Damien’s Gano on Amat: “If last year was a fist fight, we didn’t do very much of the punching.”

By Aram Tolegian
Last year’s Damien-Bishop Amat game was over in a flash. The Lancers put away their parochial rival to the northeast early and coasted to a 42-7 win. On Friday, the teams meet again and Damien coach Greg Gano is hopeful his team gives a much better showing. “If last year was a fist fight, we didn’t do very much of the punching,” Gano said. “We’re going to play them better than we did last year. Hopefully, we can play a little bit harder. I expect to. I hope there’s not a fear factor. There was a fear factor last year, but we got rid of that. There’s a respect factor. Those guys are a good football team.” Damien enters the game 2-0, but the Spartans hardly were impressive in getting past Diamond Ranch in Week 1 and routing a hapless Chaffey team last Thursday.

Amat is 2-1, with the loss coming to powerful Servite.

For Gano, the key for his team’s success is stopping Amat’s ground game, which saw standout tailback Jalen Moore rumble for 299 yards and five touchdowns last week against La Mirada.

“If that guy (Moore) runs wild, we could be in for another serious problem,” Gano said. “And beside him, Rio Ruiz is an excellent quarterback who can run around. They have two weapons. We need to really tackle and be aggressive in space this year. I think we’re better in space this year and hopefully we show it on Friday night.”

Damien will start sophomore Gage Pucci at quarterback for the second week in a row. Pucci was 4 of 11 for 83 yards and two touchdowns last week against Chaffey.

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  • Big Fan

    I was pretty impressed with the Spartan defense. The D-line is alot quicker this year. Tomorrow will definitely be the test.

  • Gano Fan

    This is why I like Coach Gano so much as a person and as a coach…tells it like it is. I know you hear stuff about promises and misinformation around him but what’s he going to do…he has what he has and he’s making the best of it all.

    Friday he’ll start a 5′ 7″ Soph QB against the mighty Bishop while his 6’5″ Senior QB licks his wounds and his 6’4″ Jr. QB tries to decide if playing Football is as important to him as it could be.

    Never one to second guess a quality coach I think Damien players and parents are the ones who need the gut check at this time. Amat is what it is…a Sport’s factory…and not much else…no disrespect but that’s what they live for…more power to them. Damien’s identity is more rooted in academics and preparing for college while having a great time in high school individually….Amat is a group think kind of school as you can tell by the rabid fan base who never really leave high school…j/k..not!

    Just once I’d like to see Damien do what it did the last time they beat Bishop (I was there)…and that’s punch the bullies in the face and keep punching until the whisle blows. While Football is a team game it’s really one on one throw downs that take place down after down after down. So if I’m a linemen I don’t worry about Rio, Jalen or any one else…I just worry about my job, my man and my assignment. It should be a war of wills based on who wants to kick who’s butt..plain and simple.

    Games are won and lost for two reasons…better talent or better will. Servite beat Bishop because they had both..better talent and better will. Last year Damien had neither when they showed up at Bishop and the game was over after the first kick off….what will they show up with this year?

    I know Damien has a few kids who will never admit any one is better than they are and will never accept any one has more will than they do…but that’s not enough…we need more than a few good men…we need a team…we need senior leadership to stay on task and bust some one in the mouth and ask for more when the going gets tough.

    Games like these is why you run sprints like you’re running out of a burning building,why you push each other in hitting, blocking and tackling drills. And it will be during “this” game that the Spartans will KNOW if that’s what they’ve been doing at practice ALL YEAR LONG.Sooner or later the TRUTH comes out. We shall see.

    Bishop is a bully…always has been as will be…but that’s okay. Like most bullies they welcome a fight…they are tough, they are mean, they are well coached and they are strong…what games like this give each player is an opportunity to dig deep and find out what you’re made of…win or lose…each player will tell a story…and the scoreboard has nothing to do with it. After the game will you get an obligatory hand slap or will Bishop players and Bishop coaches shake your hand and say “You had a great game”…let’s find out

    Best of luck men…”with your shield or on them”.

    Gut check time. Bishop lost to Servite this year like Damien lost to Amat last year…no matter how big the “bully” is there is always a bigger bully around the block…or some howisn’t willing to be pushed around and pushes back. This could be a blow out or it could be like Gano first season..a barn burner.

  • Are you serious?

    Gano already sounds like a loser in this article.
    Amat is a bully?? Were you one of the parents laughing and cheering as Damien beat the tar out of Chaffey?? LOL, well time to pay up bud.

    Gano is a liar and has done his best to recruit and has failed. He never plays the best kids, he has boosters like you, and other mommies and daddies who buy their babies thier positions.

