The Venice High School Gondoliers will enter the 2004 football season looking to continue dominating the Western League for another title.
But the team also hopes to grab a Los Angeles city championship title this time around.
The Gondoliers went 13-1 last season and were unbeaten in the regular season with a 10-0 rec-ord.
The only loss last year came in the final game at the Los Angeles city section of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) championships, where Ven-ice lost 30-20 to Carson, a team the Gondos beat 34-13 earlier in the year.
ìWe were disappointed that we didn”t win but we were the first (Venice) team to get there,î Venice coach Angelo Gasca said.
ìWe reached the city championships and that”s something we can build on.î
The team had another important victory last year when it won 17-13 over Loyola High School, the Division One CIF champions.
Venice”s domination in the Western League over the last two seasons has been proven with an undefeated record in league play and back to back league titles.
While the Gondoliers would be satisfied plowing through the regular season on their way to another league title, the team”s main objective is to become city champions, Gasca said.
ìWe look forward to defending our league title,î he said. ìMaking a strong run at the city championships is the goal.î
The team lost nine players who were all-CIF Division One last year. While Gasca acknowledges that the defensive line is a bit inexperienced, he said there are some capable athletes ready to play.
Some key returning athletes who will look to lead Venice to a return trip to the city championships include senior quarterback Robert Ambers, senior wide receiver and running back Jimmy Armstrong, and junior right tackle Martell Moore.
Other top players for Venice include senior Jimmy Miller, an all-league linebacker, senior center Jason Bertoni, senior offensive tackle Ryan Obreczarek, senior linebacker Victor Zeledon and senior defensive lineman Casey Villis.
ìWe look forward to having a good team,î he said. ìWe want to come out of the gates strong.î
The Gondoliers will need to come out strong early this season, with their opening game at 7 p.m. Friday, September 10th, at Carson, the team that gave Venice its only defeat last year.
Carson is one of the city”s best teams and has a lot of skill, he said. Venice expects to face a tough, physical team, but the team also expects to give Carson a challenging non-league game, he said.
ìIt”ll be a hard-fought game and we can”t make any mistakes,î he said. ìIt”s a tough way to start out.î
The league will offer its share of challenges for Venice, with Westchester, University and Fairfax all having improved squads.
Another non-league game that Venice”s looks forward to is at home against rival Santa Monica High School at 7 p.m. Friday, September 24th.
Although the Gondoliers have a lot on their to-do list this season, the players are confident that they will continue their success because they believe in themselves and have high expectations, he said.
ìWe want to make a good showing,î he said. ìIt all starts with belief.î