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Football St. Anthony

Football: St. Anthony Ready to Roll in Division 8 Playoffs

The562’s coverage of football in 2023-24 is sponsored in part by the MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Foundation and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Foundation

There are few coaches in Southern California who you’d rather have preparing your high school football team for the start of the playoffs than St. Anthony’s Raul Lara. The former Poly coach won five Division 1 CIF-SS titles with the Jackrabbits, had immediate success at Warren, and took St. Anthony to a CIF-SS title game in his first year with the Saints. This year St. Anthony won the Del Rey League title and the Saints (8-2) are preparing for a tough game at Clark Field on Friday at 7 p.m. against visiting Tahquitz.

“We’re breaking down film, they look pretty good,” said Lara. “When you get into the playoffs, limiting mistakes is going to be key. Execution, controlling that line of scrimmage.”

Lara is an old school guy, and he values defense and running the ball over any other goal for a football team–especially when it comes to the postseason.

“It’s just old school football man,” he said. “Football is not that difficult. We want to control the clock, control the line of scrimmage, play great defense. When I was a young coach we went against a lot of good coaches that did that to us; run it, play great defense. So that’s something I like, that formula. I’ve implemented it wherever I go and it’s been successful so far.”

Indeed, the Saints this year won a league title on the back of a power ground game that then opened up the passing game as defenses adjusted to the run. The Saints will need to be sharp to win in Division 8–several divisions higher than last time they made the championship game. It’s an adjustment for Lara, who was always the city’s best playoff prognosticator–under the old formula, he could accurately predict who Poly was playing a week or two before the playoffs and start watching film early.

“The new system is the unknown, you don’t know what’s going to happen so you can’t get an early start on anybody,” he said. “It’s a little different–but we’re going to get ready to go.”

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.