August 8, 2022
By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter
JOHN GLENN EAGLES
3-7 overall last season, 1-2 in the 605 League, third place; 20-23 overall last five seasons; Head coach: David Cruz (third season, 3-8); lost 18 seniors out of 34 from 2021 roster; last time made the playoffs: 2019
Aug. 19 @ Rowland (3-7)*
Aug. 26 Firebaugh (1-9)
September 2 @ LB Cabrillo (1-8)
September 9 Bellflower (2-7)
September 16 @ Norwalk (6-5)
September 23 Hawthorne (6-6)
September 30 CITY
October 7 @ Garden Grove (7-4)
October 13 @ Pioneer (1-9)
October 20 Artesia (2-9)
October 27 Cerritos (5-6)
*Record last year
Just when you thought the John Glenn High football program was heading in the right direction with consecutive playoff appearances in 2018 and 2019, which ended a 15-year postseason drought, the Eagles have stumbled in the past year and a half, winning just three games . Head coach David Cruz, who will be coaching his final season with the school, expected last season’s record to be what is was because while, as he stated, it was a surprise to get leading running back Iona Young, who graduated in June, the program was struggling in the development area and the coaching staff was still teaching the basic fundamentals of football. He continued to say that the positives from last season were that the players learned how to play football and create a hard-working attitude.
“They decided that they were going to rely on each other and accomplish the goal,” he added. “They know how to play football now and, in the offseason, we were going over concepts rather than fundamentals, and it was a big change. It’s finally back to where we were with [former head coach Vince] Lobendahn and coaches in the past where we’re coaching football. We’re not teaching the game anymore and it makes it a lot of fun.”
He went on to say that whatever lumps come this season, the team deserves them. There are no more excuses and in fact, the team’s motto this season is ‘get the job done’.
Glenn began the 2021 campaign on a high note, scoring 40 points at Firebaugh High and 22 against Long Beach Cabrillo High. The next five games, the Eagles would combine for 47 points and were shutout in back to back weeks before ending the season scoring 76 points.
Senior Emmanuel Enriquez has stepped up to be the team’s quarterback, replacing the graduated Natanael Jacobo and Cruz says he is the leader of the offense.
“He throws a really good ball,” said Cruz. “The only issue is he’s a 119-pound wrestler and right now, he’s weighing 126. So, maybe he gets up to 135. But he throws a good ball and he has a good command of the offense. He understands where the play is designed to go and what his reads are. He could be the key element of what we need offensively to take the lack of no Iona in our offense. We’re going to be able to throw; that’s something Natanael couldn’t do last year.”
Backing him up will be sophomore Raymond Acosta, who was a leader last season on the lower level team. He’ll also be the starting tight end when Enriquez is behind center.
Replacing the explosive Young in the backfield will be seniors Alexander Martinez, Manuel Sigala, who will be the tailback, and senior Alex Valdez, who is slated to be third or fourth on the depth chart. Freshman Tuiono Tuifua, who will probably be the starting fullback, will be the fourth source of the ground gainers.
Cruz says he likes his running game this season more than in the previous seasons just because the offensive line is more developed than it has been in the past.
Glenn will feature two athletic wide receivers in senior Tony Jefferson, a transfer who is in his first year of playing football and has a vertical reach of 42 inches, and junior Raymond Breslin. Seniors Thomas Lee and David Sanchez and junior Alfonso Vega will also be key guys catching the ball.
According to Cruz, the strength of the offense will be the line which will be handled by senior Bryan Melendez or junior Damian Garcia at left tackle, senior left guard David Barahona, senior center Siosiua Kalekale, senior right guard Joseph Chavez and senior right tackle Mikel Udengwu.
“I’m excited that they’re able to play football now,” said Cruz. “The offensive line right now is just taking over, and I just wish we had more numbers. We practice on an adjacent field with La Mirada and we have 10 linemen and they have 40. It’s difficult to compete with that on a daily basis, play in and play out and give 100 percent. We just don’t have the numbers. Maybe we’ll get some breaks because those same five linemen…three of them are going to have to be our D-linemen.”
After allowing eight and six points respectively in the first two games last season, Glenn allowed at least 40 points in the next five games and six out of the last seven games. The lack of experience in tackling was the difference between a 4-6 or even a 5-5 season to 3-7, according to Cruz. He went as far as to say that some guys averaged one tackle a game and in one game, one of the linebackers failed to record a tackle.
Seniors Joseph Chavez and Barahona or Melendez will be the defensive tackles while Martinez or junior Jesus Miranda will be at one end with Udengwu at the other end. The linebackers will be senior Emanuel Rebollar, a transfer from La Mirada High, Tuifua and Valdez while the secondary will consist of Jefferson and Lee at the corners with the safeties being Sigala and Vega.
If the defense is to be better than that of the 2021 team that allowed 359 points, it will be because the starting 11 understands the game and the importance of defensive speed, according to Cruz.
“They understand the need to be aggressive,” he continued. “They understand their pursuit angles. It’s just night and day of what the knowledge the kids know today versus a year ago.”
On paper, the early part of Glenn’s schedule is favorable as the first four opponents are winnable and it begins with a new opponent in Rowland High followed by last season’s opener, Firebaugh. A 4-0 start before the Mayor’s Cup would be good for the Eagles as Norwalk High will be heavily favored in that contest. A pair of playoff opponents will then follow the city rivalry game before the league begins. Cruz would like to see his team 4-3 or 5-2 before entering 605 League action.
“Adding Bellflower and adding Rowland…we were limited on the opponents that we had to choose from,” said Cruz. “We could have easily picked some of the more powerful schools. Some of these outrageous Division 1 and Division 2 schools were calling us [and asking], ‘hey, we have an open week, do you want to play us’ because of the dates. We didn’t have a lot to choose from and Rowland seemed like a comparable [opponent] and I was okay with that one.”
Cruz admitted he’s not okay with facing Bellflower High because the Buccaneers have a new coach who runs the double wing offense, just like Norwalk. Last season, the Eagles were slammed by the Lancers 51-7 with their lone touchdown coming in the third quarter.
“I don’t like the double wing: I don’t like playing Norwalk,” said Cruz. “I don’t like getting guys cut at the knees and that’s what they teach. I just don’t like playing teams with that. It’s just not my style and I don’t want my kids around that.
“They’re just so much bigger and have double the enrollment that we have,” he continued on playing Norwalk. “It’s strange that we have to play them. Our league and our school did not want them in our league because they’re too big of an enrollment school and they have too many athletes to choose from. But it’s okay for us to play them in non-league? I don’t get that. I would rather play somebody else who plays our style of ball that we can compete with. They’re just getting too big for us.”
If Glenn is to have a shot of second place and get into the playoffs, the one with Artesia High has to be circled on the calendar. Yes, the Pioneers went to the playoffs last season, but won a pair of games while Pioneer High won half of that total. Last season, Glenn was leading Artesia 14-13 at halftime before losing 32-14 and against Cerritos High, the first quarter ended with the Eagles trailing 22-13.
The Eagles haven’t had a lot of success with their homecoming games, losing 16 such games since 1999. Last season, Glenn was blanked by Garden Grove High 49-0 on homecoming night, the fourth time it has been blanked on the festive night . This season’s opponent will be Hawthorne High, a team that has defeated the Eagles in consecutive seasons after Glenn posted a 51-50 victory in 2018. Two seasons ago, Hawthorne knocked off Glenn 24-16 on homecoming night and in fact, the Eagles have played three homecoming games against non-league opponents since 2016, losing all of them.