by David Winchell
Today all teams are in first place. All teams are undefeated and dream of seasons full of promise and hope. Today, all squads feel they are champions.
It is opening night for the Gabrielino Eagles and the 2012 squad has been spending weeks in preparation for this moment. Hoping to improve on last year’s overall 4-6 record (1-4 in league), Head Coach Harold Sanin knows a successful season for the Eagles would be a team that “meet’s its potential every week and become a team filled with men of character”. This year’s team motto is, “Raise the Bar”, and Coach Sanin has continually reminded all team members of their responsibility to do just that.
Speaking to Coach Sanin on the sidelines of a recent practice session, he stated he’s impressed with this year’s team as they have come together over the summer. He affirmed camaraderie has grown with each passing week and “senior leadership has been extremely evident” Sanin stated, “the younger team members have been told by the seniors not only what is expected, but have instilled accountability and are teaching responsibilities, too.”
Summer practices are split into morning and afternoon sessions but there is a firm expectation of staying together as a team between gatherings. During this break, there are film sessions, chalk talks but real team bonding is done during the lunches catered by local restaurants. Casa Del Rey, Shakey’s Pizza (Las Tunas), Macho Café, DiPilla’s Italian Restaurant, and Tall Pines Café all provided meals for the group, including the coaching staff and the ever present Eagle Hydration Squad. Coach also gave thanks to the parents, administration and the Gab Athletic Boosters for all their support and encouragement. Coach Sanin said, “We have the best parents in the entire San Gabriel Valley.”
This year brings some changes within the coaching ranks. Added to the staff are Ron Peters, Quarterback’s Coach, David Caldwell, Offensive Line Coach and Nick Merica, JV Line Coach. Sanin noted all three bring new styles and drills that the players are responding well to. The Eagles also had to replace long time trainer So Young Ho, added to the team is Alisha Vessen, recent Azusa Pacific graduate. Just part of her responsibility is to keep the players healthy and ready for the next game or next play. This year’s schedule of 10 regular season games includes 7 home meetings. The season begins with 5 at home and ends with 2 more at GHS. The opportunity to show the staff, students, and community a great time at Eagles Stadium is another objective for Sanin and the 2012 Eagles.
Coach Sanin stated this year’s team shows promise because of Senior personnel in the skill positions. Especially noteworthy is the return of Lorenzo Mena on defense, Brian Vargas and speedster Calvin Cheng on offense. Returning as quarterback, Mark Winchell, coupled with strong-armed newcomer, Elijah Peters, both will be throwing to a pair of 6 foot, 2 inch wide receivers, Cameryn Matthews and Jeremy Franco. This team could see scores coming in bunches. Looking at the landscape of the Mission Valley League, Sanin noted with Arroyo as returning champs, they are the favored team, but Rosemead and El Monte are talented, too. He knows his Eagles team, if healthy and playing to their potential, will have a say to which teams make this year’s playoffs.
Tonight’s game features a battle against the Sherman Oaks Knights who finished last year with a 2-8 record. They played in the CIF Los Angeles City Section of the playoffs, but bowed out after a first round loss to View Park. This year they are members of the LA City Metro League and Sherman Oaks is the largest magnet school in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Welcome back Eagles to Eagles Stadium and the 2012 Season Opener. Let’s have a year to remember and let’s see you guys consistently “RAISE THE BAR!!” GO EAGLES!!
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