Aside from a few mental breakdowns by some of his players, Montebello High football coach Pete Gonzalez was pleased overall with his team’s performance during Friday’s scrimmage against West Covina.
“I thought it went really well,” said Gonzalez, who added his team emerged injury-free. “It was definitely a physical scrimmage. (West Covina has) a very good football program, one of the top programs in the area.”
Gonzalez praised the play of his offensive line and that of sophomore tailback Isaac Mendibles and junior back Simeon Poggi.
“Both had some bright moments,” Gonzalez said.
He also called the defense’s play “steady,” but was concerned about missed assignments and mental mistakes.
“They know it,” Gonzalez said following a Saturday morning film session. “They’re aware of it.”
The Oilers, who went 6-5 a season ago, open their season Friday at Diamond Bar.
Santa Fe High’s football team escaped Friday night’s scrimmage with Mayfair in pretty good shape, and appears ready for next week’s season opener at Ontario Christian.
The Chiefs emerged from the 70-minute session without any injuries, and head coach Dave Pierson had a chance to see most of his squad in action against a different team for the first time since December.
“We got what we wanted to see out of it,” said Pierson. “We got to see our kids do their jobs, got to see them play football. We were looking for effort.”
Mayfair controlled much of the early action on both sides of the ball thanks to junior Ernest Bagner. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder dominated the line of scrimmage at both defensive end and offensive tackle. On defense, he consistently pressured Santa Fe quarterback Christian Lara and forced a fumble. On offense, he cleared holes for Monsoon runners Faizon Creighton and Quarele Hall.
“(Mayfair has) some big kids up front,” Pierson admitted. “You have to give them credit.”
When given time to throw, Lara was accurate and on time with his passes. In a short-yardage series late in the session, he completed a pair of TD passes, including one to 6-1, 205-pound tight end Richard Bramble.
Pierson was also pleased with the overall performance of senior middle linebacker Christopher Ponce.
Mayfair scored the scrimmage’s first TD, a long run by Hall on a sweep to the left. Wide receiver Evan Ponce added an entertaining catch and run across the middle, and later made a leaping catch for a touchdown when the teams went to short-yardage series.
Mayfair is coached by Mike Fitch, who was head coach at Whittier High for eight seasons and led the Cardinals to a CIF final in 1994.
DON’T. GET. HURT.
That will be the message sent by Santa Fe High football coach Dave Pierson when the Chiefs travel to Bellflower High for a scrimmage against Mayfair at 7 p.m. Friday. He’d like to see his players line up correctly and display the proper fundamentals they’ve been taught all summer, but most of all he’d like to see the players on both sides emerge unscathed.
“The biggest thing is to not get anyone injured,” said Pierson. “After that, it’s fundamentals. Can we block? Can we get off blocks? Can we tackle? Can we tackle in the open field?”
Santa Fe is coming off a second-place finish in the Del Rio League and a run to the CIF-SS Southeast Division semifinals The Chiefs finished last season at 8-5 and upset favored La Mirada in the quarterfinals.
The 2013 prep football season is barely a week from opening, and interesting nonleague games will dot the landscape for the first month-and-a-half of the season. Included among them are several featuring Whittier-area teams facing one another, with bragging rights going all the way back to Pop Warner days at stake in some cases.
The Sept. 6 meeting between La Habra and La Mirada could be a classic, and its outcome will certainly affect the WDN Top 10 a few days later. Here’s a closer look at several of the upcoming games.
La Habra at La Mirada – Blue chippers on both sides of the ball for both teams. Can’t wait for this one.
Whittier Christian at Cantwell-Sacred Heart – This will be the fourth consecutive season they’ll meet in nonleague play. A Herald victory would even the series.
Schurr vs. La Serna at Cal High – This will be the Spartans’ first of three games against Del Rio League opponents. Cal (Sept. 27) and Whittier (Oct. 4) will follow.
Whittier vs. Whittier Christian at Whittier College – The Cardinals posted a 34-19 victory last season, one of only three victories all season.
St. Paul at La Habra – The Swordsmen will be one week removed from facing 2012 Pac-5 Division finalist Mater Dei when they meet the Highlanders.
Montebello at El Rancho – Only six miles separate these schools on the west side of the 605.
Pioneer at Montebello – The Oilers won last year’s meeting 20-14.
Whittier at Schurr – The Cardinals are 0-3 vs. the Spartans since 2008, including a 10-6 setback last season.
All former Cal High boys basketball players who played for coach Jim Remington are invited to attend a reunion celebration Oct. 19.
Remington coached the Condors from 1956-69, and his daughter Connie Johnson said approximately 100 people have confirmed they’ll attend the reunion at the Candlewood Country Club, including about 70 former players.
Check-in will begin at 4 p.m. and will be followed by dinner.
For more information, call Johnson at (562) 400-7997 or email her at email@example.com.
Well, at least the Whittier Christian High football team has a shorter road trip to open its season than last year. But not by much.
Just a year after a 325-mile trek to Mammoth High to begin their nonleague schedule, the Heralds need only drive 283 miles for this season’s Aug. 30 opener at Bishop High. Both Mammoth and Bishop lie well north and east of the Whittier area, high up I-395 in the Owens Valley. It took about seven hours by bus to reach Mammoth last season – the Heralds earned a 55-7 victory – and this year’s trip should take at least six.
