By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Saturday mornings are not an easy proposition for Bishop Amat linemen Christian Orduno and Julian Gener. Instead of springing out of bed like the teenagers they are, both struggle like senior citizens. The night before, you could find them banging heads in the trenches, pulling double duty on offense and defense, and most importantly paving the way for Amat to remain unbeaten. (To continue, click thread
Above: Bishop Amat’s Christian Orduno (left) and Julian Gener (right) are a huge reason why the Lancers are 9-0 and playing Alemany for the Serra League title on Friday.
It takes a toll.
“I don’t even want to get out of bed, to be honest,” Gener said of Saturday mornings.
He does, though, and heads to practice, which includes a dose of conditioning and weight training.
“Me and Gener are usually the last ones to finish everything,” Orduno said.
“We have bruises on our arms, and our ankles will be sore. Usually, everything is a little sore.”
Gener and Orduno are standouts in their respective original positions.
For Gener, it’s defensive end, where he’s one of the most disruptive players in the Southland. For Orduno, it’s offensive left tackle, where he’s tasked with protecting the blind side of prize quarterback Rio Ruiz.
Their duties don’t stop there, though. Out of need, Amat coach Steve Hagerty has asked both players to contribute on offense and defense. For Gener, that means playing offensive guard. For Orduno, it means playing defensive line.
“We only have three two-way guys,” Hagerty said. “One of them, Zachary Shay, is hurt right now. I think there’s a lot of respect and admiration (for Gener and Orduno) because I don’t think a lot of kids can do it (play offense and defense). Those are two kids who have been able to figure out a way how to do it.
“We wouldn’t even ask other kids to do it, because it would be a botched attempt, but those two have the type of character that they’re able to do it. I’m normally not a big two-way guy. I don’t like it, especially with linemen.”
Gener, at 6-foot, 210 pounds, is slightly undersized for both of his positions. He makes up for it, though, with a motor that never quits. On defense, Gener’s recorded six sacks and 33 tackles. Amat will tailor its offense, when Gener is in the game, to his strength as a pulling guard.
“They run plays for me that other guys can’t do,” Gener said. “It’s very difficult because I have to remember my assignments at all times. I’m very tired during games, but you just have to fight through it.”
Orduno is a rarity at Amat in that he physically looks like the Pac-5 equivalent of a player at his position. With Orduno being 6-foot-4, 285 pounds, his position is one of few places on the field where Amat isn’t undersized, and the coaches take full advantage of that.
Looking for the big reason why Ruiz has put up big numbers in his first year under center while running back Jalen Moore is running wild? Orduno is a great place to start.
“I’m totally fine with those guys getting all the headlines,” Orduno said.
“Like I’ve told everyone else, if we don’t protect, they can’t throw all the passes and make all the runs.
“Without us, they can’t do anything, so it really doesn’t effect me either way. It’s all in the team.”
Both players will be counted on heavily again this week when Amat plays its biggest game of the season, against Alemany. Both teams are 9-0 and the Serra League championship is on the line. And that says nothing of the impact the game will have in determining the Pac-5 playoff road for both teams.
As big a toll as it takes to do what both players are doing at such a high level, they’re in agreement that it will all be worth it in the end.
“If we’re winning, it makes everybody happy,” Gener said. “We don’t mind sacrificing our bodies if at the end of the season we have a ring on our fingers and a league championship. We’ll know we did our jobs to win, and all the recognition will come.”