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2014 Citrus League preview

08/21/2014, 9:15am PDT
By Alex Riggins, Special to the U-T

Borrego Springs, Julian, Ocean View Chr., San Pasqual Aca., St. Joseph, Vista Calvary Chr., Warner


The Julian team warms up for a game in the shadow of Volcan Mountain.

BORREGO SPRINGS

Last year: 2-7

Coach: Andrew Macuga, 2nd year

Division: 8-man

Key players: Gunner Van Sickle (QB-DB), Jordan Thompson (RB-LB), Michael Manzano (WR-DB), Jose Arias (OL-LB), Lucas Rodriguez (FB-LB).

Scouting report: The Rams make the switch to 8-man this season after finishing 2013 with so few players they had no choice but to play an 8-man game in the finale against Julian. “We were in over our heads,” Macuga said. “We just didn’t have the personnel.” The coach said the season-finale helped sell his team on how wide-open and fun 8-man football can be, and even as he and the team learn the new rules, Macuga believes they’ll challenge for the league title. Van Sickle threw for 16 touchdowns last season, Thompson rushed for five TDs and Manzano is a game breaker on offense, defense and special teams. “We’re still getting it sorted out,” Macuga said. “But we’ll be competing for a championship.”

Schedule

Aug. 29: at Julian, 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 20: at St. Joseph, 2 p.m.

Oct. 3: at Warner, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 10: San Pasqual Academy, 7 p.m.

Oct. 24: Ocean View Christian, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 31: at Vista Calvary Christian, TBA

JULIAN

Last year: 6-4

Coach: Tim White, 8th year

Division: 8-man

Key players: Darren Duffy (RB-LB), Skyler Marushige (QB-DB), Mason Baay (OL-DL), Kellen Regalado (HB-LB), Daniel Streemer (RB-WR-LB).

Scouting report: The Eagles played full-team football last season, but 8-man is nothing new for this team. White is a Julian graduate who played 8-man during his Eagles career, and the school played an 8-man game last year because Borrego Springs didn’t have enough healthy and eligible players for a full game. “We’re thrilled about the transition,” White said. “The kids and the parents are really excited.” The Eagles lost most contributors from last season including nine of their top 10 tacklers and their top six receivers. First-year starter Marushige will have to rely heavily on Duffy and Warner transfer Streemer. Regalado missed most of the last two seasons with a torn ACL, but White said he’s the heart of this team and the “ultimate Eagle, he bleeds maroon.”

Schedule

Aug. 29: Borrego Springs, 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 5: L.A. Public Safety at Community Park, 6 p.m.

Sept. 19: Vista Calvary Christian, TBA

Oct. 3: at St. Joseph’s, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 10: West Shores, 7 p.m.

Oct. 17: at Warner, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 24: San Pasqual Academy, 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 31: Ocean View Christian, 2:30 p.m.

OCEAN VIEW CHRISTIAN

Last year: 5-3

Coach: Ron Loewenthal, 5th year

Division: 8-man

Key players: Danny Smith (RB-DB), Alejandro Perez (QB-S), Kevin Tjalas (OL-DL), Diego Mascareno (WR-RB-LB), Ricky Naputi (QB-TE-DB).

Scouting report: The Patriots tied for the 8-man league title last season while Perez and Naputi battled all year for the starting quarterback job. Perez is likely to start this season, though he’ll most often be handing off to Smith, a tough tailback who rushed for 736 yards and led the team in tackling last year. Eight-man football’s three-player line of scrimmage can be a blessing — a team doesn’t need as many good linemen — but will be a curse for Loewenthal this season as three graduations robbed him of experienced linemen other than Tjalas, a senior team captain. “If I can replace my line, at least offensively, that will dictate how well we can compete,” Loewenthal said.

Schedule

Sept. 5: Faith Baptist, 4 p.m.

Sept. 12: at San Pasqual Academy, 4 p.m.

Sept. 19: San Jacinto Valley, 4 p.m.

Sept. 26: St. Joseph at Mar Vista, 7 p.m.

Oct. 10: Warner, 4 p.m.

Oct. 17: Vista Calvary Christian, 4 p.m.

Oct. 24: at Borrego Springs, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 31: at Julian, 2:30 p.m.

SAN PASQUAL ACADEMY

Last year: 5-4

Coach: Rashiid Burgo, 5th year

Division: 8-man

Key players: Devante Ransom (WR-RB-DB), Donovan Ransom (WR-RB-DB), Jasthan Gant (QB-DB), Tiraaq Moore (FB-LB).

Scouting report: The Dragons will rely heavily on the Ransom twins, who bring a certain “thunder and lightning” quality to the backfield. Donovan, who is 10 pounds heavier, wants to run defenders over, according to his coach; Devante simply wants to run right past them. Gant played receiver and cornerback last season but will make the transition under center this year. The team’s biggest strength is on the line of scrimmage, where Burgo said he would start three players who weigh over 250 pounds — a rarity at such a small school. “It’s the biggest offensive line we’ve ever had,” Burgo said, adding he believes his team will compete for the league title as long as they mature quickly. “We’re athletic and have nice size, we’re just really young.”

