We got a chance to see Baldwin Park up close and personal Saturday morning. The Braves have over 90 players currently in the program and had nearly that many out on Saturday for spring practice.
They had a lot of skill position players and plenty of bubbas along the front lines. The turnout was huge despite about 10 starters missing due to their participation at the Mt. SAC Invitational track meet.
First year head coach Daniel Al-gattas is excited about what he has seen so far.
“To have this many players out and knowing that we are missing maybe 10 players due to the track meet. I’ll take that anytime. It’s exciting because we’ve had some kids come back that didn’t play last year,” Al-gattas said. “We’ve also established a good staff. Now if we win they might be in demand and decide to move on. But that’s fine because if we’re a winning program we can continue to get winning coaches in the future.”
Although this is his first head coaching job, Al-gattas has had other opportunities to coach on the high school and college level. Al-gattas played at Walnut High School and he was an assistant at Baldwin Park and has also spent several years as a coach and a recruiter for Mt. SAC. He felt like this was a good fit.
“I know a lot of kids in this area and have seen them play,” Al-gattas said.
Al-gattas was encouraged to take the job by several coaches but specifically La Mirada HC Mike Moschetti.
“He kept telling me ‘You have to take that job. Take that job. You already know all the kids there anyway.’ He was a big inspiration to me,” Al-gattas said.
Among the players out Saturday were some key components that could make it a special season for the Braves. Running backs Malik Abston and receiver Raymen Barraza are both returning and expected to put up big numbers. Temple City transfer Nate Salcido was running the ball hard and should be improved after a solid year in 2013.
Baldwin Park opens the season with El Monte but then has a huge test at Fountain Valley.
“I wanted some tough non league games,” Al-gattas said. “If we beat El Monte, we’ll have some confidence going into that one.”
If BP is moved into the Montview (which should be finalized later this month) it could be a tough year for the other league opponents.
Speaking of Temple City, there’s nothing yet on the new HC. Yes, we’re on top of it, yes we’ve talked to people. As soon as we know, you’ll know.
Any chance of Mike McFarland coming back?
I love Arena Football. I really do. Covering the LA Avengers back in the day and the LA KISS now is an experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything. But let’s hope the KISS offense gets in sync before this week’s game. Last Saturday night they did something unheard of in Arena ball. They scored 12 points in a loss to Iowa. Yeah 12 points. That’s a quarter for Kevin Durant.
That’s my principle.
Tim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @tspeterson40