Don’t expect Baldwin Park High School football coach James Heggins to back off his audacious offseason plans for his team this spring. The Braves, who last season did everything from typical weight-room workouts to playing under the lights on Friday nights in May, will be back at it again shortly. Baldwin Park has lined up two dates in late April and early May to play Walnut in 11-on-11 action in a home-and-home arrangement.
Neither team will be wearing pads, of course, but the competition should still be fierce as each team’s skill players will get a good gauge of where they’re at, and both lines will get work on different sets.
“It would be nice to do it as much as we could,” Heggins said.
“I like to have something to look forward to and evaluate instead of going against your own guys and looking great all the time.”
Last year, some local coaches privately scoffed at Baldwin Park’s rigorous offseason plans, saying the team would either burn out or not learn much from its activities, but it’s hard to argue against Heggins’ stance that the more information a coach has on his team, the better. And the more a coaching staff can keep its kids interested, the better the entire offseason will flow.
“You’re always trying to motivate your guys, and something that’s lost on younger guys is understanding how close the season really is. Sometimes in February, to 15- and 16-year-old kids, the next football season is years away, and it’s really not.”
A CIF rule that went into place last offseason has helped lift restrictions on how often football teams can practice in preparation for the upcoming season, so long as a 30-day dead period is adhered to somewhere along the way.
The thought of changing up a team’s offseason plans compared to how it’s been done in the past has caught on more slowly around the Valley than it has in other areas of the Southland. Most teams haven’t changed much from the offseason plans they’ve followed for the past five years or longer.
“Having stuff like that on the schedule makes you say, `We have a game,’ ” Heggins said. “I think it keeps the focus a little more than saying, `We don’t play until Sept. 2.’
“Whatever you do that day is who you are at that point. You can look at it on film and evaluate and fix things. You have a real grading point.” Another situation Heggins is evaluating is who will be his new defensive coordinator after Wardell Crutchfield Jr. resigned shortly after last season. Heggins said he has several possibilities, but is waiting to see if any teaching positions open at the school.
Arroyo seeks supporting cast
Usually, having a three-year returner at quarterback is a good thing, and Arroyo coach Jim Singiser is certainly happy to have standout Steven Rivera back, but Singiser’s main focus of the offseason will be to find a supporting cast for his star signal caller.
The problem for the Knights is that the school’s all-time leading rusher, Mikey Vasquez, and all-time leading receiver, Anthony Miller, will graduate in June, along with standout tight end Sam Torres.
“We have a quarterback who’s been in the program as long as some of my coaches,” Singiser said. “It’s just a matter of getting his receivers up to his level and the level of some of the other returning guys.”
Arroyo will start working on doing just that in April, when it heads to San Gabriel for some passing work against other local schools.
“Thankfully, we’re not looking for both (a starting quarterback and supporting cast),” Singiser said. “Other guys are finally getting an opportunity to show they can carry the mantle. The biggest thing is the leadership those kids brought. Leaders don’t usually wait for other leaders to graduate.”
Arroyo’s schedule will be the same as last season’s, but instead of Hart coming to El Monte, the Knights will be going to Newhall.
Canada on the mend for Huskies
South Hills receiver/defensive back Jamie Canada is making a steady recovery from the knee surgery that cost him his junior season.
Huskies coach Steve Bogan reports that Canada is walking fine and working out with the team, but still taking it easy in terms of other football-related activities. If all goes well, Canada could return for part of South Hills’ season.
“If we’re patient, he’ll be with us for the bulk of the season,” Bogan said.
“They said the recovery would be either 8 to 10 months or 10 to 12. We want to make sure he’s fully healthy and ready to go.”