Chaffey football looks to challenge in post-Dean era

Chaffey HS Athletics

The Chaffey High School football program has always relied on the running game. The last few years it has been Mikey Dean as the featured back.

Well Dean has graduated, leaving many to wonder what the Tigers will look like in 2016. Veteran coach Chris Brown might be able to use that to his advantage, particularly in the first few games with opponents not able to rely much on previous film.

Dean rushed for almost 4,000 yards and a school record 53 touchdowns in the last two years.

But the new version of the Tigers takes the field for the first game on Aug. 26 at Grand Terrace, an opponent it beat 14-6 in the third game of the 2015 season in which they finished 8-3 with a first-round playoff loss to Chino.

“It will be a little different not having Mike back there,” Brown said. “We’re going to try and throw the ball a little more and work some option stuff. We have dual threat quarterback and we want to use him.”

That quarterback will be senior DeQuan Futrell, who saw some time at that position last year and appears to be ready to step into the starring role this season.

Among the others Brown will be looking for big contributions from are senior wide receiver Joshua Rice, junior running back Nick Silva, promising sophomore David Ciminski who will see time at receiver, running back and even at safety and junior Princeton Kauvaka, the team’s fastest player who can also be utilized at multiple positions.

Brown also thinks he has one of the better tight ends in the area in 6-4 junior George Wusstig who will also play at defensive end.

Of course it always helps to have returning linemen. The leaders there are senior Joe Mizer and sophomore Daniel Godina. Siope Tovi is expected to start as a sophomore.

Leaders on defense will include junior DE Malakai Tovi, senior DB Nick Gonzalez and junior DB Paul Perez.

Colony remains the top dog in the Mt. Baldy League and Brown says the Titans will be a heavy favorite. But as has been the case the Tigers should be in the mix for a playoff spot. They were third last year behind Colony and Don Lugo.

“We might be a little better than last year even without Mikey because we’ll be more balanced,” Brown said. “Guys worked hard over the summer knowing there was going to be opportunity for then to step up.”

 

 

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Ontario football looking to continue improvement

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Antoine Paul looks for running room in game last season against Montclair. He is one of the top returning players for the Jaguars.

The Ontario football program has made progress in the last two years under veteran coach John Kusleika. Well this will be his third year and he thinks it’s finally time to really turn the corner and at least contend for a playoff berth.

The Jaguars, 5-5 overall but just 1-4 in Mt. Baldy League play, head into the season with reason to be optimistic. Their showing in 2015 marked a three-game improvement in the win column over 2014 and they have 12 returning starters.

Then there is the opening of a new on-campus stadium so the varsity will be playing actual home games for the first time in school history.

“You set goals and you have to be realistic,” Kusleika said. “When you look at where we have been it’s tough to go out on a limb and say we want to challenge for a league title. It is more realistic to say if all goes well we have a shot at making the playoffs. We would be happy with that. Not necessarily satisfied –  but it would show we’re making progress.”

Among the returning starters on offense is junior Antoine Paul, one of the team’s three backs last year. He improved over the course of last season and was a pivotal factor bu the end of the season. With the departure of the top two ball carriers, he will shoulder more of the load this fall.

Others include guard Abel Estrada, tackle Osvaldo Diaz, running back Gianni Oquendo and running back Sheldon Osborne, all seniors.

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The defense will be led by ends Justin Anaya and Omar De La Rosa, tackle Michael Ruiz, middle linebacker Dominick Avendano, linebacker-strong safety Justin Fineberg and free safety Hugo Yerena with Paul and Osborne also likely seeing time on defense.

“We’re farther ahead than we were at this time last year just because of the number of starters we have back,” Kusleika added. “Last year we only had a few.”

Kusleika’s concern is up the middle as he graduate a quarterback, a fullback and a center. The Jaguars won’t change what they do and that means someone will have a tall order in replacing Cameron Poe, who wasn’t a threat throwing the ball but was dangerous as  a ball carrier.

There is a battle brewing for that spot with the candidates being Luis Rivera and Aaron Delgado. Both are juniors.  Rivera was a linebacker last season while Delgado was Poe’s backup and also started for a freshman team that went 7-3 two years ago.

