Archive | August, 2016

Heralds, Commans and McGee Shine in Opening Season Victory

Heralds, Commans and McGee Shine in Opening Season Victory

Posted on 27 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Bryant Freese
La Habra JournalLHJ SHS_WCHS Football 2016

Whittier Christian’s Quinn Commans and Cade McGee connected on five touchdown passes to give the Heralds a 48-29 win over the Bishop Union Broncos in the opening game of the season Friday night at Whittier College.
“That’s the way you want to start the season off, 1-0, feels good” said head coach Sergio Gradilla.
Whittier Christian started the contest off showing some first game jitters, giving up a sack on the first play from scrimmage and being forced to punt after three plays.
The Heralds defense opened up their first possession on the football field in much better fashion by forcing a fourth down turnover on their own 30 yard line as the Broncos were driving down the field to score.
Quarterback Quinn Commans and Running Back Justin Osborn calmed the offense down and led them on a 68 yard touchdown drive capped off with a one yard rush by Commans.
After a second straight strong defensive stand by Whittier Christian in which they only gave up two yards to the Bishop Union offense. The Heralds were in position to take a commanding lead of the game.
The Heralds offense took advantage quickly, finishing off a five play, 73-yard drive with a 42 yard touchdown pass from Commans to Wide Receiver McGee. Commans and McGee were on the same page all night and really made the offense go, “me and him have been playing together since seventh grade so we have that chemistry,” said Commans.
Commans finished the game with 443 yards passing and four touchdowns while McGee added 208 yards receiving with three touchdowns.
Whittier Christian had taken all the moment out of the Broncos after going up 14-0 before the end of the first quarter. Until quarterback Ryan Graves of Bishop Union took the snap and ran for a 73 yard touchdown right before the end of the first quarter, getting the Broncos right back in the game.
The touchdown by Graves put some life into the Broncos defense, giving the ball back to their offense after giving up one first down to the Heralds offense.
Broncos quarterback Ryan Graves went right back to work after a 25 yard end-around running play by running back Sean Brown, Graves took the very next play to the end zone on 55 yard rush, making the score 14-14 midway through the second quarter.
Both teams made mistakes and failed to finish off drives near the end of the half. Bishop Union was driving entire length of the field, which eventually set up first and goal on the Heralds three yard line.
Whittier Christians defense held strong, forcing a fumble on the second play which went out of the back of the Heralds end zone. By rule, giving the Heralds the ball back on their own 20 yard line.
Whittier Christian couldn’t take advantage of the Broncos miscue, finishing off their offensive drive with a fumble on the Broncos four yard line just as they were driving down the field to take the lead.
The Heralds had an ideal start to the second half, making the Broncos punt after a three-and-out series. Then on the second play from scrimmage of the second half Commans and McGee connected on an 85 yard touchdown pass from their own 15 yard line, there second connection for a touchdown in the game. LHJ SHS_WCHS Football 2016


“They did it all summer so we were hoping it would translate over to the season and we knew it would,” said  Gradilla.
The defense of Whittier Christian was stingy most of the night, giving up two more touchdowns in the second half. The Heralds defense gave up four touchdowns total, all on rushing plays over 40 yards long.
The Bishop Union offense wasn’t able to get much offense going other than the big plays, which the defense will work to limit going forward in the season according to Gradilla.
After relinquishing the lead late in the third quarter the Heralds turned it on. Justin Osborn took the lead back with a 22 yard rushing touchdown. Osborn finished the game with 164 yards rushing and one touchdown, “he’s a beast to try and tackle,” said Gradilla.
There was no looking back for the Heralds who outscored Bishop Union 22-7 in the fourth quarter. Commans and McGee hooked up for another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for 55 yards.

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Penalties plague Raiders in loss to Cardinals.

Penalties plague Raiders in loss to Cardinals.

Posted on 27 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Sarah Fenton
La Habra JournalLHJ SHS_WCHS Football 2016

Penalties and turnovers plagued Sonora’s first game of the season against Whittier Friday night at California High School.

