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2017 FOOTBALL PREVIEW: John Glenn looks to close games better this season, improve on win total

By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter


2-8 overall last season, 1-5 in the Suburban League, sixth place

6-44 overall last five seasons

Head coach: Vince Lobendahn (fourth season, 4-26)

Lost 10 seniors out of 49 players on the 2016 opening day roster

Last time made the playoffs: 2002

2017 schedule

Aug. 25           @Magnolia (2-8 overall last season)

Sept. 1            Peninsula (7-3)

Sept. 8            Bosco Tech (3-7)

Sept. 15          @ Hoover (4-6)

Sept. 22          Cerritos (2-7)

Sept. 29          @ Norwalk (7-4)

Oct. 6              Artesia (6-4)

Oct. 13            @ Bellflower (2-8)

Oct. 20            BYE

Oct. 27            La Mirada (11-3)

Nov. 3             @ Mayfair (6-5)

Last season was one of improvement for the John Glenn High football program, first ending a 16-game losing streak, then ending a 28-game slide in the Suburban League. But, in between those two victories, the Eagles still floundered to their seventh straight losing season. This season, head coach Vince Lobendahn is as excited as he has been since taking over the program and feels that this is the season that the Eagles soar to new heights.

“To close with a win, I guess if I had to evaluate that, I guess there were guys that weren’t playing,” Lobendahn said. “But the film I saw was a team that was very good at a couple of areas of passing. Their run game wasn’t at all a bad run game. It looked consistent on film. I was just happy to get a ‘W’ in that manner, but I just didn’t feel we developed a drive.

“How do I get from poor to good,” he questioned. “I have to break .500. That’s our goal, to get above .500 and win games.”

Glenn had a chance to double their win total in the middle stages of the season. It trailed Artesia High by two touchdowns at the half before losing 48-27 and the next week, the Eagles lost a close 36-29 affair to Bellflower High. In addition, the team battled with city nemesis Norwalk High for one half before fading in the fourth quarter.

“There were three games in there that we got competitive enough to get in the game,” Lobendahn said. “The Norwalk game; halfway we were there. When you start to know football, the size can wear on you. But we were also not capable of getting out of the situations where we were continuing to run against them. That game was depressing in the manner of not being in a position to close a game or compete with the game as we got deeper into the fourth quarter.”


The 2016 Glenn football team was one of the better ones the program has seen in a long time, scoring at least 20 points five times and being held to single digits twice. In years past, it would be a common trend for the Eagles to score closer to 100 points over the 10-game schedule. But last season, the team fell three points shy of 200 and all indications point for the team to eclipse that mark this season.

“My fingerprint is in these areas; running our plays throughout the whole year,” Lobendahn said. “So, you’re starting to see where kids know their jobs and they’re running the mental habit out of just muscle memory. Muscle memory allows a kid to not have to think about his job [but] to just go and do performance.”

Under center once again is junior quarterback David Sanchez, who stunned threw for 1,845 yards and 16 touchdowns as a sophomore. He also proved that he can be one of the best mobile quarterbacks in the league as he picked up 739 yards on 92 carries and scored four times. The big negative for Sanchez is that he was picked off 15 times.

“David is our team leader from the weight room to the field to all the activities,” Lobendahn said. “He’s shown the growth that I would respect as some of the best things a quarterback can do. His areas of improvement were deep balls, learning how to get the safety out of his window so he can put the ball where he wants to and trying to trust the play a little longer before he takes off. We love the fact that he can take off.”

Lobendahn hopes he can be at least 20 percent better in his accuracy. His backup would be senior Damian Huxtable, who played very little as a freshman at an Inland Empire school before moving to New Zealand.

Senior Carlos Pulido (206 yards last season), who had his best games, according to Lobendahn, against Artesia and Cerritos High, will be the top returning running back. Helping him out will be senior Will Keith and sophomore Davione Keith, both of whom are brothers. Also in the mix will be senior Gerardo Godoy, who has been Glenn’s jack of all trades during his time on the varsity squad.

Glenn has been able to use the tight end well and that’s where Godoy could be used. Senior Carlos Manriquez and junior Tim Stevenson (28 receptions, 257 yards) are the other top returning receivers. Lobendahn says that Stevenson, who is a specialist and will be the slot receiver, can do everything and needs to consistently average three touches a drive.

