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Fryer: Valencia's Marrujo tries to quietly reach 300th win
Sorry, coach. Your secret is out.
Valencia football coach Mike Marrujo is close to getting his 300th career win. He has 299 going into the Tigers’ home game Friday against Kennedy.
Some of those wins were at Pius X in Downey, where Marrujo coached from 1977 to 1980. He took over in ’81 at Valencia; 278 of his wins have been with the Tigers.
Marrujo is the most publicity-shy coach in Orange County football, which has a few coaches whose egos would not fit in those blimp hangers at the old Marine Corps air base in Tustin.
And he’s not the type of coach to quit when the going gets tough.
Valencia went 1-9 in and finished last in the Empire League in 2011. Some of the surrounding neighborhoods changed and were not producing the type of athletes they did in the 1990s. Some guys would have walked away from that situation.
The best coaches are servants to their communities. Marrujo is the best sort of servant, so he hung in there and got rewarded. In 2012, Valencia went 8-4 and finished second, and was 8-3 with another second-place finish in ’13.
Last year, the Tigers went 10-2 and won the Empire League championship with a 5-0 league record. This year’s team is good, perhaps good enough to get Marrujo a fourth CIF-Southern Section championship to go with the ones his Valencia teams won in 1987, ’91 and ’92. (That ’91 championship game win was against Tustin, which was coached by one of the other all-time great coaches in Southern California high school football history, Marijon Ancich.)
The Tigers play their Empire League opener Friday at home against Kennedy (2-3). Valencia is averaging 34 points a game and allowing an average of six points a game.
The outlook for Marrujo on Friday: victory … No. 300 … embarrassment about all of the post-game attention … and a Gatorade bath.
Taking a look around Orange County high school sports:
• Los Alamitos coach John Barnes is the career coaching leader in county football, with 323 wins coming into this week. Gaining fast is Mission Viejo’s Bob Johnson at 320. Newport Harbor coach Jeff Brinkley has 265 career wins, some of those collected at Norwalk, and Bruce Rollinson has 256 wins, all at Mater Dei.
• Canyon is No. 1 in the CIF-SS Southern Division football top 10. The Comanches, who beat Foothill, 31-17 last week, are the fourth team to be No. 1 in that division. El Modena was No. 1 last week; previous No. 1s have been Garden Grove and Westminster.
• It has been a heck of a season for San Juan Hills football. The Stallions got into the county top 10 for the first time, and have cantered to No. 7 this week. Also this week, San Juan Hills made its debut in the state football top 25, with CalHiSports.com placing the Stallions at No. 23.
• Other county football teams in the state top 25: Mater Dei, No. 4; Mission Viejo, No. 7; Santa Margarita, No. 19; Orange Lutheran, No. 20; and JSerra, No. 24. CalHiSports.com has Servite and Tesoron on its “on the bubble” list. Ranked 1-3 are, in order, De La Salle of Concord, Centennial of Corona and St. John Bosco.
• Orange Lutheran and Servite this season each will have played three teams in the USA Today national football top 20. Servite played USA Today’s top-ranked Bishop Gorman and No. 14 De La Salle, and will play St. John Bosco. Lutheran has played Centennial and De La Salle and will play Bosco.
• Cheerleading injuries are on the decline, according to one source of data. But injuries in cheerleading are more common than in most CIF-sanctioned sports. With competitive cheer becoming a CIF sport in the 2017-18 school year, the CIF State office will emphasize safety when it comes up with rules and regulations for the sport.
• For a sport to become an official CIF-SS sport, 20 percent of the section’s 583 schools, or 117 of them, must field a team in that sport. Lacrosse is growing but still has not passed that threshold to become a Southern Section-sanctioned sport.
• When CIF formulates its cheerleading rules, it should place a decibel limit to the microphones the lead cheerleader uses at football games.
• Another rule should be that cheerleaders can’t be two deep on the baseline at basketball games.
• People might have shocked to see in these pages and at ocvarsity.com Thursday that Orange Lutheran has a 7-6 lead over Mater Dei in their football series that began in 2002. Lutheran beat the Monarchs five years in a row, 2005-09.
• We discussed here last week the shortage of football officials. There is a shortage of baseball and softball umpires, too. Anyone interested can contact Richard Jolly at Re.firstname.lastname@example.org or at 714-323-1423.
• Esperanza basketball junior Kezie Okpala received a scholarship offer from UC Irvine, the Esperanza basketball program announced this week. The 6-foot-6 forward has a 4.4 GPA. UCI recruits county basketball very well.
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