Bishop Amat opens camp with a big focus on defense; Ruiz not there with Haynes, Barrera and Rodriguez battling it out at quarterback

“We discovered last year that we put up a lot of points, had lots of (total) yards and threatened a lot of records in the record books. But what good did it do us? We ended up losing our last two games and it left a sour taste in our mouth. We want to make sure we focus more on what’s going to get us to that final game. We want to play into December, and the defense is going to get us there.”Bishop Amat coach Steve Hagerty

Below: Sophomore Koa Haynes appears to be the leading contender to take over at quarterback when Rio Ruiz leaves for the U.S. National 18-Under baseball team.

By Fred J. Robledo. Staff Writer
Bishop Amat already knows that it will be without senior quarterback Rio Ruiz for three non-league games in September against La Mirada, Damien and Cathedral while Ruiz is with the U.S National Team’s 18-and-under baseball squad that will compete in the COPABE Pan American Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, Sept. 23 through Oct. 2. But for the past week Ruiz has competed on the Milwaukee Brewers’ squad in the Area Code games in Long Beach, forcing him to miss Wednesday’s first day of football camp in preparation for the Lancers’ season opener against Garfield on Sept. 2.
The area code games concluded on Wednesday, but Ruiz also was selected to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic on Sunday in San Diego, and will not join the team until it’s concluded. Ruiz is expected back at practice on Monday, something Amat coach Steve Hagerty is adjusting too.
“All us coaches and the kids understand why he’s not here,” Hagerty said of Ruiz. “We’ve already met and talked about it and there are agreements in place. Nobody is looking over their shoulder wondering where he is. Rio’s a great player, but we’re moving along because we got a job to get done. The other 75 kids here know that. We’ll be glad when he’s here and working, but in the mean time it’s business as usual.”

Amat is already working on a contingency plan in Ruiz’s absence with sophomore Koa Haynes earning a slight edge over juniors Ross Barrera and Angelo Rodriguez — the three battling to take over when Ruiz leaves for the national team.
“We’re going to have to look at film and see who’s making good decisions,” Hagerty said. “It will always come down to the kid that can feed the pieces that we have the best, and eliminate mistakes. We’re not going to ask him to do a whole lot.
“Koa has the most reps and Ross has spent a lot of time at linebacker trying to win a spot, so right now Koa has the edge. Angelo is a lefty and will probably end up playing on the junior varsity. Physically, he’s probably the smallest in stature and doesn’t have the arm strength to be a varsity quarterback yet.”
Hagerty’s biggest concern in the summer isn’t filling the void of Ruiz, it’s shoring up a defense that allowed 18 points a game, and one that continually showed its lack of athleticism in the secondary.
The Lancers were 9-0 when it lost to Alemany 38-30 in the Serra League title game, then lost a week later to Tesoro, 31-21, in the first round of the Pac-5 playoffs.
Statistically, Amat averaged 35 points, which ranked among the best teams in school history, quite an accomplishment for a storied program that boasts five CIF championships.
But the defense was a different story.
“The whole idea is that we want to win a title and we’re not going to win a title without shoring up our defense,” Hagerty said. “We’ve moved some kids around, and we’ve made sure that our defensive (coaches) have the pick of the litter in terms of who they want on the field at any given time. That may curtail our offense a little if someone gets tired. But if they’re going to rest, they’re going to rest on offense, not defense.
“We discovered last year that we put up a lot of points, had lots of (total) yards and threatened a lot of records in the record books. But what good did it do us? We ended up losing our last two games and it left a sour taste in our mouth.
“We want to make sure we focus more on what’s going to get us to that final game. We want to play into December, and the defense is going to get us there.”
It wasn’t so much a lack of talent, but a lack of experience. Amat started three sophomores in the secondary last year, Adam Alcantara, Dionza Blue and D.J. Daniels.
“They’re good, but sometimes the bright lights, playing freshman football the year before and wondering what you’re doing here gets to you,” Hagerty said. “We took our lumps, but any time you do that the reward comes later because all three of them have valuable experience and still have two more years to play.
“With Ajee Montes or Nathan Lozano shoring up the other corner, we think we will match up a whole lot better this year.”
Ruiz will also spend some time on defense, as will running back Jalen Moore, part of Amat’s grand plan of making sure the best possible athletes are on defense and all times.
“I see Rio playing a lot (in the secondary),” Hagerty said. “We don’t see a lot of tight end teams. We’re going to end up in a nickel a lot because teams like to spread four wide, and that’s a scheme Rio can play against. We need more guys who can run in space and cover people. When they attach a tight end and have two backs in the backfield, that’s a different gig, that’s when we might use Jalen to come in and rush the edge or play over the tight end. When we run tackling drills, he’s our best tackler technique-wise. But a lot of it will depend on the health of (Zach) Shay, who is returning from an injury.
“If we can get Jalen and Shay sharing the reps on offense the way we would like, it will give us much more options on offense and defense.”

