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Football: Ryan Mendoza comes to the rescue at Birmingham

Ryan Mendoza, the standout junior catcher for Birmingham's City Section Division I championship baseball team, is back playing football.

He joined the team three weeks ago after much lobbying from coaches, players and friends.

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"I guess we nagged enough and he said yes," Coach Jim Rose said.

Mendoza was the JV team starting quarterback as a freshman, then got moved up to varsity. He didn't play football last season while concentrating on baseball.

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It remains to be seen how much of an impact he can have with little practice time, but he got in for a series two weeks ago against Oaks Christian. He will not start Friday's West Valley League opener against El Camino Real, but he'll be available if needed.

Birmingham (0-5) gets a restart on its season. The Patriots faced a brutal schedule that included Chaminade, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Newbury Park. They've had to deal with injuries and off-the-field issues.

"We're going to be healthier than we've been," Rose said. "I would say this is the most important game of the year right now."

Now, if only Mendoza remembers to bring his helmet and not his mitt to the game.

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