__________________________________________ BOB

Socialize

HMG-LCCN’S 2018 FOOTBALL PREVIEW : Cerritos seeks answers as it enters new league hoping for better results

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter

 

CERRITOS DONS

1-9 overall last season, 0-6 in the Suburban League, seventh place

7-40 overall last five seasons

Head coach: Barry Thomas (third season, 3-16)

Lost 17 seniors out of 42 players from 2017 opening day roster

Last time made the playoffs: 2001

2018 schedule

Aug. 17           Western (4-6 overall last season)

Aug. 24           Firebaugh (2-8)

Aug. 31           @ Bolsa Grande (1-9)

Sept. 7            @ Adelanto (0-9)

Sept. 14          @ Beverly Hills (0-10)

Sept. 20          Northwood (2-8)

Sept. 28          BYE

Oct. 5              @ Ocean View (5-5)

Oct. 12            Pioneer (3-7)

Oct. 19            @ John Glenn (5-5)

Oct. 26            Artesia (4-6)

Cerritos High enters this season with the daunting task of trying to answer more questions than it has answers for, especially on the offensive side. Head coach Barry Thomas says some, if not most, of those answers will rely on the personalities of the players and how everyone will gel together. He says he knows what certain players can do. But there is a lot of inexperience on the 2018 squad which could make for a longer season, one that will see the Dons usher in the new 605 League. Thomas expected more last season and he expected more two seasons ago.

With that said, Thomas added that he’s always excited to see what each team’s identity is going to be; how they decide what their best opportunity to win is going to be.

Even though Cerritos took a step back last season, winning just once and going winless in the Suburban League for the second straight season and fourth time since the 2011 campaign, Thomas saw the offense being more productive.

“Our offensive numbers were a lot better than what we did the year before,” he said. “But we just didn’t stop the run last year. So, that’s going to be our emphasis this season. We lose some talent in the secondary, but our emphasis is stopping the run.

“Last year I thought we were going to be really strong defensively,” he continued. “We just didn’t stop the run. I felt like we had increased the turnovers from the year before, which is good.”

Thomas was pleased with how last season’s seniors performed, especially Ryder Eddy and Christian King as well as juniors Jayden Alderete and Stacy King. But the Dons will be lacking experience and will have to bank on the sophomores and juniors to perform like they are returning players if the black and gold is to end what was the longest playoff drought by any of the area schools.

OFFENSE

The offense struggled at times to score points and was limited to single digits in five games while reaching over 30 points once. Stacy King figures to be the frontrunner to be the new quarterback, replacing Colby Nielsen, who passed for over 2,000 yards. Last season, King had seven carries for 91 yards and caught 23 receptions for 339 yards, scoring a pair of touchdowns. His backups will be senior Troy Velazquez and junior Nick Lightell.

“The offense we were running, Colby had been in it since he was young,” Thomas said. “There were a lot of things we were doing that were second nature to him. Stacy has some mental catchup to do. From spring to summer, he’s done a lot better. He doesn’t look as good as he needs to get. But, he’s moving in the right direction.”

Even though he has the inside track to be the starting quarterback, it’s not etched in stone that the job will be King’s. Thomas added that because of the complexity of the offense, it’s not just about athletic ability and that King would need to be able to make the reads. Lightell, though, has been giving King some serious competition for the top spot.

Leading the way in the backfield is senior Tye Anderson, who was second on the team last season with 153 carries, 781 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught 22 passes for 263 yards and found the endzone once. Alderete, who picked up 15 yards on five rushes last season, will see more time in that capacity. But the star running back will be Anderson, whom Thomas says has the potential to reach the 1,000-yard plateau as he and the rest of the team is going to heavily lean on him early on.

“He’s bigger than he was last year,” Thomas said. “He was 200 pounds last year, and in the offseason, he got to about 230. I think, by the time the season starts, he’ll be about 215-220. If he picks up where he left off, he definitely has the potential.”

The one area that lacks the experience will be in the wide receivers with only Alderete (26 receptions, 377 yards, three touchdowns last season) as the top returner. Also catching passes this season will be Velazquez, juniors Christian Dantzler and David Huh and sophomores Chaz Sanchez and Moises Vargas.

Protecting the aforementioned players will be senior left guard Daniel Gomez or junior left guard Nicholas Maglonso, senior left tackle Matt Ryan, senior center Dyllan Duran, junior right tackle Ryan Baker and senor right guard Ramon Huerta. Senior Daniel Lee and sophomore Andrew Barron (tackle) will also see some time on the line.

