Saturday, September 5, 2009

Congratulations to Coach Ortega and his Knights!

Editors Notes:
(1) The article below is a pre-season article.

(2) The Single-Wing Sentinel would like to give you an update. The Wheaton Knights win their season opener over Bethesda Chevy Chase 29-12. Joe Ortega, first year coach, attained his first Varsity win as a Head Coach. Congratulations to Coach Ortega and his Knights on their great win!


Wheaton Knights Follow A New Leader
By GamedayMD - Gameday Maryland Staff
August 22, 2009

Photo By: Tony Ventouris

WHEATON, MD - Something must be in the water because there is a pattern beginning to form in the coaching ranks of Baltimore-Washington teams. First, Washington Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau spent the better part of two decades toiling in the minors before a 2007 promotion into an NHL job and hasn't looked back since.

Next, Baltimore Oriole Manager Dave Trembley took the reins in the majors making him the longest tenured minor league manager to ever get a head job in the big leagues.

Now after approximately twenty years coaching in Montgomery County everywhere from youth leagues to assistant high school jobs all over the county, Joe Ortega was announced as the Head Coach of the Wheaton Knights football team.

Ortega spent the past two seasons as the Wheaton Junior Varsity Coach and was promoted partly because of the outstanding job he had done at the lower level. After a winning season at 5-4 in 2008 by the J.V., which some observers believe played as a sum greater than its parts, Ortega and an excited rising group of players will try to turn around a varsity program that went just 2-8 last season.

The 2009 Wheaton Knights will be led by a close group of only a handful of seniors on the roster. The senior's role will be to lead a young group of junior varsity players graduating to varsity that have had a taste of success and are hungry for more. A small group of returning starters will be in place and most will play along the offensive and defensive line.

Two returnees, Offensive tackle Anthony Randel and guard Daniel Alegbeleye, will have the job of blocking for Junior quarterback Leonel Cruz, who takes over for last year's graduated starter Juan Rosas. Cruz will be asked to carry the offense using his legs as he was a highly effective runner on the Junior Varsity, and keep defenses honest with his arm.

Coach Ortega believes Cruz is quite capable of being effective both passing and running the football and his versatility will be a key to the Knights attack this season.

Defensively, look for Wheaton to build a stout team defense that has decent size and a swagger. Many players will carry the confidence of their 2008 J.V. campaign and that larger group will be paired with the few varsity holdovers.

Strength and size is available, but due to the lesser number of players on the roster, Wheaton will need to fight through fatigue when other teams are able to rotate more players onto the field this upcoming season. Look for an attacking defense to cause turnovers and havoc in opponents backfields as much as possible while opponents will attempt to wear down the unit.

The ability to play together and swarm to the football will be the biggest key this season and Ortega has demonstrated the knack for bringing his teams play to a higher level.

5 Camp Observations

Schedule Change
Historically a 3A program, Wheaton will make the move down to the 2A level. While still playing several 3A opponents the schedule will not be nearly as grueling without several perennial Montgomery County powers included. In the 2A division the Knights will have a strong opportunity to make a run and will not have to worry about the likes of Damascus, Quince Orchard, and Seneca Valley.

An opening game against Bethesda Chevy-Chase will be a strong measuring stick for the program. Also, scheduled in early October will be an interesting matchup against Fairmont Heights High School. This will be one of the few Montgomery versus Prince George's County regular season games this upcoming year and one to keep an eye on.

Where will this team get leadership from? With a small group of seniors and only a few returning varsity starters, both Anthony Randel and Daniel Alegbeleye will need to be solid leaders on and off the field. While not a varsity veteran, junior quarterback Leonel Cruz will also be needed to demonstrate leadership for the team to win and make a possible 2A playoff run.

Position Battles
Many starting positions are undecided which could be a positive for the young team. Very few players will have the luxury of knowing where their playing time will come from and will be needed to compete at a high level in practice to earn playing time.

One such player, running back Carlos Santana, will be amongst a group that will carry the football out of the Knights backfield. Santana will get playing time with his outstanding speed, but how much will be dictated by performance.

Strength In Numbers
One of the most important and toughest jobs at a program where total player numbers have dwindled for several years is to keep more and more athletes interested in playing football. While numbers will not be the strength of the team, the emergence of Head Coach Ortega as an inspiring leader has drawn excitement and will benefit the future of the team.

The Hardwood vs. The Gridiron
In the recent past some multi-sport athletes such as football and basketball player Ricardo McLeod, who will be among a group of players contributing at the skill positions this fall, had lost interest in the Wheaton football team.

With a new coach and a new attitude many players see that it is an exciting time to be a part of the program. McLeod will be looked at to make plays as he was a key contributor during the Wheaton 7 on 7 summer league team and continue his success on the hardwood in 2009.


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