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Football St. Anthony

Football Preview: St. Anthony Saints

In Raul Lara’s first season as the head football coach at St. Anthony, the Saints used a hard-nosed running game to reach the 2021 CIF-SS Championship Game. That blueprint was nothing new for a Lara-led team, but last year’s group had a tough time recreating that identity.

Youth, injuries, and a lack of depth made for a challenging season for St. Anthony in 2022, but if any team in Long Beach should feel like they’re getting a fresh start this August, it should be the Saints.

After years of planning, fundraising, and construction, the new St. Anthony Athletic Complex at Clark Field is ready for its close-up this season. After making a temporary home in Downey the past two seasons–on the home field of Del Rey League rivals St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy–the Saints finally have a place to call home again.

VIDEO: St. Anthony Football Preview

“We’re very excited because we used to practice on a small field, the baseball field actually,” said senior quarterback Adrian Perez of the new facility. “Now we're able to practice on a true field where we can execute the way we're supposed to, so it's a lot easier for us right now.”

Lara highlighted the importance of the new field on the trajectory of the program, along with the adjacent athletic complex which features coaches offices, meeting rooms, multiple locker rooms, and a brand new indoor/outdoor weight room. So far, it’s been a bit of a tease for the coaching staff as the building has yet to officially open, but it’s an exciting time for Saints Football nonetheless.

“We're going to try to attract as many people to this beautiful place as we can,” said Lara of his new office. “And hopefully everybody sees that this is actually a pretty good place to play, to not only get a great education, but also get the chance to play football and get looked at by college coaches.”

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When the new LED lights come on on Friday nights, the Saints expect to be much more physical this season. A stable of running backs is set to run behind a bigger, and more experienced offensive line. That group includes a pair of incoming freshmen–Raymond Umi and Epeli Uhamaka–who are highly regarded by the coaching staff, and if they mesh well with the returners that could be a real area of strength in 2023 and beyond.

“We've gotten a lot better in the running back position and the offensive line with the two young kids coming in, so that's going to help tremendously,” said Lara. “We're still kind of young. So if we start two freshmen, I think I only have one senior that's really started on the offensive line still. But they're doing a real good job getting in the weight room, staying consistent with our program and everything during the offseason, so you can see the improvement.”

Elijah Lolesio-Pua will be a go-to playmaker at running back, and he’ll also patrol the defensive secondary. He was a leading weapon for the Saints last season as a quick but physical runner. His younger brother, Jasiah, will be a starter at wide receiver and DB.

“We have a lot of returners coming back, so that's good, and then a lot of the young players have gotten a little taste of what it's like playing varsity. So hopefully, they're ready,” said Elijah Lolesio-Pua. “Our run game is really looking solid right now, and we have some pretty hard runners, not gonna lie.”

Josiah “JoJo” Apisala is a transfer from Valley Christian who will see carries at running back, along with brothers Marco and Joshua Camacho.

The linebackers should be strong behind the senior leadership of Raymond Gomez, who was a sideline-to-sideline playmaker for the Saints a year ago. He’ll be joined by juniors Marco Camacho and Soloalofa Lepaga-Ili. In the secondary, senior Landon Washington brings back varsity experience and will contribute at corner and safety.

“We want to have a shut down defense, minimize the touchdowns and just be an all around physical group,’ said Gomez. “We want to bring physicality to the table this year. Especially in league games, they might not expect that coming from us since we weren’t that physical last year. So this year, physicality is gonna be a big part of the defense that I want to bring in.”

This year’s schedule should line up more favorably for the Saints, with a nice buildup toward league play. The Saints open their new home field in their season opener against Jefferson on Aug. 18, and big non-league tests against Dominguez and Brentwood are scheduled to be played at Clark Field.

St. Anthony will need to utilize that preseason slate as tough road games against Pius and Harvard-Westlake await them at the start of Del Rey League action.

Probable Starters:


QB - Adrian Perez (Sr.)

RB - Elijah Lolesio-Pua (Sr.) / Josiah “JoJo” Apisala (Jr.) / Marco Camacho (Jr.) / Joshua Camacho (Sr.)

WR - Remy Doering (Sr.) / Jasiah Lolesio-Pua (Jr.) / Andres Mendoza (So.)

TE - Logan Aranda (Jr.) / Soloalofa Lepaga-Ili (Jr.)

T - Nico Rivera (Sr.)

G - Dylan Durward (Jr.) / Raymond Gomez (Sr.) / Evan Stafford (Jr.)

C - Raymond Umi (Fr.)

G - Epeli Uhamaka (Fr.)

T - Matthew Gonzales (Jr.)

K - Christian Martinez (Jr.)


DE - Jeremiah Cervantes (Sr.) / Epeli Uhamaka (Fr.)

DT - Raymond Umi (Fr.) / Nico Rivera (Sr.)

LB - Raymond Gomez (Sr.) / Marco Camacho (Jr.) / Soloalofa Lepaga-Ili (Jr.)

CB - Remy Doering (Sr.) / Jasiah Lolesio-Pua (Jr.) / Landon Washington (Sr.)

S - Elijah Lolesio-Pua (Sr.) / Landon Washington (Sr.) / Jaxson Bonsall (Jr.)

P - Adrian Perez (Sr.) / Noah Furlow (So.)

2023 St. Anthony Saints Football Schedule

8/18 - vs. Jefferson

8/25 - at West Torrance

9/1 - vs. Dominguez

9/8 - at Salesian

9/14 - vs. Brentwood

9/22 - at Desert

9/29 - at St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy

10/7 - at Harvard-Westlake

10/13 - vs. St. Genevieve

10/20 - vs. La Salle

10/27 - at St. Bernard

Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.