The Defenders — Seniors Ed Sias and Bar Milo, and junior Dymond Lee (l-r) of Chaminade are preparing for battle in the revamped and heavily stacked Mission League.


Chaminade Looks To Continue Success After Winning State Bowl Game

The view from the top of the prep football world looked pretty good to Chaminade. And why not: the Eagles had the kind of 2013 season — 14-2 overall, winning the school’s first ever Southern Section title and capping it all with a resounding 41-9 victory against Enterprise High of Redding, CA in the CIF Division II state bowl game — that will keep poetic-waxing scribes busy for years.

That wasn’t even the best part, according to Coach Ed Croson.

“I am proud of the fact we won 14 games, played 16, and won our last game. [But] out of 58 players, our team GPA was 3.2, and we ended up fifth in the state academically. We had no one under 2.0. And this is one of the toughest college prep schools in California,” Croson said.

“So at a tough school, we had a GPA over 3.0, and played 16 games plus a scrimmage. And the scrimmage was against Narbonne; we didn’t duck anybody. Our last game was Dec. 21, and finals ended two days before. We had  a team GPA of 3.2 and played through finals. So just a great year; I don’t know how it could have been better.”

Now what football program wouldn’t want to keep building on that legacy?

But 2014 is definitely a new year. And the Eagles have landed in a place that will challenge them like never before.

The CIF Southern Section shuffled its league alignments in the offseason. That includes the  Mission League that Chaminade was part of in 2013. To say Mission was beefed up is like saying Burger King has gone from horse meat to filet mignon.

Out are last year’s residents Harvard-Westlake, St. Francis of La Canada, Cathedral of Los Angeles, and St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs. Serra of Gardena remains. Moving in are former Serra League teams — Alemany, Notre Dame, Crespi, Loyola of Los Angeles, and Bishop Amat of La Puente. And Mission is part of the section’s Pac-5 (Division I) that includes traditional SoCal powers like Long Beach Poly, Mater Dei of Santa Ana, Servite of Anaheim, St. Bonaventure of Ventura, and defending champion St. John Bosco of Bellflower.

The nonleague schedule of Birmingham, Venice, Valencia, and Hart of Newhall can’t even get into the discussion.

You’d think that, at least privately, the Eagles would be collectively wondering what the (insert non-Catholic response here) is going on. But for now, they plan on trying to continue the nine-game winning streak they started last season.

“Obviously when you have a good year, people want to take that away from you next year and try to spoil that,” said lineman Bar Milo, a senior who could be on of the Valley’s heavily recruited players.

“We lost a bunch of very good players that we would need, especially going into such a strong league and playoff bracket. But I can sense in practice … everyone knows we have to get after each other. I sense that this team this year, we realize how many key players we lost and realize we have to make it up with hard work in practice.”

Despite losing 20 seniors — of which 15 are now playing some level of college football —Croson and staff are not starting completely over. Milo (who will be a two-way player for the first time) leads a deep group of returning linemen. Both starting receivers Dymond and Brandyn Lee (no relation) return; Dymond Lee, in fact, will also see time at quarterback with Ed Sias, who backed last year’s starter Brad Kaaya (now at the University of Miami).

The big question is how will Chaminade stand up to a 10-week schedule with no breathers. Add to that a somewhat finesse team butting helmets against more than a few power teams with lines that batter and beat down opponents. And if the Eagles do qualify for the playoffs, what would they have left for another four to six weeks of action?

They are just as interested to find out as their supporters are.

“The first day back (of practice) we were telling guys that last year was the seniors’ year, and now it’s our turn to take ahold of the wheel,” Dymond Lee said. “We’re gonna take it as far as we can. Our goal is always [the state bowl game]; it’s where you want to end up.

“We’re not worried about [the upgraded league]. Coach Croson always talks to us and reminds us they are also high school kids. Of course the talent is going to be much better; but overall, we are still human, and everyone can make mistakes. We’re ready to show up and see what it takes to be one of the top teams, and compete for a state championship this year.”

Sias is equally determined.

“These teams we are playing, all of them are good,” he said. “All of them have that same talent, and every week’s going to be a grind. We have to take it one game at a time because you have to go hard every week, get all the guys ready and make sure you’re on the same page. And knowing it’s a real team effort and that we all have to come together to do this.”