A quick look back at the prep athletes of the year

Well the book is officially closed on another year of high school sports. It’s always fun to go back and look at who the top performers were.

So here is a list of the athletes that were our Player of the Year in their respective sport. Good variety of schools represented which is always nice.

Football: Josh Woods, Sr., Upland
Football (Offense): Shawn Wilson, Sr., Pomona
Football (Defense): Khaylan Thomas, Sr., Etiwanda
Volleyball: Meghan Buzzerio, Sr., Chino Hills
Girls cross country: Annie Boos, Soph., Claremont; Tess Rounds, Fr., Claremont
Boys cross country: Michael Teran, Sr., Jurupa Hills
Boys water polo: Stephen Cagle, Sr., Claremont
Girls tennis:
Girls golf: Bethany Wu., Sr., Diamond Bar

Boys basketball: Lonzo Ball, Jr., Chino Hills
Girls basketball: Jackie Ricketson, Sr., Ayala
Girls soccer: Leah Pruitt, Sr., Alta Loma
Boys soccer: Eduardo Contreras, Jr., Chaffey
Wrestling:
Girls water polo: Shelby Kraft, Jr., Los Osos

Baseball: Peter Lambert, Sr., San Dimas
Softball: Tannon Snow, Sr., Chino Hills
Girls swimming: Kenisha Kui, Jr., Ayala
Boys swimming: Brian Whittington, Sr., Los Osos
Boys golf: Jefferson Kao, Sr., Diamond Bar
Boys tennis: Andrew Leahy, Jr., Claremont
Boys track: Zach Shinnick, Soph., Damien
Girls track: Sklyer Daniel, Sr., Upland
Boys volleyball: Kaleb Denmark, Sr., Arrowhead Christian

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Ganesha football program taking small steps forward

When you’re football program isn’t steeped in tradition, you have to appreciate the smaller signs of progress. Such is the case with the Ganesha Giants.

Coach Don Cayer’s team improved from 3-7 in 2013 to 4-6 last fall. But they were also more competitive in games they lost.

Unfortunately modest improvement could have been more significant improvement but Ganesha lost the last four games after a 4-2 start.

Ganesha Football

“After awhile you get sick of being everyone’s doormat,” Cayer said. “We don’t talk about wins and losses. It’s about improvement and getting better each day. If  you do that hopefully it shows in the win column.”

There are other small signs of progress that haven’t shown up in the win column yet. Cayer is excited about his incoming freshman class and the number of players coming from his feeder schools who aren’t going elsewhere.

Also, Cayer, who also serves as the school’s athletic director, says his team had three home games where the team drew 1,000 spectators.

“It may not sound like much to some but I remember games when I was an assistant and you could count the number of people in the stands at kickoff,” he said.

The biggest on-field problem with the team last year was offense. Two of the games the team won were by the score of 7-6. Most troublesome was the offensive line. In fact it was such a sore spot that Cayer has taken over responsibility for the part of the team this year.

“Now it’s solely my fault if it’s still an issue,” he said.

The good news is that Cayer has nine returning starters on offense are seniors.  One of those who is not a senior is junior quarterback John Mosqueda, one of the players in the revolving door at that position last year.

Cayer admits Mosqueda just wasn’t ready last year but he tried everyone out of necessity and likes the improvement he has seen him thus far.

The strength of the offense appears to be wide receiver with a core that includes senior Marcione Harvey, Brian Chisholm, Albert Lewis and marcus Cooper. Harvey was in the program as an underclassmen, but moved to Arizona briefly, only to return before the school year was over. He is the speedster in the bunch.

Jimmy Lopez and Anthony Longsworth, both seniors, should see time in the backfield.

There will be several players seeing action on both sides of the ball with Longsworth and Chisholm also doing time in the secondary.

The top performer should be senior linebacker Mauriyon O’Brien, a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder whom Cayer says is drawing Division I interest.

Seniors Miguel Puentes and Samuel Davis will be on both sides of the line.

The schedule has been downgraded a bit with San Gabriel and Western Christian the new foes. The season begins on Aug. 28 at Mark Keppel, a team the Giants defeated last year.

The first home game will be the following week, Sept. 4, against Gladstone. Those were the two teams the Giants beat 7-6 last year.

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Ontario football coach John Kusleika still optimistic

Jaguars mascot photo.

Veteran coach John Kusleika knew he had his work cut out for him when he jumped on board as Ontario High School’s head football coach last year.

But it was even more challenging than he ever expected. So he is excited about getting the new season underway and continuing the building process.

