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FOOTBALL COUNTDOWN: PRE-SMUDGE POT INTERVIEW WITH BONITA HEAD COACH IBIS AGUILAR

August 26, 2017
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LA VERNE, California, Aug. 26, 2017 — Last season, the Mighty Bonita Bearcats could just as easily have been called the Sitting Ducks. They had a new coach in Ibis Aguilar who came to the program late and a sophomore-laden team high in enthusiasm but with little actual Friday night-game experience. So San Dimas took full advantage when the two crosstown rivals met, handily defeating Bonita 42-14 in last year’s Smudge Pot renewal.

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For the season, the Bearcats finished 3-7, not winning a league game.

 

This year could bring a different result, however. For one, Aguilar has had this year’s team a full year, and already he’s seen a difference.

“Our players have definitely put in the work in the offseason,” Aguilar said. “You can see the results in terms of their size, speed and strength.”

 

But that’ s not all that’s changed. Aguilar is more relaxed, his demeanor more calm.

“Last year, I felt the entire season I was playing catchup,” he said.

 

Feelings of nervousness and being rushed have now been replaced by an attitude of confidence. “We feel more prepared and organized — that we’re ready for this,” Aguilar said.

SUBTLE CHANGES

 

Interestingly, last year’s team wore green ties and button-down white shirts before every game; this year’s the ties will only be in evidence when the team travels. “We know that day is going to be a business trip.”

 

It’s a subtle difference and a little tweak like that that has firmly put Aguilar’s stamp on this year’s team. Victory is in mastering the details.

Before Aguilar landed at Bonita, he had served as the head coach for South El Monte for four years. He also served as an assistant to Bonita head coach Adrian Medrano at Bonita before he was tapped for the top job. He and Medrano had been roommates at the University of La Verne where both played football and where Aguilar obtained his master’s and teaching credential.

 

Now firmly entrenched at Bonita, Aguilar teaches physical education at Bonita in addition to helping students stay on track with their academic credits needed for graduation.

HARD KNOCKS

 

He also knows something about the vicissitudes of life. At South El Monte, coming off a championship, he along with 71 other teachers were pink-slipped (released) because of a funding shortage. So for his last two years as South El Monte’s head coach, he was a walk-on coach, never a good situation for a program that is trying to establish itself. Walk-ons don’t symbolize an era of stability or permanence.

How did Aguilar handle his release?

 

“The life lesson there is when one door closes another opens,” he said from his coaching classroom on the Bonita campus. “We can’t stop going after what we want in life. I’m a football coach and a teacher and no matter what happens, I’m going to pursue that.”

 

Persistence in the face of adversity is a lesson Aguilar knows well, and he wants to make sure his team understands the lesson as well. Everybody gets knocked down, especially in the game of football, so the true measure of this year’s team will be how quickly it rebounds and responds to the inevitable challenges a long season brings.

 

“First and foremost, I’m a character-before-scheme coach,” Aguilar said. “No matter where you are, the field, the classroom or the social media world, you’re a Bearcat.”

 

He believes that if his team has the right values and is pulling in the same direction, it will lay a foundation of success that will turn Bonita into an elite program  again. He calls it the “Bearcat Base.” Think of it as akin to legendary UCLA coach John Wooden’s Pyramid of Success.

 

“If everyone’s on the same page and has bought in, the ability to execute the scheme will be easier,” Aguilar said.

OFFENSE AND DEFENSE

 

As far as the offensive scheme goes, it starts with J.P. Andrade, the team’s junior quarterback who threw for 2,072 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore.

 

“He had some growing pains, but he’s a year older, wiser and stronger,” Aguilar said. “He’s a smart kid and very hard working. He leads by example.”

 

He will direct an attack that will feature lots of RPOs or run-pass-options. One of those options will be tailback Andrew Flores, a senior who share’s Andrade’s work ethic and demeanor.

 

Another option threat is Wilson Ivy-bey. “He’s the fastest kid on our team,” Aguilar said. “He’s really athletic with good vision. If you get him off the edge, it’s going to be hard for people to catch him.”

 

The deep threat is going to come from wide receiver J.T. Harris. He is also the team’s backup quarterback. “He the second-fastest guy on the team,” Aguilar said. “He’s going to do some great things for us.”

 

Providing Andrade major protection to execute Bonita’ multi-pronged attack will be returning left tackle Diego Jimenez, center Brennon Anderson and right guard Julian Moreno.

“They all played a lot last year,” Aguilar said. Collectively, they bring brawn, brains and toughness to their positions, which set the tone for the entire offense, Aguilar believes.

On defense, Aguilar has less to worry about, simply because Ray Medina, is still at the controls, confusing his teams with schemes and unpredictability.

 

“I’ve played against him so I know how hard it is to figure out his tendencies,” Aguilar said. “With our Bonita stack, you could see eight different guys pressuring the quarterback.”

 

Entering tonight’s contest against San Dimas, Aguilar likes his team’s attitude. He knows he has a team ready to run through a brick wall for him; he just doesn’t know how tough or how much resistance that brick wall represents until the season starts. It did show a few cracks last week in Bonita’s scrimmage against Northview in which his defense picked off two passes.

 

“I thought we did a good job defensively,” Aguilar said. “Tonight we’ll learn a lot more.”

TEAM SCHEDULE

BONITA SCHEDULE
Aug. 26 – Vs. San Dimas (At Citrus College)
Sept. 1 – Vs. Sante Fe (At Pioneer)
Sept. 8 – Riverside Poly
Sept. 15 – Buena
Sept. 22 – At Diamond Ranch
Oct. 6 – At Diamond Bar
Oct. 13 – Ayala
Oct. 20 – Claremont
Oct. 27 – Glendora
Nov. 2 – South Hills (At Covina District Field)

TEAM ROSTER

#2 J.P. Andrade
#7 Joshua Ferrel
#8 Andrew Flores
#9 Kevin Bullock
#12 Seth Broussard
#13 Michael Avila
#22 Matthew Sanchez
#23 Victor Sepulveda
#25 John Harris
#30 Joey Reynolds
#31 Nathan Otto
#32 Ivan Wilson-bey
#34 Gypsy Mideiros
#42 Daniel Oseguera
#43 Vincent Montoya
#45 Michael Musharbash
#51 Daniel Lopez
#52 Isaac Vasquez
#53 Brennon Anderson
#56 Julian Moreno
#63 Mauricio Mendoza
#67 Diego Jimenez
#68 Gabriel Lemmons
#68 Harrison Defoort
#74 Lucas Kelly
#83 Kyle Nixon
#88 Damian Villasenor
Aalias Williams
Aaron Renfro
Brandon Stone
Ethan Durham
Ethan Lancaster
Gaige Palmer
Justin Ornelas
Kenny Coulson
Michael Sandoval
Robert Wences
Sebastian Escoto
Zion Longsine

 

For Bearcats coverage all season long, look to La Verne Online, La Verne’s No. 1 source for news. Supported by our great advertisers and Colleen Bennett, longtime La Verne Realtor and columnist of The Real Dirtt real estate blog. You can reach Colleen at 909.374.4744.

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