Sept. 13--John Kusleika is in his fourth year heading the football program at Ontario High School. It has been a program that has fallen on hard times in the last decade and he has had his hands full trying to turn the ship around.
The Jaguars (2-1) finally picked up what could be considered a signature win on Friday when they defeated San Dimas 36-22. The veteran coach is quick to point out it is one game and a nonleague win at that, but he hopes it is indicative of things to come.
"Probably," he said when asked if it was his biggest win at the school. "It was one of those games no one expected us to win and it was one over a very established program that has done some great things. So yes, it was very encouraging to come away with that one."
The win was enough to boost Ontario into the latest CIF-SS Division 12 poll at No 8 and is another small sign of progress.
Kusleika singled out the play of his offensive 1-2 punch in quarterback Luis Rivera and running back Antoine Paul, both seniors. Paul rushed for 226 yards and now has 402 for the season. Rivera not only plays quarterback but plays full-time at linebacker as well.
No, it's not a good idea to have your quarterback starting on defense, but it is one of the hands Kusleika is dealt.
"He never comes off the field," Kusleika said of Rivera. "We really need to have him out there. He is one of our best 11 and your best 11 should be out there."
Kusleika also praised the play of junior defensive end Elijah Jaramillo as well as Anthony Melgar, who played in place of injured Chris Uribe.
This week the jaguars face Patriot (1-1), which should be a good measuring stick since Patriot already has played another Mt. Baldy team in Chaffey, to whom it lost 18-14.
"If we could win this one it might tell us we're ready to make that jump out of the bottom of our league," Kusleika said.
Braves get revenge
Alta Loma (2-1) is coming off a 32-12 victory over local rival Los Osos. That avenged a 19-15 loss to the Grizzlies last season in a game determined by a fake punt. The Braves finished the season 5-5 and did not make the playoffs despite being the third-place team out of the Mt. Baldy League.
That loss to a 1-9 Los Osos squad was a big factor in missing the playoffs, but Braves coach Mark Pasquarella didn't think that loss provided more of an incentive than any other.
"We look at three games last year we should have won and that was one," he said. "We win those and we're 8-2, not 5-5. It was more about not making the same mistake and not putting ourselves in that position again."
Pasquarella credited the play of lineman Kingston Toki, who played on offense and defense, as well as quarterback James Josiah and running back Chris Lopez. He also was pleased with the joint efforts of his defense as well as his offensive line.
Cajon coach Nick Rogers was in the position of finding a delicate balance between crediting his team's offensive performance and finding the fault with his defense in the Cowboys' 49-46 loss to high-powered Murrieta Valley.
Junior quarterback Jayden Daniels threw for 541 yards and the Cowboys still came out on the losing end. Junior Darren Jones caught six passes for 241 yards and four touchdowns.
The flow of the game mandated Rogers do some unconventional things, like going for a fourth-and-2 at his own 20 in the second quarter.
"I decided we weren't going to punt," he said. "We couldn't stop them so the best we could do was try and score with them," he said.
The strategy backfired that time but the game was close all the way to the end.
He said he will make some "adjustments" for Friday's nonleague game at Paso Robles but not necessarily wholesale personnel changes.
"You look at things like were kids in the right position to make the play before you worry about a lot of changes," he said, "I'm not ready to give up on anybody yet."
Next up for Cajon is a very long road trip to Paso Robles on Friday.
It looks like Upland and Redlands East Valley will be keeping their nonleague game going. The teams have played the last two seasons with Upland winning both. The most recent was on Friday, when the Highlanders prevailed 47-26 at Redlands High School.
After the game, when the coaches met at midfield for postgame festivities, the issue came up and both agreed to play for another two years.
"It's a good game for both schools and for the Inland Valley," Upland coach Tim Salter said, "And Kurt (Bruich) and I get along well so it's definitely a game we wanted to continue."
Etiwanda coach Kevin Davis admits playing Corona Centennial sounded like a good idea at the time, but it didn't turn out that way when the Eagles were dealt a 72-0 loss last week.
Davis said Centennial called him last year looking for a game and he had an open date and welcomed the chance to challenge his team.
"It was one of those things I thought, 'Why not play against the best and see where you're at,'" he said. "Obviously they are just another level (above) than everyone else."
The only good thing was that Davis said his team came out of the game well physically, which isn't often the case in a game where there is such a mismatch. The two are supposed to play the second year of the two-year deal, but Davis might look to see if his school can get out given the lopsided outcome.
(c)2017 Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.)
Visit the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin (Ontario, Calif.) at www.dailybulletin.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.