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Football: Digging it at Magnolia

August 26, 2008 |  2:26 pm

A rifle goes to the winner of the rivalry between Magnolia and Savanna, but the Sentinels toted a shovel last year when they traveled to play their Orange League nemesis.

Rumor was that Savanna had kept possession of the rifle for so long that the Rebels had buried it beneath their field.

So the plan was to beat Savanna and go digging for rivalry treasure.

Things didn't quite work out that way--Savanna won, 28-20--but Magnolia served notice that it was no longer buried alive in league play.

With Magnolia's Sept. 4 opener against Santa Ana Calvary Chapel approaching, Sentinels Coach Dave Perkins said he sensed being on the cusp of something special at his latest reclamation project. Perkins has turned around programs at Riverside La Sierra and Corona, so why not a Magnolia program that hasn't been to the playoffs since 1984?

"This is my forte. This is kind of what I do," said Perkins, who will turn 57 in December. "My jobs have been to go in and get them going."

Magnolia finished one victory short of the playoffs in 2007 during Perkins' first season at the school, going 4-6 overall and 1-4 in league play. But look closely at the 2008 schedule and you'll find that Perkins has listed postseason games at the bottom as a way of ratcheting up expectations.

Anyone who thinks the Sentinels will go as far as running backs Robert Cruz and Jose Pineda take them didn't watch Magnolia play defense last season.

"We couldn't stop anybody," Perkins said. "You'd get a hot dog and three touchdowns would be scored--two by [the opponent] and one by us."

But Magnolia returns eight starters from the defense that ended last season with a 54-0 trouncing of Century, and Perkins can only hope that an off-season emphasis on weightlifting results in players who are not only bigger but meaner.

"If things fall right, I think we have a chance to go to the playoffs for the first time," Perkins said. "I can't tell you how special that would be for these guys."

--Ben Bolch