Last Update: Thursday, December 05, 2013
|Time To Strap 'Em Up And Step It Up|
|Written by Mike Terry|
|Thursday, 29 August 2013 06:37|
High School Football Gets Underway With The Promise Of Another Highly Entertaining Season For Valley Fans
M. Terry / SFVS
El Capitan - San Fernando quarterback Cris Solano will try and lead the Tigers to back-to-back City football titles for the first time since 1974-75.
The curtain will be raised on the 2013 prep football season beginning tonight, Aug. 29. For the next four months City Section and Southern Section teams will be running and gunning, hitting and tackling, pushing toward a banner year – or at least a year that ends in a banner.
The Southern Section has the most teams in the state. Plenty of them are private and are flush financially. It's easier for them to attract the top tier of available talent, not only from local middle schools but also from beyond the geographical boundaries that can inhibit public schools.
M. Terry / SFVS
But the teams still play 11- on-11. And fancy uniforms, the newest equipment and large coaching staffs can't always supplant heart, desire and tenacity. Meaning some of the early intersectional games – San Fernando against Sierra Canyon, Chaminade at Venice, Narbonne at Alemany, Notre Dame at Birmingham – are intriguing not simply for playoff positioning (both section and state bowl) but how a win or loss can propel a team to great heights, or send its season spinning out of control.
The main Southern Section league to watch here in the Valley is the Serra League, which houses Alemany, Notre Dame and Crespi (along with Loyola of Los Angeles and Bishop Amat of La Puente). Only two teams are guaranteed a playoff berth, meaning each league game has a heightened intensity level.
They'll start in mid-October. Also worth keeping an eye on is the Mission League, which may come down again to Chaminade and Serra of Gardena. Chaminade won the league last year, but Serra beat the Eagles in the section championship game. And both teams return most of their players from last year.
The City Section, which consists mainly of public schools, is a different kettle of fish. It's been six years since a Valley team won the City Division I championship – Birmingham in 2007 – and it doesn't appear that streak will end this year.
Birmingham has rebuilt itself into a contender, posting backto- back West Valley League titles. But for the Patriots, the question has been being able to physically match up with the elite power teams from the Marine and Coliseum leagues that have won the title during that stretch, a list that includes Crenshaw and Dorsey in Los Angeles; San Pedro; Narbonne in Harbor City; and Carson. And so far the answer has been no.
The physical disparity against those teams has been even greater of late for Valley teams like Arleta, El Camino Real, Reseda and Taft.
Reseda, as an example, has been hampered of late by smallish rosters of less than 40 players on the varsity. That alone can make it difficult to compete with Division I teams that regularly have 60 players or more.
Then add the fact that Reseda, which won 18 of 23 games from 2010-11 before falling back to 4-6 last year, is still restocking with underclassmen rather than seniors.
"Last year we were young in terms of experience," Coach Alonso Arreola said. "This year we are younger in terms of class levels, a lot more sophomores and juniors. I have few seniors sprinkled in there, but the majority of guys on the field are going to be juniors and sophomores. But [at least] they've been in the program now."
Then there are teams who were promoted to Division I because of their performance over the last 2-4 year span. Canoga Park is one of those teams that was moved up. It will probably take the Hunters a season to get up to speed (and size).
City's Division II, on the other hand, could be sizzling. There are 10 Valley area teams among the 26 in the division, including defending champion San Fernando. And the Tigers should face realistic challenges for consecutive titles locally from Granada Hills and Sylmar.
It's not yet definitive who else could emerge during the season. Teams like Van Nuys, which won the Valley Mission League, underwent head coaching changes; others like North Hollywood had senior-dominated rosters in 2012, and the new faces have to prove their worth.
The potential duel for the Valley Mission League championship – and maybe more – between San Fernando and Sylmar will be fascinating to watch, and not just because they are longtime neighborhood rivals. Sylmar finished ahead of San Fernando and Canoga Park in league, and is reminding anyone who will listen that it beat those two championship game finalists last year. The 7-4 Spartans were moved down from Division I, and firmly believe they are capable of the same sort of success in Division II that San Fernando enjoyed last season.
At the same time, Coach Chris Richards will not tolerate preening or unnecessary showboating.
"Most importantly, and this is our slogan – for probably the next two years – be humble," Richards said. "With the young guys we have, the success they had, if they're not humble, they can perceive it as 'this program has succeeded because of me' – the individual quarterback, the individual running back/linebacker, the wide receivers. But it's not because of you; it is, in part to the idea you bought into; no one is bigger than the program, including the head coach.
"We have to keep in mind that the success we had last year was first and foremost due to dedication and commitment by every single individual, including the head coach. Every individual has to be part of the program. No one is bigger than the program. The minute you step outside of that is where you have problems."
Whatever unfolds, one thing is certain.
All eyes will be on the local gridirons from now until mid-December.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 29 August 2013 06:44|