In its first game of the year the St. Monica Catholic football team saw how thrilling victory can be, stomping over Los Angeles-Locke in a 42-0 rout. But in their second game the Mariners realized how agonizing defeat can be, failing to score in a 34-0 shutout at the hands of Palm Desert-Xavier Prep.
Now it’s up to the squad to determine how to achieve results that are more like the former and less like the latter. And it’s a challenge that St. Monica is undertaking with its new coach, Jeff Kearin, who leads the program into Friday’s game at Brentwood.
He and his players are hoping to build on the success of last season, when the Mariners reached the CIF Southern Section playoffs and won a conference championship as part of a 9-2 campaign under then-coach Drew Shaw.
Kearin’s arrival at St. Monica marked the latest stop on a coaching journey throughout Southern California and beyond that dates back more than 35 years.
The former University of San Diego quarterback served as an assistant high school coach at Los Angeles-Loyola from 1979 to 1990 and worked as a graduate assistant at USC before holding various positions at Cal State Northridge and UNLV between 1995 and 2001.
After a brief stint as offensive coordinator at Santa Barbara City College and a two-year tenure as coach at a prep school in Phoenix, Kearin returned to Loyola as head coach in 2005 and guided the Cubs to a Southern Section championship in his first season at the helm. He stepped down after five years.
Kearin then coached for a few years at McMinnville High School in Oregon and assisted at both Occidental College in Los Angeles and Westlake Village-Oaks Christian before landing at St. Monica.
Kearin was hired following the departure of Shaw, who turned around a sputtering program before stepping down for personal family reasons. Shaw was 14-7 in two years at the helm, leading last year’s Mariners to a stellar campaign that included a Santa Fe League title and an eight-game winning streak during which they outscored their opponents 323-102.
Shaw had served as an assistant under his predecessor, Adam Guerra, who followed Kearin as coach at Loyola before arriving at St. Monica.
Attempts to reach Kearin, athletic director Frank Cruz and school president Thom Gasper were not successful Wednesday.
Things went swimmingly for Kearin’s squad in its opener Aug. 26 at Santa Monica College, where the Mariners throttled Locke. Leading the effort was senior running back Dylan James, who rushed for four touchdowns and 268 yards on 21 carries. O’Leary Kennedy started at quarterback and showed promise on a 35-yard touchdown connection with fellow senior Cole McPherson.
The second week of competition wasn’t as fun for St. Monica (1-1), which couldn’t duplicate the narrow victory it posted over Xavier Prep during last year’s nonconference slate. The Mariners gave up 199 rushing yards, including 123 to senior Mason Sarna, and allowed senior quarterback Michael Johnson to complete 17 of 31 passes for 185 yards and two scores.
Friday’s road game against Brentwood (1-1) is scheduled for 3 p.m.