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Prep football: Unofficial start

Four local teams compete in passing tourney at Valencia High

Posted: June 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Canyon High quarterback Jonathan Jerozal throws a pass on Wednesday night at Valencia High during a 7-on-7 passing tournament.

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Now that the 2011 spring sports are over, attention is quickly turning toward football.

And Wednesday night at Valencia High School, four Foothill League teams took to the field for a four-team round-robin passing tournament.

Canyon swept the Vikings, Hart and West Ranch, while Valencia won two games and Hart won one.

But with the season-openers still nearly four months away, the focus is simply on finding a groove and bringing new players up to speed.

“We want to build team chemistry, and that’s why I think passing tournaments are big,” said Cowboys first-year head coach Rich Gutierrez.

If Wednesday was any indication, the Cowboys’ chemistry is progressing quickly behind the leadership of senior quarterback Jonathan Jerozal.

Jerozal appeared on-point most of the day, connecting on deep passes to wide receiver Drew Wolitarsky, who recently drew a visit from USC assistant coach Ed Orgeron to practice, Gutierrez said, as well as Brandon Stach and newcomer Coley Apsay. Apsay hasn’t played football for two years, but the basketball standout’s good hands with breakaway speed helped Canyon put up points seemingly with ease.

Running back Max Archuleta, fresh off a trip to the CIF State Track and Field Championships, also demonstrated stellar quickness that will be utilized out of the backfield and also in the Cowboys’ secondary.

Canyon wasn’t the only team with strong speed.

Two-time defending league champion Valencia won both of its games after dropping a head-to-head with the Cowboys to open the competition.

The Vikings are transitioning in junior quarterback Sean Murphy, who is expected to take over for former Foothill League Player of the Year Alex Bishop.

“He’s doing a really good job,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “We’ve got a long ways to go, and we are trying to find the right personnel. ... This is a starting point for summer.”

Valencia is also looking to replace all-everything running back Steven Manfro. Cody Anciano and Jake Solley are two players currently competing for that job, Muir said.

Hart is also looking at a major position battle, and on Wednesday, Indians head coach Mike Herrington brought four quarterbacks — incumbent starter Cory Mayes, Connor Wingenroth, Matt Machin and Brady White.

Hart is trying to get back on track after missing the playoffs for the first time since 1980.

A key to turning that around is depth, and Herrington said this year’s team has it.

“That will create competition in practice, and that is something we didn’t have last year,” he said. “We went from 37 or 38 players to now we are somewhere around 50 with depth at each position.”

Hart’s lone win on the evening was a victory over West Ranch.

The Wildcats featured Gabe Peralta and Gerrit Mouw at quarterback. Neither Peralta nor Mouw has taken the starting job just yet, said West Ranch head coach Sean O’Brien.

After making the postseason for the first time in program history, the Wildcats are motivated to continue improving, O’Brien added.

“There are a lot of guys coming back to the program because they see how it’s growing,” he said.

West Ranch has added a new coverage scheme, as well as defensive back/running Jeff Coprich, who transferred from Golden Valley during the offseason.

Without any major tweaks to the offense, O’Brien said he is using the passing tournament as a teaching tool.
So are the other teams, and there are many more to come.

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