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2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW-Cerritos to be Tested Early in Preparation for Expected Third Straight League Title

Cerritos high school logo, don

August 4, 2022

By Loren Kopff @LorenKopff on Twitter

CERRITOS DONS

5-6 overall last season, 3-0 in the 605 League, first place, lost to Arlington High 22-20 in the Division 13 first round playoffs. 14-31 overall last five seasons

Head coach: Brad Carter (third season, 8-7).Lost 19 seniors out of 38 players from 2021 opening day roster

Last time missed the playoffs: 2019

2022 schedule

Aug. 19 @ Buena Park (0-10)*

Aug. 25 Woodbridge (5-8)

Sept. 2 @ Portola (7-4)

Sept. 9 @ Ocean View (3-7)

Sept. 15 Troy (7-4)

Sept. 23 BYE

Sept. 30 @ Chino (7-4)

Oct. 6 Gahr (1-9)

Oct. 13 Artesia (2-9)

Oct. 20 Pioneer (1-9)

Oct. 27 @ John Glenn (3-7)

*Record last season

In the 2020 shortened football season, which wasn’t played until the spring of 2021, Cerritos High won the 605 League without much challenge from its opponents. Last season, in Brad Carter’s first full season with the Dons, the head coach split his 10 regular season games before falling in the playoffs by less than a field goal. Now, Carter and the Dons are hungry for more.

“We took some lumps early in the season; we played some good teams,” said Carter. “I know I learned a lot; our staff learned a lot. There were some low points, but I was happy how we finished, winning league, then playing a really tough game in the playoffs versus a team that won the CIF championship. I would say we were happy to be out there, and I know we learned a lot as a team from that first season.”

Carter already has as many wins as the program had in the previous four seasons combined before his arrival and the Dons are seeking their first back to back playoff campaigns since 2000 and 2001. He said since he set foot on the campus a month before the pandemic began, the players, administration and community were all in on the culture change and in fact, were open to the coaching change and excited about getting some ‘fresh air, fresh blood’ to the program.

Cerritos is expected to begin the season with fewer seniors than that of 2021, thus putting the rest of the league on notice that the Dons are going to be a force for the next several seasons.

OFFENSE

The Dons were shutout in three of their first six games last season and after scoring 24 points in the season opener against Buena Park High, scored 26 over the next six games. But once Cerritos entered league action, they piled up 134 points in the final three regular season contests. Senior Dylan Burton, a backup quarterback last season to David Sagun, will assume the starting role. Burton completed 13 passes for 99 yards last season but also caught six passes for 50 yards.

“He has good experience; he got in some starts because David broke his finger,” said Carter. “He has some experience starting, he has a really big arm, he loves the competition, and he likes the spotlight of being quarterback. When you’re the ace pitcher [of the baseball team] and the starting quarterback, you have a lot of eyes on you. He seems to relish that.”

Backing him up will be senior Alex Martinez, who completed a pair of passes in four attempts for 10 yards. He is also the leading returning wide receiver, catching 17 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns.

In 2021, Cerritos had a lot of workhorses in the backfield and 14 players combined to rush the ball 332 times for 1,377 yards with 19 touchdowns. This season, sophomores Dikshanta Adhikari, who is more of a scatback, and Kalib Moran, who is a bruiser, according to Carter, will be the one-two punch in the backfield. Senior Quincy Monreal, who gained 274 yards last season, injured his knee and will not play this season. Also seeing some touches will be Jake Bautista and sophomore Ruben Castro.

Martinez will be the go-to receiver with Bautista and Castro expected to get a lot of action in the slot position.

The offensive line sets up nicely with sophomore left tackle Kyshara McLaine, sophomore left guard Natano Manu, junior center Aiden Diaz, who is in his third season on varsity, junior right guard William Peterson and senior right tackle Maddox Derudder, a newcomer to the program. Diaz and Peterson will be the anchors up there because of the experience they bring.

Carter says his concerns on this side of the ball will be taking care of the ball, especially with the team being young and Burton having the gunslinger mentality. Not trying to do too much will be a key if the Dons are to score more than 204 points.

DEFENSE

Junior Sam Marcroft and sophomore Josh Teshome will be the defensive ends with senior Eli Arreola, Diaz and Peterson being rotated in at nose guard. In the secondary, it will be senior Sebastian Pasillas at defensive back, Bautista at cornerback, junior Gabe Rojas at strong safety and Martinez at the safety position while the top linebackers will be junior Moises Mendoza, who had 38 tackles and three sacks last season and sophomores Devyn Chantha and Nathaniel Crawford. Senior Bhavandeep Singh and Luis Perez could also be rotated in at the position.

“We’re younger, but I would say this [team] is more talented than the last two teams we’ve had,” said Carter. “I think we’re more talented, but the experience isn’t there. It will be interesting to see how the beginning of the season shapes out; if we match what we think we could be.”

SCHEDULE

One thing that immediately stands out when looking at the 2022 Cerritos schedule is the number of Thursday night games-six. All 605 League games will be on Thursday nights and in addition, the Dons will host Woodbridge High, Troy High and Gahr High on a Thursday.

The game with city rival Gahr will be played at Artesia High and will mark the first time since that the programs have faced each other since 2017 at which the Gladiators had won 13 in a row. That streak figures to end this season.

“I think everyone has that game circled,” said Carter. “They’re down the street and they’re in different leagues now, but a lot of our kids know [their kids] and I think it should be a great game. I’m looking forward to having a great atmosphere and a good crowd.”

Cerritos will face several teams that specialize in running the ball and it will get a taste of that when the Dons visit former Suburban League foe Norwalk High in a scrimmage on Aug. 12. Chino High, Gahr and Woodbridge replace Banning High, St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy and Segerstrom High as non-league opponents.

“We like the idea of Norwalk being local and it’s a comparable matchup to maybe where we think we could be this year,” said Carter. “We thought it would be a good match for a scrimmage. We dropped two teams that we felt maybe were out of our league in Banning and St. Pius. I think our schedule bodes well.”

Buena Park High is in a rebuilding mode and a strong start to the season is crucial for Cerritos as the next two opponents went to the playoffs last season. The game with Troy will be a measuring stick of where the Dons are heading into their bye week before going to Chino.

“We like the bye in the middle of the season,” said Carter. “Troy really whipped us last year, but I think we’re going to have a better game plan for them this year. I don’t think we were ready for how much they ran the ball on us.”

Once league begins, the de-facto league title will be against Artesia as the two are expected to be the cream of the crop for several seasons. Both have the game circled on their calendars.

HOMECOMING

For the third straight full football season, Cerritos hosts a non-league opponent for its homecoming game. It will be Troy, which runs the Wing-T offense, making the scrimmage against Norwalk important because Carter can get a feel for how his team will handle that type of offense, or similar to it. Last season, the Dons lost to Segerstrom 35-6 on homecoming night and have lost six straight such contests and since 1998, Cerritos has won just six homecoming games.

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