Last Update: Thursday, December 12, 2013
|Reseda Looking To Re-Establish Itself|
|Written by Mike Terry|
|Thursday, 22 August 2013 07:15|
The Regents Had To Totally Rebuild After Consecutive League Titles And Are Eager To See If This Year's Team Starts The Comeback
M. Terry / SFVS
Time For A Change - Reseda football players (l-r) Lenard Rhodes, Dexter Lee and Owen Rinon, all seniors, are determined to lead the Regents back to a winning season in 2013.
It can be hard trying to grow roses during a drought. The seedlings need care and nourishment to bloom, but if the circumstances are harsh and unforgiving, it requires continued effort and patience.
It must have felt like that for the football Reseda program last year. After winning consecutive Valley Mission League titles in 2010 and 2011 – going undefeated in league both years – 2012 was a season marred by inexperience and uncertainty.
Coach Alonso Arreola's roster was so depleted, with 29 of the 32 players having graduated, that he and his staff were basically starting from scratch.
"There were kids we had to teach how to put their pads on," said Arreola, looking back at last season's 4-6 squad. "We took our lumps. But I really thought, after you reflect on the season, that we were in more games.
There were a couple of games we weren't in, but there were others where experience rather than lack of knowledge could have swung the game one way or the other. We could have gone 6-4. But without experience, it was really tough.
"At the end of the day, no one is happy with a below .500 record. But I think when I look at the big picture, those kids may have over-accomplished. They did better than we thought." The Regents' 30-plus players roster, made up primarily of sophomores and juniors, will be young again. But at least, this time, they know how to put their pads on. Most of them saw some varsity game action last season. The progress may not be as fast or complete as the players and the coaches want, but at least there is progress.
"They're hard workers, they're excited, and they're working on becoming better football players," Arreola said of the team.
"They have the correct attitude as far as trying to accomplish their goals, whether they're individual goals or team goals.
And they are a good reflection of the program, as far as the standards we've set. Although football is important, I'm a family man. I always let them know that eventually they will have a family, and they also have an immediate family now with their teammates.
"Your family is your number one priority, then education, and then football. Nowhere in there does it say anything about girls and video games and those other things. I have a good group of kids who are abiding by that." But Arreola also understands that any success in 2013, at least in the beginning, rests in the hands of a few.
That tiny circle starts with quarterback Owen Rinon, 16, a senior, whose practically been raised on Reseda football. His older brothers Omar and Oscar played here in 2005 and 2006. His father has volunteered to film games for Arreola. Rinon is not a big kid, scratching 5-11 and 165, but no other player on the Regents is more important.
"You still don't look at him and think 'starting quarterback,' but he is everything you want as far as the mental state of a quarterback," Arreola said. "He's extremely smart; he knows the playbook and is extremely smart in the classroom. He's definitely a coach on the field.
"He can throw the ball, but our plan is to stay within his strengths. He's not going to open any eyes throwing the ball 70 yards downfield. He's an intermediate guy, a 'screen' guy, a 'play-action' guy. But he's elusive, one of our faster kids. He didn't play his ninth grade year. He did play his 10th and 11th grade years, and the progression he's made has been outstanding."
Rinon was not the starter last year but took over the job and passed for 735 yards and nine touchdowns in seven games. He said the progress made by the team as a whole has him confident that Reseda is improved.
"Everybody's come to know their position; everybody knows what they have to do," he said. "They have experience, at least a year under their belt. Friday night won't be as fast-paced for them as experienced varsity players."
Besides running backs Devon Cain and Noel Taylor, wide receiver Lenard Rhodes will be expected to carry a load for the offense. Rhodes, 17, a senior, is a track standout who played football for the first time in 2012. His contributions were minimal, catching 11 passes for 85 yards in six games.
He said that's going to change in 2013.
"Since [last year] was my first year, I really wasn't used to the 'varsity aura,'" Rhodes said. "Some of it was the size because I really wasn't a big player. I had to step up my game and try to become more dominant.
"[This year] I'm not going to let anyone just bully me around. I'm going to be the guy with the bigger mindset, bigger hunger. And I have to be the fastest every play. That's what my job is. That's why Coach chose me to be the slot receiver, because I can do the job."
Outside linebacker Dexter Lee will key the Regents defense. Lee, 17, a senior, has been in the football program for four years. He enjoyed being part of the good teams. It was hard being part of last year's team. But like Rinon, he thinks Reseda's football fortunes are on an upswing.
"I'm seeing a whole lot of confidence," Lee said. "Last year we didn't have to fight for our positions; they were kind of given to the people who were there. This year there's been a whole lot of competition, people are working harder in the weight room and the track."
"We can compete a whole lot better because we know what to do now. [The game] is more second nature now, where before we were just guessing. Now it's just going out there and doing it."
To sustain that confidence, the Regents probably need to get off to a good start. The first two games against Locke and Jefferson, both from Los Angeles, pit them against fellow Division I teams and could have playoff implications down the road. But after that, there's a chance to gain traction before heading into the meat of the league schedule, starting with Canoga Park on Oct. 8.
Lee, for one, thinks opponents will underestimate Reseda based on last year's team. And that's just fine.
"When you think of Reseda, you don't think of winning except for those two years we went 10-0 and 8-2 (in the regular season)," Lee said. "But you want teams to treat you as 'soft' so you can punch them in the mouth and get the ball rolling."
|Last Updated on Thursday, 22 August 2013 07:17|