Whittier shut out Sonora, 16-0, scoring all of the game points towards the end of the second half.

“At the end of the day you can’t leave it in the refs’ hands,” Sonora’s coach Daniel Morales said. “We need to do our job and take care what we need to do. You can’t leave it in their hands if it’s that close. You have to take it away from them and put it on you to do even better.”

Both teams remained tied at zero going into halftime, but the pace of the game changed in the third quarter.

The Raiders and the Cardinals both had touchdowns called back halfway through the quarter, but Wittier was first to put points on the board with a one-yard run on fourth and goal by Alex Retana.LHJ SHS_WCHS Football 2016

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, Sonora had trouble with a snap on a punt attempt allowing Whittier to recover the ball.

The Cardinals capitalized on the turnover and added three more points to the score off of a 27-yard field goal by Jorge Vazquez.

Half way through the fourth quarter, Whittier scored the final points of the game with another one-yard touchdown run by Retana.

“We need to get more polished,” coach Morales said. “We have a new system, a young quarterback, we just have to get to work and fix all the little mistakes we made as a young team. We made some big mistakes in some key situations. If we stop those turnovers, it might be a completely different game. We’re just going to work on getting better and better.”LHJ SHS_WCHS Football 2016

Ethan Cook led the Raiders with 73 yards on 12 carries and Dylan Salcido led the Cardinals completing 12 of 22 passes for 91 yards and rushed 76 yards on 11 carries.

“I’m really proud of our team,” coach Morales said. “I’m really proud of our defense and I cant wait to see the guys come together and keep working to get even better because they are a resilient group and I love coaching them. I can’t wait to see what they can do through this whole season.”

Sonora’s next game will be at home against Brea Olinda on September 2.

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Highlanders win back-and-forth battle with Chargers

Highlanders win back-and-forth battle with Chargers

Posted on 27 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

It wasn’t the dominant performance the faithful blue and white clad fans have grown accustomed to seeing the past few years, but the Highlanders kicked off the 2016-17 season with a hard fought victory over El Toro on Friday night. Spurred by Eli Anderson’s successful debut at running back and a physically imposing defense, La Habra wore the Chargers down and held on for the 42-36 win.

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Senior Running Back Eli Anderson helped lead the Highlanders over El Toro Friday night. By Miguel Pola

Head Coach Frank Mazzotta’s decision to put his former starting safety in the backfield payed off for the Highlanders. Anderson, the former two-year defensive starter did not disappoint, reaching the end zone four times, highlighted by a dazzling 72-yard breakaway run midway through the first quarter to put the Highlanders on the board.

“Eli is learning, he’s 205 pounds of muscle, he’s got great feet and sees things pretty well out there, but he just doesn’t know how to run the ball yet.” Mazzotta said after the game. “Eli is such a good athlete we wanted to try him at running back, I think he will get better and just be a force for us.”

Mazzotta said the one thing he needs to really focus on is getting his pad level down, and not running upright through the hole.

“There is always room to improve, I just want to win another ring and help the team succeed any way that I can.” Anderson said. “Today was ok, but I think that I can do even better the next game, I like running back because I feel that I can have a bigger impact on the game, so I’m trying to grow into it.”

Leading up to the season opener, the quarterback-play was a legitimate concern for the Highlanders. Merely three weeks ago, Mazzotta was still uncertain who would be under center come opening night. Junior Zach Fogel earned the job and led the offense for the majority of the game.

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La Habra Junior Zach Fogel settled in at quarterback for the Highlanders. By Miguel Pola

Fogel was largely inconsistent against the Chargers, especially in the first half, where he completed less than five passes. However, Fogel shook off his early woes on his first toss of the second half, connecting on a short pass over the middle to Pervis Henderson, who made one Charger defender miss and bolted for a 73-yard touchdown.

