“We knew what we were getting into,” exclaimed Alemany head coach Dean Herrington as he spoke about the new league schedule his team would have to face. However, just because he knew what he was getting into, doesn’t exactly mean he wanted to get into it.
The move. A jump from the Mission League to the Serra League. Oh, by the way, the move comes fully equipped with free admission to the PAC-5 Playoffs, albeit, you have the qualifications.
It’s not a move Herrington or Alemany was exactly geeked about. The goal was to add a fifth team to the Serra League so that it could be awarded an additional playoff spot. Alemany voted for (Gardena) Serra to go, but they were overruled. Representatives of the Catholic High Schools voted on who would be the team to join the Serra League and getting the nod was Alemany.
It seems both parties were right. Serra has since moved to the Mission League and is coming off of an undefeated season in which it captured the Division III State Bowl Championship. Meanwhile, Alemany has found success with the big boys.
Coming from the Western Division, which is Division IV, and moving to the PAC-5 which is Division I is not altogether different. Orange Lutheran made the jump from Division XI, to Division VI, and actually won a Trinity League Championship and a State Bowl Championship in the Lancers first season in the PAC-5 back in 2006.
Tonight, the Warriors (9-0, 3-0), in their first season as a member of the Serra League, will host (6) Bishop Amat (9-0, 6-0) for the league championship. Although the stage may be somewhat different, the competition is very familiar.
As Herrington noted, his team knew what they were getting into. Over the previous three seasons, Alemany has played Serra League competition in the nonleague part of their schedule. The Warriors fared 3-3 in those games. Coming into this season, they had an idea of what to expect on a weekly basis.
“If you don’t bring your ‘A’ game, you’ll get beat,” says Herrington, whose team has yet to taste defeat since making the jump. Leading the way for the Warriors is quarterback Vernon Adams, whom Herrington calls a “special player.”
The special player is going to have to have a special game if the Warriors are to unseat the defending league champs. The Lancers are 14-2 all time against the Warriors, including a 36-14 non league win last season. Adams threw for 210 yards and a touchdown in defeat.
Then Lancers went on to take care of Serra League competition on their way to their first league title since winning the Del Rey League in 2001. The ’10 version is more explosive than its ’09 counterpart, led by star quarterback Rio Ruiz.
Ruiz, a junior, became the signal caller this season after playing wide receiver last year. He’s getting better each week, completing 64% of his passes on the season. Last week he was named California’s Player of the Week after completing a CIF Southern Section record-tying 20 passes in a row in the Lancers last game against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. He finished the game with five touchdown passes and completed 22 of 24 passes for 346 yards. To think, football is his second sport. He’s more regarded as a baseball player.
Herrington is full aware of the problems Amat poses. He also knows there are no guarantees in the Serra League, “anyone can beat anyone else.”