Most area fans don’t seem to be giving Claremont (4-1) the same respect as Charter Oak, Chino Hills, Damien and South Hills going into Sierra League play, but Damien coach Greg Gano isn’t one of them. “They’re 4-1, that’s how I view them,” Gano said. “If you’re going to soften up on anybody or think somebody is not good, you’re gonna get your butt beat. They have some weapons and it’s a crosstown rivalry. They’re going to be ready to play.”
Damien vs. Claremont has always been a rivalry, but the stakes are even higher now that they share the same league. Last season, Damien edged the Wolfpack 31-27 when Andrew Aguirre caught a fade pass late in the game on fourth and 18 and scored when the defender fell down.
The Spartans enter Friday’s game also at 4-1 and feeling good after last week’s big 41-39 win over JSerra, a victory that avenged a 42-7 loss a year ago.
Despite the statement win, Gano isn’t about to let his team get comfortable.
“I’m not going to allow us to get cocky,” Gano said. “We haven’t done anything yet. This is the second season. As far as we’re concerned, we’re 0-0. It was a nice win (against JSerra), but we had a 35-19 lead and almost blew it.
“We should have put that game away in the third quarter. Everything that could go wrong went wrong and we still won the game. Our kids played hard the whole game, but we had some freaky mistakes.”