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SCV prep football takes no break

Action is underway for most of the Santa Clarita Valley’s prep football teams

Posted: June 20, 2014 10:36 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2014 10:36 p.m.
West Ranch High offensive lineman Ian Sibal tries to block defensive lineman Joseph Serrao on Thursday at West Ranch High School during the team’s summer practice. West Ranch High offensive lineman Ian Sibal tries to block defensive lineman Joseph Serrao on Thursday at West Ranch High School during the team’s summer practice.
West Ranch High offensive lineman Ian Sibal tries to block defensive lineman Joseph Serrao on Thursday at West Ranch High School during the team’s summer practice.

The minute school ends for the summer, it becomes football season in the Santa Clarita Valley.

With the ever-growing competitiveness of prep football locally, statewide and nationally, it’s never — it appears — too early to get work done.

But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to the summer when it comes to each team other than the notion that June doesn’t mean summer vacation.

For five-time defending Foothill League champion Valencia, June is just part of a long process that begins in January.

But things you would expect to hear about more in September are part of the early summer work — like film study, for example,

Valencia head coach Larry Muir said earlier this week he was watching films with quarterback Cole Parkinson.

“To me, it’s like a staircase,” Muir said. “You’re not going to go from the bottom of the staircase to step 10. You have to take each step at a time. It’s part of the process that begins in January. You take your first couple of steps in the weight room (learning) work ethic, teaching how to use their bodies. Then you progress and get into spring football and take another step. Then summertime comes, for us we do the installation of all our offense and defense, different coverages and plays, so that after you come back from the three-week break, you do the actual football part of it.”

Coaches are busy putting in plans, adapting to their talent more so than having the kids adapt to them.

“As every year goes by, every team is unique,” said Saugus 12th-year head football coach Jason Bornn. “Every team is different. So therefore, you kind of mold and create what will be the best system possible, what will be the best methodology with a certain group of kids.”

But some longtime coaches in the area stick to certain principles this time of year because it’s what works.

Hart head coach Mike Herrington, for instance, said he changes very little about what his teams do this time of year.

That includes the timing of the team’s designated “dead period,” which is a mandatory three-week break every school is required to give football players in the summer months.

Herrington said he’s always opted to take the break as late as possible, which ends up being roughly the last three weeks of July.

“I’ve coached over 30 years and that’s what we’ve always done and the reason we like to do that is we feel like we need a little break,” Herrington said. “The players need a break, the coaches need a break. We need a break from each other so we can get rejuvenated when we get back.”

Not every coach operates under the same mind-set though.

Canyon, Saugus and Golden Valley, for instance, are in the middle of their three weeks off. That means each team will return in late June and will continue practicing all the way through the summer and into the start of the regular season in late August.

The reasoning behind that kind of scheduling varies.

“It’s time for a break. If we were to keep going, it would be I think a different situation,” said first-year Golden Valley head coach Dan Kelley.

He explained that the team has been conditioning and practicing dating back to January, and he gives everyone some time off now that school is out.

Kelley’s case is different than other local teams because he is new on campus and has to establish new systems and a new identity.

“We’ve got to put in a brand-new offense and a brand-new defense. New terminology, new coaches, and we’re further ahead than we thought we’d be. I’m really impressed with the kids,” Kelley said.

It’s a similar situation for West Ranch, which is entering its second season under head coach Jan Miller.

He said he’s learned a lot of lessons from season one.

The spring and summer months have been spent in the weight room and conditioning, while the team is adding in passing tournaments and lineman camps in between.

West Ranch is also participating in obstacle courses and various high-intensity physical competitions which draw from Miller’s military and law enforcement background.

“We try to tell them your body can take you a lot more than you think you can,” Miller said.

Later this month, most Foothill League teams will participate in the SCV’s biggest annual passing tournament, the

Saugus Under the Lights tourney at Central Park. This year’s version will take place on June 28 and it will feature Saugus, Hart, West Ranch and Golden Valley, among other top-notch prep programs in Southern California.

Another big summer tournament is the prestigious Huntington Beach Edison competition, in which Valencia, Saugus and Hart will attend in July.

Though 7-on-7 tournaments are a traditional mainstay of summer football, when teams aren’t allowed to practice with pads, there’s a new trend catching on with some SCV teams.

Saugus and Hart are both scheduling integrated practices involving teams outside the area. It allows teams to run 11-on-11 scrimmages which, unlike the 7-on-7 format, involves linemen.

“It’s just touch football, but it allows the linemen to work on their blocking techniques,” Herrington said of the scrimmages.

Another factor that comes into play for the first time this summer is the CIF’s new statewide rule limiting practice time to 18 hours per week.

Local coaches seem to think the rule, which goes into effect July 1, is mostly a non-issue.

Foothill League coaches say they’re already within the 18-hour cap or at least very close to it.

“That’s just a little time managing on our part,” Miller said.

But with or without a mandated cap on practice time, coaches already know every hour they spend with the team is valuable this time of year.

Signal sports editor Cary Osborne contributed to this story


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