Shortly after being named Bellarmine-Jefferson High's new football coach in December, David Machuca went right to work assessing a variety of topics.
One of them concerned arranging a series of six difficult nonleague games to help the Guards prepare for the Santa Fe League. After drawing up the 10-week schedule and having it signed off, Machuca said he's happy with the 2012 schedule, which will see his team play five home games at Burroughs High's renovated Memorial Field after playing its home contests last season at North Hollywood High.
"Having a tough nonleague schedule will have you prepared for league," said Machuca, who is also the school's athletic director and a 2002 Burbank High graduate. "You'll see a lot of different kinds of things, like offensive schemes, in nonleague that you'll eventually see and be ready for in league.
"We will also try to get a better idea of where we stand going into league."
Besides league games against champion Salesian, rival St. Genevieve, St. Anthony and St. Monica and a nonleague game against Malibu, the Guards will be pitted against a group of new opponents.
Machuca, who replaced Rolando Aguirre after serving as an assistant at Chaminade the past three seasons under Coach Ed Croson, and the Guards (2-8, 0-4 in league last season for last place) will kick of their season at 7 p.m. Aug. 24 with a zero week intersectional road contest against Monroe.
"They have a good program and it's a good test for us right off the bat," Machuca said. "It's good to play a team from the L.A. City Section. It didn't matter if it's the first game, but you get to play in an environment like that and get a different look."
Bell-Jeff will then play a nonleague home game against Brentwood, a member of the Alpha League, at 7 p.m. Sept. 1.
"It will be great to return to Memorial Field and there's a sense of pride playing on the new field," Machuca said. "Having seen Brentwood on film, they like to run the spread offense and they are disciplined."
The Guards will then travel south to face Bishop Montgomery at 7 p.m. Sept. 7.
Machuca predicted the Bishop Montgomery game will be a "stepping stone" for the Guards, who played nonleague games last season against Flintridge Prep, Fairmont Prep, Rosamond, Viewpoint and Mountain View.
"This might be the best nonleague game that we play," Machuca said. "This might very well be the game that will get us ready for Salesian.
"This will be the big challenge and you'll find out your weaknesses right away."
Bell-Jeff will then have a bye week before playing host to Chadwick at 7 p.m. Sept. 22.
"We put the bye week after the third week because it will give us time to evaluate what we've accomplished over the first three weeks," Machuca said. "It also gives the players some time off to get healthy."Then, we come back against Chadwick, and they like to run and throw and it's another game that will get us ready for league."
Bell-Jeff will then close out nonleague play with road games against Pasadena Poly and Malibu.
The Guards will meet Pasadena Poly at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at South Pasadena High and will face Malibu at a time to be determined at Malibu. Malibu handed Bell-Jeff a 49-12 defeat last season.
"With Poly, they always seem to like to grind it out and, if you don't execute, you are in trouble," Machuca said. "Malibu is like a little nonleague rivalry in that Bell-Jeff always plays them."
First up in league for the Guards will be Salesian at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at Burroughs.
Machuca said he's glad that the Guards will face the Mustangs, who registered a 52-6 win last season, immediately.
"It's going to tell us precisely where we stand, and it's the ultimate challenge," Machuca said. "It will be good to play them at home and I know we will be ready. Having them come to your place makes things a lot easier."
The Guards will then battle St. Anthony at 7 p.m. Oct. 20 at Memorial Field. St. Anthony posted a 40-6 win last season against Bell-Jeff.
"They might be the most intriguing team and it will be interesting to see what they do because they have a solid running back and a new coaching staff," Machuca said.
Bell-Jeff will conclude the regular season with a pair of league contests against St. Genevieve at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 and St. Monica at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1. Machuca said the St. Genevieve game will be played at L.A. Poly and the St. Monica contest will be played at a site to be determined.
Bell-Jeff suffered a 64-40 loss against St. Genevieve and a 21-0 defeat to St. Monica last season.
"St. Genevieve has turned its program around and they like to dip into the spread offense," Machuca said. "Our kids want to beat them, but I tell them that we want to go 1-0 every week and not worry about a game that's eight or nine weeks down the road.
"St. Monica has a good coaching staff, a big running back and a quarterback with a huge arm. They like to run the West Coast offense, too."
•Aug. 24 — at Monroe, 7 p.m.
•Sept. 1 — Brentwood, 7 p.m.
•Sept. 7 — at Bishop Montgomery, 7 p.m.
•Sept. 22 — Chadwick, 7 p.m.
•Sept. 28 — vs. Pasadena Poly at South Pasadena High, 7 p.m.
•Oct. 5 — at Malibu, TBA
•Oct. 13 — Salesian, 7 p.m.*
•Oct. 20 — St. Anthony, 7 p.m.*
•Oct. 27 — vs. St. Genevieve at L.A. Poly High, 7 p.m.*
•Nov. 1 — at St. Monica, 7:30 p.m.
*Denotes Santa Fe League game
Home games played at Burroughs High's Memorial Field