Rising juniors have Salesian thinking CIF

LOS ANGELES — Salesian’s class of 2014 trio of safety Rodney Carr, fullback/defensive end Jamardre Cobb and tight end/defensive end Marquis Ware stepped onto the Salesian campus familiar with one another, but unfamiliar with the situation that surrounded them.

They came from different places, bigger schools — Carr from Highland, while Cobb and Ware transferred in from Cathedral.

They didn’t know what to expect upon entering Salesian. Attending the small all-boys private school took some time to rub off on them. When Ware initially checked in and was asked by people what school he attended, he didn’t have an answer.

“I didn’t say what school I went to at first,” Ware recalls of his hesitancy at the time.

Immediately grabbing their attention was their new teammates and what they saw around them.

You can’t bottle up what it was, but you know it when you see it.

It was competitiveness. It also came as a surprise.

“Coming here from a (higher division) program, I was thinking, ‘These guys (are) weak.’ But actually they all compete. Everybody competes,” Carr said. “We’re low in division because of the number of students we have going here, but when it comes to football and competing, everything’s the same. Everybody competes.”

That’s exactly what the three signed up for. They’re cousins and they “push each other a lot,” according to Cobb.

“We work together,” Ware said.

Collectively, they’re a part of the movement that has made Salesian football relevant. The Mustangs have won 26 games the last three seasons, including last season’s run to the Northeast Division semifinals.

“Two of the three years, we were at 10-3, knocking on the door,” said Roddy Hiatt, who’s entering his fourth season as Salesian’s head coach. “Like we tell the kids this year, we’re going to knock the door down and step in and get our CIF championship.”

If Hiatt’s plans come to fruition, it will be largely dependent upon the play of his 2014 trio, two of which are coming off tremendous sophomore campaigns for the Mustangs.

Last season, Ware was third on the team in receptions with 33. He also led the team with 14 sacks. Cobb trailed only Ware with 11 sacks while Carr was still at Highland.

The staff believes these three, along with rising senior quarterback Jihad Vercher, are the essential pieces to lead them to their first CIF crown in school history.

“They’re some big athletic kids that can play multiple positions,” said Salesian assistant De’Vah Thomas. “They can help us out on both sides of the ball (and) special teams. They’re just freak of nature athletes. They work hard. They’re explosive. That’s how the top-tier guys look in the country, and I feel like we have them here at Salesian.”