By Aram Tolegian, SGVN twitter.com/ChemicalAT
It will be teacher versus pupil on Friday night when the San Dimas High School football team hosts Northview with the Valle Vista League championship at stake.
Saints head coach Bill Zernickow was the defensive coordinator at Northview in 1997 when then-standout linebacker and current Vikings head coach Marcel Perez was in his senior season.
“He was a middle linebacker the first year I was at Northview and he was good,” Zernickow said of Perez. “He was an all-CIF stud linebacker.
“I was the defensive coordinator and Eric Podley was the head coach. That year we went and played Laguna Hills in the semifinals down in Laguna Hills in a rainstorm and it was a great game.”
Zernickow later became head coach at Northview and – following a break from high school coaching – became head coach at San Dimas in 2005. He isn’t shy about praising the job his former player is doing at Northview.
“I think Marcel Perez has done an awesome job of getting Northview in a position to be successful,” Zernickow said. “You can tell he’s worked them really hard in the weight room. And you can tell that being an alum of that school, he’s part his heart and soul into that program and the kids are buying in.”
San Dimas enters Friday’s game as a prohibitive favorite. The Saints are 8-1 overall and 5-0 in league. Northview is 7-2 overall and 5-0 in league play.
Although things look even record-wise, most fans don’t think the game will be close because of San Dimas’ strong recent history and strength of schedule.
No matter what happens, Zernickow is just happy to get one last high-stakes test in before the Mid-Valley Division playoffs begin next week. With a win on Friday, San Dimas is very likely to be a top-four seed in the division.
“I like the opportunity that Northview has given us, playing for a league title,” Zernickow said. “I think that’s a thing that can help you, especially if you want to do something in the playoffs.
“If you’re a competitor, you really like it. Playing somebody that will get your temperature up a little bit is a great thing.”