifinals last season. “We’re getting a lot of different kids to come out,” Scherf said. “I’m sure the number will dwindle back down to about 60 kids in the program when the season gets here.”
Not only is Azusa getting more interest from kids on campus, it also just got its first transfer in recent memory. Eric Perez, a junior-to-be who played linebacker at Covina last season, has checked in and will likely be a key part of the team’s defense.
“Our transfers are usually out, not in,” Scherf said. “We generally don’t get any kind of transfers in here. He just showed up. I’ve only seen him play on game film and he’s pretty good.”
Defense won’t be much of a concern for Scherf, who has a bevy of starters returning to his stop unit. The big focus in spring will be an offensive line that loses three out of five starters. In addition, leading rusher Kendric McDade and quarterback John Chavez will graduate in June.
“Last year we were rotating three backs,” Scherf said. “All three were good backs, but Kendric just kind of assumed the role. So I have the other two guys coming back. Kendric ran tough and hard, but these two other kids actually have a little more speed than he had.”
Finding a new quarterback will eventually be a four-way battle, but it’s one for now since three of the contestants are playing baseball. So when Azusa heads to Rancho Cucamonga next week, the Aztecs won’t be at full strength under center.
“We want to play some better teams, especially in the spring, because I couldn’t change our nonleague schedule because we were already in two-year contracts,” Scherf said.
“Going to Rancho could be great or it could be horrible. We’ll be going over there with a week of practice and three of my four quarterbacks will be playing baseball, so we’ll see what happens. But my kids are excited either way.”
Pass attack takes a hit
Arroyo will be without star receiver Anthony Miller until the start of league play, according to Knights coach Jim Singiser.
Miller, a two-time first-team all-Mission Valley League choice, dislocated his shoulder playing baseball and will have surgery. He will miss the summer and Singiser is hoping to have him back by the middle of the season.
“We have a lot of guys we can throw the ball to, but he had the experience and was a captain, and is a great kid,” Singiser said. “It’s not the end of the world, but it did put the world on its axis a bit.”
Miller caught 36 balls for 457 yards and six touchdowns last season. Fortunately for Singiser, his team will have a very active summer on the passing circuit to figure out a replacement.
In fact, the Knights already got started with a throw around at San Gabriel last weekend. They’ll be there again this Saturday.
“We did pretty good,” Singiser said. “It was the first we’d thrown the ball. We wanted to get out there on a Saturday and sling it around a little bit and we saw what we thought we’d see.”"