Fogel’s most impressive throw came later in the third quarter, when he connected with Henderson again on a 54-yard go-route for his second score of the game. With the El Toro defense bearing down on him, Fogel stood in the pocket and lofted a nicely thrown ball up the home sideline as he was lifted off his feet and driven into the ground by Charger pass rushers.

“Zach is tough, there’s no doubt about it, but he has got a lot of work to do,” Mazzotta said. “He needs to work on a lot of little things.”

“I thought Pervis was the main difference for us, he had some huge plays tonight,” Mazzotta said.

Matt Freem highlighted El Toro’s scoring attack. The kicker went made five-of-six attempts and added a couple PAT’s as well. Freem’s lone miss, came on a 44-yard attempt in the third quarter, and it had plenty of distance, it just sailed wide left by a couple feet.

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La Habra Senior Prince Ross pushes away a charger defender in La Habra’s win Friday night. By Miguel Pola

The La Habra defense played physical all night, perhaps too physical at times. Nearly all of El Toro’s scoring opportunities throughout the game were setup by penalty calls. The Highlanders were hit with a slew of unnecessary roughness, hitting a defenseless receiver, roughing the quarterback and unsportsmanlike conduct calls from start to finish.

The referees finally reached their boiling point in the fourth quarter. Highlander defensive back, Josh Gichuru was ejected after another helmet-to-helmet on a defenseless receiver flag was thrown, immediately followed by an unsportsmanlike conduct call. The Charger receiver remained on the ground for several minutes after the collision as Gichuru and other La Habra defenders celebrated the hit.

Linebacker Marcus Carrasco stood out on defense. The senior had several big tackles and a fumble recovery to seal the victory. But his biggest play came through the air, when he read El Toro quarterback Connor Jones’ eyes and jumped in front of an out route for the interception and 33-yard touchdown return.

La Habra will look to tighten up the penalties and hope to get some consistency out of the passing game when they take travel to Rancho Santa Margarita next Friday to take on Tesoro at 7 p.m.

“Everything, honest to god, everything,” Mazzotta said about what his team needs to improve. “We didn’t do anything really good, we did some things ok, but there is a lot of work to do.

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Highlanders fall in OT to Titans in tight battle

Highlanders fall in OT to Titans in tight battle

Posted on 08 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

After a tightly locked battle on the field it came down to overtime where Tesoro beat the Highlanders with a point after touchdown 14-13.
After coming back to tie the game and taking it to overtime, The Highlanders had the ball first. La

Photo by Paul Luna Taking him down: La Habra's Alan Giron tackles Tesoro's Chase Peterson duing the Highlander's loss Friday in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Photo by Paul Luna
Taking him down: La Habra’s Alan Giron tackles Tesoro’s Chase Peterson duing the Highlander’s loss Friday in Rancho Santa Margarita.

Habra drove down 10 yards from the 25 yard line when Madison Wheeler ran one into the endzone. The point after went wide and kept the score at 13.
It was then Tesoro’s turn.  The Highlander defense held the Titans and looked like they might be able to stop their Division 1 opponents, only letting them gain three yards.
However, with a fourth and 7, Chase Petersen connected with Graeden Sharp for 10 yards and the first down. Petersen finished with 160 yards in the air.
The Highlander defense stood up again, but Petersen hit sophomore Joe Morenc in the end zone and the point after was good for the win.
La Habra (1-1) started the game strong, but penalties caused two Highlanders touchdowns in the first half to be erased.
Prince Ross returned a punt 91 yards in the first-quarter, but an illegal block to the back had it taken away. Ross would finish with 62 yards receiving. Rene Palacios added 22 yards receiving.

Photo by Paul Luna defenders Friday night. Anderson finished with 65 yards rushing.

Photo by Paul Luna
defenders Friday night. Anderson finished with 65 yards rushing.

