“We take a bus no matter if we’re home or away. I don’t worry about home or away. I like our road uniforms. I think they look good.” — Diamond Ranch coach Roddy Layton on first round game at Mayfair.
By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
After missing last season’s postseason despite a 7-3 record, there was no local team this year more happy to see its season extended than Walnut High School’s football team. The Mustangs parlayed a 6-4 record and fourth-place finish in the powerful Hacienda League into a first-round game at La Serna in the Southeast Division playoffs. To continue click thread
“Last year was a pretty good letdown,” Walnut coach Mike O’Shields said. “This year, we felt like we had a pretty good shot.”
Walnut finished the season on a three-game winning streak and won four its last five games. Although the Mustangs weren’t close against second-place Bonita, they did hang with league champ West Covina for a while and took third-place Diamond Ranch to overtime before losing.
Games like that have O’Shields thinking anything’s possible against a 9-1 La Serna team that hasn’t had a close game since a four-point victory over La Mirada on Sept. 23.
“They did something right to be 9-1,” O’Shields said. “They run the ball real well. They’re solid on the defensive side. I still look at the teams we played in our league and I think our league prepared us to play them. Coming from this league, we had it tough every week.”
The Mustangs passing game has been one of the best, led by quarterback Brandon Roach. The first-year starter has thrown for 2,228 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Roach has enjoyed the luxury of throwing to Washington-bound receiver Aubrey
leads the team with 854 yards. Jason Tsukada also has had a big year with 773 yards receiving.
Diamond Ranch likes road
The way Diamond Ranch coach Roddy Layton sees it, every game is a road game for his Panthers. So being saddled with a trip to Mayfair in Friday’s first round should be no trouble.
“We take a bus no matter if we’re home or away,” Layton said. “I don’t worry about home or away. I like our road uniforms. I think they look good.”
Diamond Ranch’s game with Mayfair is one of the Southeast’s biggest toss-ups of the opening round. The Panthers (5-5) lost their final two games of the season; Mayfair dropped its two biggest Suburban League contests to La Mirada and Norwalk.
Bonita fine with draw
After finishing 9-1, there was some speculation that Bonita would get a top-four seed in the Southeast Division. CIF didn’t oblige and the Bearcats will host California in Friday’s first round.
“I’m pretty happy with the draw we got,” Bonita coach Eric Podley said. “La Mirada (which was seeded instead of Bonita) didn’t get any favors getting Muir off the bat.”
Podley has studied California and thinks his team is in for a physical battle.
“Their linemen seem to be the strength of their team,” Podley said. “Looking at the films, I’m not sure they’ve seen as many multiple formations as we like to run. They come from a traditional (style-wise) league, and we’re kind of a non-traditional team.”