Challenging road ahead for Bell-Jeff football

BURBANK — Hired in May as the new Bellarmine-Jefferson High football coach, Lance Fauria didn't have a hand in the scheduling for the 2013 season. And looking at what could be a tough campaign for the Guards, the coach said the season could be challenging at best.

But before Fauria can assess the schedule that awaits Bell-Jeff, he said he has to concentrate on being able to field a competitive team for the upcoming season. In summer workouts, the Guards' numbers have been down, and the coach is searching for ways to bolster the program.

"We're working on it and we're still hopeful that it's gonna work out," Fauria said. "We will get a better assessment of what we're going to have when we come back on Aug. 8th or 9th, I think. That's when our camp begins.

"The kids that we do have are doing the best that they can and we're getting to know the kids. The problem is we have to make sure we have enough kids so we can safely get on the field and play."

The coach is hoping to have a roster intact by the time the Guards open their season Aug. 29 in a nonleague game at North Hollywood.

"The schedule is challenging for sure and I wonder if we should even be playing some of these teams," Fauria said. "I looked up every single one of the teams we're playing in all of our games and not one of them had a losing record last season, not one of them. And we did have a losing record last season. Even through we did make the playoffs, we had a losing record."

In addition to a trying schedule of competition and roster questions, the Guards are only slated for four home games.

After North Hollywood (6-5 in 2012), the Guards will play on the road at Brentwood (7-3) on Sept. 6, host Bishop Montgomery (7-3) on Sept. 14, take on host Chadwick (5-5) on Sept. 21, host Pasadena Poly (6-3) on Sept. 26 and play against Santa Clarita Christian (7-3) at Canyon High on Oct. 5.

Although Chadwick did have a .500 record, the nonleague teams Bell-Jeff will take on had a combined 38-22 record in 2012.

This past season under former coach David Machuca, who left to take as assistant coaching job at Glendale Community College, 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.

Bell-Jeff struggled the previous two seasons before Machuca's arrival, finishing last in the Santa Fe League both years. The Guards went 2-8 in 2011 and were 5-15 (0-8 in league) in the two years.

Following the nonleague campaign, Bell-Jeff embarks on the Santa Fe League schedule. The Guards open league Oct. 12 against St. Monica (8-5) at Memorial Field. They will then play at league champion Salesian (11-2) on Oct. 25, travel to play St. Anthony (6-4) at Clark Field on Oct. 1 and end the regular season with a home game against rival St. Genevieve (6-4). The rivalry game is scheduled for Nov. 8, the same date as the annual Burbank-Burroughs game at Memorial Field, so the contest will have to be moved.

"I am familiar with all the teams in our conference," Fauria said. "The best team at this point will probably be Salesian. But this is the last year for them in the conference — they're leaving. And they really should be. Really, none of the other teams in our conference match up with Salesian."

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