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Prep football: ’Cats look for better

West Ranch started season with win

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

West Ranch’s Jake Stone, far left, tackles Nordhoff’s Tucker De Alba as Wildcat teammates Matt Christensen (17) and Ben Milleman (21) approach on Sept. 2 at Valencia High.

Big surprise, West Ranch football has a potent offense.

That was clearly on display last Friday when the Wildcats smashed Nordhoff High of Ojai 53-21.

Head coach Sean O’Brien wasn’t surprised by it. He knew he had a good team this year.

He wants something better than good.

At least that’s what he hopes to see beginning with today’s matchup against Burbank High at 7 p.m. at Valencia High School.

“Great teams take care of the little things, and if you want to be great, you’ve got to play little,” O’Brien said “You’ve got to take care of the little things.”

Some of those things include four turnovers and nine penalties totaling 85 yards in last week’s season-opening win.
They’re the type of mistakes that could be overlooked when a team wins by more than four touchdowns.

But O’Brien doesn’t want them to be a sign of bigger issues.

“It was the sneezing and running nose that could lead to a bigger illness,” he said of the penalties. “And we’ve got to stomp that out.”

West Ranch (1-0) will no doubt go back to what worked so well last week, handing the ball off to running back Jeff Coprich.

The senior carried the ball just nine times for a school-record 213 yards and found the end zone four times — once on an interception return while playing defensive back.

“He’s just a great player and he’s just a good all-around athlete, and we’ve just got to figure out how to stop him,” said Burbank head coach Hector Valencia. “We’ve got to take better angles with him.”

The big, talented offensive line of West Ranch may have a greater challenge this week from a mental standpoint.

Burbank shows multiple fronts defensively and tries to disguise blitzes and confuse offenses with constant shifting, Valencia said.

“It’s something that brings coaches a lot of headaches with the kids flying around last year, but we’ve got to be ready to play,” he added.

Last Friday, the Bulldogs’ defense limited Warren High of Downey to just three points in a 10-3 win.

Senior linebacker Daniel Martinez led the team with 11 tackles and returning All-Pacific League defensive lineman Steven Kim is also expected to be a force up front, Valencia said.

As a whole, the Bulldogs are a young team, but they use trickery on both sides of the ball to keep opponents at bay.

Offensively, they employ a multiple-running back system that includes its fair share of pre-snap motions and misdirection.
All three of Burbank’s runners featured in the backfield — Quortney Brazier, Herman Castro and Teddy Arlington — played on varsity last year.

The counter to all the deception is simple, O’Brien said. Defenders have to stick with their assignments and play with discipline.

Today will mark the first time West Ranch, a Foothill League member since 2007, has ever played Burbank, which left the Foothill League following the 2005 season to join the Pacific League.

“A lot of people remember the old Foothill League days where Burbank didn’t do so well,” O’Brien said. “Those days aren’t here anymore.”


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