The Jaguars (2-8, 0-5 in Mt. Baldy League) started out alright winning two of their first three games. But little went right after that and they didn’t get in the win column again.

JohnKusleika-web-1

Kusleika says it was a matter of not enough guys buying into the process.

“I don’t think it’s too much to ask for guys to show up on time, give a full effort and compete and work hard,” he said. “I don’t ask anything out of them that I don’t give myself.”

Kusleika graduated 22 seniors and says the rebuilding will go on with a large core of juniors which can be a blessing and a curse. There is less experience but there are also fewer bad habits to break and he thinks he has players who are actually on board.

The other think that should help considerably is that Kusleika now has a full staff of 12, counting the freshman level coaches. Last year he had only four for the entire program.

Among those is Joe Szczepanksi, the former head coach at Alta Loma, who will coach quarterbacks. Kusleika will call the offense with Bill Hust serving as defensive coordinator.

“I have been coaching for 25 years and this is probably the youngest team I have ever had,” he said. “But we’re going to get better just because we have more people to help coach.”

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Among the most experience players returning is senior quarterback Cameron Poe, who will be in his third year running the offense.

Others are senior linebacker-running back  Sebastian Soto, senior defensive end Darron Culver, senior lineman Daniel Estrada and junior defensive lineman Enrique Alonso.

Among the newcomers coming up from the junior varsity who will be counted on are junior running back-defensive back John Oquendo, junior running back-defensive back Julio Mixco, senior wide receiver Ernest Orozco and senior center Jorge Navarro.

The new season kicks off on Aug. 28 with the Jaguars traveling to Garey, a team it defeated 16-2 last season.

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Rancho Cucamonga’s Tayari Venable picks Washington State

Junior Tayari Venable of Rancho Cucamonga is headed to Washington State. The 6-foot-2, 160-pounder made the declaration Wednesday night along with some of his peers.

The decision came down to where he thought he had the best opportunity to play early. The school also was the first to make an offer.

Introduction 2017: DB Tayari Venable

He was also considering UCLA, Arizona State, Washington and San Jose State. The only other school he had been to was UCLA, having played in a passing tournament there.

“I really looked at the depth chart at my position and I think I can play right away.” he said. “I also went there for a camp a month ago and I really liked it.”

Venable played a lot as a sophomore last year, managing 29 tackles and helping the Cougars to a third-place finish in the tough Baseline League.

He is the latest local to cast his lot with the school. Among those currently there are Kameron Powell, a former teammate, as well as former Upland quarterback Tyler Hilinski. Venable says he plans to talk to Powell later today.

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Rancho Cucamonga’s Thomas Graham says its USC

Thomas Graham talks recruiting

Rancho Cucamonga football standout Thomas Graham Jr., has decided he wants to stay close to home and attend USC. The junior-to-be made the decision public in a ceremony with his Ground Zero summer league teammates.

USC made an offer last week to the 5-foot-10, 160-pound cornerback after he made an unofficial visit to campus and participated in Rising Stars camp.

“It has always really been my dream school,” Graham said. “They have great tradition and it will be a great education to fall back on if football doesn’t work out for some reason.”

Graham has a sister Jasmyne that will compete on the school’s track team. She will be a freshman. That didn’t necessarily tip the scales in the Trojans’ favor though.

“It was really my decision,” he said. “It just worked out well for both of us.”

Graham, who transferred from Eastvale Roosevelt to Rancho Cucamonga, also considered offers from Arizona State, Oklahoma, UCLA and Washington. He visited all but Oklahoma.

Graham, who says he grew up a Reggie Bush fan, is the third player to commit to the Trojans’ 2017 recruiting class. He joins running back Stephen Carr, a Ground Zero teammate, and receiver Amari Rodgers.

He played in eight games last year at Roosevelt, tallying 49 tackles and an interception as a sophomore.

“It was nice to get the decision out of the way so I can concentrate on the season,” he said. “It was a lot of fun but the whole process was going to get crazier since I’m just going to be a junior.”

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Don Lugo football team looks to feed off solid 2014 campaign

Luis Garcia took over the football program at Don Lugo last year. And while he had high expectations for himself and for his team, few outside the program had that kind of confidence.

“I know people we’re thinking, ‘Here we go again. Another new coach,’ ” he said. “I was totally all in though and I was just focused and I believed in the players we had. You have to buy in because if the players sense that you’re not, they’re not going to buy in either.”