Other players on whom a lot is expected include junior fullback David Acuna, sophomore wide receiver Ricardo Soto, junior linemen Luis Garcia and Anthony Gil, junior middle linebacker Chris Uribe, senior center Raul Medina and junior defensive lineman Luis Melchor.

The Jaguars make their debut on Aug. 26 on that new home field against Ontario Christian.

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Ignacio Cabrera named volleyball coach at St. Lucy’s

Ignacio Cabrera has been named volleyball coach at St. Lucy’s. He replaces Franco Macchia, whose second tenure in that position was just one year.

He had served as an assistant girls coach at Pasadena the last two and half years and has aided with the La Salle boys team as well.

Cabrera is also active on the club circuit with Forza1 West Volleyball Club.

“I am excited about getting back to a private school. I really like the environment,” he said, “St. Lucy’s has good tradition in the sport and they are passionate about the sport. This is a great opportunity.”

Cabrera is a 2012 graduate of Bell-Jeff High School. He graduated from Westwood College with a degree in criminal justice in 2015.

The Regents tied for second place in the Baseline League last fall with Chino Hills behind Rancho Cucamonga.

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First-year Montclair HS football coach facing tough challenge

New Montclair High School football coach Eric Kennedy has his work cut out for him – and he knows it.

The school’s football program has forever suffered because of lack of a feeder program.

Eric Kennedy, head football coach at Montclair High School

He had been on the coaching staff of previous coach T.J. Fiorenza as defensive coordinator. But by the time he was formally appointed head coach, several of the school’s marquee players had jumped ship and bolted for other schools. Among those junior Roy Wiley, named the Bulletin’s Newcomer of the Year last fall.

The Cavaliers, 4-6 overall and 0-5 in league play a year ago, head into a new season with a lot of unknown players expected to contribute.

Instead of focusing on what he doesn’t have, Kennedy chooses to focus on the positive.

“We have a great group of kids and they have come in here every day with a good attitude and they have worked hard,” he said. “We’re really going to build on that.”

Kennedy does have some quality help on his coaching staff which includes two assistants that were head coaches last year – Luis Garcia (Don Lugo) who will serve as offensive coordinator and Randy Reams (Ayala) who will coach running backs and coordinate the passing game.

Fiorenza has stayed on too and will direct the freshman team.

Kennedy will be banking on his team’s balance at each position, with no dominant player. Returning starters asked to shoulder a big load this season will include senior linebacker Jason Le, junior nose tackle-offensive lineman Diego Sanchez, senior corner-receiver Jesse Ramiez, senior defensive end Gonzalo Pelayo, senior free safety Eddy Lugo and senior running back Matthew Mendibles.

Among the newcomers is sophomore quarterback Gabriel Tamba, the starter on the freshman team last year.

Other promising newcomers include sophomore tight end-defensive end Evan Richardson and senior receiver Andres Nunez.

The good news is that other than front-runner Colony, there appears to be balance in the Mt. Baldy League with most of the other teams also losing their top players.

Montclair opens the season on Aug. 26 against San Gabriel, a team it defeated 36-0 in its first game last year. The first league game will be Oct. 7 against Ontario.

When it came to the CIF’s new football division alignment, the Cavaliers were put into Division 12 which also includes Ontario. Kennedy thinks its the perfect place for his school.

“We’re in with schools comparable to us as far as resources, socio-economic background, participation, school enrollment,” he said. “It really puts us on a level playing field and I think we can compete should we make the playoffs.”

 

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Basketball player Cameron Shelton transfers from Chino Hills to Damien

Chino Hills Cameron Shelton (20) and Damien’s Isaiah White (3) battle for a loose ball during a Baseline League game. Both teams we selected to play in the Open Division in the playoffs.

Junior guard Cameron Shelton has transferred from Chino Hills to Damien.

Shelton was a key starter for the Huskies as a freshman in 2014-2015.

Last year he was the first player off the bench for a Huskies team that went 35-0, won Baseline League, Southern Section and state Open Division titles and was declared national champion by multiple organizations.

He said the move had nothing to do with playing time or the athletic part of the equation. It was about academics.

