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John Glenn’s season lies in the emergence of its sophomores
By Loren Kopff
JOHN GLENN EAGLES
2-8 overall last season, 0-6 in the Suburban League, seventh place, 10-40 overall last five seasons
Head coach: Vince Lobendahn (second season, 2-8)
Lost 22 seniors out of 37 from 2014 opening day roster
Last time made the playoffs: 2002
Aug. 28 @ Magnolia (5-6 overall last season)
Sept. 4 @ Pioneer (1-9)
Sept. 10 Mountain View (1-8)
Sept. 18 Beckman (3-6)
Sept. 24 Artesia (4-6)
Oct. 2 @ Bellflower (7-3)
Oct. 9 BYE
Oct. 16 La Mirada (9-2)
Oct. 23 @ Mayfair (5-6)
Oct. 29 (HC) Cerritos (1-8)
Nov. 6 @ Norwalk (7-4)
Vince Lobendahn didn’t waste any time last season coming in as John Glenn’s new coach to set the tone that the Eagles will come out to fight hard in every game and for opponents not to overlook the struggling program. Glenn went 2-2 in its first four games and could have been 4-0 heading into the Suburban League opener. Part of that early success can be attributed to the 22 seniors on the team.
But on paper, the 2015 season looks as if the Eagles are almost starting all over again. Even though Glenn returns only six players from last season’s team, Lobendahn agrees with the notion of starting over, but not 100 percent completely.
“I think by the film, you could see that I wasn’t a pushover in every game, the first four bigger than the last five,” Lobendahn said. “In the end, I thought with the Artesia game we came with a different deal. Our rushing game was the focus and we were able to get 2,200 yards rushing and it hadn’t been that way here in awhile. I think [we] threw 180 yards total in offense.
“And that was my goal, too,” he continued. “I wanted to try and save some turnovers. I was really proud of the way we went out defensively and offensively and scheme-wise. You weren’t just going to come up and punk us on the line both sides of the ball.”
He added that he enjoyed some good times against La Mirada, a 59-15 loss, especially matching their first drive of the game with La Mirada’s first drive. But as the new season approaches, the team will carry at least 14 sophomores and a lot of them will be starters. The good news, as far as the future goes, is that Glenn will have around eight seniors on the opening day roster, meaning a lot of players will get a lot of varsity experience for the next season or two.
Last season, the Eagles ran, ran and ran the majority of time. This season, Lobendahn says the option is going to be the focus. He wasn’t too happy with what he saw from his wing players last season. The team scored 116 points and was held to single digits six times. However, against Magnolia, Pioneer and Santa Ana Valley, the first three games of last season, the combined first half score was 10-10.
“It’s hard to get rid of that old behavior, mannerisms of a losing program,” Lobendahn said. “It still even exists for me today with consistency in practice and consistency for events. I have to be on the podium to say, ‘hey guys, a consistent program is a daily work and earn deal’. Nobody gets to be a champion by totally having a one-year turnaround.”
Senior Hector Sanchez will be the starting quarterback with junior Gabriel Martinez and sophomores Joshua Duarte and Carlos Manriquez slated as the backups. The backfield will be very young, led by sophomore running backs Gerardo Godoy and Carlos Pulido. Senior Elijah Cendejas could also join the team as a fullback. The top two wide receivers are projected to be seniors Nathan Lopez and Anthony Vargas with sophomores Gabriel Felix and Tajin Golightly as the tight ends. Possibly in the mix will be senior tight end Chris Parades and junior running back and wide receiver Miguel Ochoa, two of the six returning players.
The line will be occupied by sophomore left tackle Demitri Hernandez, junior left guard Andres Solis, junior center Andrew Vasquez, junior right guard Enrique Gonzalez and right tackle Alfredo Hernandez.
Lobendahn said his expectations are to be consistent, limit turnovers, control the clock and make opposing defense stop offense. If the Eagles can do that, expect more games to be closer than the average margin of defeat which was 23.2 points per game.
The Eagles, who allowed 40 or more points five times, will run a 3-5-3 defense with Gonzalez, Solis and Demitri Hernandez projected to be on the line, Felix, Godoy and Alfredo Hernandez as well as junior Carlos Corona as the main linebackers and Lopez, Manriquez, Pulido, Vargas in the secondary
Magnolia and Pioneer are repeat opponents and Glenn split with those schools last season with the combined score being 17-14. The Magnolia game was tied going into the fourth quarter and the Eagles scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter against Pioneer. Glenn and Pioneer have faced each other the past six seasons with each team winning twice on the opponent’s home turf. On paper, this has the makings of a strong start. But Lobendahn doesn’t quite see it that way.
“At Glenn we’re trying to change the program,” Lobendahn said. “What I look for is how we commit to ourselves as a team. I can’t look outside and see those records because if we’re not practicing up to par, I don’t care what their record is. I still feel my kids need to earn what it’s like to be a winning program, and I want it. I want to get that four [win] in the offseason, get a five or six [win] season and have something out of that.”
The Suburban League hasn’t been too kind for Glenn over the past 17 seasons, going 18-90 during that time. The Eagles have not won a league contest on the field since getting past Artesia 26-20 on Nov. 4, 2011.They haven’t won a home league contest on the field since posting a 34-20 victory over Cerritos on Nov. 12, 2010.
“These kids that I have, the 30 or so players that will be here, are going to be good and hard-working kids,” Lobendahn said. “But they were with me last year. They are freshman team kids, guys that bought in, or if not, they were guys who started to smell the success and wanted to come out with us.”
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