The Conquistadors exceeded expectations though. They were coming off a 3-7 campaign. While a 6-4 regular season may not seem like significant improvement, it really was.

Don Lugo’s Jorge Montelongo, who rushed for 101 yards, carries the ball against Chino during Friday night’s...

The only thing that prevented them from finishing second in the Mt. Baldy behind perennial power Colony was a 9-7 loss to Chaffey.

Don Lugo also advanced to the playoffs and battled another perennial power, Monrovia, to overtime before falling 26-20.

The season also included the first win over local rival Chino since 2009. That rivalry had been overwhelmingly one-sided lately.

This year there is optimism in the school and the community for the first time in awhile. Garcia, himself a graduate of the school, recognizes that means his team has to be equal to the challenge.

“I hate to say we had nothing to lose last year but there were were no expectations,” he said. “Now there are, so yes there is some pressure to build on what we did last year.”

The Conquistadors do have quite a few holes to fill. Among the key departed players are linebacker Preston Carr, a first-team All-CIF selection, as well as wide receiver David Delgado and running back Jorge Montelongo.

Among the key returning players are quarterback Dane Ford, who will be a three-year starter. Among the others are cornerbacks C.J. Scrimmager and Kendale Taylor, offensive lineman Chris Torres, tight end-defensive lineman Christopher Gonzalez and defensive tackle Jeffrey Bitetti.

Leading the group of newcomers on whom Garcia will be relying is sophomore lineman Chris Randazzo, a 6-foot-5, 325-pounder who is already attracting interest from Division I schools.

Others are sophomore wide receiver Thomas Delgado, David’s younger brother, as well as junior linebackers Tzion Dixon, whom Garcia says is the hardest hitter on the team.

Don Lugo opens with a scrimmage against Claremont on Aug. 21. The regular season starts the following week with the Conquistadors traveling to Walnut.

 

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San Dimas’ Tommy Acuna commits to Arizona

 

San Dimas High School baseball standout Tommy Acuna has made a verbal commitment to University of Arizona.

Acuna played in the Junior Olympics in Arizona with Team California which gave that school an opportunity to scout him. The school had also seen him on a couple of other occasions.

“I’m really excited. It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s the Pac 12 so it will be great competition.”

Acuna helped the Saints to a 31-1 record, a Valle Vista League title and a national rankings.

He earned first-team All-League honors, hitting .529 with eight doubles, 25 RBI and 13 runs scored. He started out the season serving primarily as designated hitter but stepped in at third base late in the season after an injury to the starter Joseph Bahna.

His father, Thomas Sr., always liked the school so it couldn';t have worked out better.

“He always liked that school. It was sort of his dream school,” Tommy said. “Now I am going there. It’s funny that it worked out that way.”

Acuna is considering majoring in law.

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Here’s how some of our local players are faring in the minor leagues

Matt Anderson

* Matt Anderson (Claremont/Chaffey College) – Mariners AA, Jackson (Miss.) of Southern League. Is 1-4, 3.60 ERA, 10 saves, 14 ER, 10 BB, 37 K’s in 35 innings.

* Matt Andriese (Redlands East Valley/UC Riverside) – Rays AAA, Durham (N.C.) of International League. Is 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 6 ER, 20 Ks, 5 BB, 20 innings.

* Branden Becker (Cajon) – Orioles Rookie, Gulf Coast League. Hitting .136 ut that is in just 5 games after signing following this year’s draft.

* Aaron Brooks (Cajon/CS San Bernardino) – Royals AAA, Omaha of International League. Is 4-4, 3.67 ERA, 31 ER, 75 Ks, 14 BB in 76 innings.

Geoff Broussard

* Geoff Broussard (Alta Loma/Cal Poly Pomona) – Angels High-A, Inland Empire of California League. Is 2-1 with 2.61 ERA, 3 saves, 6 ER, 37 Ks, 8 BB in 20 2/3 innings.

* Gary Brown (Diamond Bar) – Angels AAA, Salt Lake City of Pacific Coast League. Hitting .214, 3 doubles, 4 triples, 5 home runs, 27 RBI in 50 games.

* Chris Carlson (Chino Hills/Cal Poly Pomona) – Blue Jays Low-A, Lansing, Mich of Midwest League. Hitting .299 with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 1 home run, 21 runs scored and 17 RBI.

* Ethan Chapman (Upland Christian/CS San Bernardino) – Phillies AA, Reading of Eastern League. Hitting .083 in just 5 games. Just joined organization after being released by Royals where he spent the bulk of season at AA Northwest Arkansas.

