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Bell-Jeff looking to rebound

With just two wins last year, the Guards hit the season with a new offense and a renewed outlook.

August 31, 2011|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com

The 2010 football season is one that Bellarmine-Jefferson High Coach Rolando Aguirre can't put behind him fast enough.

"We definitely had our problems last season," said Aguirre, whose team went 2-8 and finished last in the Santa Fe League with a 0-4 record. "Things didn't go very well for us and we just didn't play very well either."

The Guards have had to deal with their share of adversity in the summer, as they have been unable to practice at their usual venue, Brace Park, because of ongoing improvements to the facility. Instead, Bell-Jeff has been relegated to tiny Palm Park for its preseason workouts.

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On top of that, the team — along with Burroughs and Burbank — will not have the use of its home field this season, as Memorial Field is undergoing a renovation.

"We will be playing our home games at North Hollywood High," Aguirre said. "That was the closest field that we could find. We might not be playing our home games at our own field, but at least we have a place for our home games.

"It's a good stadium and we're happy to be playing there."

Bell-Jeff will also be dealing with the loss of its best player from a year ago, Micah Shirley, who graduated. Shirley, who played quarterback, running back, wide receiver and defensive back, was a bright spot for the struggling Guards in 2010, earning him All-CIF Southern Section Northeast Division honors.

On offense, Shirley had 119 carries for 1,210 yards (10.2 yards a carry) and seven touchdowns, hauled in 24 passes for 402 yards (16.8 yards a catch) and eight touchdowns and he completed nine of 27 passes for 200 yards and one touchdown. In addition, he scored 92 points. On defense, he had 122 tackles (12.2 a game) and four interceptions.

With Shirley running the show last season, Aguirre retooled the offense, opening it up more. The Guards tried more of a passing game, which ultimately didn't pay many dividends. But this year, Aguirre has switched to a more ball-control offense, and will try and keep the ball on the ground more.

"We are going back to the basics, we've got to," Aguirre said. "The good thing about us is that we have a good [junior varsity] nucleus, and that will help us. We have some workhorses and the guys have been working very hard."

The Guards will get a chance to start the season on the right foot when they open the campaign at 7 p.m. Friday with a nonleague Zero Week game against Flintridge Prep at North Hollywood High.

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