“Most of my early life I went to a Christian school,” he said. “My parents thought it would be better for me the next two years. They have a 90-something percent college acceptance rate so this was more about my future.”

Shelton said he still considers the Huskies his friends and he’ll miss being on the court with them. It will also be a little bit strange to play against them as a member of a rival league team.

It is made a bit easier by the fact that the team had a historic run last year that can probably never be equaled.

“I’m always going to have those memories,” he said. “It was special. Those guys are my friends and they’ll always be my friends.”

Right now Shelton is focused on improving his game. He is playing for Watson Elite 16-under which ironically is coached by Matt Dunn, who was the coach at Damien until last season.

Shelton said Dunn had nothing to do with the decision.

“He didn’t even know I did it. I never really mentioned it to him.”

No doubt he’ll be a welcomed addition to a Damien squad that won a league title two years ago and was second to Chino Hills last year. The Spartans graduated their two leading scorers.

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Ganesha football program hopes to continue its progress

Ganesha quarterback John Mosqueda is taken down by Pomona's Javaris Steward and Brian Lamb at Pomona High School in Pomona, CA., Friday, October 16, 2015. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Senior quarterback John Mosqueda is the top returning player for a Ganesha team looking to make the playoffs.

The Ganesha football program has made great strides under coach Don Cayer. The Giants just missed a playoff berth last year but the potential to get one the coming fall appears to be there.

“We have some young players with a lot of potential,” Cayer said. “You never know how quickly those guys are going to catch on but I really like the pieces we have. We could surprise some people.”

The curtain comes up on the new season on Aug. 26 with Ganesha playing host to Mark Keppel, a school out of Alhambra coming off an 0-10 season.

The Giants were 7-3 overall and placed third in the Miramonte League at 2-2. Normally the top three in each league advance to the playoffs but the Miramonte is just a five-team league and the CIF had the option to take just two which it did.

It was a devastating blow for Cayer, who was looking to snap the school’s 24-year playoff drought in the sport.

“We thought we did enough to get in but other people had other ideas,” Cayer said. “This year we hope to finish in the top two so it isn’t an issue.”

Much of the room for optimism is the return of senior quarterback John Mosqueda, who threw for 858 yards last year.

Cayer also thinks Mosqueda has more talent surrounding him this year.  Among the other veterans are senior wide receiver-defensive back Albert Louis and senior Kenny Johnson was was moved around to different positions but looks to be a major contributor at running back.

Among the promising newcomers are Alonzo Arce, a freshman slated to start at middle linebacker, and wide receiver Jacques Wilborn, a junior who has moved around to different schools but looks to  have found a home at Ganesha.

The influx of young talent is the result for Cayer, also the school’s athletic director, working the pipeline from Marshall Middle School, Ganesha’s primary feeder school. his objective: to make sure the kids that should come to his school actually do so instead of going elsewhere.

Defending champion Pomona still appears to be the team to beat in league play but the Red Devils graduated most of their key players and there appears to be balance through the rest of the league.

Ganesha was put in Division 13 along with 84 other schools in the the new CIF alignments. That is the bottom division. Cayer said many of his assistant coaches were offended by that placement but he is taking it in stride and looking at it as incentive.

“When you look at what we have done, or not done. Where else would they put us?” he said. “We haven’t made the playoffs in more than 20 years. It’s up to us to go out there and prove we need to be placed higher.”

 

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Former Etiwanda standout Kameron Edwards chosen for foreign trip

Former Etiwanda High School basketball standout Kameron Edwards of Pepperdine will be going to Italy with a group of players from Athletes in Action.

The 6-foot-6 forward is coming off a stellar freshman campaign in which he earned All West Coast Conference Freshman honors. He averaged 7.2 points and 4.2 rebounds, starting 28 of 32 games.

In the classroom, he achieved West Coast Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll “bronze” honors and was a Pepperdine Scholar-Athlete.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone and bonding with the guys in beautiful Italy,” Edwards said. “I know that we’ll be doing a lot of traveling and sight-seeing with workouts and four games. Coach (Marty) Wilson first gave me a call about it in May, and it still feels surreal. I’m excited that this will happen. I think it’s a good opportunity to play against some good competition, work with new people and expand my game.”