* Matt Clark (Etiwanda) – Brewers AAA, Colorado Springs of Pacific Coast League. Hiting .269, 14 doubles, 1 triple, 12 home runs, 39 RBI, 30 runs in 71 games.

* Matt Davidson (Yucaipa) – White Sox AAA, Charlotte of International League. Hitting .236, 12 doubles, 13 home runs, 41 RBI, 25 runs in 76 games.

* Bailey Falter (Chino Hills) – Phillies Rookie, Gulf Coast League in Florida. Hasn’t pitched yet but joined them after signing afterthis year’s draft.

* Josh Fellahuer (Rancho Cucamonga) – Brewers AA, Biloxi, Miss. of Southern League. Hitting .286, 2 doubles, 1 home run, 11 RBI in 21 games.

Isaac Galloway

* Isaac Galloway (Los Osos) – Marlins AAA, New Orleans of Pacific Coast League. Hitting .243, 6 doubles, 2 triples, 17 RBI, 18 runs scored in 56 games.

* Kyle Garlick (Chino Hills/Cal Poly Pomona) – Dodgers Low-A, Great Lakes of Midwest League. Just reported there after a few games in rookie ball.

* Jeff Gelalich (Bonita) – Reds High-A, Daytona of Florida State League. Hitting .200 with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 7 stolen bases, 6 RBI, 17 runs scored in 47 games.

* Tommy Hanson (Redlands East Valley) – Giants High-A San Jose. Is 1-1, 2.25 ERA, 3 ER, 15 Ks, 5 BB, 12 innings. Has pitched at major league level with both the Braves and Angels.

* Grant Hockin (Damien) – Spent last year in Arizona rookie ball. Currently on disabled list.

* John Holdzkom (Rancho Cucamonga) – Pirates AAA, Indianapolis of International League. Is 2-0 with 3.38 ERA, 2 saves, 8 ER, 27 Ks, 15 BB.

* Chris Kohler (Los Osos) – A’s Short-A, Vermont of New York-Penn League. 1-0, 2.70 ERA in 10 innings, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K’s.

Jiovanni Mier

* Jiovanni Mier (Bonita) – Astros AA, Corpus Christi of Texas League. Hitting .264, 9 doubles, 2 triples, 5 home runs, 35 RBI, 29 runs in 58 games.

* Ryan Miller (San Bernardino Valley College) – Padres High-A, Lake Elsinore. Hitting .298 with 10 doubles, 3 triples, 2 home runs, 14 RBI, 14 runs scored in 24 games.

 

*Jacob Nottingham (Redlands) – Astros High-A, Lancaster of California League. Played first game last night after receiving promotion from Low-A Quad Cites where he hit .326 in 59 games and made the Midwest League All-Star team.

* Ricky Oropesa (Etiwanda) – Giants AA, Richmond of Eastern League. Hitting .282, 13 doubles, 1 home run, 9 home runs, 46 RBI in 70 games.

* R.J. Peace (Serrano) – Marlins Rookie, Gulf Coast League. Pitched his first 4 innings since signing after this year’s draft. Has 3 Ks’ 1 ER allowed.

* Cody Ponce (Damien/Cal Poly Pomona) – Brewers Rookie, Helena of Pioneer League. Has pitched in 2 games (5 innings) since signing last month after draft. He has 4 Ks, 2 ER and 0 BB.

* Addison Reed (Los Osos) – Diamondbacks AAA, Reno of Pacific Coast League. Has one scoreless inning after being sent down from the major league team.

* Daniel Robertson (Upland) – Rays AA, Montgomery (Ala.) of Southern League. Hitting .271, 15 doubles, 4 triples, 3 home runs, 32 runs scored, 32 RBI in 49 games.

* Jake Romanski (Chaffey College) – Red Sox AA, Portland of Eastern League. Hitting .100 in 3 games. But that was after hitting .262 in 47 games at High-A Salem and earning a promotion.

* Josh Smith (Etiwanda) – Diamondbacks rookie ball. Is 0-0, 16.20 ERA in 2 games, 1 2/3 inning, 3 ER, 2BB.

* Travis Taijeron (Cal Poly Pomona) – Mets AAA, Las Vegas of Pacific Coast League. Hitting .302 with 9 doubles, 2 triples, 13 home runs, 40 RBI, 38 runs scored in 66 games.

Dillon Tate

* Dillon Tate  (Claremont) – Rangers Short-A, Spokane of Northwest League. Just saw action in his first game and pitched a scoreless inning with 1 strikeout.

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