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HMG-LCCN’s 2018 FOOTBALL PREVIEW : John Glenn hopes to build off last season, feeling confident about ending playoff drought

 

@LorenKopff on Twitter

 

JOHN GLENN EAGLES

5-5 overall last season, 2-4 in the Suburban League, tied for fourth place

9-41 overall last five seasons

Head coach: Vince Lobendahn (fifth season, 9-31)

Lost 19 seniors out of 45 players from 2017 opening day roster

Last time made the playoffs: 2002

2018 schedule

Aug. 17           @ Savanna (6-5 overall last season)

Aug. 24           Eisenhower (2-8)

Aug. 31           @ Bosco Tech (1-9)

Sept. 6            University (6-4)

Sept. 14          Western (4-6)

Sept. 21          @ Hawthorne (5-5)

Sept. 28          Norwalk (7-4)

Oct. 5              BYE

Oct. 12            Artesia (4-6)

Oct. 19            Cerritos (1-9)

Oct. 26            @ Pioneer (3-7)

It was only a matter of time before the John Glenn High football program would turn things around. After winning a combined 12 overall games from 2010-2016 and going 6-36 in Suburban League action over that same time, head coach Vince Lobendahn saw his 2017 team even the ledger at 5-5 with a pair of league victories. Now, Glenn will begin the 605 League with aspirations of claiming a spot in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, or even a league title. Two of the five losses last season were one possession games and had Glenn won those games, then the Eagles would have finished in third place in the league and would have gone to the playoffs.

“There were some smiles on my face,” Lobendahn said. “There’s two games out there that I [wish I could have had]. Consistency and [work in] the weight room got to show up a little bit more for us last year. It got to be a part of the reason we were in better games.”

He said the biggest thing about last season was the points allowed on defense, which allowed the offense to win five games for the first time since 2009.

OFFENSE

Scoring was not an issue for the Eagles in 2017, having amassed 282 points. Senior David Sanchez returns as Glenn’s quarterback and if he puts up the same numbers, or even better than he did in 2017, he could be in some serious discussions for the 605 League’s most valuable player. Sanchez completed over 61 percent of his passes and threw for 1,708 yards and 15 touchdowns opposite six interceptions. He also picked up 428 yards on the ground on 78 carries, both figures second best on the team. Lobendahn says where the team goes with Sanchez is about as far as it goes with the team.

“The growth goes beyond just the field,” Lobendahn said. “It’s the classroom, it’s the weight room, it’s the leadership at events. I have a college kid; he is eligible to be a Division I kid, and I’m looking at someone to look at him. He’s a kid that when you add him to your program, he’s an instant effort kid.

“His effort is daily, it’s consistent and we’re going to be really hurting the day he ends his career,” he continued. “In his third year, I think he’ll break every record that could have been here before him.”

Backing up Sanchez will most likely be sophomore Matthew Huxtable. Trying to replace Carlos Pulido (1,178 yards, 204 carries, 12 touchdowns), last season’s leading rusher who graduated, will be a tough task for Lobendahn. The leading candidate to get the bulk of the workload will be junior Edwin Udengwu. Lobendahn said he is waiting to see how some of the younger players progress, as well as the paperwork to clear for another before disclosing more names.

Senior Tim Stevenson is the top wide receiver and led the Eagles last season with 815 yards, 55 receptions and half a dozen touchdowns. Complementing him is junior Michael Sandoval, a transfer from La Mirada High, who should be able to fill in the spot on the outside left behind by the graduated Carlos Manriquez.

The offensive line is very experienced and will be set up with senior Jose Garcia at left tackle, senior Abraham Gomez at left guard, senior Edward Barajas at center, whom Lobendahn is tabbing as the best center in the new league, junior Troy Standford at right guard and sophomore Joe Varos at right tackle. He is the younger brother of former Glenn standouts Tony Varos and Ray Varos, the latter who was a tight end last season.

“I would put a lot of money on the line this year,” Lobendahn said. “They’re going to carry a lot of our weight, whether we’re going to slow it down and run or pick it up and pass. They’re going to do a lot of that stuff. We have 20 games [experience] at two spots and 10 games at another and some good backup numbers on the right side.”