    Im glad that AMAT will be beating on Damien the way they did on Chaffey. And as far as Gano, he is a big fat bag of wind.

    he sounds pathetically humbled in this article, lol

  • IloveSGVTribune

    ano Fan.. “A sports factory?” Amat teaches balance.. Not everyone plays sports at Amat.. but we do support each other like a family.. both on and off the field.. it was like that when I was there.. and I’m sure it’s still the same.. Stop making excuses for your football team.. I’m sure Amat isn’t making excuses about Servite.. They are not a bully.. Servite is a disciplined.. well coached team.. Success is contagious.. and just because Servite wins year after year.. does that make them a sports factory also? I don’t think so.. there is life after football or sports.. not everyone gets a sports scholarship.. and even less get to the pros.. so like Amat.. as well as Servite.. and I’m sure Damien too.. and every football school in the nation.. the goal is to teach these kids how to deal with pressure situations.. because.. whether they win or lose.. when life really hits.. they can handle it.. at least this is what I learned during my time at Amat.. both on the field.. as well as off.. Good luck to all the SGV football teams competing this week.. no injuries.. and good sportsmanship..

  • Gano fan

    You sound like you’ve never spoken to Gano or if you did you kissed his ass and he still wouldn’t start your kid, lol. There are issues on every team and for the most part the issues on most teams start at home. if your kid is a second or third string let’s see him run a sprint full out or challenge himself at practice before you start whining.

    As far as Chaffey goes…Damien just has a great night in spite of 4-11 passing from the QBso how were the Spartans piling it on? It was a team effort and the ball bounced our way…don’t see the bully factor there at all…but I’m sure you know better.

    Bishop is a bully…and hey that’s not so bad…there are worst things…they could be Cantwellians..lol.

    Enjoy the game…and make sure to keep some cheese near by to go with that whine. Gano has 32 years of coaching experince, 4 CIF titles, and coached some of the Valley’s best players and a Gatorade National Defensive Player of the Year…yup…he has reason to be scared…lol

    Well in the end you’re entitled to your opinion…gee I hope Gano doesn’t stay up all night thinking of ways to put a smile on your face…LOL

  • Are you Serious??

    No my friend. My son doesnt go to Damien. I wouldn’t hear of it. Is that Gano’s methodology? is that your game plan?? run hard in wind sprints guys and we will beat AMAT? I have never spoken to Gano, but i would be the first guy to kick, not kiss his ass, lol. but just out of curiostiy, how does it taste Spartan?

    My son will be one of the AMAT guys beating your sons into submission. Come to think of it, maybe your right Spartan. My son will be bullying your tiny wind sprint running sons tomorrow. LOL

    Enjoy your beating and yes, you were whooping it up at the Chaffey Game. I have been to some Damien games where the other teams were getting routed. ( not in a long time though its rare now)

    you have no right to call AMAT bullies, but this week, we will make an excpetion for your team

  • King of Beers

    So glad FC is back. Let the good times roll.

  • closer than most think

    After seeing both teams play, I believe that the game will be much closer than Amat or Damien believe it will be. Amat 28-21!

  • AMAT 73

    Gano Fan,
    First let me say I agree Coach Gano is a fine coach . His legacy in the SGV is that he is a winner. Many love him but many equally do not . Your take on AMAT is quite humorous in your point of being a sports factory. We have high academic standards and many avenues for students to help them in their college careers suchs AP, IB , and other programs and have a high rate of AMAT students going on to college which is the point and should be of any high school .Damien is also a fine academic school with a new found emphasis on sports .In this day of the parent/athlete my kid is superstar , sports are bigger than ever. If not why the hiring of Gano ? Leyva is doing a great job with the baseball program which will relate to baseball players now looking at Damien . Don’t fool youself into thinking academics only will bring students to Damien because although many do go there for that , sport programs make money for the privates period. Whether from the gate of football games or the tuition athletes wanting to go there because the certain sport program is good and winning will bring. As far as us not leaving high school , we all have left and hopefully gone on to a better life because of life lessons we learned at AMAT . Do not confuse our ties or involvement with AMAT as wanting to cling to high school life because you are wrong. What we have is a love for our school and wanting to keep the traditions continued for the future Lancers to be. We are a tight knit group which is not seen in many schools as much as you see it at AMAT. I know Damien has a good alumni following and many of them maybe feel the same about Damien as I have seen some have come on here knocking some of the newer Damien followers posting just maybe not at the level of our alumni . Either way here’s to a good competitive injury free game and may the best team on Friday night win .

