Jose Mendoza filled in on an interim basis as head coach of the Sweetwater Red Devils last season, guiding the National City school to a runner-up finish in the South Bay League standings and a 4-6 overall record. He was recently named permanent head coach and he is hoping to lead his team to renewed fortunes in the Metro Conference’s newly created Pacific League.
“We starting off with a young team but we’re looking to compete for the league title,” Mendoza said.
Headlining SuHi’s list of top returners are senior quarterback Adam Aguon, junior offensive lineman Fernando Padilla, senior running back Jaime Valenzuela, junior defensive back Kristian Garcia and junior Daniel Castro.
Garcia is the team’s lone returning all-league selection from the 2009 season.
Aguon will be a three-year varsity letter-winner.
Two promising newcomers include senior linebacker Adan Mendez and senior Victor Rocha.
“Offensively, if we get going we’ll be explosive,” Mendoza said. “Defensively, the team is real young. The impact is going to be felt by our linebackers, who are all new.”
The impact from the National City Diablos youth football program is being felt by the Sweetwater football program, which now boasts a number of players from the Diablos’ first Midget team.
“Our numbers have improved,” Mendoza said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the kids develop. We have a lot of juniors and sophomores on the varsity team. That’s good for the future because those kids are going to get a lot of experience but it also hurts us at the junior varsity level. It’s a double-edged sword.”
Despite the switch to a new league, Mendoza said his team will essentially face the same opponents. “It’s a new name but we’re playing the same teams as before ... Chula Vista, Otay Ranch, Southwest, Mar Vista …”
The Red Devils do have two out-of-town games on their expansive seven-game non-league schedule: Sept. 3 in Rancho Santa Margarita against San Juan Hills and Sept. 25 at Castlemont in Oakland. Sweetwater also plays at Granite Hills on Sept. 17. The team’s remaining four non-league games are against teams from either the Metro-Mesa League or Metro-South Bay League.
The Sept. 10 match-up against Chula Vista — the schools’ annual Legacy of Pride game — is already circled on the calendars of all Sweetwater alumni. The teams will be battling for the 64th time. Chula Vista holds a 36-24-3 edge in the series.
“Even though it doesn’t have a bearing on the league standings, the game against Chula still means a lot, especially if you’re from Sweetwater,” Mendoza said. “There’s a lot of pride and tradition at stake. If you’re a Sweetwater alumni, you want to take that game.”
The Red Devils kick off the 2010 season with a Sept. 3 game against San Juan Hills at Tesoro High School.
Sweetwater Red Devils
2010 Football Schedule
3: Sweetwater at San Juan Hills (San Juan Capistrano), 7:30 p.m.
10: Chula Vista at Sweetwater, 7 p.m.
17: Sweetwater at Granite Hills, 7 p.m.
25: Sweetwater at Castlemont (Oakland,), 7 p.m.
8: Sweetwater at Otay Ranch, 7 p.m.
15: Southwest at Sweetwater, 7 p.m.
22: Mar Vista at Sweetwater, 7 p.m.
29: Sweetwater at Castle Park, 7 p.m.
5: Montgomery at Sweetwater, 7 p.m.
12: Sweetwater at Olympian, 7 p.m.