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New school already a success

October 1, 2007 |  9:45 am

There are some recognizable names among the winning teams in the Valley Mission League.

Reseda is 4-0, followed by Sylmar at 3-1, Monroe at 3-1 and Panorama at 3-1.

Wait a minute....Panorama? A school in its second year of existence and in its first year of varsity football? A team with a roster of only 32 players and five of them injured, including starting quarterback Jose Cardenas (broken arm) and second string quarterback Keonta Cooper (sprained toe)?

OK, two of its victories are over other new schools, Arleta and Contreras, and the other is over Van Nuys (1-3). That doesn't detract from the excellent coaching job being done by Flaminio Zarate Jr., and his assistants, DeSean Hardy, Freddy Dugam and Vito Sarcino.

"Last year when we first tried to form a team, only 19 of the 80 kids who came out were [academically] eligible," Zarate said.

He said they spent last year playing a junior varsity schedule and trying to, in Zarate's words, "build up character" as much as build up bodies in the weight room. It appears to be paying off faster than the coaches anticipated.

"It's amazing how the kids have gelled." Zarate said. "I try to tell them to act like they've won before. They tell me, 'But Coach, we haven't won before.'"

Panorama's game against Franklin on Friday will be big for a couple of reasons. Panorama is going for its fourth victory in a row, and Zarate is going back to the school where he started coaching. He was an assistant freshman coach at Franklin from 1999-2000, freshman coach from 2001-03, and a varsity assistant from 2004 until 2006, when he was hired by Panorama.

"I still have ties to that school. I coached a lot of the seniors there," Zarate said. "It's like playing against your brother. You're happy for him but you want to be competitive. We know, as a new program, it would be big for us if we can win."

- Mike Terry