  • Gano Fan

    Not sure if you played the game your son does but wind sprints play a vital role on any team. Ask some one who’s actually played and see what they tell you. When you want to get the coaches attention you push yourself and get noticed, when you’re a team leader you sprint harder than any one else, when you are a starter you push yourself to get ready for the battles you’ll have when the going gets tough and fatigue begs you to give up a bit. Wind sprints tell the story my friend. Every time I see a team practice I listen most when parents complain about playing time. Then I ask them..”Point our your kid”…you guess it…back of the pack, middle of the pack or coasting with the herd…so wind sprints tell a story my friend.

    I do hope secretly that Bishop brings their best game and pounds our QB, stuffs our backs and punishes our receiver…that way we’ll push back, fight back and get to do the same. Either way playing Bishop is an honor because of their storied past.

    BTW it was no surprise you’ve never spoken to Gano..you should..he’s a great guy and I do wish my son played for a man like him…I played for coaches much like him…ask a question get an answer…extend your hand and get a handshake.

    As far as the bully comment about Bishop…isn’t taht why so many “new” Raider/Bishop parents put their kids there…lol BTW Damien has placed more kids at West Point than ANY school West of the Mississipi ..so cowards need not apply @ Damien (12 in the past five years…wait should we count St. Lucy’s and Pomona Catholic as well)

    Enjoy the game…you might win but I like my kids chances with their Damien and St. Lucy’s diplomas a bit more.

  • just sayin’

    I’ll see your West Point appointees and raise you a Department of State Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs
    and a Associate Director on Disabilities of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
    Compare that with the 3 biggest sports stars from Damien: Baseball-McGuire(steroids), Football-Henley(drugs), Basketball-Duffy(funneling money to OJ Mayo getting USC on probation). Of course the latter led to Rhodes Scholar Pat Haden to come in as new AD to clean up the mess.
    Yep – Character Counts!

  • Sierra League Fan

    YYAAAAAWWWWWNNNN!!!!! This is getting boring. Bring on the game so we can see if Damien is for real……or still full of hot air. Beating up on Chaffey and Squeeking by D. Ranch didn’t impress me – Especially with all of those “legit” transfers they got. Gano can’t win with home grown talent, that’s why he recruits…….that’s why he won @ Los Altos.

  • GoBigBlue

    Wow am I looking forward to this game, it’s nice that see everyone getting along so well. So here’s my story, my son goes to Amat and plays on the football team, before his freshman year we toured Amat and Damien to decide where he would go to school, both schools had their merits, but we felt welcomed at Amat, while there seemed a sense or arrogance at Damien. After his freshman year we were at Champion Training Academy and a father walked up to me after seeing my son in his Amat shorts and started ranting about how Damien pays their coaches more and must have a better program and I replied so what, it’s all about the scoreboard, we win, that’s all. Before camp finished his son began puking his guts out and they walked off the field. I knew then I made the right descision and it reinforced my opinion, arrogant and quitters. Let’s see if thats changed. See you Friday and remember to watch the scoreboard.

  • Character Counts

    Let me get this straight, you justified your decision off the encounter of one person at a training academy ran by a guy that was kicked out of Amat for cheating and suspended from his college bowl game? hmmmm. You are right. You did make the right decision…

  • GoBigBlue

    Character Counts but intelligence is lacking, do you have ADD. The decision was made as I said before we even went to the training camp and was based on our campus visit dumb*ss. This chance encounter with a Damien Parent reinforced my descision, that means I already made a desicsion and he just reminded me I made the right choice dumbsh*t. As far as the training camp, we attended a lot of camps and Rix’s is as good as anybody elses and apprently good enough for Damien parents. But you are trying to condemn me for Chris’s past, that’s a stretch. Your better off calling me a dumbsh*t because I’m on the same blog as an dumb*ss like you.

  • Gano Fan

    GoBig Blue….total BS. There isn’t a Damien parent dillusional enough to brag about Damien Football to a Bishop parent…come on now!

    Damien’s been no more than a .500 club over the past 8 years and lost to Bishop like 24 out of 28 times….seriously, think of another lie.

    You’re funny though…I’ll give you that!

    Damien’s arrogance scared you did it? Or did it put you off as much as you say? All BS for sure. Maybe the wifey and son wanted Damein for the surroundings and education and you wanted to brag to your friends and family about being a Lancer.

    Well if you’re hppy you’re at Bishop we’re beyond elated….our prayers were answered..

    Pray for an injury free game and for both communities to thank God we’re still able to pay to afford being in private schools.

    Peace out!

  • Just sayin,
    Are you kidding me? Your actually gonna go there?Ok then, how about (duct tape) next time think before you speak.

  • RJSpartan

    They better have a shot, there is a reason why he(Gano) is there and that is to win big games like Bishop Amat and Chino Hills. If you can’t win those or at least be competitive, you will be shown the door like former spartan of the year Scott Morrison was.

