By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
A year ago at this time there was plenty of talk in the Valley about how big of a season awaited Baldwin Park High School’s football team.
This year, not so much, but that’s how Braves coach James Heggins likes it.
“I consider it to be something that we look at as a challenge,” Heggins said of the lack of attention his team is getting. “Most people who have played us in consecutive years know that when you line up against Baldwin Park, you better be ready to play some football. All those people who don’t know what we’re about and really don’t care to find out, we’ll be ready to go out there and show them what we’re all about. And we’re not going anywhere.”
A big reason why area pundits have tempered expectations when it comes to Baldwin Park is because the Braves suffered heavy graduation losses.
Standouts Wardell Crutchfield III, Demetrius Jackson and Mario Rodriguez all graduated in June.
What Heggins was left with was several position battles, most notably quarterback, where Rodriguez was the heart and soul of the team. Senior Eric Robles appears to have pulled ahead of sophomore Michael Moran and will get the start on Friday when the Braves scrimmage against Ganesha and Arroyo Valley.
“It was a tight race this summer between those guys,” Heggins said. “We were going series to series for a while, but Robles separated himself these past couple weeks. I’m still impressed with what Moran is doing. He’s only going to be a sophomore and we’re excited about the future with him.”
The Braves were also hit hard by graduation at running back, but Heggins feels confident that Gio Recendez and Anthony Moran, Michael’s older brother, can shoulder the load. Both have extensive varsity experience and Heggins said he will simply ride the hot hand during games.
Baldwin Park went 5-6 overall last season, but was 5-1 in the Valle Vista League, which was good for second place behind Covina. The Braves were an eight-point loss to the Colts away from being league champs.
The Braves open the season at home on Sept. 2 against El Monte.