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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW: Artesia loses star player, then suffer first loss of season

By Loren Kopff

The Artesia football program hasn’t had too many opportunities to begin a season 3-0, let alone 2-0. But when the Pioneers ventured to San Juan Capistrano to face San Juan Hills last Thursday night, they were seeking their third straight victory to begin this season.

Unfortunately, the Pioneers lost more than just a 48-22 decision to the Stallions. They lost star junior running back/quarterback Cristian Rodriguez, who broke his right leg in the first quarter. Head coach Joe Veach said Rodriguez, who was tripped up on the second drive of the game, will be lost for the season. In the first two games of the season against Millikan and Los Angeles Jordan, Rodriguez already had 231 on 21 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns. He had surgery last Friday morning.

Replacing him will be junior Jimmy Rodriguez, who has thrown three touchdown passes this season and added two more on the ground.

“We have good experience with Jimmy,” Veach said. “He got to play a little against Millikan and played well. Jimmy started against L.A. Jordan and played most of the game. We have all the faith in the world that Jimmy can do it. We had kind of hoped that around this time in the season, Jimmy would have taken over for him anyways.”

Artesia was trailing 13-3 late in the first half and was looking to close the gap before halftime. However, Jimmy Rodriguez threw an interception inside the 20-yard line and the Stallions turned that into a touchdown and led 20-3 at the break. Then San Juan Hills scored on the first drive of the second half to put the game away.

The Pioneers scored twice in the second quarter, the second touchdown coming after they recovered an onside kick. However, they got no closer than 12 points when it was 27-15. Artesia will host ABC Unified School District foe Gahr tonight, hoping to snap a four-game losing streak to the Gladiators. The last time Artesia defeated Gahr at home came in 2005.

“They look like they have some really good athletes,” Veach said. “They go with their hurry-up offense and they try to put a lot of points on the board. It’s going to be a tough assignment for us playing defense. But I think we got some good practice last night with San Juan Hills running the hurry-up offense and we kind of got the pace down.”

Elsewhere in football action, John Glenn lost its ninth straight on the field game after a 14-7 setback to Santa Ana Valley last Friday night. The lone score came in the first quarter when junior quarterback Erick Galindo found junior wide receiver Felipe Jimenez for a six-yard connection. Glenn will visit Gardena tonight.
Norwalk, the top ranked team in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Southeast Division top 10 poll, slammed Warren 47-6 behind three rushing touchdowns and a receiving one from senior wingback Rashaad Penny. He has now scored nine touchdowns in three games thus far. The Lancers (3-0) will visit Whittier tonight.

Valley Christian (1-1) was off last Friday but will host backyard neighbor Mayfair tonight at Crusader Field. Last season, the Monsoons crushed the Crusaders 42-7 and have outscored V.C. 91-28 the past three seasons.

The only area match today pits Norwalk (2-0) hosting Whitney (2-0). On Saturday, Cerritos and John Glenn will participate in the Valley Christian/Mayfair Tournament while Gahr plays in the Kennedy Tournament.
Suburban League action kicks off on Tuesday when Artesia (0-3) hosts La Mirada, Cerritos (2-4) visits Bellflower and John Glenn (1-1) travels to Mayfair. Also on Tuesday, Valley Christian (2-0) will visit St. Joseph and Whitney begins Academy League action with a home match against Brethren Christian. Two days later, Glenn hosts Artesia, Cerritos faces host Downey in a non league match, Norwalk welcomes Mayfair and Whitney steps outside of league play to entertain Paramount.

Records were set last Wednesday afternoon at the annual ABC Unified School District meet at Cerritos Regional Park, which was dominated by Gahr on both ends. For the boys, Gahr had three of the top four runners and went on to pick up 27 points, five fewer than Cerritos. Gahr junior Anthony Alfaro was the leading harrier with a time of 15:59. He and Cerritos senior Jonathan Carranza (16:08) finished with the second and third best marks ever in the history of the district meet.

Separated by only a second for third and fourth places were Gahr junior DaVon Walker and Gahr sophomore Veejay Jones. Cerritos senior Joshua Quarles rounded out the top five with a time of 16:30. In sixth place came Bill Chuang of Cerritos, who set a district record for the fastest time by a freshman (16:41).

The top runner from Whitney, which had 66 points, was junior Yunis Kabir (16:47), who finished in eighth place and the leading Artesia runner was senior Jeremy Ferrer, who crossed the finish line at 18:19.
On the girls side, Gahr easily ran away from the competition, claiming five of the top seven spots and picking up 22 points. Finishing in second place was Cerritos with 56 points. But staying in the theme of records being broken was Whitney senior Catherine Luo, who posted a district record of 19:00.

The next three following Luo were Gahr seniors-Jaime Morris (20:06), Sonnaca Luckey (20:28) and Donnaca Luckey (20:42). Cerritos sophomore Catherine Lin came in fifth with a time of 20:56 but Gahr clinched the victory with sophomore Johnise Taylor and junior Jackie Rodriguez claiming sixth and seventh places with times of 21:10 and 21:13 respectively.
Artesia will compete in the Dana Hills Invitational on Saturday before taking part in the first Suburban League Cluster Meet on Thursday at Cerritos Regional Park. Cerritos is in Seaside, Oregon for the Three Course

Challenge at Camp Rilea while Gahr will compete in the Woodbridge Invitational at Estancia High School on Saturday before going to Hollydale Park for the first San Gabriel Valley League Cluster Meet on Thursday. Whitney’s first Academy League Cluster Meet is on Tuesday at Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point.

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