BY DAN ARRITT
CONTRIBUTING WRITER OCRegister
PLACENTIA * Mike Marrujo has never been a fan of individual recognition during his decorated high school coaching career. In his fifth season at Valencia in 1985, his running back broke the Orange County career rushing record, but Marrujo was dead set against stopping the game to honor the feat. So it was no surprise when Marrujo wanted to keep a low profile leading up to his 300th career victory Friday night, a 42-0 win against visiting Kennedy in an Empire League opener. “It’s a team sport,” Marrujo said after the game. “It’s always been that way here at Valencia. We’ve won all those games and we’ve had all those good players and assistants helping me, so it’s been a real team-type deal.”
Marrujo’s in his 35th season at Valencia and 45th straight year coaching high school football overall. He’s been around long enough that he’s getting repeat business. Senior center Warren Garten is the son former Valencia lineman Steve Garten , who shared in Marrujo’s first victory at Valencia in 1981. “He’s a wonderful man,” Steve Garten said. “He really works with the kids. Makes them into men and that’s what it’s all about. Respect, teamwork, individual work, hard work. … Coach Marrujo is a pillar of that.”
Marrujo, who earned 22 of his wins at Pius X in Downey prior to coming to Valencia, joins an elite list of coaches with at least 300 victories. Los Alamitos coach John Barnes has 323 wins and Bob Johnson of Mission Viejo has 321. Marrujo still coaches the game much the way he did in the 1980s. No headset, few gimmicks and plenty of teaching moments, even in the fourth quarter of a one-sided victory, such as Friday night.
Tyler Switzer and Jacob Briggs made sure everyone got a chance to play Friday, hooking up for five touchdown passes in just more than two quarters. Switzer completed 9 of 12 passes for 233 yards, while Briggs finished with eight catches for 215 yards, the final touchdown giving the Tigers (6-0) a 42-0 lead in the opening minute of the third quarter.
In the final minute, Marrujo’s milestone was announced over the public-address system. It went in one of Marrujo’s ears and out the other.
“Honestly, I just wanted to win the league opener,” he said.
[ Valencia - Kennedy] Photo Gallery