Football Preview: Football is the first step in Riordan’s revival

Riordan senior leaders (from left) Nate Warren, Drew Jackson and Christopher Davis will play key roles for the Crusaders in 2011. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

So many things are changing on the campus of Archbishop Riordan High School this semester, it’s hard to keep track of them all.

School President Patrick Daly is making sweeping changes throughout the school, including the athletic department, and football is the first step in the plan to return Riordan athletics to excellence.

“Our mission is changing the culture and it’s not just on the football field, it’s in the classroom, it’s in the community,” said first-year head coach Richard Sweeney, one of many new additions to the athletic department. “There’s a lot of things that need to be addressed here and they are being addressed on a daily basis.”

Riordan sophomore Zach Masoli will start at quarterback in 2011, but will need plenty of help around him for the Crusaders to be successful. (Photo by Doug Ko)

After a Central Coast Section championship in 2007, the last three seasons have been dismal for the Crusaders, with a 3-26-1 record, while being outscored 1,103-346.

“I make almost no references to last year, almost none,” Sweeney said. “We are building this thing from the ground level. Everyone knows we’re picked to finish last in the [West Catholic Athletic League]. The program has been down. That’s why changing the culture is the No. 1 thing.”

But there is reason for optimism, with a strong incoming freshman class and a marquee name at quarterback.

Sophomore Zach Masoli, the younger brother of former Serra, City College and University of Oregon star Jeremiah Masoli, will be the starting quarterback for the Crusaders.

Masoli certainly has the pedigree and apparently the talent to be an elite quarterback, but Sweeney is taking things slow with the young signal caller.

“He’s got to manage the game. He doesn’t have to be the game, he has to manage it,” Sweeney said. “He’s got an excellent skill set, but he’s a sophomore. When you say sophomore, there’s all kinds of things that go with that. He’s young, but he has a chance to be a starting quarterback in the best league in Northern California.”

Aiding Masoli will be a strong group of senior wide receivers, led by senior Nate Warren, who will also be starting at free safety.

“We’re coming back full-force this year,” Warren said. “We just need to be the best we can be, and there’s nothing more we can do than that. We’re going to have challenges, but we have to learn to overcome them.”

The Crusaders won’t be running the ball-control option offense they ran in 2010, but Sweeney is solidly committed to the rushing game.

The Riordan football program is now in the hands of head coach Rich Sweeney, the third coach in thee years for the Crusaders. (Photo by Doug Ko)

“I want to run the football for a lot of reasons,” Sweeney said. “It helps your defense, it helps your offense. My plan is to make sure that we get the ball in the hands of the playmakers, whether it’s handing it to them or throwing.”

The offense should get a help with field position from speedy senior return man Christopher Davis, but a point of concern is improving the defense, which allowed nearly 50 points per game in 2010.

The teeth of that defense will be senior middle linebacker Drew Jackson, who has now played for three different coaching staffs since joining the varsity team in his sophomore season. Jackson will also be the Crusaders’ starting tight end.

“I can set a tone on defense for sure,” Jackson said. “I’ve been in the varsity program since sophomore year, so I can kinda tell everyone else what they’re expected to do. I just want to lead and set that tone.”

With so much change, gauging wins and losses for Riordan this season is not an easy task, but challenging for a CCS or WCAL title is an unlikely proposition.

Sweeney stresses patience, but is eager to get started.

“We want to be competitive and play with great effort. Those are the successes we can measure early on. If we do those things, we’ve got some talent, and there’s a chance we can sneak up on somebody,” Sweeney said. “I played at [St. Ignatius], I coached at Sacred Heart [Cathedral]. I’ve been in the City a long time, but I’ve been away for a while. My goal is to work every day to make this the best program in San Francisco, then start working south.”