One key to the success of the offense, whether it’s going to more passing or more running will lie in the personality; how it will shake out once the pads come on, according to Thomas.

DEFENSE

Giving up a high number of points has been an Achilles Heel for the Cerritos program for a long time and it was evident once again in 2017. The Dons allowed 515 points and had a stretch of five straight games in which opponents scored at least 56 points on them. Gomez is the lone returning starter on the line. Joining him will be senior Daniel Lee and sophomore William Reed. The two main players in the secondary will be seniors Dakota Pardovich (19 tackles last season), who played a lot of free safety, little bit of strong safety and a little bit of corner, and George Youssef. Pardovich had the most playing time on defense last season. The remainder of the secondary will be a competition battle with Alderete (free safety), Sanchez and senior Sean Tulud in the mix. Senior Alex Flores will hold down middle linebacker, where he played a lot of in 2017. Other linebackers will be seniors J.R. Castillo (28 tackles) Malachi Santa Anna (26 tackles) and juniors Sam Agregado (26 tackles) and Phoenix Martinez.

Thomas says most of his practices up to now have been 60 percent stopping the run game with the front seven understanding the responsibilities, recognizing offensive line movement. He also added that he likes how his defense is a little big and how his line is athletic.

“I think we’re a little smarter because of what Alex Flores brings to the table,” Thomas said. “[He’s a] scholar athlete. He loves the weight room; he’s a gym rat. He understands conception of what we want to do, and then he understands what’s going on in front of you and diagnosing things.”

SCHEDULE

Like Artesia High, the two biggest changes will be more non-league contests because of the move to the new league, and the deletion of Gahr High from the docket. Cerritos had lost to its crosstown rivals 13 straight times, scoring a combined 56 points. Even though the Dons don’t face an opponent who had a winning mark last season, Thomas is quick to say that there are no pushovers and that Ocean View High looks good on film. He continues by saying that he likes the challenge against Ocean View and Northwood High. In addition, Ocean View and Western High, which will be ‘a tough task’, are #1 and #2 on CalPreps.com in Division 11.

“I think our non-league schedule will shake out well for us,” Thomas said. “I think we can compete. Right now, it’s a good foundation against teams we can compete with. And then moving forward, then we start looking at some powerhouse teams once we get things rolling.”

Cerritos has split with Bolsa Grande High the past two seasons with each team winning on the road and has defeated Beverly Hills High the past two seasons by a combined 61-22 margin. The last time the Dons played Ocean View (Sept. 20, 2013), they racked up 63 points. Once league play begins, the Dons will have to find a way to snap a seven-game losing streak to Artesia. But, the program has had its best success against John Glenn High, going 11-9 since 1998.

“I think it’s good; I like it,” Thomas said of the new league. “I wish there were more teams in [the league] because it’s tough to find teams to play late in the season. Now you can prepare any way you want. We’re choosing to prepare [for league] with Ocean View, a team that’s pretty good, a team that has kids who can run. So, I think that’s good, but personally, I wish there was another football team in the 605 League.”

He added that in some games, his teams are just about there and that they know they can do it. It’s just a matter of translating that into wins. The last time Cerritos won more than two games in any season was 2010 and the program will be looking for its first winning season since 2003.

“That’s a topic point we’ve been going over; we’re not doormats anymore,” Thomas said. “Those days are over. We can compete, especially with being in a new league. We can definitely compete, and I feel like that our numbers and people coming here and people being interested in football and coming out for football…people are a little more excited about football than they have been.”

HOMECOMING

The Dons will usher in the new league on Oct. 12 with its homecoming game against new league foe Pioneer High. The last time these teams faced each other was 2015 and the Titans posted a 49-6 home victory. They also played in 2010 and in 2014. In last season’s homecoming game, Cerritos dropped a 69-6 decision to Norwalk High, marking the third straight season the Dons have lost on their festive night and since 1998, they are 7-13 in such games.

DIVISION 13

Cerritos is one of 82 teams in Division 13 and will just about have to win the league title to guarantee its spot in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. Last season, there were 84 teams in Division 13. Adelanto High, Beverly Hills and Bolsa Grande are also in the division while the three league opponents reside in Division 12, as is Northwood.

“My take on that is let’s just win 605 so we leave no doubt,” Thomas said. “Let’s not leave it up to, ‘okay, there’s…and then we’ll get out of Division 13’. It’s up to us. If we handle our business, we can get out of [the division] and now we create opportunities moving up a division.”

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments

Leave a Reply

avatar

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  Subscribe  
Notify of