La Mirada is its own worst enemy in opener

Well, that didn’t take long.
La Mirada, the top-ranked team in the Daily News’ preseason football poll, was thoroughly thumped by Tesoro on Friday night, 43-14. The Matadores turned the ball over three times and were flagged for 22 penalties in the loss.
Tesoro took advantage of excellent field position all night and kept La Mirada’s defense on the field far too long. Tesoro began five drives inside La Mirada territory.
“If you turn the ball over and have 22 penalties, you have no chance to win,” said La Mirada coach Mike Moschetti. “We have to do a better job as coaches to get the kids ready.”
The Matadores, ranked No. 2 in the first CIF-SS Southeast Division poll, will host La Habra on Friday. The Highlanders opened the seeason ranked No. 3 in the preseason Daily News poll and No. 2 in the CIF-SS Southwest Division.

Lancers answer early test on the road
Kevin Ramos had a 92-yard touchdown run for La Serna in Friday’s 27-10 victory over Vista of the San Diego Section.
The visiting Lancers made plenty of mistakes, as head coach Margarito Beltran said he expected in the season opener, but also made big plays when needed. Tony Ceron and Jalen Thompson each recorded an interception, and senior quarterback Frankie Palmer contributed with both his arm and his feet.
“It was definitely a first game,” Beltran said, “not necessarily the prettiest … but overall we were pleased with how our guys maintained their poise.”
The Condors, ranked No. 2 in the Daily News’ preseason Top 10, will host Los Osos on Friday at Cal High.

Cardinals stay the course in victory
Things could have gone terribly wrong for Whittier High on Friday night.
Just minutes into their season-opening game against Sonora, the Cardinals trailed by 13 points. And after fighting back to take a halftime lead, Whittier saw Sonora score on its first drive of the second half for another advantage. At different points in the game, Sonora blocked a field goal, a punt and recovered a fumble.
The Cardinals, however, were patient with their running attack and eventually pulled out a 28-21 victory at La Habra High. Eddie Orta scored three touchdowns on the ground, and Jacob Cervantes scored the game-winner when he recovered a fourth-quarter fumble in the end zone.
“We just kept attacking,” said second-year Whittier coach Visko Ancich. “The kids did a good job and answered. We got really physical and kept attacking.”
Against Sonora’s option offense, defensive linemen Enrique Rabelo and Andres Garcia each played well.
The Cardinals will play Azusa next week at Citrus College.

How the Top 10 Fared

1. La Mirada: Lost to Tesoro 43-14
Next week: Friday vs. La Habra

2. La Serna: Defeated Vista 27-10
Next week: Friday vs. Los Osos at Cal High

3. La Habra: Defeated El Toro 26-3
Next week: Friday at La Mirada

4. Santa Fe: Defeated Ontario Christian 34-21
Next week: Friday vs. Esperanza at El Rancho High

5. Whittier Christian: Defeated Bishop 41-20
Next week: Friday at Cantwell-Sacred Heart

6. Cal: Bye
Next week: Thursday vs. Montebello

7. St. Paul: Lost to Buena Park 40-20
Next week: Thursday vs. Mater Dei at Santa Ana Stadium

8. El Rancho: Defeated Marina 49-19
Next week: Friday at Diamond Ranch

9. Schurr: Bye
Next week: Friday vs. Buena Park

10. Montebello: Lost to Diamond Bar 44-10
Next week: Thursday at Cal

Other Week 0 games

Sunny Hills 28, Pioneer 20
Whittier 28, Sonora 21

Cantwell-Sacred Heart

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Friday’s Top 10 schedule

Here’s Friday’s schedule for the Whittier Daily News’ Top 10 football teams.

All times 7 p.m. unless noted.