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  • I smell another close staff MVP race this season between Mike “The Cousin” and “Chino Hills” Tom.

  • Colt74

    This year they have new nicknames:

    Mike ” I can’t feel my hands! ” and

    Tom ” Just keep running, I can edit that out! ”

    Seriously…they are both MVP’s….

    Cousins Coveritlive and Toms videos made last football seasons coverage the best ever…and it will only be better this season!

    Thanks guys!

  • Unreal..

    Last season was by far the easiest to follow and most enjoyable with Mike and Tom hard at work.

    Maybe the trib can look into making a smartphone app like OC Varsity has. Their’s is fairly simple, no real time scores but the score updates and game info is quick and easy to find while sitting on the bleachers at Kiefer. Makes keeping up with the Trinity League much easier.

    I think Haynes will do just fine and he stands to gain valuable experience that will only help him the next two years.

    BTW… Congrats to Albert Cid. Enjoyed watching him in High School and it looks like he may have chance to make an immediate impact on the UCLA offensive line. Yet another SGV talent who earned the opportuity to shine at the D1 level.

    Go AMAT!!!

  • Simple Math

    Wow Bishop…the star qb is not there for opening day…you talk about preferential treatment!

    “All us coaches and the kids understand why he’s not here,”.

    This about sums up this years season for the Lancers. This is unacceptable. He has already missed spring ball, Summer Workouts, and he is already going to miss games, couldn’t he just miss one Summer baseball game as a sign of commitment to his football obligations? How simple do you have to be to understand Rio is going to get picked every time. He is going to make the U-18 USA Baseball team…Oh Bishop this goes against everything you stand for, and people are to bamboozled to admit it. This is going to negatively affect the team. The WR will have no Idea who is going to be throwing to them. Who’s going to lead that huddle…Listen Bishop her is some simple math.

    NO Rio = no Passing game

    No Passing game = no league title

    No league title = no love in playoffs seeding

    no love in playoff seeding = no chance of advancing in pac 5

    No chance of advancing in Pac 5 = No title in 2011.

    Sorry Folks…


    Really people, leave the “worrying” to the Amat Fans. As you can see by all the “concern” posted by the Amat Faithful…’s not.

  • AMAT 73

    What you will begin to see is wishful thinking by all the haters.

  • Basic

    Best of luck to 9, pretty good kid and athlete.

    I’m not sure if I read that right, did Fred state that one of the QB’s is spending his time at LB to get a spot??? WHAT??? I’ve heard QBs playing D but usually don’t @ LB…Although I guess that might mean the kid likes contact or at least is not afraid of it…

    Anyway, good luck Amat, and like most know, you are about that running game, and yes I am a Bearcat fan but hey I can wish you guys luck too…

  • Teech

    @ Simple Math

    Perhaps you need a lesson in Simple English…Ruiz will be there for opening day vs. Garfield and will also start vs. Servite. He will miss La Mirada, Cathedral, and Damien but will be there for all league as well as any playoff games.

    Maybe you should carefully read the article before drinking your Hateraide?

  • simple math

    at Teech is that a nickname or are you trying to spell “Teach”? You are right…its ok for your star player to miss games for another sport. Yeah thats right. Hell you might as well let players take vacations during the season to… give me a break. “Pride comes before the fall”. I sure Father so and so would tell you that. Bishop is too proud to admit that this is a uncomfortable situation, and unheard of. Sorry it’s not haterade its have the gonads to say something about it. If or better yet when Bishop has the same results as last year or worst, this will be a huge factor. Don’t be surprised if you lose one of the games he is missing and a league game while “9” is shaking of the rust… Hold if if he makes the USA Baseball team, will he be in town to play?