Schedule

Sept. 5: San Jacinto Valley, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 12: Ocean View Christian, 4:30 p.m.

Sept. 18: at SD Jewish, 3:30 p.m.

Sept. 26: at Warner, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 3: Vista Calvary Christian, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 10: at Borrego Springs, 7 p.m.

Oct. 17: St. Joseph, 3 p.m.

Oct. 24: at Julian, 2:30 p.m.

ST. JOSEPH

Last year: 5-3

Coach: Tom Davis, 3rd year

Division: 8-man

Key players: Johnny De La Torre (QB-LB), Tim Clow (TB-DE), Evan Hernandez (TE-CB), Markus Boehme (OL-LB), John Whitney (OL-DL).

Scouting report: The Crusaders list just 12 players on their roster, and Davis is honest in his assessment of them. “We run the single wing offense because we don’t have the players to run something more complicated,” the coach said. Of Clow, who rushed for 1,188 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, he said, “He runs hard and works hard, but he’s not a natural player.” Yet despite any shortcomings in personnel and individual skill, the Crusaders return some impact players like De La Torre, who threw five touchdown passes while completing better than 60 percent of his passes last year. “We feel like we have one hand tied behind our back, but we’re not going to give up,” Davis said. “We expect to compete.”

Schedule

Sept. 5: at East Valley, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13: Mojave, 2 p.m.

Sept. 20: Borrego Springs at Calvin Christian, 2 p.m.

Sept. 26: Ocean View Christian at Mar Vista, 7 p.m.

Oct. 3: Julian at Bradley Park, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 10: at Vista Calvary Christian, TBA

Oct. 17: at San Pasqual Academy, 3 p.m.

Oct. 24: at San Diego Jewish, 2:15 p.m.

Nov. 1: Warner at Calvin Christian, 2 p.m.

VISTA CALVARY CHRISTIAN

Last year: 4-3

Coach: Greg Garrett, 2nd year

Division: 8-man

Key players: Brandon Coleman (RB-DB), Steffan Stewart (OL-DL), Matthew Waide (OL-DL), Joel Earley (OL-DL), Christian Garrett (WR-DB).

Scouting report: The Lions lost almost every key contributor from last season due to transfers, including their starting quarterback, leading rusher and leading receiver. “Our offensive and defensive lines look really strong, but we have one senior who is basically going to have to carry us,” Garrett said. That senior is Coleman, who averaged nine yards per carry last year and rushed for six touchdowns. The other skill positions will be filled with freshmen and sophomores, but Stewart, Waide and Early return to anchor both lines. Garrett said this season would be a rebuilding year, but that the Lions would be competitive. “We’ll give some teams a run for their money,” Garrett said. “And we’ll get hammered by other teams.”

Schedule

Sept. 5: at Crossroads Christian, 7 p.m.

Sept. 19: at Julian, TBA

Oct. 3: at San Pasqual Academy, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 10: St. Joseph, TBA

Oct. 17: at Ocean View Christian, 4 p.m.

Oct. 24: Warner, TBA

Oct. 31: Borrego Springs, TBA

Nov. 6: San Diego Jewish, TBA

WARNER

Last year: 0-8

Coach: Wally Zittle, 5th year

Division: 8-man

Key players: Frankie Diaz (RB-LB), Cullen Smith (QB), Alex Smith (OL-DL), Jose Ramirez (RB-LB), Mac Zittle (WB-DB).

Scouting report: Zittle, who coached the Wildcats for four years and won the 8-man championship in 2010, is back at Warner after spending last year as an assistant at Vista Calvary Christian. Also coming to the Wildcats from Vista Calvary Christian are two sophomores — Zittle’s son Mac, and Jose Ramirez, who rushed for 755 yards and scored 19 touchdowns as a freshman. Both transfers must sit out four games. Diaz will carry the heaviest load in their absence while freshman Cullen Smith will get a crash course as the starting quarterback. Cullen will take snaps from senior Alex Smith, a four-year starter at center. “There’s an excitement and enthusiasm around here that I haven’t seen in a long time,” Zittle said. “Probably since the 2010 championship.”

Schedule

Sept. 5: at Crossroads Christian, 7 p.m.

Sept. 13: Calvary Baptist, 3 p.m.

Sept. 19: West Shores, TBA

Sept. 26: San Pasqual Academy, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 3: Borrego Springs, 3:30 p.m.

Oct. 10: at Ocean View Christian, 4 p.m.

Oct. 17: Julian, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 24: at Vista Calvary Christian, TBA

Nov. 1: at St. Joseph, 2 p.m.

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