By Stephen Ramirez
WHITTIER >> There’s an old adage that says you never replace the legend, you replace the guy who replaced the legend.
La Serna High School quarterback Enrique Pacheco is disputing that belief this season.
While former Lancer Frankie Palmer, who led La Serna to the school’s only CIF-Southern Section football title last season, will likely never be forgotten, Pacheco has made a strong accounting for himself while still living in a legend’s shadow.
He’s been a big key for the Lancers, who face Crescenta Valley in a CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division semifinal game at 7 p.m. on Friday at Glendale High School.
Enrique Pacheco: “Frankie was one of the greatest quarterbacks that this school has ever seen. He taught me a lot, he taught me about the game. He taught me a lot about this offense, showed me the ropes. He prepared me, knowing when he was gone, I’d be the next guy. I just try to take everything that he gave me and incorporate it into my style. I was always told there was big shoes to fill, but I didn’t try to outplay my own abilities. I just tried to keep it simple and lead the team as best as I can.”
La Serna coach Margarito Beltran: “You will never replace Frankie. He was a special talent who took us to the championship game three years. Going into the year, (Pacheco) knew what he was up against. He had been back up the last couple of years, but they are different type of quarterbacks.Enrique does a great job of running our offense and being a leader out there. He has presence, and that’s what we expected from him. We knew we had a very good quarterback in the waiting. We knew he was going to perform, and he’s met and exceeded our expectations.”
Well, we are down to two remaining football teams in the Whittier area, so it’s probably the right time to ask: Who is the Coach of the Year, and who is the Player of the Year?
Here’s a list of candidates
COACH OF THE YEAR
Margarito Beltran, La Serna — The Lancers are one of two football team still playing. Yes, they finished second to El Rancho in the Del Rio League, but isn’t playoff success the final judge?
Mike Moschetti, La Mirada — The Matadores had a remarkable turnaround, going from 4-7 the previous season to 9-2 and Suburban League champs. They also beat a decent Tesoro team earlier in the year.
Vinnie Lopez, El Rancho — Lopez has changed the culture at The Ranch. This year, he unseated La Serna’s reign in the Del Rio League. Yes, the Dons lost in the first round, but winning a league title is a good first step for this program.
Kim Taylor, Cantwell Sacred Heart — The Cardinals also enjoyed a solid turnaround and shared the South Catholic League title.
Pete Gonzalez, Montebello — While Moschetti and Taylor enjoyed turnarounds from season to season, Gonzalez was able to do it within season. The Oilers, with a tough schedule, started equally slow, but have rebounded to win the Almont League and are in the Mid-Valley Division quarterfinals.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Andrew Perea, El Rancho — Accounted for 2,671 yards and 29 touchdowns in leading the Dons to the Del Rio League title.
Christian Lara, La Mirada — The Santa Fe transfer threw for nearly 2,200 yards and 28 touchdowns in helping the Mats to the Suburban League title
Tony Brown, La Mirada — Had 38 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 scores.
Eric Barriere, La Habra — Ranked among the leaders in several offensive categories in helping the Highlanders to the Freeway League title.
Jacob Maier, St. Paul — Accounted for 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Jean-Luc Dauphiney, Cantwell — Rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and seven TDs in leading the Cardinals to a share of the South Catholic League.