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John Glenn hopes to get monkey off its back, be more competitive
By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
JOHN GLENN EAGLES
0-10 overall last season, 0-6 in the Suburban League, seventh place
8-42 overall last five seasons
Head coach: Vince Lobendahn (third season, 2-18)
Lost eight seniors out of 33 players from 2015 opening day roster
Last time made the playoffs: 2002
Aug. 26 Magnolia (4-6 overall last season)
Sept. 2 @ Peninsula (2-8)
Sept. 9 @ Mountain View (4-6)
Sept. 16 Hoover (2-8)
Sept. 23 Norwalk (5-6)
Sept. 30 @ Artesia (3-7)
Oct. 7 Bellflower (4-6)
Oct. 14 BYE
Oct. 21 @ La Mirada (13-3)
Oct. 28 Mayfair (7-4)
Nov. 4 @ Cerritos (1-8)
John Glenn’s football program continued to have the second longest postseason drought among Suburban League teams following the second 0-10 campaign in the past three seasons. The season preceding those winless campaigns saw the Eagles go 2-8. So, if Glenn hopes to follow the pattern of the San Francisco Giants winning a World Series in even-numbered years, then Glenn head coach Vince Lobendahn hopes his team will not go winless again this season.
“It was heartbreaking, first, because anytime 0-10 comes up, we’re not going to fare well,” Lobendahn said. “And I had a group of kids that I built with and I knew we would be young and small. So I committed to running an offense that would protect them, maybe eat some clock; give us a little window to throw the ball.”
More than 75 percent of the 2015 Eagles were underclassmen and now, those sophomores and juniors have one or two years of varsity experience, making Glenn hungrier to end a 16-game losing streak.
Very rarely did the Glenn offense get on track on a consistent basis. The Eagles were shutout four times, scored less than 10 points two other times, and their highest scoring game was a 25-point performance against Artesia High. At times, the Eagles were able to move the ball downfield and cross midfield with its rushing attack. But then, the drive would be stalled on failed fourth down conversions or turnovers. The Eagles scored 48 first half points and had leads entering the second quarter only twice.
“We had a semi-quarterback that was kind of a baseball guy that we converted [and] he helped me out,” Lobendahn said. “I loved his heart and his work ethic. Now I have his little brother. And then I let some guys come back to my team that brought this selfishness, and that showed up in the Cerritos game. I’m trying to weed out that inappropriate or selfish stuff. So, in that process, I really let my team down.”
Lobendahn added that after a 56-0 loss to Norwalk High in the last game of the regular season, he went home that night and began to put together an agenda for the offseason leading into this Friday’s season opener against Magnolia High. He had a weight room plan and other goals and he went after that and as a result, his team followed that.
Last season’s quarterback was Hector Sanchez and in 2016, sophomore David Sanchez will be the signal caller. David Sanchez was the quarterback of a freshman team that went 6-4. Lobendahn says he brings an opportunity to change the offense a bit. Backing him up will be senior Gabriel Martinez.
Glenn lost a key component to its ground game when senior Miguel Ochoa tore his ACL towards the end of last season. But juniors Gerardo Godoy and Carlos Pulido, along with David Sanchez, will head a rushing attack that could pose some problems for opponents. Of the seven rushing touchdowns by Glenn last season, Godoy and Ochoa each had one.
“Godoy had a great offseason,” Lobendahn said. “They went as close as possible to winning the [junior varsity] Suburban League track championship. Godoy won the 100 [meter dash] and Carlos and David were a fare behind him. David won the 400 hurdles against anybody. So, a lot of my kids did other sports to enhance what they were going to give us on this field.”
Junior William Keith, a transfer from Norwalk, will also be added to the backfield mix. The top wide receivers will be Martinez, juniors Randolph Adams and Carlos Manriquez and sophomores Keith Shanklin and Tim Stevenson, whom Lobendahn compares to a younger [Danny] Amendola of New England Patriots fame.
The offensive line will be spearheaded by senior left tackle Andres Solis, junior left guard Dimitri Hernandez, sophomore center Eduardo Barajas, senior right guard Enrique Gonzalez and junior right tackle Chance Boyd. Sophomore Edgar Vasquez will also be available if needed. Senior Andrew Vasquez was the center last year and will be used primarily on the defensive line, but will backup Barajas.