Wheeler took what could have been a pick six interception 64 yards in the second quarter, but another blocking penalty dashed those points.
Wheeler got in the endzone again in the third quarter, this time without penalties, and tied up the game for the Highlanders.
Peterson had connected with Seth Gilmore for a 26-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for the Titans (1-1).
La Habra will face another tough south county team when they travel to Mission Viejo (2-0) Friday to take on the Diablos.

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La Habra School District establishes timeline for hiring new superintendent

La Habra School District establishes timeline for hiring new superintendent

Posted on 04 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By  Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

The La Habra City School District board appointed Karen Kinney as acting Superintendent last week.
According to John Dobson, president of the LHCSD board, Kinney will be in place until the interim superintendent is appointed.
The board is set to name an interim Superintendent at its meeting on August 11, with a start date of August 22.
The interim superintendent will take over district operations while a search for the  permanent replacement continues. Superintendendt Chart
Dr. Susan Belenardo, who has served as superintendent of the LHCSD for the last 14 years submitted her resignation in July and her final day is August 5.
The board named Kinney as the acting top administrator to help with the transition. Dobson acknowledged that Kinney already has a great deal of responsibility within the district and would not be in the acting position long.
In an effort to assist in the search, the  board has hired Leadership Associates, a La Quinta-based executive search firm that specializes in finding school district superintendents.
The consultants have worked with the LHCSD board of directors to establish a timeline for the search and hiring of the new superintendent. The proposed timeline calls for a new superintendent to be in place by January or February 2017.
According to the proposed timeline, consultants from Leadership Associates will meet with district staff as well as community and civic leaders that are designated by the board to receive input on key qualities and characteristics desired in the new superintendent. Online surveys will be conducted and will run through October 1.
“Leadership Associates will get information from community stakeholders,” Dobson said.
He suggested that stakeholders could include the teachers, city leaders and the various PTAs to name a few.
He explained that they will be seeking input on what these stakeholders will want to see in the new superintendent.
The consultants will then communicate their findings to the board.
Dobson explained that input from outside the board on the desired qualifications and expectations of the new superintendent is vital and will help the district move forward.
After receiving the input from the consultants, the board will approve the position description, and it will be sent out to the various recruiting and employment outlets.
Application deadlines are set for November.
With the general elections in November and two of the five seats up for grabs, the current board members and consultants scheduled the time to review applications and selection of finalists to be after the new board is sworn in on December 8.
Dobson reiterated the importance of the new board do the hiring of the new superintendent.
Leadership Associates will conduct the initial paper screening of the applications and background checks by December.
Consultants will meet with the board in a closed meeting and will discuss the applicants.  Finalists will then be selected.
Dobson cautioned that the timeframe could change a bit because of the Christmas holiday and various vacation plans.
Final interviews of the candidates are scheduled to take place in January, and the new superintendent will start shortly thereafter.

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Fishing trip planning company casts impressive line for LH owners

Fishing trip planning company casts impressive line for LH owners

Posted on 04 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Leon Romero
La Habra Journal

With summer in full swing many people are looking to cool off on sunny days by going on a fishing trip and looking to catch massive fish to bring back home.

Photo courtesy of Leonard Phillips Adventure awaits:  Co-owner Leonard Phillips of Baja Pirates stands in front of their headquarters. Phillips and his wife operate 15 boats and help guests plan their fishing adventures in Baja.

Photo courtesy of Leonard Phillips
Adventure awaits: Co-owner Leonard Phillips of Baja Pirates stands in front of their headquarters. Phillips and his wife operate 15 boats and help guests plan their fishing adventures in Baja.

