As long as the Central Section continues with the current model of competitive equity, small-school athletic programs like the South High boys soccer team will continue to move up the divisional ladder as long as the team continues to win.

The merit for South to be in Division I in the sport is predicated off the past success of the program and classes that have long since graduated.

Many of those public schools that have moved up to D-I from lower levels will have a lull in talent and eventually move down. Rebels head coach Diego Cano wants to prove there is staying power for his program.

South beat Mira Monte 2-0 on Friday in a crucial Southeast Yosemite League match at home.

“We are very excited to be in D-I and we are making the best of it,” Cano said. “The boys see that we have a lot of talent and a lot of potential. That keeps motivating these boys at the D-I level and actually showing those Fresno and coastal teams that we at South High have a lot to offer.”

There is also a sense of continuing a legacy for the Rebels as former BVarsity All-Area standouts like Ruben Gomez and Jesus Barajas, who were on the CIF Southern California D-II regional championship team and were in attendance on Friday, continue to remind the current players of how to win at a high level.

“We also have guys that were on the bench during that season that know what it’s like to win,” Cano said. “They are seniors now and they’re wanting it just as bad. We are hoping that with the younger guys it feeds into that.”

And the cycle of striving for excellence continues for South (12-3-5, 2-1). 

Junior Benjamin Montes, who scored the second goal in the second half for South on Friday, said that he has a brother that is in sixth grade and wants to be a Rebels soccer player.

“He sees us play D-I and he knows now what the competition is,” Benjamin Montes said.

Mira Monte (8-6-4, 2-1), the defending section D-IV champions, came into the match undefeated. It has one of the top goal scorers in the section in junior Jonathan Alvarenga, the 2017-18 BVarsity All-Area Player of the Year.

But the Lions were stymied offensively by solid play on the backline for South by Edgar Guzman, Marc Vasquez, Fernando Magana and David Montes.

But with a scoreless first half, Cano made a halftime adjustment for South’s offense.

“Basically I told them they needed to find the defenders backside,” Cano said. “I told them to suck (the Mira Monte defense) out and use that space in between.”

The result came in the form of Geovanny Portillo scoring off a throw-in a minute into the second half and Portillo assisting on Benjamin Montes’ goal 17 minutes later.

“They listened to what we had to say at halftime,” Cano said.

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