2011 Schedule – WCAL games in bold
Week 0: Fri. 9/2 – @ Dougherty Valley (San Ramon), 7 p.m.
Week 1: Fri. 9/9 – vs. Sacred Heart Prep (Atherton), 3:30 p.m.
Week 2: Sat. 9/17 – @ St. Mary’s (Albany), 1:30 p.m.
Week 3: Bye
Week 4: Sat. 10/1 – @ Valley Christian (San Jose), 7 p.m.
Week 5: Sat. 10/8 – vs. Sacred Heart Cathedral, 2 p.m.
Week 6: Sat. 10/15 – vs. Bellarmine (San Jose), 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sat. 10/22 – vs. Serra (San Mateo), 1 p.m.
Week 8: Fri. 10/28 – vs. Mitty (San Jose) @ Foothill College, 7 p.m.
Week 9: Sat. 11/5 – @ St. Ignatius, 7 p.m.
Week 10: Sat. 11/12 – vs. St. Francis (Mountain View), 1 p.m.

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55 Comments

  1. David Chan says:

    Goodluck to my boy Zach Masoli! ( Brother of Jeremiah Masoli )

  2. Paul says:

    I wonder if Zach Masoli is also related to Mariah Masoli of Mercy High?

  3. WCALOBSERVER says:

    Funny they really make little to no references on this article about anything had was linked to last year like Blake’s firing, loss of Orozco as QB, no more AJ Lewis, etc.

  4. WCALOBSERVER says:

    That just shows Sweeney is a firm believer of leaving things in the past

  5. RC Cola says:

    I wish Riordan can win every game. I would expect Riordan to keep every blowout from last year close this year, and every close game a win.

    Yes, my prediction is that Riordan will go AT LEAST 3-4 in the league.

  6. Observer says:

    Should say this:

    “There’s a lot of things that need to be addressed here and they are being addressed on a Daly basis.”

  7. SF Cityfan says:

    Would be interesting to know how many kids are on varsity this year. I know this was an issue last year, and is also a challenge for SHC this season. Anyone know if the numbers went up or down this year?

  8. RC Cola says:

    I think they packed the top JV guys on Varsity. I know there are freshmen brought up to JV.

  9. aj lewis says:

    good luck to my crusader brothers, you guys are going to be just fine…i wish i had a chance to play with zach masoli

  10. Basketball Fan says:

    They brought up 14 Freshmen to JV. Good luck to boys on Phelan. Good changes going on with Daly in charge.

  11. swag says:

    what happened to trejon bolden

  12. joe says:

    wait jeremy masolis brother really goes to riordan or are u guys playin?

    • jbalan says:

      Yeah, we dressed him up in Riordan gear and took some photos just to mess with you guys.

      • ARHS Stats says:

        Zach Masoli played on the Archbishop Riordan freshman football and basketball teams last season.

        Check out the basketball roster on MaxPreps from last years basketball results and stats. Zach Masoli was promoted to the varsity for the playoffs and played in all 3 Riordan playoff games, last season.

        Armani McFarland is the JV runnning back mentioned by WCALOBSERVER in the next comment.

        • WCAL Fan says:

          Hey Stat Man, do u know how the scrimmage game went against Bal on Sat?

          • ARHS Stats says:

            It was played, but was run a different way than in previous years.

            Football, on the first series, was placed on the 40 yard line (40 yards to go for a TD) each play, no matter what had happened the previous play. So it was always first and 10. The second offensive series for the teams was also started on the 40.

            I think it was the third series, that the football was started inside the 5 yard line (95 yards to go for a TD)

            Fourth Series started out at the 48 yard line (52 yards to go for a TD), and the situation was 3rd and 2.

            • ARHS Stats says:

              So no TD’s were scored by either team in the scrimmage.

              Both Balboa and Riordan got some big gains on plays, but I thought Riordan had more than Balboa did.

              I was not recording stats, so I can not tell you who gained the most yards, but I think Riordan did gain more yards than Balboa

              The Riordan defense did stop Balboa most of the time, but the Bucs did get a few big plays (10yds or more gained on one play)

  13. WCALOBSERVER says:

    All three city schools have talented RBs in the backfield. Sacred Heart has the senior Miles who left balboa, St. Ignatius has Al Waters, and Riordan has that big back who was last years JV RB and is currently a junior, I cant remember his name but I have heard great things about him.

  14. WCAL Fan says:

    Great pic by the way jbalan.

