Thursday's Blitz: Cypress looking for new playmakers
Thursday's OCVarsity Blitz takes a look at what is happening at the football practices and camps around the county.
NO EXCUSES: There's a reason the words "No Excuses" were prominently displayed across the chests of Cypress' players during a recent practice.
The Centurions are looking to replace 20 starters, including key playmakers Quinten Pounds and Nick Buras, from last year's team that went 8-3 overall and nearly won a share of the Empire League title under first-year coach Rick Feldman.
The Centurions know it won't be easy to replace all of those starters, but they refuse to complain about it.
The Centurions will look to junior Isaiah Parra (slot receiver/strong safety) and senior Josh Gutierrez (wide receiver/cornerback) to provide some critical two-way production. Running back Jacob Mercado is also considered a candidate for big-play potential.
Feldman is excited about Parra, a newcomer to the team who has spent the last two years playing baseball at the school.
“You know who he reminds me of a little bit is ‘Bug’ (Vincent Rivera),” Feldman said. “He moves a lot like him."
That is high praise. Rivera was second in the county with 36 total touchdowns in 2011.
“He is a between-the-tackles runner and a real good receiver," Feldman added. "If we can protect long enough and then throw it on target, he’ll catch it.”
COUNTING ON EXPERIENCE: Kennedy is confident it can get back to the playoffs after near misses the past two seasons.
The Fighting Irish say the experience on this year's team will give them a boost.
Senior Adrian Quezada is going into his third year as the team's starting quarterback.
Kennedy also returns six starters on defense, and if the Fighting Irish are to return to the postseason, it could be done on the backs of returning linebackers Louie Aldapa, Aundre Short and Armando Palacios.
“They’re not the biggest guys,” Fighting Irish coach Sean Clark said of the linebacker trio. “At Kennedy, we don’t have the biggest guys, but they’re real tough guys.
“We expect to have a really tough defense that flies around that kind of helps with our offense.”
DEESE UPDATE: Senior tight end Derrick Deese (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) is participating in practice for the first time since tearing his ACL in Kennedy's final game of last season.
Clark said Deese has also received recruiting interest from the University of Washington.
Deese had 25 receptions for 317 yards and three touchdowns in 2014, and Clark says Deese might be the team's best run blocker.
TURNAROUND TIME? Western coach Dan Davidson says the offseason did wonders for his team after it went 1-9 in 2014.
Going into his second year as coach, he is confident the team's players are finally acclimated to his system.
Part of Western's optimism comes from seeing quarterback Jacob Adams, who is a converted running back, in action.
"Jacob Adams is special," Davidson said. "He's definitely one of the guys under the radar in Orange County. We moved him to quarterback because he's one of those hybrids. He runs with a passion.
"His understanding of the game is through the roof," Davidson continued. "He's definitely 100-percent our leader."
PHILOSOPHICAL APPROACH: Since his arrival at Orange Lutheran in 2012, Coach Chuck Petersen has been teaching his players to be selfless in their devotion to each other.
He uses the motto "IMAN" to reinforce the message. It is an acronym that is translated to, "It's not about me."
Petersen added: "It's an acronym that embodies everything that we are as a football program, and to a great extent, what we are as a school. As a Christian school, we take great pride in the fact that we are going to serve our fellow man."