Planning a fishing trip on a boat without going through a vacation planning company can get pricey quickly due to all of the equipment, fishing license, and transportation required.
Luckily, 12-year La Habra Heights residents Leonard Phillips and his wife Diane Robert are the co-owners of a full-service vacation planning company called Baja Pirates based in La Habra, that helps you organize your personal fishing vacation in La Paz, Mexico.
The company began operations in 2000, and now has 15 center-console and cruiser boats and 15 captains to accompany and instruct customers throughout their trip.
Their most recent boat purchase happened when they came across a Triumph boat that was no longer in production, in excellent condition, and for sale. The owners went through the financial company Bizfi to finance the rare boat, and were able to purchase it for around $20,000, according to Phillips.
Baja Pirates has been involved in four different television shows spotlighting different types of fishing at different times of the year, and their next appearance will be on NBC’s fishing show “Season of the Fly.”
The show portrays various methods of fly fishing in different locations around the world, and whenever the film crew comes to La Paz, Mexico, Baja Pirates has always been there to provide their services. The company has made previous appearances on the show, so they’ve learned that it takes hundreds of hours of filming throughout five days to make a 30-minute episode.
Before bringing Baja Pirates to La Paz, Mexico, Phillips and Robert worked in Sitka, Alaska at another vacation planning company called Alaskan Advantage, but eventually decided to begin business in Mexico because everything from hotel accommodations to food were much more inexpensive.
“We took that Alaskan style of business and brought it to Mexico. When we brought the vacuum packers down there in 2000 they’d never even seen them,” Phillips said.
The company’s main attraction is fishing trips, but they also offer scuba diving, snorkeling, sea kayaking, golf trips, and tours of the location.
Those who would rather not go on the water, schedule a vacation around the best restaurants, spas, sights, and shopping centers nearby.
The two different types of bookings they encounter on a daily basis are single day rentals and vacation packages.
According to Phillips, a five-day four-night stay at a waterfront resort with three days of various activities is around $1,000, while a single day fishing trip is around $400.
Mexico has a limit on how many fish can be caught during a trip, but generally customers leave from a three-day fishing trip with a 50-pound cooler of fish that has been filleted, vacuum packed, and frozen.
The company recently received their third consecutive certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor, which is only awarded to accommodations, attractions and restaurants that consistently earn excellent reviews from customers.
There are over 850 different species of fish and marine mammals that call La Paz home, which is one of the various reasons why Phillips believes making it your next vacation spot is an excellent idea.
“You’ll be out fishing and you’ll see whales, dolphins, turtles, and all kinds of birds,” Phillips said. “It’s an amazing place.”
For more information on how to schedule your next vacation with Baja Pirates visit their website at: bajapiratesoflapaz.com.
They are nonoperational December and January due to the strong northwest winds in that area.

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Over $100,000 raised by bookstore and still going strong

Over $100,000 raised by bookstore and still going strong

Posted on 04 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Leon Romero
La Habra Journal

When you enter the La Habra Library building you’re probably used to making the first right to enter the main library, but if you look further down the hallway to the left you’ll find one of La Habra’s hidden gems.

Leon Romero/La Habra Journal Friends of books:  co-managers Melanie Dennis (left) and Marianne Getz stand outside the Friends of the Library Bookstore.  The bookstore was able to raise more than $100,000 to renovate the library.

Leon Romero/La Habra Journal
Friends of books: co-managers Melanie Dennis (left) and Marianne Getz stand outside the Friends of the Library Bookstore. The bookstore was able to raise more than $100,000 to renovate the library.

