By Tim Peterson
La Serna has owned the Del Rio for what seems like the last decade. The Lancers are looking to repeat again. El Rancho looks like a team on the rise and Santa Fe should be back in the mix as well. Cal needs a big bounce back season and the question for Whittier and Pioneer is do they have enough?
La Serna: Ben Orona steps in for the graduated Justin Moreno at quarterback. He played only a mop up role last year. Matthew Marshall is gone at running back but the Lancers do return Alfonso Ibanez who rushed for over 800 yards and seven touchdowns a year ago. Receiver Calvin Salcedo (239 yards, 5 touchdowns) should spark the offense as well. Middle linebacker Abraham Shalash, who had 110 total tackles in 2017 returns for his junior year to anchor the defense. La Serna may be tested somewhere along the way, but in the end, the Lancers should be on top of the Del Rio.
El Rancho: Adrian Medrano surprised some people last year by not only taking El Rancho to the playoffs but beating Norwalk in a first round game. The numbers are back and so apparently are the Dons. Adam Chandler is gone but Medrano can just plug in Jacob Rodriguez, who threw for 280 yards last year, behind center. Running back Marcos Weeks returns to the backfield after a solid season last year. Also Jacob Garcia, Juan Paxcle, Nick Powers, Alex Salas, Brandon Carmona and Richie Amaya will all contribute offensively. On defense the Dons will rely on such players like DB Giovanni Navarro, Nathan Huerta, (Returning All CIF), Marc Anthony Huizar, Daniel Rodriguez, Jonathan Hernandez and Andrew Tarango. With the energy the coaching staff brings and the depth the Dons have second place looks good, but you know Medrano has his eye on the prize. His sights are firmly set on La Serna.
Santa Fe: Reports that Santa Fe has lost players to transfers have been greatly exaggerated according to head coach Dave Pierson. The Chiefs made the playoffs last year but fell in the first round to Beckman. Santa Fe is loaded at wide receiver with Dylan Thomas, Neko Scott and Javier Valdivia, all who had big years in 2017, but the Chiefs will need someone to get them the ball as they break in a new quarterback. They also have only one offensive lineman returning. Santa Fe will be tested right out of the gate with Cathedral, Bonita and Northview. A league title might be a little too much to ask, but Santa Fe should compete with ER for a seat behind La Serna.
California: The Condors are looking to bounce back after a disappointing 4-6 season a year ago but they’ll have to do it with a new quarterback after Evan Barajas graduated. Sebastian Pimentel, Josh Merry and Humberto Arteaga are all battling for the job making the decision tough for HC Kyle Trudell. Adam Arceo is back to bolster the receiving corp. Christopher Lowden and Andrew Reyes both rushed for over 1000 yards in 2017 but they also both took the walk in June. That leaves Jonathan Patino (140 yards) as the lone returning back. Patino will play on both sides of the ball as he lines up at DB in the secondary as well. They do however have six starters on offense and defense returning – mostly the boys up front. Luis Sanchez is a high motor defensive end and Eli Santistevan was an all league linemen last year. Juniors Ray Garcia and Robert Guillen will play both DB and wide receiver. We’ll see what the Condors have early. They have a nice local non-league schedule that includes Schurr, Rosemead and San Dimas. Fourth looks about right for Cal however they could bite one of the top three to get in the post season.
Whittier: The Cardinals always seem to be a team on the bubble. They’re not bad (usually middle of the pack in league) but not good enough to get to the next level. Last year was more of the same. Whittier finished 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the Del Rio and missed the playoffs. Their best player was QB/OLB Dylan Salcido and he’s gone. Receiver Rodrigo Pastrano was pretty good too…and he’s also gone. The Cards do have Alex Retana (440 yards rushing) back as well as Nick Delgado to catch some passes. They’re nice pieces but not enough to complete the puzzle. Whittier won’t finish in the Del Rio cellar but a top three finish is a tall mountain to climb. Number five (or four) looks about right.
Pioneer: The Titans were 0-10 last year so the only way to go is up right? You would think so. They suffered league losses to La Serna of 71-6 and Santa Fe 41-0. Cal had a disappointing year but destroyed Pioneer 38-14. Looking at the schedule this year it doesn’t appear that there’s a win there. I guess it’s possible that Pioneer doesn’t go winless, but it’s not possible that they make the playoffs. That’s a few years away…at least.
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