Heading into Saturday evening’s CIF Southern Section Division 12 football championship, Desert Sun high school sports reporter Nathan Brown talked with the head coaches from Rancho Mirage (L.D. Matthews) and Arroyo (Jim Singiser) to see their thoughts on their opponents, the biggest matchups to focus on and what it’ll be like to coach a CIF title game for the first time.
Thoughts on their opponents
Matthews: They’re very deserving to be the No. 1 seed. They’re a very diversified team. Offensively, they like to do a lot of things. They’ve got some great size up front and pretty good team speed across the board. They have a very good sophomore quarterback that is really impressive and can throw the ball downfield, is very accurate, and they have some very capable receivers. They also have two solid running backs who aren’t the biggest but are Darren Sproles-type guys that can find space in the seams.
Singiser: “They run the ball extremely well, are big up front and can make plays. Defensively, they’re very sound and play very aggressively and get to the ball. They send wave after wave at you, and they get it done on special teams. They’ve got one heck of a kicker, and their return game is one of the best that we’ve seen.”
Thoughts on Arroyo’s passing game
Matthews: “Coachella Valley throws it more than anyone in this whole section. They (Arroyo) remind me a lot of them, as far as offense. They like to throw the ball, and I think that game prepared us for this moment. … I know our defensive line is excited with this challenge to rush the passer. He (Arroyo QB Ernesto Camacho) is a young sophomore, but he’s played in big games already.”
Singiser: “Rancho Mirage is very good at what they do, and we do things a little differently. We throw the ball and try to be as balanced as much as we can, but we’ve had success in the past few years throwing the ball, so that’s what we’ve done. We’re not a team that’s going to try and throw it 40 or 50 times a game. If we’re playing well, we want to be around that 50-50 split.”
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Thoughts on playing the game at Arroyo
Matthews: “That whole experience of playing at Hillcrest and winning there, playing in and winning our first road playoff game, will help us, but at the end of the day, it’s a high school football game.”
Singiser: “It’s nice to be at home, but I don’t know about any advantage. They’ve won games on the road and won big games on the road. When you get to this point, other than the bus ride, I don’t think it’ll be a big deal. We’ve all played football games, we’ve been playing now for 14 weeks. It’s a matter of strapping it up and getting on the field to let the teams play.”
Thoughts on the hype surrounding a championship game
Matthews: “They’re another football team just like we are. We try to get our kids not to believe or listen to all the hype and the noise. It’s going to be about who’s ready to come out at kickoff and execute their game plan the best. The guys will be excited to play in a championship game, though. There’s plenty to be excited about.”
Singiser: “Our kids aren’t used to it. It’s not something that happens in this area or this league a lot, but we approach it one game at a time. We’re not loaded with the best talent in the San Gabriel Valley, but we just have to prepare like we’re going to get the best a team can give us and go from there. I know, win or lose, they’re going to remember this for a long time, and that’s what it’s about, to get this type of opportunity that doesn’t happen to everybody.”
CIF SS Division 12 championship details
When: Saturday, Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.
Where: Arroyo High School, 4921 Cedar Ave, El Monte, CA 91732
Teams: Rancho Mirage (11-2, De Anza League champs and No. 2 seed in Division 12) and Arroyo (12-1, Mission Valley League champs and No. 1 seed in Division 12)
Tickets: $12 for general admission, $5 for high school students with ID and children 13 years old and under