The room at the end of the hallway is the Friends of the La Habra Library Bookstore, which opened for business in 1992 and has raised well over $100,000 to assist with the library’s modernization.
Inside the store customers will find that all of the books are priced at 50 cents, with the exceptions of one specially marked shelf with books priced up to $3 and any magazines or books on the shelves outside of the room priced at 10¢.
Before that room became a bookstore it was a county office, and the library staff held book sales within the library twice a year. Marianne Getz began volunteering for the bookstore in 1996 and was eventually made co-manager along with her husband Leon Getz, who is the bookstore’s current president.
“The bookstore was opened to raise funds for the library,” Marianne Getz said. “During the recession the state was giving the library nothing for books, and the money from the story was a way they could buy new books.”
The bookstore has raised impressive funds that have allowed the branch manager, Jill Patterson, to purchase new items including books, DVDs, chairs, tables, curtains, flooring, and most recently two ASUS desktop computers with children learning programs. It has also funded several library programs including the Thursday Spectacular events during the Summer Reading program by providing funds for materials, prizes, and performers.
Since its opening, local volunteers looking to support the library have staffed the bookstore. The bookstore is currently in search of more volunteers to work two-hour shifts once a week.
According to bookstore co-manager Melanie Dennis, if people would like to sign up to volunteer, they may leave your name and contact information with the bookstore cashier.
The books sold at the store are all either donations from the public or books being discarded by the library.
Twenty-year La Habra resident, Nancy Rapadas, is a regular at this store that makes sure to donate the books elsewhere when she’s finished with them, because she admits to having accidentally bought a book she had previously donated to the bookstore.
“My two sons gave me a Nook tablet, but it’s still too expensive to buy books on there, so I just buy paperbacks here—$1 for ten books, you can’t beat that deal,” Rapadas said.
Another manner in which the bookstore raises funds is through the annual membership donations from residents and businesses.
Inside the store visitors can find a yellow sheet that you turn into the bookstore cashier with your information and donation in order to become a member.
There are seven different memberships you can sign up for with the lowest one being an Individual Member for $10 per year and the highest being a Life Member for $200 per year.
Once your membership is approved you’ll receive a membership card, the quarterly newsletters, and a $5 gift card for the bookstore in the mail.
According to the Summer 2016 newsletter from the bookstore, they made a total income of $19,334 from June 2015 to April 2016. While the total spent during the same time frame on materials and programs was $8,642.
The next two library renovations on Patterson’s list are to turn the multiple information desks within the library into a one-desk system and to upgrade the electric power system. With many changes coming from the civic center relocation project the library staff is preparing to move the main entrance and book-drop zone with help from the bookstore.
“The Friends of the La Habra Library Bookstore is the strongest supporter of the library,” Patterson said. “We wouldn’t be where we are now without them.”

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New coach looks to help Raiders build for new season

New coach looks to help Raiders build for new season

Posted on 04 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Sarah Fenton
La Habra Journal

Former La Habra High School quarterback, Daniel Morales, is now the new head football coach at the school that was once his rival, Sonora High School.  LHJ HS Footbal practice 2016
“It was exciting, first off,” Morales said. “I’m going to be able to teach and be head coach, something I’ve always wanted to do.  But in the back of my mind it’s crazy that I’m going to Sonora, which is our rival. Our cross-town rival since I was little.”
Morales graduated from La Habra High School in 2003 and was an assistant football coach from 2007 to 2013.
He served as the assistant coach at Nogales of La Puente for the past two seasons before replacing Paul Chiotti, who resigned this year.
“All my brothers went to La Habra and my family has strong ties there, but at the end of the day it comes down to just being able to be a part of the community that I live in and that I love,” he said.
Morales said he briefly spoke to his former coach, Frank Mazzotta, about his new head coach title.
“I told him about it, we just talked a little bit. I still need to talk to him a lot more about it, but I jumped into the coaching aspect right away and just started going. Started preparing and getting stuff together, planning out spring, summer and fall and getting everything organized for the season so we can be as productive as possible.”
Practices are in full force for the Raiders as he prepares his new team for the upcoming season, but looking past practices to the games on the schedule, there is one matchup that stands out more than the others.LHJ HS Footbal practice 2016
“If you’re from the city you think about that game,” he said about playing cross-town rival, La Habra High School. “You think about all games, but at the end of the day it comes down to trying to get the most out of our kids. That game is going to happen as well as the other nine games that we have on our schedule so we’re excited about all of them and we want to go out there and be the best that we can be.”
Out of the goals he wants to accomplish this season, his main objectives are for his team to be a family and play hard.
In addition to his team goals, he also wants to make the community more aware of the school and its programs available to students.
Outside of season, he has bigger goals in mind for his team.
“The biggest goal I want to accomplish always is producing successful individuals both in the classroom and on the football field,” he said. “Having them use the tools that football teaches them and take it into the real world with them, be able to use it, become successful people, and get great jobs. I want them to support their families, and be people who care about their family and community. At the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal.”

