By Aram Tolegian, SGVN twitter.com/ChemicalAT
Most local high school football teams don’t begin spring practice until May 7, but Bishop Amat is entering its second week of spring ball as it prepares for a long summer of competition at several key spots, and of course, the passing competition circuit.
For Amat, the key this spring and summer will be finding replacements for leading passer Rio Ruiz, leading rusher Jalen Moore and leading receiver Adam Sanchez. It’s a tall order for coach Steve Hagerty and his staff, but that doesn’t mean this spring is anymore important than those of the past.
“Every spring we have is important,” Hagerty said. “We’re fighting to get on top and we’re not even close right now. That’s really the thought here: How do we bridge that gap that appears to be widening between us and the Pac-5? So every spring has been really important. We’re trying to get things taught and be able to execute, because that’s how we survive.
“I wouldn’t say it’s more important. I think there’s adequate people to fill those spots. We just need to get them coached up and taught up, but I like what I see so far.”
Hagerty reported there are only three quarterbacks in the program at present. The leader to take over for Ruiz is junior-to-be Koa Haynes, who was pressed into action last year after Ruiz suffered a knee injury.
Sophomore-to-be Anthony Camargo, who is 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, piloted Amat’s freshman team to an 8-2 record last year and will have a spot on the varsity roster
What exactly Camargo’s role will be still is up in the air, but he could be used at quarterback in short-yardage and goal-line situations. The other quarterback in the program is a sophomore-to-be and looks like he’ll be the starter for the junior varsity.
“Koa is right now ahead of the other two,” Hagerty said. “Camargo is going to special. I don’t know where he pans out, but he can play.”
Dionza Blue, who some thought may have been the team’s feature back two years ago before Moore burst on the scene, finally will be the feature back. The question for Hagerty is how to balance Blue’s time between offense and defense.
“I would think Dionza carrying the ball is probably a lot clearer (than anything else),” Hagerty said. “But he’s also our starting strong safety and he’s one of our best football players on the defensive side of the ball. I don’t know if he’ll exclusively carry the ball, but he looks like he’s really gotten strong and faster. We really like what we’re seeing.”
Amat has 131 players across all grades out for spring practice. Hagerty estimated at least a half-dozen key contributors from last year’s freshman team will earn a spot on the varsity roster.
“I love the feel, the competition and camaraderie,” Hagerty said. “The kids are working real hard and I just like where we are right now.”
Former stars returning to Amat
On Saturday, Amat will host its alumni flag football game as a fundraiser for the school’s alumni scholarship fund.
Past Amat football greats will square off beginning at 2 p.m.
Confirmed for the game are Daylon McCutcheon, Kory Minor, Joey Getherall, Donnie McCleskey and Jonathan Cornell. Hagerty is hopeful some other big names who haven’t fully committed yet also will participate.
Below: Dionza Blue at a Rutgers spring football practice.