  15. Justa Fan says:

    Best of luck to the Crusaders this season

  16. WCALSF says:

    Hey ARHS Stats, when is the football roster going to be posted on maxpreps? Keep up the great work!

    • ARHS Stats says:

      the roster has to be sent to me, first.

      Whenever I get it, I need to enter it first into my computer software program for Friday’s game.

      After that is done then the roster will be entered into MaxPreps.

      Since I requested a roster be supplied to me about two weeks before the first non-league game, and I still have not received it yet.

      I was promised a roster would be sent to me today (Monday).

  17. Fan says:

    I wish ARHS good luck this season. Sounds like there is a new attitude on campus.

    I think Masoli will have an eye opening experience on varsity, quicker stronger players at this level. Be interesting to see how he responds to his first solid hit in a game against is WCAL foes. Drew Jackson is huge, he really shot up over his 3 years on varsity! Again not having a roster of 45+ players is going to hurt in the depth category. Who is the backup QB? Nothing like trial by fire for some of the new players on varsity. Good luck men on the upcoming season

    • RC Cola says:

      I believe backup QB is Chris Hall, Sophomore. He played WR as a freshmen.

      • WCAL OBSERVER says:

        I think Arenas is the 2nd QB but I could be wrong. Chris Hall is another one of the young very talented athletes at Riordan. He hasn’t got much hype yet but he will be a prime time varsity player in the WCAL. The problem is they are still figuring out where to play him. He is a BB player too. That Soph class is stacked.
        Arenas and Masoli is a battle of two great young athletes. Can’t go wrong with either one as the other will standout at another position anyway.

        • ARHS Stats says:

          The second QB for the Riordan varsity in the scrimmage, I was told was Hall or Holl. I did not hear anyone mention Arenas as a varsity player, he may be a JV player.

  18. WCALOBSERVER says:

    Bobby Arenas IS on the varsity team as a NO.3 QB. Did not get anytime on the field on Saturday

  19. RC Cola says:

    These three guys are young, but no joke. If they are given an open lane, they will take it. Chris Hall is FAST.

  20. WCALOBSERVER says:

    The only city team with majority of the starters from last season returning is Sacred Heart but without that 300+ offensive line and Taylor Johns it is questionable how they will do.

    St. Ignatius have lost the heart of their offense with RBs Zac Schuller and Jacob Brisbane graduating and QB Luke Pappas, who in my opinion was a far better QB than Farlow.

    Riordan does not have many of their starters returning as well. Last years QB, Ismael Orozco, decided over the summer to focus on baseball. The Crusaders also lost all star wide-out AJ Lewis to graduation. Hopefully the young Masoli can lead the crusaders to a better record than 1-9.

    Sacred Heart MAY have the most talent out of the three schools but the city title really IS UP FOR GRABS.

    GOODLUCK TO ALL THREE CITY SCHOOLS!!!!!

    • Cats Pride says:

      I don’t think loosing the QB’s will hurt SI that much. Farlow was not a good QB so I doubt they’re too upset about his graduation. I definitely agree that Pappas was a better QB, I wonder why he didn’t get more playing time?

  21. Fitz says:

    I hope my now alma mater turns things around. Masoli is the real deal he just needs receivers to step up, and I’m hoping my good friends Chris and Nate do that. Another solid sophomore is Ugbaja, I’m not sure if he made the Varsity roster but is certainly a player to watch out for in the future. GO CRUSADERS!

  22. sports time says:

    The 3 city schools will battle it out and lets see who’s the best this year. SHC and SI are talented and experienced, Riordan will take some lumps and hope to get better every week. I was told that the Arenas kid at 6ft 185lbs is legit and got put up to varsity last week. Masoli and Arenas will be names to listen for in the next 3 years. I was told by a coach that Arenas threw a 53 yrd pass in practice and must learn the system coming from SHC. Both Masoli and Arenas had good years as frosh QB’s last year!! Good luck to all 3 city schools…

  23. RABBIT says:

    I like what I am hearing about Riordan; it is nice to have talent and as you know, talent wins!
    Go Crusaders!

