When Crean Lutheran plays host to Sonora at Saints Stadium for the high school football season opener on Friday, both teams will have new head coaches on the sidelines.
While Raiders coach Kevin Oberlander and Saints coach Rick Curtis are new to their respective teams,both are proven winners and enter the game, and the season, looking to turn struggling programs intoa positive direction.
“We are on kind of a fast track to get that culture changed and have those kids ready to play on Fridaynight,” said Curtis, who led Capistrano Valley Christian to a 16-6 record with two playoff appearancesand an Academy League title over the past two seasons. “They understand the discipline part of it andthat there is going to be some higher expectations.”
As offensive coordinator at Sunny Hills, Oberlander played a key role in the Lancers’ CIF SS Division 8championship last season and is hoping to improve on Sonora’s 3-7 overall record and 1-4 mark in theFreeway League.
“We really are going into this game with an attitude of let’s control what we are doing as much as wecan,” Oberlander said. “We’re just going to make adjustments as we go throughout the game.”
Oberlander liked what he saw in the Raiders’ recent scrimmage against Dominguez of Compton,especially the performance of senior Herman Venegas (DE/TE), who has played football for four years atSonora.
“He’s a kid I would say is a standout for us,” the coach said. “He’s a hard-working kid.”
Sonora will employ a balanced attack on offense and be led by senior Deon Garcia, who is moving to thequarterback spot after starting at safety and playing wide receiver last season.
“As a new staff we had heard that he can play quarterback and we’ve been working with him in theoffseason and he’s really stepped up into that position and he’s been doing well,” Oberlander said.
“So we’re excited about him.”
Also switching positions is senior Hunter Wickham, who will be the Raiders’ No.1 running back afterplaying on the defensive line last season.
Oberlander said Wickham, a lifelong soccer player, is drawing interest from Division II and Division IIIcolleges.
“He was sort of an undersized defensive lineman,” he coach said. “He’s really fast and quick. He was anobvious choice to play running back so we can feed him the ball.”
With multiple sports taking place simultaneously, Curtis said the Saints lost some starters to othersports. However, the coach is optimistic, in part, because of his team’s 42-man roster, which is larger than past seasons.
The Saints will run a balanced offense, Curtis said, led by sophomore quarterback Gavin Rodgers.
“He knows how to spin the ball,” Curtis sad.
The Saints have some “good skilled receivers,” the coach said, and a “couple of running backs who arepretty tough.”
Getting the bulk of the carries will be senior running back David Huff and junior Bradley Cooper, anOrange Lutheran transfer.
The Saints defense, which gave up an average of nearly 35 points per game last season, remains a pointof uncertainty, Curtis said.
“We’re really working hard on tackling every single day,” he said. “That has been a big focus of ours ondefense, to upgrade our tackling ability from years past.”
The post OCVarsity Preview: Inside look at Sonora vs. Crean Lutheran in season opener appeared first on 247 News Around The World.