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'Core Four' has Titans skating toward possible league title, playoff berth Phillip Brents | Sat, Mar 05 2011 02:00 AM

Eastlake High School roller hockey coach Rone Torres is the South County’s biggest cheerleader. Now in his sixth year behind the bench, Torres has won three Mesa League titles and has his team in contention to win another one depending on the outcome of late season contests against Otay Ranch and Hilltop.

All three teams entered the week tied with one loss in league play. The Titans were scheduled to play Otay Ranch on Thursday and meet Hilltop this coming Tuesday as the 2010-11 season heads into the final week of regular season play.

The league champion automatically qualifies for the upcoming Kiwanis Cup championship playoffs.

Torres gives credit to his four senior leaders for much of the team’s success this season. The quartet of skaters has played together since they were freshmen. The foursome includes Zach McMahon, Alex Bule, Jace White and Jordan Hines.

“All four have contributed to the program over the last four years and I think their friendship is what has us in position to win a league title this year,” said Torres, whose team improved to 5-1 in league play following Tuesday’s 27-0 victory against Bonita Vista at Skate San Diego in National City. “There’s a bond between them — they don’t want to let any of the others down. They’re like brothers. I structure my team like a family.”

There’s no question the 2010 Titan unit has a unique chemistry. And talent is there as well, just not as much of it as in the past.

Eastlake improved to just 7-8 following Tuesday’s win.

“On paper, we have the most challenging schedule in the conference,” Torres said. “There were two stretches this season when we had three games scheduled in Escondido for that week. I am the only coach on the team and it’s a long day for me. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for a high school student with all they have to do each day.”

McMahon and White both have somewhat unique personalities and definitely help liven up things on the bench. On the floor, they help take the team to the next level, at least among South County squads.

White (40 goals, 16 assists) and McMahon (16 goals, 24 assists) entered the week as the Titans’ top two scorers. Hines (17 goals, 14 assists) ranked third in team scoring while Bule (12 goals, nine assists) was fourth.

White (seven goals, three assists) and McMahon (six goals, four assists) each collected 10 points in Tuesday’s win while Bule and Hines each had two goals and three assists.

“We have a lot of chemistry both on and off from roller hockey that makes us what we are,” McMahon said.

Torres said one of the things he likes best about his team is its highly competitive nature.
“It’s a given now that anyone who plays Eastlake will get a full game from us, even the North County teams,” Torres said succinctly. 

Case in point: The defending Kiwanis Cup champion Westview Wolverines had to work very hard to post a 3-0 win over the Titans in a non-league match-up Jan. 17 at Skate San Diego.

Bule and Hines have turned heads with their improved play the past two seasons. They have since become team leaders on the floor with their skillful play.

Torres has taken satisfaction in watching the growth — both on and off the floor — of what he terms his team’s “Core Four.”

“I have developed a bond with these student-athletes and their families over the years,” the EHS coach said. “I’ve gotten a lot of satisfaction in watching them develop into productive citizens.”

Bule has been accepted to attend UC Riverside. Hines, a standout receiver, recently signed a national letter of intent to attend Cal Poly San Luis Obispo to play football there.

“I like what I’ve accomplished on and off the playing court,” Bule said.

What the Titans have managed to accomplish over the past several years is a testament to hard work and commitment — and the lack of a feeder program that gives teams from outside the Sweetwater district a distinct advantage.

“When you look at teams from out of the South Bay, you have triple the coaches and triple the programs,” Torres said. “When you play (top-ranked) Rancho Bernardo, you are playing the product of their JV Gold and JV Silver team. They have better facilities and more opportunities to play, including middle school, and they have more ice hockey players. For us this season, our goal is just to reach .500.”

Another win or two might be just enough for Eastlake to extend its season into the playoffs.

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