Max Belsido

Max Belsido (Roger Wilson Staff Photographer / September 18, 2013)

The Bellarmine-Jefferson High football program is moving forward, albeit in very small steps.

After having to cancel its first three games of the season because of preparation concerns and low numbers, first-year coach Lance Fauria said the Guards will open their season at 3 p.m. Saturday in a nonleague game at Chadwick as previously scheduled.

"The guys have been working hard and although we don't have a lot of guys out there still, we do have some pretty good players," Fauria said.

The Guards were originally scheduled to open their season Aug. 30 in a nonleague game against North Hollywood. Also scrapped was the Sept. 6 nonleague game against Brentwood and the Sept. 14 nonleague contest against Bishop Montgomery.

Although North Hollywood and Brentwood didn't count the Bell-Jeff game on their record, Bishop Montgomery considered it a forfeit, and have claimed a 2-0 victory over the Guards.

Thus, Bell-Jeff will go into the game against Chadwick with an 0-1 record, although it has yet to take the field.

The Guards still have nonleague games scheduled against Pasadena Poly (Sept. 26) and Santa Clarita Christian (Oct. 5) before opening Santa Fe League play Oct. 12 at St. Monica.

"Things have been tough," Fauria said. "The thing with us is that we've just gotta stay healthy. We got an injury last week and that got us down to 18 players. Then we had a kid who that had some academic issues, so we're down to 17 now. It is what it is, and academics have to come first.

"Because of the low numbers, we are going to have to have a lot of guys playing both ways for a large part of the game. We have no other choice."

Bell-Jeff is still above the requirement that is mandated for the minimum number of players needed to field a team. According to National Federation of State High School Associations Rule Book, under which the CIF Southern Section abides by, Page 11, Rule 1, Article 3 states: "Each team shall begin the game with 11 players, but if it has no substitutes to replace injured or disqualified players, it may continue with fewer."

Chadwick comes into the contest with a 3-0 record. Last week, the Dolphins defeated Mailbu, 35-0. The team also has wins against Santa Clarita Christian, 26-14, and Southlands Christian, 54-0.

The Dolphins like to run the ball and they gained 263 yards on the ground against Malibu. A senior-dominated squad, Chadwick has a solid running back in senior Cameron Bartlette and a quarterback who likes to run in senior Peter Mavredakis.

The Dolphins are coached by former Burbank High player and graduate Gary Willison.

Despite his program's struggles, Fauria said he thinks his Guards match up well with the Dolphins.

"We saw Chadwick play and skill-wise on the outside and in the backfield, we have every bit of skill, or more, than they do," he said. "No doubt about it. But those skill guys have to go both ways. So, matchup-wise, they are bigger than us on their interior line and they're more mature. But I think we have as much talent as they do."