Bell-Jeff Football Falls To Campbell Hall!

October 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

max-belsitoBURBANK — It has been a challenging season so far for the Bellarmine-Jefferson High football program, as the Guards continue to struggle with a low turnout of players and a general lack of experience. It began with three canceled games, with one going down as a forfeit, and then, after finally taking the field, a stumble resulting in lopsided defeat against a high-ranking inter-division opponent that was called in the middle of the fourth quarter by first-year coach Lance Fauria.
However, in their home opener Saturday night at Memorial Field, the Guards had an opportunity for the first time to get their feet solidly on the ground, taking on an opponent in Campbell Hall that had also lost games to forfeit and cancellation this season.

In the battle of struggling programs, it was the Vikings who came out on top, 28-0, and garnered their first victory of the campaign, but Bellarmine-Jefferson took steps forward, as this time they competed from the opening kickoff until the final whistle with the clock reading all zeros.

“We were able to play a full game,” Fauria said. “It was close, though. The thing is with 13 players [suited up] the kids played as hard as they could.”

Bell-Jeff (0-3) was to have played Pasadena Poly on Thursday, but instead rescheduled to face the Vikings, who two weeks ago canceled their game against that same Poly squad. Campbell Hall was to have played Brentwood, but instead swapped opposition with the Guards for a more even match-up.

“I think it was a good game for both of us as opposed to playing the other two teams we were going to play,” Fauria said. “I think we got something out of this.”

Campbell Hall (1-3) pulled out ahead with two one-yard touchdown runs by quarterback Nick Friedich on its first two possessions. The first came on the Vikings’ third snap on offense and the second was set up by a 41-yard reception by one of actor James Caan’s sons, Jimmy.

The Vikings’ third possession saw the Guards defense spring to life. Bell-Jeff’s Max Belsito led the way with sacks on consecutive plays. Campbell Hall would not score again before the break.

“A lot of our players haven’t played before, so this was their first full game,” Belsito said.

On the first snap of the second half, the Bell-Jeff defense stiffened again when Guard Daniel Miranda stripped Oliver Heffron after a long run and the home team recovered. The visitors did add two more touchdowns later in the third quarter on a 20-yard pass from Friedich to Heffron and a two-yard run by Ricardo Centeno.

Bell-Jeff simplified its offense and concentrated on the run game, working a majority of the time with no-receiver sets. Fullback Brandon Gooden led the way with 28 yards on nine carries. Devoughn Roberts, who played quarterback in the first half and tailback in the second, had 17 carries for 27 yards. AJ Navarro ran seven times for 13 yards and played quarterback the second half, attempting the Guards’ only pass, which fell incomplete.

“We were playing our starters,” said Vikings Coach Scott Napier, who gave the Guards some encouragement after the game. “I went over and told them I respect the heck out of them. They just need to believe in themselves and believe in the coach and things are going to work. We’re kind of in the same boat.”

Throughout the contest, the game clock was allowed to run liberally in between the action on the field, including after some incomplete passes. Then late in the third quarter after a Viking player broke his leg and was taken away by ambulance, the running clock became official and no more points were scored.

“Each time [we’re] going to get a little better and learn a little bit more,” Fauria, whose team will play Santa Clarita Christian next week, said. “They’re seeing the physicality of the game now.”

By Nathan Cambridge, Special to the Leader


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Football Cancels Game Due To Lack Of Players!

October 6, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

coach-lanceA Bellarmine-Jefferson High football program that has suffered its share of struggles this season hit another speed bump this week. Read more

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Football Tries To Move Forward After Game Cancellation!

September 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

coach-lanceBeing a former college football player, Bellarmine-Jefferson Principal Michael Stumph said it was a difficult decision to have to cancel a portion of the Guards season, as word about the cancellations were made official by the school on Wednesday via press release.

Stumph, who played as offensive guard at Indiana Universityfrom 1992-94, said although the administration had to scrap the program’s first three nonleague games to start the season, the school does plan to field a team. He added that in addition to a low turnout, the cancellations were due to players coming out for the team late for preseason practices and the athletes were just not prepared for competition.

“The decision that we had to make didn’t come lightly,” said Stumph, who is in his first school year at Bell-Jeff. “But because we had players coming out late, we knew they just weren’t where they should be in terms of being prepared for the season.

“We do have enough players now to field a team. I think there are 19 to 20 kids out there now. The coaches are doing their best now to get those players ready for the season.”

Word of the cancellations came Wednesday afternoon in a press release from first-year coach Lance Fauria. In the release, Fauria began by emphasizing “Bellarmine-Jefferson will have a football team this season.” However, the release also read that the school had to cancel its first three games and the problem of low numbers still lingers.

“We have been out there practicing and the kids we do have out have been working very hard,” Fauria said. “We have had to look around the school for players to help fill out the team. But the big thing is with the enrollment at the school. We have to increase the enrollment at the school to get the numbers up.”

Stemph agreed about the need to increase the school’s enrollment.

“This is something that we have to work hard to do,” he said. “Hopefully we can add some classes and do other things to attract students to the school.”

The enrollment at Bell-Jeff in 2011 was more than 300. That number has dipped below 200 this school year.

