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Guards begin season early

BELLARMINE-JEFFERSON HIGH -- It has been an eventful week for the

Bellarmine-Jefferson High football team.

While most teams in the Southern Section are anticipating their

season-opening games next week, the Guards jump right into the thick

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of things tonight.

At 7 p.m. at Burroughs’ Memorial Field, the Guards will kick off

the 2003 campaign with a nonleague contest against Compton

Centennial.

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The game between the Guards and Apaches will be one of 24

so-called “early games” this week played in the Southern Section.

It’s called a Zero Week game, and the contests came about after

recent changes in Southern Section rules.

Along with an accelerated practice schedule to get Bell-Jeff up to

speed for its early game, the team has also had to practice a few

days without its head coach, Rolando Aguirre. Aguirre had to leave

the Guards to go out of state to tend to a family emergency.

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Despite having to play their first game almost a week earlier then

most other teams, and the situation with their head coach, the Guards

are ready to go.

“We don’t look at the fact that we have an early game this season

as a disadvantage,” Bell-Jeff assistant coach Carlos Trujillo said.

“We have a lot of returning players who know the system and know

what is expected of them. Because of that, we have been able to come

a long way in our practices and we are going to be ready for [today].

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“It is just a matter of us going out there and executing what

we’ve learned.”

Trujillo, who said Aguirre should return to the team in time for

tonight’s game, is confident the Guards haven’t missed a beat in the

absence of their head coach. Trujillo was a player under Aguirre, and

he is the coach’s right-hand man when it comes to running the

offense.

“I know what Coach Aguirre expects and how he wants the offense

run,” Trujillo said. “So that’s what I have been doing in practice.”

Bell-Jeff (5-6 in 2002) returns to action for the first time since

it fell in a CIF Southern Section Division XII first-round playoff

game against Ontario Christian, 63-30, to end last season.

Trujillo said the offense should be the key for the Guards against

Centennial.

The team’s main weapon is 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior quarterback

Brendon Doyle, who passed for 1,555 yards and 13 touchdowns last

year. He was also a fine punter, earning All-CIF honors.

With Doyle a passing threat, Bell-Jeff should also have a potent

running attack with juniors Adrian Anetema (5-8, 175) and Derek

Leiphardt (5-10, 180). The pair combined to rush for 1,382 yards and

17 touchdowns in 2002.

With a balanced attack, Trujillo said the Guards will be able to

change things up on offense.

“If our running attack isn’t working, we can switch to the pass

without missing too much,” he said.

The Guards’ opponent hasn’t had much success in recent years and

the Apache offense sputtered -- at best -- last season, as it was

outscored, 425-84.

With its offensive problems, it’s not surprising Centennial went

just 1-9 and finished last in the Pioneer League (0-5).

The problems in 2002 were just the latest for a program that

hasn’t won more than one game in a season since 1996. It also has a

9-58-1 record during the past seven years.

“It is important for us to begin the season with a win,” Trujillo

said. “We want to come out and really take it to them.

“We realize that [Compton Centennial] is going to have a lot of

team speed and they have some good coaches. But we are motivated to

get that first win.”


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