After St. Monica won its season opener last Friday, Coach Jason Strouse made an observation: “It’s a good thing Vince Valdez decided to play football,’’ he said.
Strouse paused a moment, then added: “And it’s a good thing for us he has a twin brother.’’
Strouse said Vince Valdez and his brother, Ricky, deserved a lot of credit for the 22-20 non-league win at Bishop Montgomery. St. Monica went to Torrance, took a 22-13 lead, gave up a final touchdown but recovered an onsides kick to preserve the victory.
Vince Valdez is an outstanding baseball player who considered skipping his senior season of football but the Mariners’ only returning all-league player changed his mind.
Vince Valdez gained 183 yards on 41 carries against Bishop Montgomery and played the entire game on defense at strong safety.
“At the start of the fourth quarter he came up to me and said `I feel great,’’ said Strouse. “He knew that would make me feel better.’’
Ricky Valdez played fullback, was often the lead blocker, and played outside linebacker on defense.
“They’re twins, they’ve played a lot of football together, but this is the first time they’ve been the tailback and fullback,’’ said Strouse. “They’re going to remember this season for a long time.’’
Strouse also praised Tommy Marrone, who was pressed into service at quarterback when Taylor Watson recently broke an arm lifting weights. Marrone had no previous experience as a quarterback.
“He made the right decisions and took control,’’ said Strouse.
Marrone threw a touchdown pass to Anthony Flores and played cornerback on defense.
Strouse stressed conditioning in the off-season, favoring those drills over heavy participation in passing leagues. The coach felt the strategy began paying off when the Mariners prevailed in the second half after holding a 14-13 lead at intermission.
Besides losing Watson, St. Monica was without David Najera, who was expected to play a prominent role but is probably out for the season with a shoulder injury.
St. Monica will have a home game Friday against El Segundo. The Mariners don’t have a campus field and play home games at St. Bernard High in Westchester.St. Monica defeated El Segundo in a close game last season.