A Post-Palmer, Post-Beltran football season

Dylan Martinez, News Editor

In 2014, La Serna was without 3-year starting quarterback Frankie Palmer.

In 2015, La Serna is without 9th-year head coach Margarito Beltran.

Beltran was terminated as head coach on allegations of physically restraining a special-education student, according to a press release from the Whittier Union High School District. Beltran was entering his ninth season with the Lancers, having won the CIF Southeast Division Championship in 2013. Over his eight seasons, Beltran earned a winning percentage of .745 — winning 76/102 games. His removal came just days before the season opener against Eastlake High School, a Division 1 program in the San Diego section. The Lancers beat the Titans 14-13 in Chula Vista. They followed up by beating D1 Pac-5 Lakewood High School in a close 21-19 battle. On Thursday, in another close game, LS came up short 17-14 against Mira Costa.

All eyes are on this year’s varsity team and new head coach Andy George. The last remnants of 2013’s winning team graduate this year, and it remains to be seen whether or not another championship is on the horizon.

Starting seniors this season include linebacker Daniel Campos, running back Anthony Garcia, wide receiver Joe Carrillo, and quarterback Johnny Ceballos. Starting juniors Eli Martinez and Matthew Marshall, tight end and runningback respectively, return for their second season as starters on the varsity squad.

The big question on everyone’s mind is whether or not La Serna can make it to and win another title, given recent setbacks. Falling to West Covina in 2011 and Downey in 2012, the 2013 team finally nabbed the title. They came up short 41-36 in the semifinal game against Crescenta Valley in 2014, marking the first time LS failed to reach the championship since 2010.

“I have a great feeling about this upcoming football season. A CIF title is definitely possible this year, as long as we continue working hard. We will achieve our goals,” said junior Brandon Jimenez, a starting runningback.

According to new CIF rules and beginning this year, every winner of a section championship is automatically eligible to play in a state championship. Should La Serna win the Southeast Division title this year, the team would participate in a regional state bowl game. If they won that, they’d advance to a state championship game. There are now 13 state championship game divisions. Opportunity is ripe for the Lancers this season. 

Contrary to popular belief, however, La Serna is not unique in its program’s overall success. Within the Del Rio League alone, only California High School and Pioneer High School have not reached the big game. Whittier High School won CIF titles in 1934 and 1963; El Rancho with a dynasty in 1960, 1966, and 1968. Santa Fe High School made a single appearance in 2006, losing to Schurr.

Locally, cross-town rival La Mirada won in 1992 and 2009.

This year will determine whether or not La Serna football can adapt to its changes or face another 45+ year title-drought.