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SRHS football follows coach’s recipe for success

Alex Ariaudo makes a cut and heads down the field during a Falcons football practice session. (photo by Jim Wick)

SRHS football follows coach’s recipe for success

By Jill Alexander

The new football season for last year’s CIF State Champion Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS) Falcons started Aug. 19 in an away game in Brawley. For fans who couldn’t make the trek, the first home game will be Aug. 26 with a scheduled 7 p.m. kick-off in Scripps Ranch against a difficult rival – La Jolla High School. 

Last season, the Falcons won the CIF-San Diego Section Football Division 2 Championship for the first time in SRHS history, then made it to the State championship game and won for the first time. In 2019 the team went undefeated in its regular season and went on to the CIF San Diego Championship Division 2 game before losing to La Jolla.

After the team’s big 2021 championship season, head coach Marlon Gardinera is looking ahead, also  mentioning that there is “beautiful new turf” on the home field that was just installed this summer.

Keeping motivated

“Following an incredible season, like all the previous five seasons, we have high standards and even higher expectations,” said Gardinera, who is approaching his sixth year as head coach. “The most important part of my role is not football; my job is to teach them how to thrive.”

Under his leadership, the team continues learning the recipe for success in life: “Hard work, discipline, dealing with adversity, dedication and understanding what team means.”

Sometimes, the culmination will be the pinnacle of success and that’s what the Falcons reached last year. 

“However, there are times you will fall short of that pinnacle because of the match-up on the field, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall short of the recipe for success. I’ll continue to be relentlessly relentless in doing that.” Gardinera said. 

“We are driven, and we are going to get to where we are trying to go. If you saw last year, our best was pretty good,” he said. “We’ll do what we do every year and that’s work hard, get the absolute most out of each teammate and see where that lands us.”

Top expected players

Offense: Jax Leatherwood, QB (Sr.), Trevor Granucci, OL (Sr.), Dean Paley, WR (Sr.), and Ethan Rochet, TE/WR (Sr.).

Defense: Noah Gardinera, S
(Jr.), Hudson Wanner, LB (Jr.), Ryan Stadherr, LB (So.), and Nathaniel Barba, DL (Sr.).

“There are five returning starters from last year’s defense. This is by far the youngest team I’ve had in my five years at Scripps Ranch High School. It has become a pattern,” Gardinera said. “We are senior heavy one year, then starting sophomores and juniors the next. There will be at least 16 non-seniors starting for us this year. That just means we will be back the following year with a team with 3-and 4-year starters.”

Bottom-line: the same offense and defense, just a new cast of characters working hard to put it all together as they move up to Division 1 and the “incredibly tough Western League.” 

As for this season’s kicker, Gardinera will decide between three players in the coming weeks.

“It’s such an important part of what we do. Even in our State championship game, the score difference was three and the kicker came out and made the pivotal kick. It’s always such a big thing,” Gardinera said. 

Tough season

Facing such opposition as Madison, La Jolla, Cathedral Catholic, Lincoln and St. Augustine will make for a challenging season.

“We have been moved up to the highest division and what I think is the toughest league in San Diego County,” Gardinera said. “It’s going to be a challenging season.”

But with Gardinera’s recipe for success on and off the field, it may very well be another winning year.

Josh Nguyen goes through drills as the Scripps Ranch High School football team returned to campus for preseason practice. (photo by Jim Wick)
Scripps Ranch High School football players prepare for a drill from the line of scrimmage. (photo by Jim Wick)