    • Anonymous says:

      hard work beats talent if talent doesnt work hard
      and from what i’ve heard the past couple of years is that Riordan players rarely work hard

  24. WCAL Observer says:

    Talent doesn’t always win RABBIT. This coaching staff came in late and is trying to change the effects of last several years of bad coaching practices and the old AD. This is a talented but young squad and expecting them to suddenly have a winning WCAL season is not fair to the kids or coaches. When the numbers are up and the system is learned you will see improved W/L records.

    • RC Cola says:

      It’s true talent doesn’t always win, but if you don’t have any players, talented or not that can compete, then you cant do much. Expectations are one thing, but you cant take a 2-5 record as improvement. Most importantly, I wish Riordan could have more players, but theres just not enough boys for all the schools. Not like in the South where the freshmen class is 400-600.

  25. RABBIT says:

    agree observer, it will take time, but it is nice to have some taslent to work with, up and down the program. This season is the beginning of the change, and I suspect that this team will take its lumps, but we are building something here and I am excited to see some positive steps being taken.

    .

  26. jimmythekid says:

    Bobby Arenas is not eligible to play until game 5. WCAL rules something to do with the timing of his transfer.

    • sports time says:

      I just heard the Arenas kid cannot play till week 5 cause of transfer from SHC. This kid is legit and will be a top QB at jv or varsity. Pat Daly doing a nice job bringing kids and talent into Riordan. I hear Pat graduated with Bobby’s father from SHC. Its football time and the excitment starts this week, good luck to the city schools!!

  27. Fan says:

    Arenas should get the bulk of his playing time with the JV squad. I believe SH didn’t send his transcripts in a timely manner and that could be one of the reasons he sits out 5 games if he plays varsity but he could play right away if he is on the JV squad?..anyone know what the rule is on underclassmen transferring?

    Can not wait for the season to kickoff!

  28. WCALOBSERVER says:

    If anyone is interested the roster for the team has just been put up

    http://www.maxpreps.com/high-schools/5dOB6q60c0av2iB7EIZf_g/riordan-crusaders/football/roster.htm

    the rosters for Sacred Heart and St. Ignatius have not been posted up yet

  29. WCAL OBS says:

    Mr Anonymous. “Riordan players rarely work hard”? Really? More like past Riordan coaching staffs and AD rarely work hard. When the weight room is a small old cramped space with not enough equipment and is locked up all the time how can a team work hard. When coaches don’t have off season weight programs and tell the football players to join track/field to keep them busy you criticize the kids?!
    Thats why changes were made. We have a better weight room now. New coaches. A new AD. A new school president. We still need a bonafide strength and conditioning program and a strength and conditioning coach but we are getting there.

  30. jimmythekid says:

    Several outstanding freshman players have been moved up to JV’s including a freshman quarterback who may be better than Masoli or Arenas. None of the freshman will get much playing time this week but in the coming weeks a lot will be revealed.

  31. Fan says:

    That is a bad move to have Arenas on varsity. Let the Kid get experience on the JV team first and if he is that good then move him up but why waste time having him on the sideline when he could be playing and improving his game, especially if he is only playing quarterback. And if he can’t play until after the 5th game of the season then it is really stupid to have him on varsity that just wasting space. I think the kid is better suited to play defense then offense. I hope his father can get his act together and not act like a crazed fan yelling out instructions from the sideline like he did the kid’s freshman year at SH, now that was embarassing. Give it up your kid is in high school and you can’t coach him anymore so let the real coaches do their job and sit back and enjoy the game and let the kid enjoy the game

  32. sports time says:

    Hey Fan-I agree with you that Bobby Arenas should play Jv’s to get some snaps in, but he also led SHC frosh team in sacks from the D-end position. My son plays for the irish and I only saw his father at 2 games last year. I don’t think he acted like a crazy fan or was embarassing but you have your opinion. Bobby is a good kid and i’m being told that he asked to play defense and was told No by the head coach. Sometimes we really don’t know whats going on behind the scenes. Riordan is getting better everyday and the Irish have good talent along with SI this year…Good luck to all 3 city schools and stay safe kids!!

  33. Riordan Fan says:

    Go Crusaders!! Turn it UP BABY!!

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