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WEEK ONE FOOTBALL: JOHN GLENN UNABLE TO SOLVE DOUBLE-WING OFFENSE, BLASTED BY FAMILIAR COACH’S NEW SCHOOL

JOHN GLENN HIGH’S star senior running back, Edwin Udengwu, gets some hard-earned yards last Friday night as El Monte High’s Vince Herrera tackles him. El Monte crushed Glenn 78-36 as Udengwu was limited to 27 yards on 10 carries, all in the first half. Photo by Armando Vargas, Contributing photographer.

BY LOREN KOPFF@LORENKOPFF ON TWITTER

When Jesse Ceniceros took over the Norwalk High football program in 2008, his teams dominated city rival John Glenn for seven seasons with high powered, double-wing offenses. Now, Ceniceros is with his new team, El Monte High, and the results are still the same.

The Lions walked into Glenn’s new on-campus stadium last Friday night and walked away with an emphatic 78-36 victory that was not as close as the final score indicated. Glenn trailed 54-6 at the half and could not generate much on offense. On top of that, the Eagles were losing players right and left with one injury after another, including star senior running back Edwin Udengwu.

“In no way am I going to be in a position to where I ever quit on a team,” said Glenn head coach Vince Lobendahn. “We went down some guys; we got injured. We had to fight through it and find a rhythm. We failed to come out in the first half and showed up in the second. But like anybody else, they see the weaknesses on mine and I see the weaknesses on theirs. And as long as we can exploit each other, where can I correct when I face another team like this? What can I do to get better at what I didn’t do in this game?”

Ceniceros went 58-28 at Norwalk with two trips to the CIF-Southern Section semifinals and an appearance in the 2013 divisional championship game. But he said his trip back to the city of Norwalk wasn’t all that sentimental.

“To be honest, not really,” Ceniceros said. “It’s sentimental more [because] I came on these facilities that are amazing and to know that a lot of kids that I was able to coach at Norwalk High School, which were the ones out there making phone calls and going out and getting the work done so that [Measure G] bond could get passed so that the kids of Norwalk could have facilities like this. This is amazing. I haven’t seen facilities like this in a long time.”

After the Lions scored on the third play of the game-a 28-yard touchdown run from Davon Booth, the Eagles drove down the field and were in position to get a 25-yard field goal from Charlee Gonzales. However, the play turned into a fake and senior Davione Keith scampered 17 yards to the endzone. But after that, it was all Lions in few plays.

El Monte, who moved up from third to the CIF-Southern Section Division 12’s top team following the win, scored on all six first half possessions, consuming a second beyond six minutes and on 15 plays. Through the first quarter, El Monte already had 194 yards on the ground and went into halftime having gained 325 yards on 14 carries. For added measure, Abel Cueva returned an interception 54 yards for a touchdown, his third score of the half to go along with four from Booth in the first 24 minutes. For the game, the Lions rushed for 518 yards on 29 carries and eight touchdowns. El Monte was also successful on nine two-point conversions.

“It eats up a lot of front,” Lobendahn said of the double-wing offense. “There’s one good thing about it. It’s going to gain what it’s going to gain. The bad thing is I’m a coach that likes to teach a lot more players than the running back. I like the screen plays [and] traps. So, I don’t want to leave myself not teaching other plays. It’s a win offense; it’s going to win.”

The second half began on a promising note as Keith returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a score, plus a two-point conversion run from senior Bobby Sanchez. After the Lions were held on downs for the only time in the game expect the final possession of the contest. Glenn found the endzone again as senior halfback Erik Arias scored from six yards out. Then with nine seconds remaining in the third quarter, junior quarterback Matthew Huxtable tossed a 39-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Tyrell Watson.

Late in the fourth quarter, Huxtable closed out Glenn’s scoring with a 70-yard pass to senior Ulices Ayala. Huxtable completed 13 of 26 passes for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He found seven different targets with senior Robert Coates catching four passes for 36 yards.

But once again, the story was the ineffectiveness of the running game, which produced 67 yards on 30 carries. Udengwu gained 27 yards on 10 carries before he left the game early in the second quarter. He could be later seen on the trainer’s table sitting next to Coates with an ice pack on the back of the neck. Later in the game, Arias had to be taken away on a stretcher with an undisclosed injury. 

“I was thin going in and my goal is to make it through 10 games,” Lobendahn said.

“Glenn has always had some athletes,” Ceniceros said. “I remember in 2009 when we were just going toe to toe with them and the Mayor’s Cup.”

In 2009, Norwalk edged Glenn 42-35. Meanwhile, the performance put forth by Booth reminded many in attendance of former Norwalk running back Rashaad Penny, whom Ceniceros coached and is in his second season with the Seattle Seahawks. Booth finished with 250 yards on 11 touches and caught a 57-yard touchdown pass from Joseph Herrera, the lone completion in the game for the Lions. Booth had five runs of at least 20 yards.

“There’s not much of a difference,” Ceniceros said. “Just like Rashaad when he was coming out, I told people he was one of the best running backs in the nation. I told people that and he landed at San Diego State and a lot of the other big schools passed him up. But, look where he’s at. I tell guys the same thing about Booth. He’s one of the best running backs in the nation. Anytime he steps on the field, he’s going to dominate, and that’s what Rashaad did.”

Ceniceros said Booth is gaining interest from Fresno State University, San Diego State University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. The irony is that Penny, who was present at the game, was also a standout at San Diego State University,

A final side note to the return of Ceniceros to the city and facing Glenn is that when he was coaching the Lancers on the west side of Norwalk, he had plans of an on-campus football stadium. But after seven seasons, those talks quickly died. Then came the renovation and improvements to Glenn’s outdoor athletic facilities thanks to the Measure G bond. Now, Norwalk High is about to begin groundbreaking to its new athletic facilities very similar to Glenn’s.

“Well, it’s just a little disappointing in that again, and I’m not taking anything away from Glenn or anything like that because there were people that were instrumental too,” Ceniceros said. “A lot of the groundwork was done out of Norwalk High School and it’s just sad that, I don’t know, maybe the spokesperson was not there. But again, it should happen [at Norwalk] and it needs to happen soon because again, those were visions that we had many, many years ago when we had seen there were discrepancies in the facilities.”

Glenn will host Long Beach Cabrillo High tonight in matchup of 1-1 teams. The Jaguars were trounced by Summit High 42-6 last Friday night after blanking Bellflower High 20-0 in their season opener. 

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