Lobendahn says the key to the success on this side of the ball will be converting inside the red zone, an area that haunted the Eagles in 2017. In a pair of 20-14 losses to Bellflower High and Norwalk High last season, Glenn got inside the 20-yard line about eight times and came away with a combined three scores.

DEFENSE

The defense posted a pair of shutouts in the first three games and had three other games in which it allowed no more than 20 points. But Glenn allowed 41 points twice and 49 in three of the final four games. The Eagles lost to La Mirada by 14 points, the closest margin of defeat to the Matadores since losing to their district rivals 41-24 in 2009. Senior Allen Parrish spearheads the line at one of the tackle spots, but there is a battle between senior tackles Brian Christensen and Chris Gonzalez. Parrish, whom Lobendahn claims is one of the strongest defensive tackles around, posted 78 tackles and five sacks last season. Senior Roman Acosta could get one of the end positions with the younger guys filling in at the other end. However, Lobendahn says this is one area on defense that warrants some watching.

Senior Ivan Ramirez (77 tackles, four interceptions) returns at free safety while juniors Ulises Ayala and Davione Keith are working for the other safety positions. Keith could also play cornerback. Seniors Caesar Lopez (50 tackles) and Jorge Ruiz (64 tackles, three sacks) return as outside linebackers as does junior outside linebacker Christopher Roca. Junior Ernesto Jimenez is also in the mix for one of the outside spots.

“My defense went from giving up 50 points to giving up 20 points [and] I believe we’ll be in that competitive number again where we’re not giving up 50 points,” Lobendahn said.

SCHEDULE

Glenn will be tested early and often as four of the seven non-league opponents had at least a .500 record last season. Even though the Eagles departed the Suburban League to form a new league primarily for competitive equity, they maintained their rivalry with Norwalk. Glenn came close to beating their crosstown rivals last season and is now hoping to snap a 15-game skid to the Lancers. Last season, Glenn blasted Bosco Tech High 41-0 but has not played the other five non-league opponents in at least 20 seasons.

“I don’t want to be one who says [the non-league games] are not important,” Lobendahn said. “But I’m going to say it to be real. We have been in a hard conference the last few years that we just couldn’t compete in. My placing any importance on these seven games other than getting better is all I really want us to focus on. If we get in a situation where we run into an Eisenhower, for example; we run into team that’s loaded with athletes and it’s just one of those powerhouse athletic programs, I just want us to get better.at adjusting and not worry about a ‘W’ or a loss.”

Glenn and Pioneer High played each other seven straight times from 2009-2015 with the Titans winning four of those contests. The Eagles have won five of the past 20 games against Artesia High but edged the Pioneers 44-41 last season. There could be a battle for a long time when Glenn and Cerritos High meet. Since 1998, Cerritos holds an 11-9 margin, but the Eagles have won the last two meetings, including last season’s 64-25 contest.

HOMECOMING

For the first time since 2013 and fourth time in the past 20 seasons, Glenn will entertain Artesia on homecoming night. The Eagles, who trailed the Pioneers by four points entering the fourth quarter, edged the Pioneers 44-41 last season. However, Glenn has lost the previous three homecoming games with the Pioneers. In Glenn’s homecoming game last season, it roughed up Cerritos 64-25.

DIVISION 12

Last season, Glenn was in Division 13, the lowest of all CIF-Southern Section Divisions. But going 5-5 last season bumped the Eagles up a division where 46 schools reside, including Artesia, Hawthorne High and Pioneer, Had Glenn stayed in Division 13, it would have been one of over 80 schools, thus forcing the program to win the league if it wanted to play more than 10 games.

“What I’m really referring with the 12 versus the 13 is the amount of selective teams there are to go into the playoffs,” Lobendahn said. “With 40, the higher chances of them being third team ones are less because the number isn’t doubled. That really gives us a shot to get into a [playoff] bracket where we might have shot of being successful in the [playoffs].”

 

 

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