Don Lugo football reloading for 2018 - Champion Newspapers: Special Section

Don Lugo football reloading for 2018

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Posted: Saturday, August 11, 2018 8:00 am | Updated: 12:47 pm, Tue Aug 14, 2018.

When Don Lugo High School hired four-time CIF-Southern Section champion coach Greg Gano prior to the 2016 season, he was expected immediately to come in and make the Conquistadores successful. 

In his two seasons, he’s exceeded those expectations, and some. 

Coach Gano led the Conquistadores to the Mt. Baldy League title and the Division 8 semifinals in his first season and the Division 7 title game last season, the school’s first championship game since winning a title in 1979. 

And, even losing most of his core players to graduation and having a young team coming into this season, his will to win hasn’t slimmed one bit. 

“We lost a lot of bullets with Khoury (Bethley) and those guys, but I like our group and we are going to be OK,” Coach Gano said. “We have some young kids here who will be battling for some spots. They came in here and expect to win.” 

Bethley, offensive lineman Chris Randazzo and defensive specialist Eddie Medina signed Division 1 scholarships with Hawaii, Oregon and Arizona State, respectively. Coach Gano also lost three-year quarterback Rudy Garcia and 1,000-yard receiver Daniel Munguia to graduation. 

Coach Gano said it’s hard to replace those guys, but he feels his current players are headed in the right direction. 

Justin Beltran, Chris Perez, JoJo Galindo, Gary Garcia and Adrian Gutierrez will see time at running back and Rene Velazquez and Jovan Butler will see time at wide receiver. 

On the defensive side the ball, Coach Gano said his linebacking core is solid, led by senior Alex Navarro.  

“He’s a beast. Teams will have to prepare for him,” Coach Gano said. 

Other standout defenders this year include outside linebacker-strong safety Kris Bland, cornerback Justin Beltran and defensive tackle Eddie Castellanos. 

“Winning helps,” Coach Gano said. “If we were 0-20 the last two years, we wouldn’t have 50 or 60 guys out here ready to battle.” 

Coach Gano said the success the program has had since he arrived on campus has been fun for the players, despite the 35-7 loss to El Modena in the Division 7 title game. 

“You know, we didn’t play very well against El Modena. They were good and they were better than us. But I thought the two playoff games against Burbank and Yorba Linda were two games I felt we played our best football of the season,” Coach Gano said. 

Don Lugo opens its season at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 17 with a home game against Alta Loma. 

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