_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK


2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW Standards have been set as Cerritos program continues to grow

   By Loren Kopff

2-8 overall last season, 1-5 in the Suburban League, sixth place, 6-44 overall last five seasons
Head coach: Darin Owens (third season, 2-18)
Lost eight seniors out of 44 from 2013 opening day roster
Last time made the playoffs: 2001
2014 schedule
Sept. 5 @ Valley Christian (5-7 overall last season)
Sept. 12 Gahr (3-7)
Sept. 18 Pioneer (3-5)
Oct. 3 @ Norwalk (13-1)
Oct. 10 Artesia (6-4)
Oct. 17 @ Bellflower (5-5)
Oct. 24 (HC) John Glenn (0-10)
Oct. 31 @ La Mirada (4-7)
Nov. 7 Mayfair (5-6)
It’s very rare that you’ll find a high school football coach calling a 2-8 season a success. But if you’re Cerritos head coach Darin Owens, who had lost 12 straight games since taking over the program, half of them on the field, then you can understand why he is full of smiles as he enters this third season with the Dons.
“Last season was a huge success for Cerritos football,” Owens said. “One thing the kids were trying to figure out, first of all, was just how to compete. It’s been so long since they had competed on the field. At the end of the season, we had a great last game and I felt we should have won that game. It was a track meet on the scoreboard.
“I was very impressed with what they were doing,” he continued. “They proved to me that what we felt could happen here was happening.”
That track meet Owens is referring to was a 60-44 loss at Whittier Christian in which it was 28-28 at the half. But now, Cerritos has to build off of last season with a team that Owens says is the best he’s had since taking over the program. The Dons hope to have the same success that saw them produce nearly 3,500 all-purpose yards and they graduated less than 10 players off of last season’s squad.
“They have worked the hardest,” Owens said. “We have some legitimate athletes out there and I’m excited about our potential this year. Where we lack, very similar to Artesia and very similar to Glenn…we don’t have depth. If we lose that first guy, there goes the leak and it’s trying to plug the boat up before we sink.”
How does Cerritos recover from the graduation of 1,667-yard rusher LaMarr Crowder, who found the end zone 17 times? You just add more and more to the double wing attack. Returning are senior running backs Kory Boyd (93 carries, 429 yards), River DeLaPena and Ron Reddy plus junior fullbacks Jaylon Halloway and Jacob Tucay, who is coming off an injury. Senior Ki’Jon Washington, who was the team’s quarterback last season but also picked up 737 yards on 95 carries and scored nine touchdowns, adds to what is already a potent offense.
That means seniors Anthony Eseberre and Manny Ramirez as well as junior Anthony Beltran will vie for the quarterback spot.
“LaMarr set a standard and to be quite honest, that has been our hallmark,” Owens said. “As [coaches], we’ve always produced running backs. That’s just what we’re going to do. So LaMarr was what we were looking for on productivity. He did some great things behind a very young line. I think he has now set the standard for Ki’Jon, He has now set the standard for Kory.”
Expect to see some changes on the offensive line with seniors Vander Ferrer, Jake Kim, Sam Kim, Tonatiuh Ocampo and Neel Patel and junior Brandon Brown all playing a huge part. Last season’s offense scored 221 points. Expect that number to be much higher this season.
“This group right here really wants to win and they believe they can,” Owens said. “That’s important. That goes a long way in the mentality part of it. For me as a coach, you keep them in that philosophy of growth and you keep them within our philosophy of what we do. We don’t change for somebody.”
This is the one area of concern as the Dons yielded 448 points last season. Only twice did Cerritos allow fewer than 30 points, and both came in the only two wins. Jake Kim and Sam Kim, Ocampo and Patel figure to be on the line while the secondary will be led by senior Inigo Sanvictores, junior Kameron Skiba, Boyd, Reddy and Washington. The leading candidates to be the linebackers are all seniors-Antonio Perez, Ivan Perez and Christian Veazie.
“Our defense has to slow down opposing teams,” Owens said. “If we can get that, now we can say that we’re a good football club. That is this year’s key. Can we go in and prove it on defense? I believe we can.”
Ocean View dropped Cerritos from its schedule and as a result, the Dons will play nine games. Los Alamitos expressed interest to play the Dons but Owens declined the invitation and Cerritos couldn’t find anyone else suitable. The three non-league opponents, followed by the bye, should give Cerritos a running start before opening the Suburban League against the defending top dogs-Norwalk. Cerritos has lost nine straight games to its rivals on the north side of town, having scored 20 points in those games.
“Those are good, competitive games for us,” Owens said. “Gahr has really gotten the best of us the past couple of years for sure. I think there’s a lot of mental side to that for the kids. I think they feel they can compete and I’m hoping that we have a shot at them this year.”
Once league begins, the Dons will be hoping to snap losing streaks of at least 16 to Mayfair, 12 to La Mirada and nine to Norwalk. On the flip side, Cerritos is seeing consecutive victories over John Glenn for the first time since 2006-2007. That 2007 game was also the last time Cerritos hosted the Eagles on homecoming night.
“As a football coach, I can’t ask for anything more from this group of individuals,” Owens said. “They certainly believe in the program. They sold out to it, they’ve worked very, very hard for it and they’re very well aware of the obstacles and challenges that are before them.”