Fri, Sep 02 2011 12:40 AM Posted By: Phillip Brents
The Sweetwater High School Red Devils are about to enter a new era with the recent announcement that the school has been earmarked for funds to install a new turf field at Gail Devers Stadium. Construction has tentatively been slated to begin in November, according to SuHi athletic director Tim Latham.
It’s an obvious boost to morale for the school’s football team, which suffered through an injury-riddled 1-9 season in 2010. Head coach Jose Mendoza is entering his third year at the helm. The Red Devils finished 4-6 in 2009 to inject some optimism in the program but success was denied them last year with key personnel relegated to the sideline. Eight losses came to playoff teams.
But a new era is on the horizon.
Sweetwater finished in last place in the Metro-Pacific League’s inaugural season standings, suffering losses to Castle Park, Olympian and Montgomery — all playoff-bound squads.
But that could change in 2011. Olympian, last year’s league champion, departs to the Metro-Mesa League this season and is replaced in the Metro-Pacific League by Mater Dei Catholic (1-9 last season). The four-team league appears to be much more balanced — and that can only favor the Devils’ championship fortunes.
“Our goal is to improve from last year’s record,” Mendoza said. “We lost some kids to graduation and so did the other schools. I think everyone else in the league will be in the same boat we are in this season.”
The 2011 SuHi squad will look to veteran leadership from six all-league returners. They include senior defensive back Daniel Castro (first team), senior running back Kristian Garcia (second team), senior offensive lineman Ronnel Jamir (second team), senior offensive lineman Fernando Badilla (honorable mention), senior tight end Luis Venegas (honorable mention) and senior linebacker Luis Mendoza (honorable mention).
Also buttressing this year’s team are senior wide receiver Adrian Libsack, junior receiver Zack Crutcher, junior offensive lineman Jorge Bonilla and senior defensive-offensive lineman Anthony Favale.
The loss to graduation of first team all-league quarterback Adam Aguon (1,908 passing yards, 13 touchdowns) looks to be the team’s biggest area to fill. However, the Devils can count of five key returning players who managed to pile up yardage last season.
Garcia rushed for 612 yards and scored five touchdowns while Castro made 45 catches for 702 yards and four touchdowns. Venegas had 24 catches for 416 yards and five touchdowns while Crutcher had 37 receptions for 388 yards and two touchdowns. Libsack had 23 catches for 270 yards.
Getting the ball to this talented cast will be key operating order this season.
“We have a lot of guys in place if we can get them the ball,” Mendoza said.
Impact newcomers include junior quarterback Saladin Nasser, freshman receiver-defensive back Raven Middleton, sophomore defensive lineman Robert Hernandez and junior defensive-offensive lineman Robert Tapia.
The Devils kick off their season with a Sept. 2 home game against the El Cajon Valley Braves. Both teams will be looking to build momentum early in the season. ECV also finished 1-9 last year.
Sweetwater will travel to Chula Vista the following Friday to renew the schools’ longtime rivalry for the Legacy of Pride trophy.
Non-league games follow against Granite Hills (Sept. 16 at home) and Mt. Miguel (Sept. 30 in Spring Valley). The Devils play a non-league game at Olympian on Oct. 7 before engaging Southwest Oct. 14 on the Raiders’ field.
The Devils kick off their modest three-game league schedule Oct. 28 with a home game against Castle Park, followed by a Nov. 4 road game at Montgomery and a Nov. 10 home game against Mater Dei Catholic.
Of SuHi’s 10 opponents in 2011, five made last year’s playoffs.
Sweetwater Red Devils 2011 Schedule
2: El Cajon Valley at Sweetwater
9: Sweetwater at Chula Vista
16: Granite Hills at Sweetwater
30: Sweetwater at Mt. Miguel
7: Sweetwater at Olympian
14: Sweetwater at Southwest
21: San Ysidro at Sweetwater
28: Castle Park at Sweetwater
4: Sweetwater at Montgomery
10: Mater Dei Catholic at Sweetwater
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