The team will gather at Mercer University on Aug. 9 for training camp and leave three days later, returning Aug. 20.

The squad is currently scheduled to play four games, two against Italian teams and the others against teams from Lithuania and Kosovo. They will visit the Italian cities of Milan, Venice and Como.

The team is coached by Mercer’s Bob Hoffman and includes 10 student-athletes, nine of which play at the Division I level.

Athletes in Action’s aim is to spread the Christian message through sport. In addition to giving team members a memorable basketball and cultural opportunity, they’ll also have the chance to spread their faith.

 

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Colony football team counting on new arrival Nathan Tilford

The Colony High School football team is always among the area’s best and this season should be another in which the Titans contend for a CIF title. They were the Central Division champion two years ago.

While the Titans graduated some key players including quarterback Josh Thompson, they inherited one of Southern California’s mots prized prospects in Nathan Tilford who transferred from Upland along with brother Jakob.

Tilford rushed for 887 yards and 12 touchdowns on 106 tries as a junior at Upland. That was second on the team as Highlanders coach Tim Salter split ball carrying duties between Tilford and Darreyon Jones.

Colony coach Steve Randall said Tilford, who has committed to Arizona, will be more utilized than he was at Upland and even indicated the top-notch recruit will likely see time on defense as well.

Randall said Tilford has been a welcomed addition since coming over after the second semester.

“It’s almost like he has been here all four years,” Randall said. “:He’s a very humble kid and bought into the way things we do here right away. He has never once given us any kind of attitude or a problem.”

Jakob Tilford, also a senior, will likely start at corner.

The Titans are coming off an 8-4 showing last year. Colony won the Mt. Baldy League and was sent home from the playoffs with a second round loss to Glendora.

Besides the two Tilford brothers, the Titans got another transfer in Elijah White, whom Randall also expects to have a major impact. White, a 6-foot-2, 325-pound defensive tackle, came over from Diamond Bar.

The Titans open the season at home on Aug. 26 against West Covina.

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Local softball players singled out by Cal-Hi Sports

Etiwanda High School softball player Vanessa Taukeiaho, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin Player of the Year, Thursday, June 16, 2016. Taukeiaho is committed to play next year at the University of Oklahoma. (Photo by John Valenzuela/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

The season may be long over but Cal-Hi Sports just released its All-State softball teams and several locals were among those recognized.

Etiwanda was the most recognized of the local teams as senior outfielder Vanessa Taukeiaho and senior first baseman Megan Stevens both were named to the first team while pitcher Briana Wheeler and outfielder Candace Haliburton, also both seniors, were third team honorees.

Taukeiaho, earlier named the Daily Bulletin Player of the year,  led the state in home runs with 20 while hitting .640 with 56 RBI.

CIF champion Grand Terrace also had multiple players honored with pitcher Melanie Olmos, who like Taukeiaho has signed with Oklahoma, making first team and junior Eliyah Flores named to the second.

Other first team selections included junior shortstop Taylon Snow of Chino hills and senior catcher Kelly Martinez of Yucaipa.

Here is the link to the entire team selected for those interested.

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Bonita setter Sahara Martinez headed to UTEP

Bonita High school volleyball standout Sahara Martinez has committed to University of Texas-El Paso.

The three-year varsity starter made that decision today. She visited the school in June and also took trips to Hartford (Conn.), UC Irvine as well as Concordia-Irvine.

She was also talking to a handful of other schools including Youngstown State and Eastern Washington.

“It has everything I was looking for,” she said. “It’s the right size and it’s Division I. It’s a full scholarship so it’s also room and board. It’s a pretty campus and a great neighborhood and I loved the coaches.”

Martinez said even though she is sure of the decision, it was a tough one. The distance from home wasn’t necessarily a factor.

“My mom always told me it’s a good chance to experience something different and I have always taken that to heart,” she said. “It’s only four years. I’m a California girl at heart so I’ll be back.”

Martinez is a three-time All-Palomares League selection. Last year she helped the Bearcats to a 24-10 record that included a 7-3 in league play that was good enough for second place behind Glendora.

Martinez registered 413 assists, 131 digs, and 27 service aces.

She plans to major in psychology.

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