121812 _ bug st monica logoAIRPORT PARK — St. Monica head coach Adam Guerra is a simple dude.

He likes to run the ball with authority and he knows what he likes when it comes to offensive lineman. They better be big and they better be mean.

“Football is a physical game played by physical men,” Guerra said after practice on Wednesday.

It’s that philosophy that will guide his Mariners a season after reaching the semi-finals of the Northeast Division playoffs in just Guerra’s second year.

The Mariners will lean on an offensive line that returns every starter from last year’s 8-5 team.

All-CIF Southern Section selection Angel Galdamez will anchor the line at center. Guerra said that Galdamez’ experience as a three-year starter will guide a unit that he expects to be much improved.

“We’re pretty lucky,” Guerra said. “We have big guys up front.”

Junior Alex Padilla and senior Patrick Mora will lineup at the guard spots with sophomore Nick Frick and junior Andrew Saucedo lining up at tackle.

Combine that with 6-foot-4 tight end Andrew Miller and the core of St. Monica’s offense is shaping up just the way Guerra likes it: big.

With the offensive line primed for the season, it’s the running backs that are the wild card.

The task of replacing dynamic duo Nick Pegnato and Kevin Holubowski will fall on tailback Jason Thomas and fullback Pedro Lopez, both juniors.

Each can tote the rock, giving Guerra options when he lines his team up in a pro-style offense with two men in the backfield, one of his favorite formations.

To make things more complicated, neither back played football before attending St. Monica, which has become common for the Mariners.

Guerra said that he has to recruit athletes from other programs at the school because not many transfer students opt to play at St. Monica. Not even many kids with Pop Warner experience show up on campus, making developing players from within the school more crucial.

The job of player development was recently put to the test.

Projected starting quarterback Chris Henderson went down with a collarbone fracture opening the door for sophomore Camron Nuslein to assume the role.

Guerra likes Nuslein’s strong arm and mature attitude, attributes that should make for a successful starter.

Helping make the transition easier is a pair of targets with dependable hands.

David Araujo, when he isn’t leading the secondary at safety, gives Nuslein a weapon at wide receiver. Guerra likes Araujo’s overall intensity and nose for the game.

When Araujo is locked up or taking a breather on the sideline, tight end Miller has the ability to occupy the defense, opening up the running game.

As for airing the ball out, senior wide receiver Ryen Wilson has the speed to take the top off of a defense to really open things up.

Guerra likes to run the ball, but he isn’t afraid to go for the big play if the opportunity arises.

“That’s the kind of team I want,” he said. “We want to be able to hurt you in different ways.”

St. Monica gets a chance to put a hurting on somebody on Aug. 30 versus Village Christian at Santa Monica College’s Corsair Field. The game begins at 7 p.m.

 

daniela@smdp.com