There's a resurgence in San Fernando High football taking place after three consecutive 3-7 seasons.
First-year Coach Robert Garcia, who played at Granada Hills Kennedy and UCLA, has the Tigers at 4-0 and looking like the favorite to win the Valley Mission League.
Even more surprising is that the Tigers have put together an offensive attack that features balance between running and passing thanks to strong performances from 6-foot-2 junior quarterback Cristian Solano and senior running back Daemon Thompson.
Solano has completed 61% of his passes for 709 yards with seven touchdowns and only one interception. He also has rushed for 207 yards. Thompson is averaging 11.6 yards per carry with 512 yards rushing and seven touchdowns.
"It's a lot of hard work and dedication from the coaches and the players," said Garcia, who was an assistant coach for seven years before taking over for Tom Hernandez. "The main thing we talk about is finishing the games. That's what we're doing."
San Fernando's success is getting the student body and alumni excited going into Friday night's homecoming game against Kennedy.
"They have posters up, they talk to us all the time," Solano said of student reaction.
Solano played receiver and defensive back last season while starting to learn the quarterback position.
"It was sophomore butterflies," he said.
This summer, he plunged full steam ahead into taking over at quarterback, and his hard work has paid off.
"Practice, practice, practice," he said of his strategy.
He has a 3.8 grade-point average and also plays basketball, so his intelligence and athleticism are helpful.
Thompson's contributions have also been important. He's a big-play back who has been breaking tackles and picking up additional yardage after first contact.
San Fernando competes in City Section Division II, which is considered a wide-open division. The Tigers, who were once City Section powers during the wishbone days of Charles White & Co., are hoping they can keep the alumni happy with more victories this season.
Headed to the beach
Vista Murrieta (4-0), ranked No. 2 by The Times, takes a trip to Palisades on Friday night. Coach Coley Candaele is tired of the hot weather.
"I'm doing anything to get out of the heat," he said.
The Mustangs will stop off at a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean to eat dinner before the game. Players are not allowed to bring their surfboards on the bus, because they do have a football game that night.
Palisades (2-2) runs the wishbone offense. Last week, Vista Murrieta faced the Delaware Wing T.
"We've seen it all," Candaele said.
Moving on after forfeits
Bellflower St. John Bosco players don't have a lot of time to be sad about having to forfeit their first four victories because of an ineligible player.
They leave for Utah later this week to play Sandy (Utah) Jordan in a Saturday afternoon game. Then Trinity League play begins Oct. 5 against unbeaten Orange Lutheran.
The Braves are 0-4 but it shouldn't affect their Pac-5 Division playoff hopes as long as they finish in the top three spots in the Trinity League.
Michael Thomas, a 6-6 senior forward at Woodland Hills El Camino Real, has committed to Hawaii.