RIVERSIDE – Arlington football coach Kevin Argumosa thinks he struck gold with Raymond Warhop.
Argumosa and his coaching staff set up a stretched offense after taking over the program this season, but the desired results simply weren’t there. The coaches repaired the offense in October, switching to a run-heavy attack with Warhop as the featured back. Warhop has shone in the role and helped the Lions win seven of their last eight matches, including the CIF Southern Section and the CIF State Regional Championship.
Warhop and teammates now look to cap an impressive late-season charge with the CIF State Championship, as the Lions travel north to play the Salesians of Richmond for the Division 6-A Championship at 1 p.m. Saturday.
When Argumosa took over the show in July, he began watching sports movies and videos of Arlington crime. There was very little footage of Warhop, as he had played most of the defense in the previous two seasons. Arlington lost seven consecutive games to start the season, averaging only 13.4 points per game during that time. The coaching staff tinkered with new plans and finally found the solution that worked.
Terry Ford, Arlington’s offensive coordinator and running back coach, explained Warhop’s vision and suggested a run-based offense. Arlington averaged 27.9 points per game in the last eight games.
Warhop, the 5 foot 10, 160-pound senior, has made some great appearances in the playoffs. He ran for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the section semifinals and then went on to the section finals with 224 yards and two touchdowns. Warhop ran for 140 yards and had a touchdown in the regional final.
“It took a while to realize what we were doing when we ran back with Ray,” Argumosa said. “That opened up a lot of eyes, and at some point we decided to give this kid the ball and let him loose.”
Warhop has taken this opportunity and is grateful to the coaching staff for believing in them.
“It’s been a huge responsibility, but I don’t let that pressure get to me,” Warhop said.
Warhop owes much to the work of eight teammates who opened holes for him: offensive linemen Mario Abasolo, Sami Abdul Majeed, Jonathan Carbajal, Abraham Gonzalez and Ryan Harder, tight ends Nathan Durant and Gregory McDaniel and fullback Bejon Turner.
“They work hard, and that makes my job easier,” Warhop said. “I’m very proud of what they’re doing.”
Despite some challenging times, Warhop has stuck with the program. Arlington went 0–10 during Warhop’s second season and 1–4 during the short spring season. And this season had a 0-7 start.
“I never gave up,” Warhop said. “I just kept doing what I could, no matter how difficult things were.”
Argumosa quickly saw that drive and determination, which is why Warhop is one of the team’s captains.
“He’s not the most outspoken kid, but he really leads by example,” Argumosa said. “Everything he does is at 100 percent, and he’s been a tremendous leader for this program. He won’t let anyone throw in the towel. He never lost faith in the process, and in the end he went on his own.” Looking forward to the rewards for all the work done by him.”
Arlington are Riverside’s first high school football team to advance to the CIF State Championship game. The Lions would seek to join Centennial (2008), Citrus Hill (2015) and Rancho Christian (2016) as the only Riverside county football program to win a state championship game.
“It’s madness. I never thought we’d go this far,” Warhop said. “We just keep making history.”