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Highlanders look to repeat despite loss of playmakers

Highlanders look to repeat despite loss of playmakers

Posted on 04 August 2016 by La Habra Journal

By Jason Burch
La Habra Journal

It seems like just a couple months ago, La Habra was celebrating yet another last second miracle catch to win the CIF Championship, but alas the 2016-17 football season is nearly upon us once again.

LHJ HS Footbal practice 2016
The La Habra Highlanders will officially kickoff the season at home against El Toro in just three weeks.
As always, the Highlander football players and coaches find themselves searching for another CIF title. While La Habra will undoubtedly be in the hunt for another ring, they are first and foremost searching for a quarterback to take the reigns on offense.
After the departure of one of the most dynamic playmakers in school history, Eric Barriere (Eastern Washington University), Head Coach Frank Mazzotta has yet to name his starting quarterback.
Mazzotta said the position battle is between freshman Alex Flores , junior Zach Fogel and senior Joe Hernandez, a transfer from nearby St. Paul. While he is still unclear on how things will shake out, Mazzotta said he is happy with the progress of three players competing for the job thus far.
Starting at quarterback as a freshman is a tall order at any school, especially at traditional power like La Habra. With that said, Mazzotta believes Flores has a bright future and has been impressed with his football-IQ.
“Alex loves the game of football so much, he is really a student of the game,” Mazzotta said.
Fogel saw some action last season in lopsided victories and showed the ability to move the ball when given the opportunity.
Hernandez played the majority of the snaps behind center for St. Paul (Norwalk) last season, throwing for over 700 yards and three touchdowns.
With Barriere, Amon Fellows and CJ Taylor no longer around, the Highlanders will be missing three-quarters of their key playmakers on offense. However, they still have the explosive Prince Ross at receiver and seniors Eli Anderson and Madison Wheeler in the backfield. LHJ HS Footbal practice 2016
Ross was one of Barriere’s favorite targets a season ago and caught the CIF Championship-winning touchdown from Barriere as time expired the last time he was on the field.
Mazzotta said the carries will be split between Eli Anderson and Madison Wheeler.
Wheeler will also play a pivotal role on defense. He is expected by many to be one of the top recruits in Southern California.
Another key returner on defense is linebacker Camron Rivas. The senior is equally adept at rushing the quarterback and stopping the run. He is also unquestionably one of the vocal and emotional leaders on the team.
Senior outside linebacker Marcus Carrasco, will also be a major force on defense. Carrasco has the prototypical collegiate linebacker size and will be one of the leading tacklers for the Highlanders once again this season.
According to Mazzotta, the Highlanders will be returning just four starters on offense and five on defense.
One thing you can count on every season under Mazzotta’s tutelage, is the Highlanders will play physical and well coached football, from top-to-bottom.
Mazzotta has led the Highlanders to a Freeway League title 12 out of the last 13 seasons, and amassed an impressive seven CIF Championships in that span.
With a young and explosive Buena Park team returning a lot of key playmakers, the Coyotes will most likely be the stiffest test for La Habra en route to capturing their 10th consecutive Freeway League title.
It wouldn’t be reasonable to set expectations as high as they were coming into last season, especially with the uncertainty at the most important position. However, Mazzotta has proven to be masterful at building a winning program that can continue winning at a high level, despite the turnover of multiple key players year-in and year-out.
Mazzotta called the team a work in progress at this point, but said the team is right where he thought they would be at this time.
“The kids have done a nice job in the passing league, but it’s hard to tell exactly where we are at until we get into real competition,” Mazzotta said.
The Highlanders will get their first test against El Toro, Friday August 26 at 7 p.m.

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