“I’ve got a better buy-in and it showed in our passing league,” Lobendahn said. “They knew where to go and they knew what to do. We got into ties and we got into competitive situations against other big school teams. That’s weighing out on this field. We scrimmaged [last Friday] and we just felt a flow, a movement, a team, a vibe that we hadn’t felt all of last year. That was nice to get that good feeling.”
Senior Greg Castillo, juniors Josiah Delgado and Anthony Lovett, Anthony Nava and Hernandez and sophomore Allen Parrish will be on the line. Hernandez and Lovett will be on the outside while Nava and Parrish will be inside. In the secondary, Godoy will be at right corner while Adams will be on the left side in the secondary. Junior Aaron Clay, a transfer from La Mirada High, figures to be one of the safeties and if not, then he’ll play cornerback. Martinez and Pulido will also be in those positions. Clay and Parrish could also play as linebackers along with junior Adrian Manzanares.
Glenn’s defense yielded over 40 points in the first five games and eight times overall, more than 50 points five times and over 60 points twice. Lobendahn hopes that by using a different approach, his team won’t allow anywhere close to the 497 points given up last season.
“Two things I personally changed in our game plan for each week was I added a fundamental period for tackling and pursuit and as a head coach, I’m involved in both periods for tackling and pursuit,” Lobendahn said. “Meaning, I feel a defense should swarm to the ball. What I see on film is two guys swarm and the rest stand and watch. We wanted to put a different fingerprint on that.”
Glenn will have a rematch with Magnolia High on Friday and Mountain View High two weeks later. The Eagles lost those games by scores of 46-8 and 49-14 respectively. The meetings with Peninsula High and Hoover High give the Eagles some promise of heading into league play with some victories, which have been nearly absent over the past several seasons. Since 2010, Glenn has gone 5-19 outside of league action. In 2009, Glenn won all four non league games. Since 1998, Glenn’s most success in league play has come against Cerritos High, winning eight of 19 meetings. However, the Eagles are 2-6 when playing the Dons on the road. The last time Glenn scored in double figures against Norwalk was in 2011 during a 56-27 loss, the highest scoring Mayor’s Cup game.
“Just based on last year, I go into [the Beckman game] thinking it was fairly reasonable on paper,” Lobendahn said. “When I drove onto that campus and saw the team come out, I thought it was like playing a college team. If I’m a protector of my players, I can’t be a guy that schedules my team against a college team, and [the Beckman coach] was willing to back out of a two-year deal we had agreed on.”
Unlike previous seasons recently, Glenn does a better chance of winning some games before its bye week, which this season will be followed by encounters with the defending state champion and the second place team in the league. If the Eagles can go at least 3-4 before their bye, then the last game of the regular season against Cerritos could actually mean something. Glenn has not won more than two games since 2011 when it finished at a 4-6 mark.
“I already know that Norwalk is still big,” Lobendahn said. “Every time I’ve seen them anywhere, they still look like a college team. Artesia is big; definitely skill-wise and outstanding in the games I’ve played against them. I’m thinking I can run the ball on them [two years ago], but I was still not able to stop them. What’s heartbreaking [are the losses] to Artesia and Cerritos [last year].”
For the first time in recent memory, Glenn’s homecoming’s game will be against a non league opponent, Hoover. Although the Eagles haven’t been victorious on homecoming night since 2011, they have beaten Cerritos and Norwalk twice each and Artesia High once on this special night since 1999.
The bad news for Glenn is that it is situated in the lowest division of the revamped system put together by the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section. The good news is that there are 84 schools in the division, which gives the Eagles their best shot of the playoffs since 2002. Cerritos, Hoover, Magnolia and Mountain View are also in this division which means the head to head criteria will play huge for Glenn if it wants to play an 11th game.
“I’m just glad I’m not being held up against the numbers in our [league] as a way to get in,” Lobendahn said. “Because in many ways, it was an avalanche of opportunities against me and if you give me an equal amount of athletes, I promise to battle the heck out of you.”
Lobendahn mentioned he doesn’t want to go through another 0-10 season because that sticks to a coach more than it does the players. A successful season, in the eyes of Lobendahn, will be if the Eagles can win one game. He says one win will bring a smile to his face. However, he doesn’t want to stop with winning just one game.
“But if my team wants to follow my goal to rock the world, it’s to try and make it an opportunity in Division 13,” he continued. “That’s what I’m working on. That’s what me and my kids’ dreams are. Our goal is to put ourselves in a position to enjoy an 11th game. That’s a successful season for me.”
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