Football: Lompoc ready to take on the big boys
With a 20-game winning streak, back-to-back Northwest Division championships and the return of 16 starters, Lompoc isn't going to go away quietly this season, especially after the disappointment of 2011, when the Braves were denied a CIF state championship bowl berth despite a 14-0 record.
Their 27-year-old head coach, Andrew Jones, is trying to get his players to focus on a "one-game" at a time philosophy, focusing on an Aug. 24 opener against Arroyo Grande.
But the intriguing part of Lompoc's season is that the Braves have been moved to the Western Division, which includes the Mission League, led by Gardena Serra. Can the Braves compete with Serra, Chaminade, St. Francis and St. Paul?
The answer is yes. They have one of the state's best running backs in Lavon Coleman, a Washington commit who rushed for 2,038 yards. Kicker Jose Morales has been a standout the last two years booting balls into the end zone and delivering clutch field goals. Junior defensive tackle Ainuu Taua (6-1, 270) already has several Pac-12 scholarship offers.
So beware of the Braves in 2012. They're motivated, talented and have no intention of being left out of the bowl party again.
Correction: An earlier version of this blog had Lompoc winning back-to-back Western Division championships. It was the Northwest Division Lompoc won.
-- Eric Sondheimer