1. La Mirada at Tesoro

2. La Serna vs. Vista at S.D. Cathedral HS, 5 p.m.

3. La Habra vs. El Toro at Trabuco Hills HS

4. Santa Fe at Ontario Christian

5. Whittier Christian at Bishop

6. Cal bye

7. St. Paul vs. Buena Park, 7:30 p.m.

8. El Rancho vs. Marina

9. Schurr bye

10. Montebello at Diamond Bar.

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Willig finds positives in Pioneer’s season-opening loss

The mistakes made by Pioneer High in Thursday night’s 28-20 loss to Sunny Hills had nothing to do with a lack of talent or an unwillingness to play physical football.
Instead, the Titans’ problems stemmed from youth and inexperience. They had a pair of touchdowns called back because of penalties – including a beautiful double pass in the second half – and settled for field goals instead of TDs on two other drives as well. On defense, an encroachment penalty on fourth-and-four extended a Sunny Hills drive in the third quarter.
“The things that were the difference in the game are all fixable things,” said second-year coach Chuck Willig. “Our inexperience hurt us, but (the mistakes) are fixable.”
Pioneer held a 17-14 halftime lead, and extended it to 20-14 early in the fourth quarter. Senior quarterback Jonathan Jimenez threw a pair of touchdown passes and finished with 168 passing yards. On his first TD, a 6-yarder to Julio Reynoso, Jimenez extended the play by rolling to his right and showed great patience before lofting it for the taller receiver. On his next, Jimenez fooled Sunny Hills cornerback Brian Chiang with a great pump fake that allowed Matthew Rodriguez to get behind the defense for a 67-yard score.
“He’s only gonna get better,” Willig said of his quarterback. “We’re really excited about his growth and leadership.”
Pioneer’s special teams played well also. Christian Red blocked a first-quarter punt that led to the Titans’ first score, and senior kicker Michael Cano had a perfect night with two field goals (31 and 32) and two PATs.
“We played really hard on defense and we played physical and we matched a lot of (Sunny Hills’) energy,” Willig said. “It’s just a matter of growing.”
Eventually, Sunny Hills’ power running game wore the Titans down and led to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. Senior Patrick Murano rushed for 200 yards and one score, and Brandon Vizcaya ran for 102 yards and three TDs. The Lancers ran the ball on all 21 plays in the fourth quarter and threw just three times all night.
“That’s a heck of an offense to face with a really young defense,” Willig said.
Pioneer returns to action next Thursday against John Glenn at La Mirada High.

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Everybody up for the kickoff!

It’s finally here! Prep football season is upon us, with Week 0 contests beginning Thursday.

Here’s this week’s schedule for Whittier-area teams, and a prediction on the outcome of each from me. I’ll do this every week and keep a running tally as the season progresses.

See you this weekend!


Pioneer vs. Sunny Hills at Buena Park High, 7 p.m. – Sunny Hills


Marina at El Rancho, 7 p.m. – El Rancho

Buena Park at St. Paul, 7:30 p.m. – Buena Park

Santa Fe at Ontario Christian, 7 p.m. – Santa Fe

Whittier vs. Sonora at La Habra High, 7 p.m. – Sonora

La Mirada at Tesoro, 7 p.m. – La Mirada

La Habra vs. El Toro at Trabuco Hills High, 7 p.m. – La Habra

La Serna vs. Vista at San Diego Cathedral High, 5 p.m. – La Serna

Whittier Christian at Bishop, 7 p.m. Whittier Christian

Montebello at Diamond Bar, 7 p.m. – Montebello


Montebello, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Schurr

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La Mirada, La Habra each earn No. 2 preseason CIF rankings

The football teams from both La Mirada and La Habra drew No. 2 rankings Monday when the CIF Southern Section released its preseason polls for all 13 playoff divisions.
La Mirada trails only defending champion Downey in the Southeast Division, and two-time defending Southeast finalist La Serna is ranked No. 3. Santa Fe, which reached the Southeast semifinals a season ago, is ranked No. 8.
In the Southwest Division, La Habra is second behind Edison.
Whittier Christian is ranked No. 8 in the Northwest Division and Montebello is No. 10 in the Mid-Valley Division.

