This week marks the midway point of the 2011 prep football regular season and because of a rare oddity in scheduling, five of the six local teams are off.
The lone local taking the field this week is Brethren Christian, which on Saturday travels north to face Los Angeles Baptist at 1 p.m. at L.A. Baptist High. The Warriors head into the nonleague clash coming off perhaps its most impressive showing to date.
Last Friday at Ocean View High, Brethren Christian paired its highest-scoring offensive output of the season with a defense that yielded its fewest points, and the two-sided effort resulted in a one-sided victory, 40-7, over St. Anthony of Long Beach. The win allowed the Warriors to improve to 3-2 in Pat McInally's first year as head coach.
"It was a great, all-around effort by our guys and I was really pleased," said McInally, a 10-year NFL veteran who was a punter and wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals before retiring in 1986. "That was a pretty fun win.
"We had a pretty bad defensive game the week before (a 60-39 loss to Saddleback Valley Christian), but we revamped our defense this week and put in some specific schemes, like blitz packages among other things, and it was authored by Ryan O'Hara. He's really a brilliant guy."
The Warriors are starting to come into their stride under a talented coaching staff headed by McInally, who is a 1971 graduate of Villa Park and went on to play at Harvard and then the NFL, where he was All-Pro and a two-time NFL punting champion. He said his first offensive coordinator in the NFL was Bill Walsh and first defensive coordinator was Dick LeBeau. McInally and the Bengals played in the Super Bowl at the end of the 1981-82 season. They lost to Walsh's San Francisco 49ers team that won its first Super Bowl title.
McInally worked as receivers coach for the previous three years at Brethren Christian before taking on the head coaching position last spring.
"I've been blessed in many ways," said McInally, who is also an author and former pro sand volleyball player. "I'm thrilled to be at Brethren Christian. I just love the school, stepping onto the campus, and I love Principal Rick Niswonger and the support our program has received. We also have a great coaching staff in place to lead the program."
McInally's staff is made up of O'Hara, Leon Green (defensive coordinator/linebackers), Jim Pederson (defensive line), Russ Duren (offensive line), Roger Ollano (secondary), Tom Riggs (defensive line), Dave Oakley (running backs) and Ken Diebold (special teams).
"I'm very pleased where we are at this point of the season," McInally said. "I think our 3-2 record is deceptive because I know how good a team we are. But 3-2 is looking pretty good. We lacked some things before this season started, but we've made some great improvement. On defense, we've had goal-line stands and that's something we haven't really done before. I also was impressed with the way we fought back against a very talented Pasadena Poly team in our opener. We were down, 20-0, and nearly came back to tie the game. They beat us by 40 points last year, so that's quiet a turnaround.
McInally said the goal at the outset of the season has been to bring balance to the offense. The last few years, the Warriors have relied heavily on the run. This year, the offense is under O'Hara, who is its coordinator and also coaches quarterbacks. He has the pedigree for that.
O'Hara, who turned 28 last month, prepped at John Muir High in Pasadena where he was a two-time all-league and all-area player.
He went on to play football and basketball at the University of Arizona and then transferred and played at Central Oklahoma University. From there, he went on to play in the Arena Football League with the Central Valley Coyotes. His coaching experience included working as quarterbacks coach at is alma mater, Muir, and as offensive coordinator at both Saddleback and Marshall of Los Angeles before joining McInally's staff.
"I've loved every minute of it here," O'Hara said of being at Brethren Christian. "I met Coach McInally last spring and he talked to me about helping out with some things. Before I knew it, somehow he 'negotiated' me into becoming his offensive coordinator. I'm glad I did. I've never seen such a great staff as the one he's put together. He's made sure the kids are taken care of in every aspect and is really putting together a program here. It's exciting."
What's also is exciting to O'Hara is the play of his offense. Senior Sam Franklin is lead quarterback and sophomore quarterback Jack McInally, son of the head coach, has played extensively in several games. The Warriors' run game is spearheaded by senior Brandon White.
"Sam (Franklin) is becoming a monster," said O'Hara, who in addition to running the BC offense, also runs Quest Quarterback Prep, which offers private quarterback training. "Two weeks ago, he threw for 202 yards and three touchdowns, ran for a touchdown, caught a pass for a 62-yard touchdown and had more than 400 all-purpose yards. Last week, he had 300 total yards (238 passing) and rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another.
"Brandon has been just as great. He's rushed for 100 yards or more in each of our last three games. As an offense, we've rolled up 400 yards or more in the last three games and had 512 yards against Saddleback Valley Christian. That is great to see."
The BC offense now goes up against an L.A. Baptist defense that has surrendered 49 or more points in each of its last four games, all losses. The Knights, who are 1-4, are led on offense by 6-5 quarterback Sean Smith, who is averaging 250 passing yards a game and will test the Warriors secondary. Smith threw for 301 yards last week during a 52-20 loss to undefeated St. Genevieve.
Last Week's Results