The team will stay in Bishop after the game, and last year’s trip served as a team-building experience.
“It’s really a good bonding opportunity,” athletic director Rolland Esslinger said.
Bishop is the four-time defending High Desert League champion and returns much of the starting lineup from a team that went 9-3 in 2012. As for common opponents, the Broncos play in the same league as Mammoth and scored a similarly lopsided 56-6 victory last season.
The Heralds are led by All-CIF senior QB Ryan Esslinger and All-CIF junior receiver Noah Evans. Esslinger has received recruiting interest from Air Force and New Mexico, and Evans is a big, strong target at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds.
“He’s really hard to bring down,” said Whittier Christian coach Sergio Gradilla. “He has great hands and he runs good routes.”
The Heralds will also travel the next two weeks, but can practically skateboard to those games, at Cantwell-
Sacred Heart (Sept. 6) and at Whittier (Sept. 13). Whittier Christian will open its home schedule Sept. 20 against St. Margaret’s at Whittier College.
With most schools barely two weeks from opening their football schedules, I thought I’d take my first stab at an area Top 10 list. This was compiled with help from my friend and colleague Robert Morales, whom I’m replacing at the WDN, but the order you see is mine alone.
- La Mirada (9-2, 5-0 Suburban League): The Matadores are once again loaded with D-I talent and hungry after another early playoff exit.
- La Serna (12-2, 5-0 Del Rio League): All-CIF QB Frankie Palmer and the Lancers fell short in the CIF Southeast Division final, and are out to return.
- La Habra (8-4, 5-0 Freeway League): The Highlanders can dominate on both the offensive and defensive lines. Their Sept. 6 nonleague showdown at La Mirada will be epic.
- Santa Fe (8-5, 4-1 Del Rio League): Senior DL/LB Richard Bramble & Co. upset La Mirada in the Southeast Division playoffs a year ago with a sophomore QB.
- Whittier Christian (8-4, 4-0 Olympic League): All-CIF senior QB Ryan Esslinger leads the Heralds’ high-flying offense.
- Cal (8-3, 3-2): The Condors are young at QB and lack depth on the OL and DL, so they must stay healthy if they want to return to the playoffs.
- St. Paul (1-9, 0-5 Mission League): First-year coach Rick Zepeda has plenty of work to do to get the Swordsmen back to the playoffs.
- El Rancho (5-5, 2-3 Del Rio League): Senior WR Javier Carillo leads 15 returning starters for the Dons, who nearly upset Santa Fe last season.
Schurr (4-7, 3-2 Almont League): The Spartans topped Montebello 28-7 in their regular-season finale to claim a share of second place in league.
Montebello (6-5, 3-2 Almont League): The Oilers reached the playoffs last season and nearly upset El Monte in the first round
So there it is. The order is bound to change as the weeks pass and I learn more about each team. Nothing is written in stone.
See you at the stadium!
La Mirada High junior Ethan Lopez has made a verbal commitment to play baseball at USC, according to Matadores coach Kim Brooks.
Lopez, an infielder, has drawn recruiting interest from UCLA, UCSB, Cal State Fullerton and Tennessee as well. He batted .346 with 14 RBIs for the Suburban League-champion Matadores as a sophomore.
Brooks called Lopez an extremely competitive player with a strong work ethic. He also has a flair for the dramatic.
“It seems like the bigger the moment, the better he plays,” said Brooks. “He really has an ability to turn it up a notch in key situations both on offense and defense.”
Lopez will also play strong safety for La Mirada’s football team this fall. Lopez stands 6-0 and weighs 185 pounds.
“He’s got all the tools,” La Mirada football coach Mike Moschetti said.
Brooks also said 2013 La Mirada graduate Cody Kruip recently signed a scholarship to Saint Mary’s, where he’ll pitch. Kruip, a lefty, went 7-4 with a 2.14 ERA for the Matadores as a senior and was selected the Suburban League’s Most Valuable Pitcher.
If I may, please allow me a quick introduction.
My name is David Felton, and I’m the new Prep Sports Editor for the Whittier Daily News. I’ve spent the last 12-plus years at the Long Beach Press-Telegram covering high school and junior college sports, and I’m excited to tackle a new challenge in a new place.
But I’m going to need your help. Being new to the coverage area, I’m not familiar with old rivalries. Names of legendary Whittier-area coaches and players will be foreign to me, at least at first. Even the geography is unfamiliar at this point, although that will change soon.
I welcome any and all input from the longtime WDN readers. If you have a news tip or story idea, send it my way. Same for comments – good or bad. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow me on Twitter and Tout at @dfeltonwdn.
I’ve met a few football coaches and ADs so far and hope to meet more soon. Special thanks go out to Whittier High AD Jim Marilley for his honest, unbiased breakdown of the Del Rio League earlier this week.
My goal in the next few weeks is to get out and meet as many coaches, athletes, parents, fans and readers as possible. Please feel free to introduce yourself if you see me.
And please, call me Dave.