The men responsible for protecting Sanchez and creating holes for Pulido and company will be junior Jose Garcia at left tackle, junior Abraham Gomez at left guard, junior Edward Barajas at center, senior Tajin Golightly at right guard and senior Chance Byrd at right tackle. Lobendahn feels this could be a solid offensive line and compares his situation to that of the University of Southern California, where his son Toa is a center.

“When I look at my son’s team, they’re playing musical chairs,” Lobendahn said. “I feel that a program that really wants to be good has their linemen married. They mesh, they work well together, they know each other, they know that when we double team, this is how we do it.”


Whine the offense got a little better, the same can’t be said for the defense, which allowed at least 35 points in the eight losses. Seniors Dimitri Hernandez and Anthony Lovett (three sacks) and junior Allen Parrish are well-experienced and have been the staple of the defensive line. According to Lobendahn, all three have put in a great year in the weight room and Hernandez, who is a captain, is expected to be unleashed and have a wonderful year.

Splitting time as inside linebackers will be senior Adrian Manzanares and junior Jorge Ruiz, both of who have been moved from previous positions. Senior Anthony Nava, who will also see some time as a tight end, will be rotated among younger guys as a linebacker.

The secondary will consist of senior Aaron Clay (21 tackles), who will play right cornerback, Will Keith on the left side and a rotation of safeties between junior Ivan Ramirez, sophomore Edwin Rudengwu and Manriquez.

“I’m still worried about the linebacker area because if one of them goes down, I can shut an ugly window,” Lobendahn said. “But going back to that D-line, I really believe A.P. has really shown me over the year that he’s a leader up there and I believe he’s unblockable. I’ve taken him to a few camps and he’s done some specialty work over the summer that his shown his power and strength is none like anyone else. And if he can continue to show that out there on the field, he will help set the tone and change what is really happening.”


The only change among the first four opponents is Bosco Tech High, which takes the place of Mountain View High. After scoring 31 points in the season-opening win against Magnolia High, the Eagles scored 44 points the next three games. The Eagles have a good chance of going into league with a winning mark, and if they can make it two in a row over Cerritos High, then the Eagles will make the rest of the league, and division open some eyes.

“There are two windows there that I feel were necessary,” Lobendahn said. “One, there’s an opportunity for us to set us up to have a positive preseason win record. If it comes to fruition the way I’m hoping, it will really set up good for us. The Magnolia road game is a real challenge; I don’t know what to expect. It’s a brand-new staff. That team can be big one year and totally different another year.”

The Eagles have averaged less than one league win over the past 19 seasons and still have not taken a game from either La Mirada High or Mayfair High in that same span. It will be an emotional night for sure on Sept. 29 when the Eagles face Norwalk in what could be the last time the city rivals face each other in a regular season game. Glenn, along with Artesia an Cerritos, will move into the new 605 League next season.

“Last time we played [Norwalk], we played one of the best games,” Lobendahn said. “When you’re there and you don’t have much…you can really coach if you can take what we have and get out there and compete. But when you have a loaded group of guys and…it’s just easy to walk out and thump a team, it’s different.

“This year, I know that they don’t want to put themselves in a position where they’re in that closed window where we can even be in a position to get after them,” he added. “But, we’re not going to go in that game not trying to get that win.”


Without a doubt, Glenn and Cerritos have slowly built up a rivalry over the past few years or so. The teams have split their meetings the past two seasons, each winning on the road and since 1998, Cerritos has an 11-8 edge in games played. Glenn has not had this much success against any other league team. And with both moving into the new league, this might be Glenn’s new and best rivalry, replacing the one it has had against Norwalk. The last Glenn homecoming game came in 2002, a 21-9 triumph over Cerritos.


If Glenn places in the top three in league, will a team with a better record from another league get in ahead of Glenn? That’s the question that Lobendahn has been pondering. The first five opponents are from Divisions 10-13 and the Eagles face three teams that are in Divisions 2 or 9.

“What I don’t like about it is there are [84] teams in it,” Lobendahn said. “Sometimes you think, just a .500 team and you look down there and out of 84 teams, there’s a chance that out of 84, your .500 doesn’t even get you in. There’s the difficulty in that manner, which takes me out of the running.”