Athlete of the Week – Isaac Mendibles

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MONTEBELLO >> The offensive game plan for the Montebello High School football team was pretty simple last season.

It included strong doses of running back Isaac Mendibles, who has been arguably the area’s top back the past two seasons, and more is expected from the senior this season.

“Isaac’s our leader; our guy,” Montebello coach Pete Gonzalez said. “He’s been one of our best players for two years now. We depend on him a lot and he gets us going.

“Obviously, it’s great to have a guy who has made All-CIF for two years; a guy who carries the ball, carries the load for us. He provides a great run game and hopefully we can mix in a good passing game along with that.”

But the key is Mendibles, who has gained more than 3,000 yards the previous two seasons. He rushed for 1,775 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore and followed it up with 1,943 yards and 24 scores in 2014 to lead the Oilers to their second consecutive Almont League crown and a spot in the Mid-Valley Division quarterfinals.

Last season, despite being a marked man, he rushed for a 100 yards in 10 of the team’s 12 games, including a school-record 336 yards vs. Mark Keppel.

Mendibles knows opposing teams will scheme to stop him this season, but those game plans did little last season.

“I know my teammates have my back, so I feel safe out there,” Mendibles said. “If I’m a target, I know my teammates will always help me.

“I know if they just key on me, we have so many other things that we can do. I know that my team will be able to do it.”

The Oilers have been able to do a lot the past two years, and Mendibles believes it can be even better this fall.

“Our expectations are high,” he said. “We plan on going to CIF. We’re going to work hard and try to fulfill that accomplishment.”

DON’T FORGET IN RYAN RIVERA

Although Montebello features a nearly 2,000-yard rusher, the Oilers are hardly a one-man team.

Their attack also includes quarterback Ryan Rivera, who is back after a solid season in 2014.

He was Almont League co-Offensive Player of the Year, and should again be steady with so many opposing defenses making Mendibles the focal point of their scheme.

“It’s huge. Again, our goal is to be balanced,” Gonzalez said of having a key player like Rivera back at such a key position. “We want to be able to run and throw the ball. We just can’t give the ball to Isaac. It’s not who we are. Ryan brings that part to the game.

“We’re excited to have him back. He had a great junior season and we’re hoping he has a bigger senior season.”