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Friday's Blitz: Visits to Brea Olinda, Garden Grove
Friday's OCVarsity Blitz takes a look at what is happening at the football practices and camps around the county.
VETERAN LEADERSHIP: The Wildcats are bursting with experience at the skilled positions, led by running back Michael Martinson.
The junior was electrifying at times last year as a running and receiving option out of the backfield, but he struggled with ball security. Wildcats coach Robb Perrance says Martinson made the adjustments on his own during the offseason to make himself a more viable option.
“He knows that the ball comes out a little bit, and he has made a very valiant effort all during the offseason,” Perrance said. “He’s one of those that he identifies things often times even before we need to talk to him about it. He gets to work on them right away.”
Brea Olinda also returns senior starting quarterback Nick Drury, giving it a wealth of trust and confidence in the backfield.
ARNOLD’S TIME: Senior Zach Arnold has played middle linebacker at the varsity level since Week 3 of his freshman year. The anchor of the Wildcats defense recorded a team-high 144 tackles as a junior.
Arnold has picked up considerable recruiting interest, especially from the University of Hawaii.
“He is the heart and soul of our team,” Perrance said. “We are really fortunate to have him because he’s such a force on defense and a great guy to build around.”
QUESTION MARK: Brea Olinda is replacing four members of its offensive line. Perrance believes that his new protection unit can make the difference in their hunt for the North Hills League title.
“The kids that are filling those spots saw limited time (last season),” he said. “Until they get in the heat of a game, it’s just like firing steel. That’s what builds that strong body. Hopefully, as the season progresses, those kids are going to come along."
BACKFIELD BATTLES: The Argonauts are excited about the prospects of trying to defend the CIF-SS Southern Division championship they won last season.
Excited, but uncertain.
Garden Grove coach Ricardo Cepeda says there is a fierce battle going on at quarterback between Ruben Mendoza and Danny Avilla. He said the battle likely won't be decided before he has given both significant game action.
Mendoza and Avilla both spent last year on the Argonauts’ JV squad. Mendoza has skills similiar to last year's two-way threat at the position, Alejandro Ceja, while Avilla is a more traditional, strong-armed quarterback.
“We’re going to let them battle it out in camp. I see both guys playing (this season),” Cepeda said. “We’re going to play those first five (nonleague) games and figure out who the guy is going to be.
"Our quarterback is going to be whoever plays better in those first five games.”
RUNNING RAMPANT: Jordan Antunez was a force in the Argonauts backfield last year, rushing for 1,747 yards and 19 touchdowns.
What people might not remember is that in last year's training camp, Joseph Camarillo was neck-and-neck with Antunez for the starting job.
Camarillo moved into a backup role for the playoffs after fracturing his collarbone last season, but he is expected to have an expanded role for his junior year.
Cepeda called Antunez “a special football player,” but he has a lot of confidence in both of his running backs.
“We think that Jordan and (Camarillo) are almost identical football players,” he said. “They’re going to handle the football a lot.”