The Guards were scheduled to open their season Friday against North Hollywood. Also scrapped was the Sept. 6 game against Brentwood and the Sept. 14 contest against Bishop Montgomery.

“The Bell-Jeff coaches and administration have contacted North Hollywood, Brentwood and Bishop Montgomery to let them know we will not be ready to play. We made the decision in hope that these teams might be able to find another game in their schedule,” the release read.

Brentwood Athletic Director Amanda Kelson confirmed Wednesday that she was contacted about the cancellation just last week by the Bell-Jeff administration.

“That didn’t leave us a lot of time to try and find a replacement game,” Kelson said. “That was going to be our season opener. We are still waiting to hear from teams if we can get a game.”

With the cancellation of the three games, Bell-Jeff will instead try to play a modified seven-game schedule.

“Bell-Jeff will play a seven-game schedule beginning on Sept. 21 at Chadwick High School,” the release read. “The extra time to prepare will allow our student-athletes to be in a position to be competitive over the shorter season.”

The Guards also still have nonleague games scheduled against Pasadena Poly (Sept. 26) and Santa Clarita Christian (Oct. 5) before opening Santa Fe League play Oct. 12 at St. Monica.

One of the teams on Bell-Jeff’s Santa Fe League schedule is defending champion Salesian.

“I did hear the program was struggling,” Salesian Coach Roddy Hiatt said. “Bell-Jeff hasn’t had a JV team to play us for a few years now.”

Fauria took over at Bell-Jeff for outgoing football coach and athletic director David Machuca, who accepted the job as offensive coordinator under coach John Rome at Glendale Community College.

Last season, Bell-Jeff had a 4-7 record (2-2 in Santa Fe League). The Guards qualified for the CIF Southern Section Division Northeast playoffs, losing to No. 2 Rio Hondo Prep, 57-6. Rio Hondo Prep went on to win the division title.

It was the first time the Guards qualified for the postseason in three years.

Machuca said it’s difficult to see the program struggling.

“It’s hard because it’s a program that’s been around so many years and had some good teams over the years,” said Machuca, a Burbank High graduate. “But it’s harder for someone like my brother [Bobby], who is an alumni and who played football there. I didn’t go to the school; I was only a coach there. I just hope they don’t have to cancel the rest of the season.”

Machuca had to deal with the departure of a handful of players midway through last season. And with the Bell-Jeff enrollment declining in recent years, he said it became more difficult keeping the numbers in the program up.

“It wasn’t so much that I saw the writing on the wall,” he said. “There were just so many difficulties with the school, especially with the enrollment. But I would have thought that they would be able to at least field a team. I know that they would probably struggle in football, but I didn’t think they would struggle this much to get a team on the field.”

Bell-Jeff struggled the previous two seasons before Machuca’s arrival, finishing last in the Santa Fe League both years. The Guards went 5-15 (0-8 in league) in the two years.

However, it was only a few years ago that Bell-Jeff enjoyed its share of success. In just his second season as coach in 2000, the Rolando Aguirre-coached Guards won a share of the Santa Fe League title. It was the program’s first crown in 46 years. Bell-Jeff also captured undisputed championships in 2004 and 2007, as the teams finished with 9-2 records both seasons.

In 2008, Bell-Jeff (8-4) placed second in the Santa Fe League and advanced to the Northeast Division playoff quarterfinals. The Guards defeated Fairmont Prep, 28-21, in a first-round playoff game to earn their first postseason win in more than 50 years. Bell-Jeff fell in the quarterfinals to Linfield Christian, 26-0.

One of the most successful players in Bell-Jeff football history is Brendon Doyle, who graduated in 2004. The hard-throwing quarterback was a three-time All-CIF Southern Section selection before going to Glendale Community College and helping the Vaqueros to a victory in the Western State Bowl in 2006. Doyle also played at Weber State on a team that captured a Big Sky conference title in 2008 and competed in the American Indoor Football Assn., an arena league.

Doyle said he was surprised when he heard about the troubles facing the Bell-Jeff program.

“I know the school has been struggling, but not to be able to field a football team for the first few games is pretty disheartening,” Doyle said. “I thought it might be bad, but I didn’t know it was that bad.

“It’s really tough to see. Bell-Jeff is my alma mater and I enjoyed my time there. I just want them to get back on track, and not to a championship level necessarily, but just to be able to compete and put a team on the field.”

Despite the cancellations, Fauria said the Guards are hard at work and are looking forward to the opening of their season. Athletes who the coach expects to make significant contributions are sophomore offensive and defensive lineman Max Belsido (6 feet, 220 pounds), senior running back/defensive back Miles Hopkins (5-7, 175) and sophomore quarterback Issac Etter (6-0, 165).

“It’s a tough situation for us, but hopefully we will be able to work through it,” Fauria said.

Jeff Tully

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Football Opens With Lopsided loss To Chadwick!

September 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

coach-lancePALOS VERDES PENINSULA — Regardless of the outcome of Bellarmine-Jefferson High’s season-opening football game against host Read more

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Bell-Jeff Names Fauria New Football Coach, AD!

May 14, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Coach-lanceThe Bellarmine-Jefferson High administration was looking for a new football coach and athletic director with expertise, experience Read more

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