CORSAIR FIELD — For a school that has had its fill of losing seasons in recent memory, last week’s win was mighty satisfying.
For St. Monica Head Coach Larry Muno, the 31-0 victory over Animo Leadership was just “the first of many.” He looks at Saturday’s 7 p.m. home game at Corsair Field against Laguna Beach as a perfect opportunity to continue his team’s transformation from an also-ran into a contender.
“There is no reason why this program can’t be successful,” Muno said. “We’re going to throw the ball and it’s fun for the team.”
This new philosophy, and the results that come along with it, even has opposing coaches taking notice.
“That is a much different team,” Laguna Beach Head Coach Jonathon Todd said. “They run a great no-huddle spread offense.”
After watching film of St. Monica’s rout of Animo, Todd couldn’t help but be impressed by what appears to be a complete turnaround from years past. Laguna Beach defeated St. Monica 37-7 last season, a feat Todd knows will be hard to repeat.
“That coach has done a great job,” Todd said of Muno, who is in his first year coaching St. Monica.
Chief among Todd’s concerns is Mariners junior quarterback Matthew Partyka. Todd said he was impressed with the way he ran the offense and is game planning around his ability to throw ball. Todd has being going over a number of different looks with his 4-3 defense that relies on strong defensive line play to be effective.
“It has been a fun week,” Todd said of his preparation. “We’ve been going over a lot of ideas to slow their offense down.”
Laguna Beach may have a little help keeping St. Monica’s offense in check.
The one negative that came out of last week’s win over Animo was the loss of wide receiver Sam Holguin to a broken ankle. The injury may force Holguin to miss the remainder of the season. Muno said that it will be hard to replace his offensive production, but he’s confident that the other wide receivers will step up to fill that void.
“There goes a big part of our offense,” Muno said. “You just put the next guy in and hope the next guy does the job. Some younger guys will have to step up and play.”
Holguin, who played both receiver and safety, will be replaced by Sean Bowe on defense and Mike Holubowski on offense.
On the flip side, Laguna Beach runs a similar spread offense, which has Muno preparing his defense for a shootout.
A trio of sophomores will lead St. Monica on defense. Dubbed “The Triplets” by Muno, sophomore defensive linemen Ernest Johnson, Justin Kennedy and Chris Coverly all will have to pressure Laguna Beach quarterback Austin Paxson for St. Monica to come out on top.
“They have really stepped it up,” Muno said of his trio of underclass lineman. “These are sophomores playing with the varsity and doing an awesome job.”
A victory over Laguna Beach will certainly be a step in the right direction, but Muno sees it as a chance to make a statement.
“If we could beat them, that would be monumental for our program,” Muno said. “It would put us on the map.”