  • Stop Hating

    For you know it alls, Rio missed the first 2 days of the Area Code Games to be with his football team. Each and every one of you WISH you could be in his shoes and have the opportunities he has. Good luck kid!

  • Honesty hurts

    Wow, I am flattered to see someone Quote my writing. When I saw this article this morning, I came on to follow up and add to what I wrote a few weeks ago, but Not Since 1995, just brought back my old post…Wow. I was dead on. I could not believe that I was correct in postulating the theory that he is still not fully committed. We all know if the coach stated that he could not allow him to miss games, Rio would not come back…That shows how desperate Bishop is. Fred use the term “Contingency plan”. Well that means that Bishop “prefers” him to be there, and he and his parents chose not to be? If you think coach Hag was filled with joy when he is not there…you are mistaken. I understand that Bishop has other QBs who are good, and will be in the future. However Bishop needs to get the 2nd round or better in order to move forward in this decade. Bishop needs to win Now! Putting together a winning team is hard in its own right. There are plenty of obstacles to overcome as it is. Whenever a player is adding more obstacles, delays, and setbacks, it’s never good. I mean this article starts off justifying why rio is not there. If he was not crucial to the team, why open up with what he is doing, where he is at etc..etc… I am not saying that this sophomore, will not be good, he just won’t be better than Rio. It is also saying that Rio and Jalen are going to play on D. That really shows you the state of the program. When Bishop was winning titles, they had stellar defenses, and they were just luckily enough to have Dalon McCutchen, and Ralph Brown, who were able to do both. Well jalen is a hell of a RB, but he is not the D player those guys were. Well tell me this, how can a QB go both ways in the PAC5, and has not lifted a weight? Have you seen the servite guys? Rio is really going to get out there and hit and run around all night. In order to go both ways, you have to be in immaculate shape. You have to train, and train, and train, to get your body ready for the collisions. This whole article displays the Lancers are far from an Elite team in their division. With holes in the secondary, Shay still getting healthy, JV lineman coming up this year…The program really needed Rio to be at every workout, practice and game. Especially on the First day of camp, to send a message to his guys that ” This years Football season is just as important, and my club baseball season”. Or is it? Well in day one he already displayed that he can’t even turn down one game, to open up camp as the Bishop Amat Starting QB. Just sickening. When will you folk just admit, that you don’t like what rio is doing…it’s ok to say that. You are not hating or cursing the kid. Like I said, Rio is a good kid, and super Athlete, he just has decisions to make, and commitment to keep. Good luck Lancers, you are going to need it.

  • Hype?

    Rio should have stayed in football camp. His area codes games were poor. Ask any scout there..

    Different story playing against the best that throw 90+ everyday. Too many errors, poor lateral…

  • AMAT 73

    Thank you to all of those concerned on the state of football at AMAT. As you can see and was pointed out by LCNR BKR we are fine with Hag’s handling of the situation ( maybe Rio should now go from being called 9 to “the situation” ha ha ha ha ) . If your reading comprehension skills were worthy you could see the reasons for Rio and possibly Jalen to be on defense. As far as Bishop I don’t know much about their football team or program but I do know that AMAT will be ready for this coming season . So please continue with your concerns and worries because it does make for some interesting reading . What I can’t get over or understand is for all the hate and crap directed towards AMAT why all the concern . If someone ( honesty hurts ) out there would like to explain that , please do . By the way hh , Rio’s playing on the team going to Columbia is not club ball it is playing for the United States National Team .

  • Unreal…

    All you haters have to calm down. Amat will be fine, we are a running team. I will admit that there may be a little bit of rust once Rio comes back but it’s not like we ask hime to throw the ball thirty times a game.

    I think this is actually a blessing in disguise. Haynes will get some valuable reps on Varsity as a sophomore that he can build on for next season. I’d rather see him take his lumps against Damien, La Mirada, and Cathedra than against the Serra.

    At Amat, we are used to the spotlight. It shine bright, others would wither under the same spotlight but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Go Amat!!!

