When asked how he thought the Flintridge Prep Rebels were going to follow up their CIF Division XIII championship season this year, Head Coach Marty Konrad made one statement that pretty much sums up the team's situation for 2004.
"We needs lots of help from the guy upstairs," the coach said and he wasn't referring to Prep's headmaster. Trying to field a team that will have just one returning starter on offense and three returning players on defense will mostly likely require divine intervention and a lot of luck.
"We lost a lot of people to graduation. We had two of the best receivers in the league last year (Ramses Barden and Mike Gadel). This year we have nobody," Konrad said.
Granted, Konrad does have players who are ready and willing to step in to jell the offense, including running back Wes Ouchi and new starting quarterback Adam Rogers, but a team like Prep is certainly going to feel the loss of three talented players like wide receiver Barden, quarterback Greg Sherman and running back T.C. Scotton.
Ouchi, a senior, is probably going to be the key to Prep's offense. He saw action last year, despite Scotton's numbers (1,619 yards rushing and 27 touchdowns). A durable runner (5'8", 160 pounds) with speed, Ouchi carried the ball 59 times for 478 yards, which averages out to more than eight yards per carry.
Senior Rogers (5'9", 140 pounds), like Ouchi, also had to play second string behind a talented starter. In his case it was Sherman who put up terrific numbers (1,585 yards passing and 18 TDs) which broke the school records.
However, Konrad has faith in him to run the offense. "Rogers had a lot of playing time last year as the backup quarterback," he said.
Although the Rebels lost most of the offensive and defensive line and such individual players as linebacker Eric Sarkissian who was named the CIF Defensive Player of the year last season, Konrad has enough left to work with.
"There is nobody left on either the offensive or defensive line, but our linebackers are intact. We are going to be moving around several players to see what they can do," he said.
One player who is definitely going to switch positions is senior Max Davison (5'11", 175 pounds). He played linebacker last season, but saw limited action in the backfield when Konrad wanted to give the starters a rest.
Konrad is also looking at sophomore Rex Rhew (5'8', 170 pounds) who played on the junior varsity last season as a defensive back. "He has great speed," the coach said.
Another one is junior Matt Stein (5'10," 180 pounds) who was a starting linebacker last season. Konrad will probably give him some playing time as a running back. He is one of the players that we are going to ask to carry the load," Konrad said.
Here's a team that not only won the CIF title last year, but devastated opponents as it did so. Compiling a 12-1, which included four CIF playoffs victories, the Rebels won seven of their games by 35 or more points. They allowed less than eight points a contest, including shutouts of 70-0 and 55-0 over Webb and Mark Keppel, respectively.
If things don't come together in 2004 like Konrad hopes they will, he can always walk across the street from Prep to St. Bede the Venerable Catholic Church and burn a few candles.
Varsity Schedule 2004
Sept. 10 St. Margaret's
Sept. 18 Santa Clara
Sept. 24 Campbell Hall
Oct. 2 Verdugo Hills
Oct. 16 Chadwick*
Oct. 23 Rio Hondo Prep*
Oct. 30 Pasadena Poly*
Nov. 5 Bye
Nov. 12 Webb*