Not Your Same Old Huskies

How North Hollywood Got Ready For a Pandemic Season and Destroyed Monroe 52-0 in the Opener


Photo via @nohohusky on Instagram

The Huskies kicked off their new era with an emphatic 52-0 win over the Monroe Vikings.

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CA– In the most unusual of seasons, the Huskies began their new regime under Head Coach Scott Faer with their most dominating performance in at least five years by demolishing the James Monroe Vikings 52-0. The Huskies dominated through the running game and defense, with star wingback Anthony Brookins racking up 217 yards on twenty-one carries for four touchdowns and the defense allowing just one earned first down! 

The big feeling throughout the night was “different.” From the games being played in April, to very limited attendance, to completely shutting down their opponent, it was evident that these are different times and these are different Huskies. “These are new Huskies,” said Quarterback Israel Lopez, “be ready for more…” 

After being plagued with back-to-back 1-9 seasons, North Hollywood decided to go in a different direction for 2020-21 and hired former Poly Head Coach Scott Faer. Coach Faer came in with a plan to turn around the culture of the team and the determination to truly develop players for the purpose of the team. Coach Faer came in January of 2020 before having to leave campus due to the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

From the time leaving campus to about a month ago, Coach Faer explained the biggest challenge of being a coach during the pandemic was trying to get in contact with players and make sure they were ready in case a season was possible. When asked if he ever thought the season would be impossible, Coach Faer replied “absolutely not.”

Huskies begin their practices on the blacktop stretching. (Photographer: Evan Edmiston)

With vaccinations going up and cases remaining low, LAUSD gave the green light for the return of in-person sports on March 12th, 2021, and Coach Faer took immediate advantage. However, Coach Faer had to deal with the challenge of having a low player turnout. Pre-pandemic, they had about 60 players on the roster. Now, they have around 25 and that number is always fluctuating. 

Another challenging aspect of the pandemic for all sports teams was the short turnaround. Normally, football players are given months and months of practice before getting into pads and helmets. However, this season the players were only given just six days of regular practice before jumping right into pads. It wasn’t easy at all, but Coach Faer was extremely impressed with the players’ attitude to play. “Completely bought-in,” said Coach Faer, “in all the other programs I have coached, there was always some sort of drama involved. Zero drama here at NHHS.”

The players also noticed a difference in the culture of the team compared to teams in the past. “Way more inspirational,” said four-year player Evan Vargas, “we’re pushing people more, there’s way more passion, and we get everyone involved.” Furthermore, players are more motivated to come out to play because it offers an escape from being trapped at home. “My mood has improved significantly,” said senior Daniel Tello, “coming out here really helps combat my own mental health.”

The coaching staff also wanted to install a logo for the helmet to signify a new era. (Photographer: Evan Edmiston)

After a month of practice and a successful scrimmage against Monroe, it was time for the players and coaching staff to put themselves to the test with their first game of the season against the Monroe Vikings. And if early signs were any indication, the Huskies were out for blood.

North Hollywood set the tone with a long opening drive that featured physical offensive line play and powerful shifty runs from Anthony Brookins, who capitalized the drive with a ten-yard run touchdown to give the Huskies an 8-0 lead. After forcing Monroe to unsuccessfully go for it on fourth down, the Huskies executed a perfectly timed double-reverse call which wingback Sam Eisner took all the way for a twenty-five-yard touchdown to add to the Huskies lead 16-0.

Anthony Brookins (1) tosses the ball back to refs after racking up a touchdown. (Photo via @nohohusky on Instagram)

On the ensuing drive, the Huskies dialed up the blitzes and it paid off as they forced the Monroe Quarterback to either make errant throws or take big sacks. It resulted in a 4th-and-20 before the Huskies would force a fumble and take over deep in Monroe territory. With such a short field, the Huskies immediately punched it in with fullback Jacob Ramirez from two yards out as the Huskies would extend their lead 24-0 with 11 minutes left in the 2nd quarter.

On the following Monroe drive, the Vikings fumbled the snap on the first play which the Huskies recovered and once again were dealt a short field. After a first down, Quarterback Israel Lopez tossed the ball to Tight End Rashad Dunbar who proceeded to sprint and dives into the endzone for a twenty-five-yard catch and runs touchdown! Brookins would then convert the two-point conversion and put the Huskies up 32-0. After shutting down the Monroe offense again with stellar defensive line play, the Huskies would tack on one more touchdown before heading to the locker room for halftime up 38-0.

Coach Faer rallies the troops and gives them a talk early in the game. (Photo via: @nohohusky on Instagram)

On their first drive of the second half, Monroe would convert the first down before getting two more first downs in penalties against the Huskies that would ultimately set them up at the Huskies twenty-four-yard line. However, a monster sack would force a fourth down for Monroe that they wouldn’t be able to convert due to a fumble. On the next drive, the Huskies would march down the field once again thanks to their brilliant offensive line play and the powerful running from Brookins. Brookins would finish the drive with his third touchdown of the game before kicker Edgar Estrada would make the first kick of the night to give the Huskies a 45-0 lead.

Monroe would get a monster kick return to the twenty-yard line on the ensuing kick, but the Huskies’ fearless defensive line would then immediately stuff any run attempts from the Vikings. After forcing another four-and-out, the Huskies would get the ball back. Fullback Robert Flores had a beast-mode-like run before Brookins would finish off the drive with his fourth touchdown of the night to pile up the score 52-0. Monroe would get the ball back but it was too late, time would expire and for the first time in at least five years, the Huskies would walk off the field feeling not only hopeful but powerful. When asked what a victory like this says about the new program, Evan Vargas replied “It’s different. And it’s just the beginning.”

It was certainly a fresh feeling to see the North Hollywood Huskies dominate a football game the way they did on Friday. It was already evident that this team was different from years’ past just by looking at the play of the lines. Both the offensive and defensive lines were incredible for North Hollywood, in both technique and physicality. It was unlike a performance anyone has seen from the Huskies in a long time. However, one game does not prove anything and does not erase the bad taste players on the former teams still have. The best part is, this team knows that. They’re committed to each other, their coaches, and to win. There’s no doubt that comes to practice on Monday, these players are gonna completely forget about Friday and continue to build this program.

 When asked about the direction this program is heading in, Coach Faer said, “We’re on the up-and-up. Hopefully, word gets out and these underclassmen get interested so come June, we only get better. But it’s not done. One game doesn’t win us the league. There’s still work that needs to be done.” And it’s true. These Huskies are hardly finished. And that’s the scary part. If a 52-0 victory isn’t even the best we’ve seen of the Huskies yet, they certainly sent a message to the rest of the league on Friday. 

UP NEXT: The Huskies look to back up Friday’s performance as they’ll travel to Arleta to take on the Mustangs.