Tigers are in rebuild mode this season, but Coach Aric Galliano is unfazed
■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
At graduation last school year, San Jacinto Mayor Scott Miller declared to Hemet residents, “We love you…but…who has the bell?” With that declaration, the pressure is on this year’s San Jacinto High School football team to keep that precious bell.
Having graduated 26 seniors as of late, Coach Aric Galliano has a small task to handle: rebuilding his winning varsity team. The fact that San Jacinto went 9-1 last season and 4-1 in Mountain Pass League definitely increases the pressure, too. That’s why Galliano had his Tigers practicing in the sun (and the storms) all last week. But Galliano did find time in his busy schedule last Monday to talk about the challenge ahead this season.
“I think it’s always interesting; it’s always a good game, no matter who’s on top and who supposedly is older or younger,” said Galliano. “The kids have done a good job in the weight room.”
Yes, the old gymnasium/weight room conversion has happened. Also, their scoreboard will be freshly painted come game time this school year – both of those additions should boost Tiger spirit a bit.
“We have four quarterbacks going after the starting quarterback job, replacing Elijah Chambers,” said Galliano, “who was a defense player of the Mountain Pass.”
With only up to 15 seniors on the team, not all of them with previous varsity experience, and an underclassmen-heavy supporting cast (with at least three freshmen in the mix), the Tigers have a challenge ahead of them. But Galliano has faith that he can get his boys in shape for the season…he’s been in this position before.
“I’ve done it a bunch…coaching Mt. San Jacinto and coaching at Tahquitz,” declared Galliano. “Being able to rebuild and get everybody on the same page, I love the challenge. It’s a challenge for me coaching – I’ve got to coach every day.”
Galliano also emphasized his role in leading the assistant coaches, ensuring all corners of the field are covered.
Starting running back senior Eddie Guerrero is excited to bring his mojo to the field: “There’s a lot of new changes, but I feel confident with the team. Everyone’s working hard and we all know we need to work harder than last year.”
Twin brothers Kevin and Patrick Maria, both seniors, are on the same team this year.
Kevin, who started football as a freshman, is a man of little words, letting his actions speak louder than his mouth: “Just keep coming, keep supporting us.”
Patrick, however, had plenty to say. After all, being a twin can be “Kinda annoying, ‘cause people get you mixed up. But we don’t really look alike.” Patrick went on to encourage his team, “Just keep going 100 percent.” But all this is for nothing if these boys let their grades slip at all.
“That’s my biggie; they have me for P.E. so I kind of nip that thing in the bud once they get with me starting Aug. 10,” said Galliano.
And let’s hope they make the grade as they face Temecula Valley’s Golden Bears at Tiger Stadium 7 p.m. on Aug. 25. Whoever wins that gets the hypothetical milk and honey.