  • GoBigBlue

    Gano Fan, come on now. True story, I didn’t ask him for an ID, but the guy was a total tool, he went on to talk about his son was going to Damien because of their track record getting kids into Notre Dame, I old him that being an SC alum Notre Dame wouldn’t be my first choice. I won’t even get into the nonsense he started talking against SC, but thanks to divine intervention I was saved as his son started puking after running the stadium stairs. God must be an Amat fan or maybe a Trojan fan.

    But I agree with you, he had no business trying to put down Amat. But let’s get one thing straight, Arrogance isn’t scary or intimidating more like insulting.

    I too am thankful we are able to pay for a fine education and look forward to good, injury free game.

  • King of Beers

    @ Just Sayin’

    Reaching back into the archives like that is really a sorry stretch. This is even more true considering the alleged issues of Rix and McCutchen (d rugs and otherwise), both of whom will be on the Big Blue sidelines Friday night.

  • King of Beers

    @ Just Sayin’

    Reaching back into the archives like that is really a sorry stretch. This is even more true considering the alleged issues of Rix and McCutchen (d rugs and otherwise), both of whom will be on the Big Blue sidelines Friday night.

  • King of Beers

    @ Just Sayin’

    Reaching back into the archives like that is really a sorry stretch. This is even more true considering the alleged issues of Rix and McCutchen (d rugs and otherwise), both of whom will be on the Big Blue sidelines Friday night.

  • Character Counts


    Sounds like I touched a nerve. what a surprise you are a punk-ass USC fan. Let me guess, you are a Raider fan too? Its great decision making skills like that that you supposedly based your decision from a visit to the La Puente ghetto? You are just full of great choices, aren’t you? you continue to decide to fork out money for your weak ass son to go to a weak ass trainer. If he has the sharp decision making skills you exhibit, he might as well be the water boy. At least he will get onto the field.

  • GoBigBlue

    Really, Lack of Character, yes I’m and SC alum and fan were did your weak ass go, let me guess GED, no I got it In N Out University. Sounds like I touched a nerve. So who do you train with, let me guess a jar of vaseline and a porno mag. I know we all can’t live our dreams, but attacking kids that’s real character. Oh yeah and make it a double double no onions.

  • Proud Damien JV Dad

    Just wanted to say that I was proud of the Damien team yesterday. JV for Damien and AMAT played like pros. I love the battle at the offensive and defensive lines. I know that the line ( where the game was won and lost) doesnt get very much glory. But i have to tell you. all those boys on the line worked their asses off.

    It went back and forth the entire game.

    Good job line men and defensive line. You guys made that game. everyone was on pins and needles as the teams were evenly matched.

    Damien JV online is awsome and big. All those kids and strong as oxes.

    Thanks for the great game AMAT.

    Tonites game will be exciting as hell.

    I cant wait.

    Proud Damien JV Dad

  • Asking?

    Damien Dad- who won that JV game? Is it true I heard the freshman and the JV coach are both Amat grads/former coaches? Interesting? How’s that working out?

  • AMAT 73

    Proud Damien JV Dan,
    Glad to here is was well played game . Do you mind posting the score and also the freshman score if you have it . Unfortunately I was unable to make the JV game.

  • soso



  • Spartan

    JV game:
    Damien – 22
    Amat – 6

    Both teams played very well. JV coach Chavez is a Damien Grad. the Freshman coaches are prior Amat coaches.

    Looking for to good game tonight. Love the spirit of cross town Catholic high school. We pray for a safe game with no injuries.

    Go Sparta!

  • Gano Fan

    Very typical of Bishop vs Damien JV and Freshmen games. Must say I was surprised by who won and lost this time around. Have yet to see the Amat coaches but I’d prefer to see them with the Jvs for one reason…that’s where you learn to LOVE football. At the Freshmen level it’s too many numbers at Damien where kids see Freshmen Football as a social tool more than anything else…that’s why they routinely get 130 plus kids to come out. Greta for the kids..not so much for the program.

    Coach Chavez is an interesting individual who bleeds Green and Gold and is polite, forth right and honorable…but mean, tough and super demanding he’s not…lol But now Chavez has a coach on his staff that is nails and drops teh occassional boot in the behind…THANK GOD!!!

    Congrats to the JV team for the shut out…next year will be Damien year for sure

  • AMAT 73

    Gano Fan,
    Unless Spartan got it wrong 22-6 does not equal a shutout, but if you meant congrats to our freshman 22-0 thank you . Hope to see you at the game tonight . I’ll be the one wearing Blue and Gold. Maybe you touched on something about learning to love the game and the difference between football at AMAT and Damien . Either way nice win for the Damien JV team , congrats !!!