Here’s a look at the ranked teams in each division involving area teams.

Mid-Valley Division
1. Monrovia 2. Sierra Canyon 3. Paraclete 4. San Dimas 5. San Mariino 6. Bell Gardens 7. Arroyo 8. Northview 9. South El Monte 10. Montebello

Northwest Division
1. Bishop Diego 2. Nordhoff 3. North Torrance 4. Compton Centennial 5. El Segundo 6. Carpinteria 7. La Salle 8. Whittier Christian 9. Oak Park 10 Sierra Vista

Southeast Division
1. Downey 2. La Mirada 3. La Serna 4. Nordhoff 5. Diamond Ranch 6. Los Altos 7. Muir 8. Santa Fe 9. West Covina 10. Paramount

Southwest Division
1. Edison 2. La Habra 3. Villa Park 4. Foothill 5. Los Alamitos T6. Huntington Beach T6. Placentia Valencia 8. Newport Harbor 9. Tustin 10. Yorba Linda

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La Serna’s Duarte scheduled for Sunday surgery for broken leg

La Serna High senior receiver Macenzie Duarte suffered a fracture of his left tibia and fibula during Saturday’s scrimmage with La Habra, La Serna coach Margarito Beltran confirmed Sunday.
Beltran said Duarte was scheduled to have surgery later Sunday. He added Duarte will likely miss the entire season, but was more concerned that Duarte recover properly from the injury.
“The bigger picture is that he gets better and moves forward and can live a physically normal life,” Beltran said.
Duarte was injured early in the scrimmage, and was treated by the training staff of both schools before paramedics arrived. His left leg was immobilized and he was wheeled off the field to an awaiting ambulance.
Beltran called his team a “pretty tight group” and is confident it will move forward despite the loss of Duarte, who started both his sophomore and junior seasons.
“I really believe this is gonna make us stronger, make the kids rally and come together. … We’re up to the challenge.”
The Lancers open their season Friday at Vista of the San Diego Section.

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La Serna senior Duarte suffers leg injury in scrimmage with La Habra

La Serna High’s football team suffered a significant blow Saturday night when senior Macenzie Duarte suffered a left leg injury during the Lancers’ scrimmage at La Habra.
Duarte, a starter at wide receiver as a sophomore and junior for La Serna, was injured early in the scrimmage and was treated by the training staff of both teams before an ambulance arrived. As he lay in pain on the field, an assistant coach held Duarte’s hand. Once paramedics arrived, his left leg was immobilized and he was wheeled off the field on a stretcher as players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans from both sides applauded.
La Serna coach Margarito Beltran didn’t know the severity of the injury at the time.
After a delay of about 30 minutes, the scrimmage resumed and both teams seemed to put the injury behind them. La Serna senior quarterback Frankie Palmer looked poised in the offense, and running back Bryce Oliver had several long carries against La Habra’s starters. Late in the scrimmage, sophomore defensive back Johnny Rojas made a nice hustle play to run down a La Habra receiver who had broken away, saving a touchdown in the process.
“It’s a learning process,” said Beltran, who was pleased with the team’s overall effort and poise. “Some things we did well, but we have lots of things to work on. … La Habra is a good team, and they expose your weaknesses.”
La Habra played without starting offensive linemen Casey Martin and Paul Soto and Boise State-bound defensive lineman Greg Gaines, who are all nursing injuries. Sophomore quarterback Eric Barriere showed off a strong arm while on the field and connected with Elijah Carter for a long TD pass.
“He’s gonna be awesome,” La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said.
Danny Uribe added an interception off a deflected pass against La Serna’s starters, and senior linebacker Alex Bush had a big hit to break up a screen pass early.
La Habra opens its season Friday against El Toro at Trabuco Hills High. La Serna will visit Vista of the San Diego Section for its opener.

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