High Schools: Mustangs given penalty

Red was not Juan Becerra's favorite color during his first season as coach of the Costa Mesa High boys' soccer team.

At the start of his debut, the color turned up in the form of red cards. In one tournament, Becerra said the Mustangs received four red cards.

Becerra said the fourth put Costa Mesa on probation because it violated a CIF Southern Section rule. Bylaw No. 2413.5 in the section's Blue Book states that any program receiving a fourth red card (excluding soft reds) during the high school season will immediately be put on probation and lose four allowable contests the subsequent season.

"The CIF put us on probation through this December," said Becerra, knowing that if his team receives an additional three red cards during the probationary period, Costa Mesa will be removed from the CIF Southern Section playoffs for one season and continue its probationary status for the following season.

Becerra said if the Mustangs violate the red card policy again while on probation, they would be suspended from participation in the section entirely the subsequent season.

"We're going to practice in the preseason," said Becerra, adding that he will schedule no tournaments before the start of Orange Coast League play in January. "We played too many games last season in the preseason, up to three games a week. We had no chance to focus on certain things."

Becerra, 23, said it takes time to build a program. The red cards made things difficult for Becerra and his team.

"You couldn't play aggressive," Becerra said. "We had to be cautious. We couldn't defend like we wanted to. It was more play defensive, and when we got a lead, we just tried to hold on."

The Mustangs went on to finish 10-12-2, 3-6-1 in league, good for fifth place.

Before coming to Costa Mesa, Becerra enjoyed success at Los Amigos. He led the program to two straight Garden Grove League titles and as far as the CIF Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinals.

For his players, the transition to a new coach wasn't easy.

"It was hard because they were a little hurt," Becerra said. "Their previous coach [Alex Cordoba] left them halfway through their high school careers. He leaves them [after three seasons to spend more time with family] and they never really want to accept it. There was some defiance in not wanting to accept a new coach. I was trying to establish my thoughts and my points. It got better over time. This year was more of let's get to know each other."

It turned out the Mustangs got familiar with the red card right away.

Becerra said he understands why his program is on probation. He said the school sat him one match to discipline him for the red cards his team piled up.

"CIF thought soccer … was getting out of line," said Becerra, referring to players, coaches and fans arguing calls with referees.

Corona del Mar standout defensive end Tim Reinhardt, who has caught the interest of several Pacific 12 Conference schools, continues to excel at summer football camps.

One of the best efforts by the incoming high school senior took place at a camp at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Reinhardt, a 6-foot-4, 235-pounder, was selected as the best defensive lineman and he competed against the top offensive lineman at the end of the camp, said Bill, Reinhardt's father.

Bill said his son's next camp is the Colorado one at the University of San Diego in a couple of weeks.


Twitter: @DCPenaloza

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