Garfield High Football Team to Face Tough Nonleague Schedule

By Mario Villegas, Exclusive to EGP

Garfield High School's Fabian Gonzalez attempts to make a reception during a summer football passing scrimmage. The Bulldogs open the season Sept. 3 against Bishop Amat at East Los Angeles College. (EGP photo by Mario Villegas)

Arguably, Garfield High School faces the toughest nonleague schedule of any team in the City Section and the Bulldogs can’t wait to get started.

They kick off the season against perennial Southern Section power Bishop Amat Sept. 3 in a home game they will host at East Los Angeles College and then travel to play Southern Section heavyweights Orange Lutheran (Sept. 10 at Orange Coast College), Ontario Colony (Sept. 24) and St. Paul (Sept. 17).

“Playing against teams of that caliber will not only prepare us for league but also for the City Division I playoffs,” says Garfield Coach Lorenzo Hernandez, whose team lost to Taft in the first round last season.

“We have the potential to make some good things happen early and we want to be able to compete. We want to move the ball methodically, maintain ourselves and keep the games to be close going into the fourth quarter to give ourselves a chance to win.”

Victory eluded Garfield all too often in the early part of the 2009 season. The season started promising enough with a victory against City power Birmingham. But the Bulldogs lost four of their next five, scoring only 21 points in three games. “It was really frustrating not being able to score against teams that we should have scored more points against,” Hernandez said, recalling an 8-7 loss at Paso Robles and a 7-0 defeat to Jordan.

“We had the ball on the 1-yard line at Paso Robles and we miss a field goal that would have won the game,” he said. “That was a long ride home. And then we were inside the 20 four or five times at Jordan and didn’t score. It’s as if the red zone was our kryptonite. We just couldn’t find a way to finish. “Last year was one of those seasons for us and hopefully we got that out of our system,” said Hernandez, whose team rallied to win three of its last four games to finish 5-5 and earn a playoff berth.

“We have a whole new calendar and we’ve spent the off-season talking about the commitment that it is going to take to rectify what happened last year. I think we’re going to be ok.”

Perhaps even better than ok. The Bulldogs are experienced and solid on defense, have a veteran offensive line with size, a returning and much improved quarterback and some versatile and promising newcomers at many of the skill positions. They return end Moses Saucedo, whom Hernandez says could be the top defensive player in the City. Saucedo, who is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, was voted the top defensive player in the Eastern League in 2009.

“He plays end for us and should be playing linebacker for a Division I college team next season,” Hernandez says. “He’s strong as heck and has all the tools and mechanics, and the heart and soul to play at that level. He’s going to be a terror.”

Garfield opponents will also have to contend with Chris Arceo, a returning starter who will play the other end spot, and Alfonso Valdez, a very fast and quick three-year starter at defensive tackle.

The linebacking corps is led by Hector Casales and Levi Peralta on the outside and Jonathan Valles in the middle, all returnees from 2009.

Returning cornerback Alvin Lopez leads a secondary that is short on experience, but Steven De La Torre is a promising newcomer. Hernandez and his staff are impressed with the offensive line that is bolstered by veteran left tackle Edgar Gonzalez (6-2, 250). The left guard is Hasiel Santoyo (6-2, 270), and Jose Montes de Oca (6-2, 265) is the center. Richard Torres (5-9, 250), whose forte is pulling and trapping, is the right side guard and Miguel Lazaro (6-2, 270) is the right tackle. Jaime Leija (6-3, 195) will play tight end. Leonardo Vaal took over as starting quarterback late last season and Hernandez says the senior has really improved.

“He really understands the game much better than he did a year ago and he’s going to make things happen for us,” Hernandez says. “He understands what we want of him.”

Sophomore Lance Fernandez is a player to watch in the backfield. “He has the potential to be one of the great ones to come out of Garfield,” Hernandez says. Giovanni Leon, whom Hernandez says possesses athleticism, balance and strength, will start at one of the running back spots. “It’s going to be pretty exciting to watch both of them,” Hernandez says.

Sophomore Fabian Gonzalez is showing much potential at a wide receiver position. Junior Anthony Avalos is expected to start at the other spot and De La Torre and Lopez will play in the slot position.

The kicking game is solid with punter Victor Carrillo, field goal kicker Marco Arce and kickoff specialist Enrique De La Rosa.

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August 26, 2010  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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