The La Quinta High football program has come a long way, and as a part of their journey, the team will take a long bus ride into the Mojave Desert this Friday.
As recently as 2014, the Aztecs posted a 1-9 record, and at one time it was even suggested that the school consider dropping the program because of the demographics of the student population.
But in 2015, under coach Andy Diaz, the blue-and-gold posted a 4-7 record, and improved that to 7-3 in 2016. So far this season, La Quinta has a sterling 11-1 record, a second place finish in the Garden Grove League, and a spot in the CIF-SS Division 13 football semifinals against Silver Valley of the small town of Yermo.
Yermo is located 15 miles east of Barstow, with a population of about 1,750 souls. The Trojans are 8-3 so far, and finished second in the Cross Valley League. They lost only to Big Bear (11-1), which is meeting Santa Ana (11-1) in a Division 12 semifinal on Saturday.
Silver Valley has a fairly balanced offense. Anthony Brown has passed for 1,458 yards and 12 touchdowns, with five interceptions. He’s also a good runner, with 883 yards and 16 touchdowns.
He’s ably seconded by Eteru Ane, who rushed for 2,550 yards and 29 scores. The 6-foot, 4-inch 240-lb. senior is also a force on defense. From the middle linebacker spot, he is averaging 7.5 tackles per game, and has forced four fumbles.
La Quinta will counter with its own stars. Michael Nadeau has passed for 1,698 yards and 19 touchdowns, and rushed for 377 yards and 17 touchdowns. Dylan Do has run for 1,114 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Aztecs.
If LQ wins, it will face the winner of Saturday’s Orange-Santa Clara/Oxnard contest in the finals. The last time La Quinta made it that far was in 1989. Win or lose, it’s nice to see the Aztecs come so far at last.
Hoops right around the corner
High school football isn’t quite done yet, but prep basketball is just about ready to tip off. Some local teams will be in action on Monday, Nov. 27, right after the Thanksgiving break. For instance, Garden Grove High’s boys’ team will host Oxford Academy of Cypress on that day. The Westminster High girls’ team will start that day in tournament action at San Juan Hills.
League play, of course, won’t start until after the new year does. So get ready for a blizzard not of snow, but of high school hoops tournaments and pre-league games.
Monday Morning Coach is written by Pete Zarustica.