  • 12th man

    Honesty hurts,
    Apparently you havent done your homework…Its not uncommon for the QB to go both ways its actually encouraged in the pac5..Cody Pittman(Servite QB DB)Vernon Adams(Alemany QB DB)Tre Madden(Mission Viejo QB LB)..The top 3 schools in the pac5 2010-2011..In order to compete & be one of the elite teams in the pac5 its almost mandatory you put you’re best athletic players to go both ways..

  • Honesty hurts

    12th man those guys did not miss all of summer playing baseball, and they played all Ten games in the regular season. Rio will be in football mode on monday. Thats almost a whole year. I know for sure Vernon and Tre did not miss spring ball, summer workouts . Cody may have missed a little spring because he does play baseball. But I bet you Troy Thomas would not let Cody miss 3 games. That’s why they are going to Beat you. Thats why Vernon Beat you. That’s why Mission Viejo was in the Finals….This is why Bishop Will not be in the Finals, nor beat Alemany this year. Sorry not hating…I want Bishop to go far, But I a real when saying this is a farce tho.

  • AMAT 73

    12th man,
    How do like what Hag’s is doing on defense. Not only Rio but other offensive players to see playing time as well . Looks like he listened to your suggestions on the blog , ha ha ha ha. But in all honesty I kind of thought that might be the plan and I did post that thought a while back as it will not be full time but when teams line up 3 or 4 wide or in definte passing situations look for Rio to be on the field .

    Rio did not miss all summer as he was at many PTs and other practices and srimmages. Just go to Aram’s blog and see the interview along with Santiago at CO . As 12th man explained to you that Pac-5 ball is a different animal and by your post you do not know much about it or AMAT. Or the fact that Rio is playing for the USA and not a club team . I do see where you say you want AMAT to go far but I think you need to do better job of researching before you come out with such bad information to base your theories .

  • 12th man

    Much better game plan on defense this year..The only thing that worries me now is the DL..Can they produce enough pressure to enduce turnovers..We all know if you give the QB enough time ( IE.Vernon Adams)he’s going to pick you apart & it wont even matter if you have the best secondary in all of CIF..Even the average mediocre QB can make you look bad if he has the time to throw..As far as Alemany crushing BA thats a lil far fetched..Vernon Adams is gone!!!! He was a one man show he led the offense in rushing,passing,scoring,& if he could throw to himself he would lead the team in recieving..He’s the only reason why Alemany got so far..
    One more tip!..If BA can workout a strategic game plan on offense involving both QB’s (Rio & Whoever gets the job)Its a win-win situation..Not only does your back up QB get some live situation reps at the Varsity level you’re offense becomes a little more balanced..Just think?? Its third & 5…You bring in Rio to line up in the slot position at WR..Boom!! The Defense is baffled they dont know weather they should play the run or pass..Rio brings a deep threat when he plays WR he has the speed but more importantly he has the experience of going out there & coming down with the ball especially if its a jump ball.. one thing is for sure, this type of offense will surely open up the defense forcing them to respect the deep ball..Running the ball can easily get you the Serra title but as you make a deeper run into the Playoffs and start facing stingy teams who like to stack the box on defense & dont give up many yards (Servite,Long Beach poly,Mater dei,Mission Viejo,Tesoro,Lakewood,OLU,etc.)You have to PASS!! at one point or another to beat theese teams~

  • AMAT 73

    12th man,
    Good point but as far as Adams, from what happened last year his wheels hurt us more than his arm . Don’t get me wrong because he did complete some long passes but with his scrambling abilities allowing him to keep the D line honest in knowing they could not all out pass rush him because of that fact he allowed the WRs time to run until open or cause confusion crossing the field deep . The young man is talented and should be a force at whatever school he attends .

  • NotSince1995

    How big is that center…? About 210 lbs…?
    Nothing against the kid…He’s probably an excellent young man, but…C’mon FredJ how’s he gonna stack up Servite…? Really, FredJ….?
    Not In 2011 Either…

    BTW, only 20 posts! Wow…looks like they aren’t too confident are they…?


    Dirtbag1995-Talk is cheap. Really no need to respond. Season starts soon enough.