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New-look Guards ready for turnaround in football

New coach and group of transfers will try and put Bell-Jeff back on winning track after 3-7 campaign.

August 21, 2012|By Jeff Tully,

There is a crop of new players on the roster of the Bellarmine-Jefferson High football team this season.

There is also a new coach at the helm for the Guards, as Burbank High product David Machuca takes over with a new staff.

Change is likely good for Bell-Jeff, which suffered through two lackluster seasons under former coach Rolando Aguirre.

Bell-Jeff has struggled the past two years, finishing last in the Santa Fe League both seasons. The Guards went 3-7 (0-4 in league) in 2011 and are 5-15 the past two years.


Under Aguirre, who finished with a 69-68 record in 13 years as head coach, Bell-Jeff proved it could be a successful program. In just his second season as coach in 2000, the Guards won a share of the Santa Fe League championship. It was the program's first title in 46 years.

Bell-Jeff also captured undisputed championships in 2004 and 2007, as the teams finished with 9-2 records both seasons.

"It wasn't all that long ago that Bell-Jeff was able to win a league title," said Machuca, a 2002 Burbank graduate who also served as an assistant coach at Chaminade. "We feel we can get back to that level and put a successful team on the field."

The Guards will open the season at 7 p.m. Friday in a nonleague game at Monroe.

Machuca said since being named head coach in December, it has been a smooth transition for the program. He added that the players have been very receptive to his coaching style and the goals he has outlined for this season.

"They have been extremely receptive," he said. "That has really been the best thing with this group. They have been willing to buy into what we're trying to accomplish here and I really think they've done that. They feel like they are getting better as players. When you're feeling successful in what you're doing I think it's a little easier for you to make those new changes in a new system."

The coach said this year's version of Bell-Jeff football will look vastly different to the product that took the field a year ago. Machuca has installed a no-huddle, spread offense to take advantage of what he calls a "wealth of athletic ability."

The personnel on the team is also different.

"We had a couple of kids transfer out, but we also had a couple of kids transfer in," Machuca said. "So, it all equals out. Our team definitely looks a little different from last year."

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