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OCVarsity Kickoff '16: El Modena preview

STAFF WRITER

OCVarsity’s season preview for 2016:

EL MODENA VANGUARDS

Coach: Matt Mitchell

Last season: 8-5 overall, 2-1 league

Scouting report: First-year coach Matt Mitchell takes over a program that’s coming off back-to-back appearances in the Southern Division semifinals. Having served as an assistant coach at El Modena since 2013, Mitchell’s familiarity with the players should make his transition from offensive coordinator to head man a seamless one. The Vanguards defense was an opportunistic bunch in 2015, and in bringing back seven players on that side of the ball, that should be the strength again. Defensive end Dillon Keefe always found himself near the ball as a junior, and was named first-team all-league along with defensive tackle Mike Fuentes and safety Bobby Laviguer, who are both back. Earning the starting job midway through his sophomore year, quarterback AJ Esperanza guided the Vanguards to a pair of playoff wins last November and hopes to build off that early success as a junior. They key will be whether or not El Modena can run the ball with the same amount of success they did last year with tailback Kenneth Lamb and four offensive line starters out of the picture.

Bottom line: The defense welcomes back some playmakers, but now the offense is on the lookout for one of its own. The Vanguards will battle El Dorado for second place in league if they locate a go-to player on offense.

Players to watch: AJ Esperanza, QB, Jr.; Garrett Gramm, WR, Sr.; Frankie Islas, WR, Sr.; Dillon Keefe, DE/RB, Sr.; Bobby Laviguer, SS, Sr.; Gio Peralta, LB, Sr.

EL MODENA SCHEDULE

EL MODENA ROSTER

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Contact the writer: kconnolly@scng.com


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