While Los Altos is trying this season to recapture the magic from 2016 that helped it win the Hacienda League title and reach the CIF Southern Section finals, Diamond Ranch is hoping a brutal nonleague schedule will give it the strength it needs to break through and win the league title.
Los Altos (5-1, 1-0) has been one of the hottest teams in the area, with its only loss to undefeated Glendora, while Diamond Ranch (3-3, 1-0) has a .500 record, but its losses were to highly ranked Bishop Amat and La Habra, and Ayala, which is undefeated.
Diamond Ranch will host Los Altos on Friday at 7 p.m. in a battle of the league favorites in the Hacienda League.
For Los Altos coach Travis Brown, who played in several big games for Los Altos in the early 2000s, a big challenge this week is keeping the team’s emotions in check, and that starts with the coaches.
“I have to remind the staff that we have to stay grounded and not get caught up on what has happened in the past,” Brown said. “A lot of these players today don’t remember what it was like at (Los Altos) back in the day. When I played, when we played in games against Charter Oak, South Hills, and Wilson, you went to the school for games like this.”
Brown said Friday’s contest, with all that is at stake, is rare these days.
“With all the schools so spread out in all of these divisions that are in CIF these days, having a huge local area game is an exception,” Brown said. “That’s the state of high school football within our area.”
In his second season at the helm, Brown has led the Conquerors back to contender status. Two weeks ago, Los Altos had one of its bigger wins of the season, as it handed Northview its first loss 36-14.
What awaits the Conquerors on Friday is a Diamond Ranch team that, according to Brown, is as talented as any team they have faced this season.
“(Diamond Ranch) has athletes all over the field and they are capable of making plays at any moment,” Brown said. “They do some really good things on tape.”
The list of players who have made a huge impact for the Panthers includes quarterback Cade Miller, two-way standout D.J. Shanks and Nin and Daymon Burns.
Los Altos is led by junior quarterback Justin Gayton, who has thrown for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns. One of his favorite targets has been junior wide receiver Zedekiah Rodriguez, who has 16 receptions for 652 yards and nine touchdowns.
Another player who could have a big impact is running back Rene Zaldivar. The senior is the team’s leading rusher (357 yards, four touchdowns) and received his first college offer last week from Northern Arizona.
Link to SGV Tribune Article