Quarterback: Which area school has an edge

Only four of the area’s high school football programs return last
season’s starting quarterback. Three others have returnees who saw
limited playing time but not enough to qualify them as experienced.

In no particular order, here’s a look at the most important position
on the field.

Returning starters:
Pioneer –
Ronnie Palacios, senior, 6-2, 180. Threw for 1,844 yards
and 12 touchdowns, ran for another 248 yards and a score and averaged
210 yards total offense a game. Junior Steven Del Villar has shown
enough promise to keep Palacios on his toes.

La Serna – Ben Burke, senior, 6-1, 195. Passed for 1,453 yards and 16
TDs, averaged 5.2 yards per rush after winning a two-year battle with
incumbent Michael Ibarra early in the schedule.

La Mirada – Daniel Poncedeleon, junior, 6-2, 170. Completed 60
percent of his passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 12 TDs with only four
interceptions after becoming the starter midway through the season.
Already talented, DP should flourish under new coach Mike Moschetti, a
former La Mirada, Mt. SAC and Colorado standout QB.

St. Paul – Paul Lopez, junior, 6-2, 190. Was steady if not
spectacular (721 yards, eight TDs, five interceptions) after earning the
starting spot in Week 5 a year ago and leading the Swordsmen to the
Western Division championship. Still, he probably faces the toughest
challenge to retain his spot of any area quarterback. Coach Pete
Gonzalez has the choice of Lopez, former starter Andrew Canales and
last-year’s transfer, Chris Willson battling this summer to be the

Santa Fe – Alex Flores, junior 5-10, 160. Saw limited playing time as
a backup a year ago and appears to have early inside track over
sophomore newcomers Ryan Garcia and Cameron Oliver. What Flores lacks in
size he more than makes up for with effort and enthusiasm.

La Habra – Randall Nygren, 6-2, 185. Odds on to be the starter, but
does coach Frank Mazzotta risk also keeping him at free safety where he
was an all-CIF selection in helping the Highlanders win the Southeast
Division championship.

The rest of the area teams will be relying on signal callers with no
or at best, very little experience. The following players may have a
slight edge in their quest to be the starter:

California – Greg Perea, senior, 5-8, 160. A standout point guard on
the basketball team, he was impressive at WR/DB last fall for coach Jim

Cantwell – Cesar Hernandez, junior, 5-9, 170. Perhaps the most
experienced among last season’s backups, completed eight of 15 passes
(62 percent).

El Rancho – Josh Perea, junior, 5-10, 150. Saw spot duty behind
two-year starter Javier Hernandez, and may have an edge over sophomore
newcomer Troy Campos (5-9, 136).

Whittier – Eddie Reyes, senior, 5-6, 158. Last year’s backup heads a
trio of mighty mights that includes Salvador Rojas, senior, 5-8, 135,
and Matthew Viramontes, junior, 5-7, 135.

Whittier Christian – The past two years, coach Jon Caffrey could
choose between experienced Philip Hughes and Brett Esslinger, who began
splitting time their sophomore seasons. This year, it looks like the
choice is between untested Tyler Newman, senior, 5-11, 205, and Daniel
Figueroa, senior, 5-8, 145.

(Note: No information available from Montebello and Schurr)

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