Alta Loma football looks for better showing in 2016

Alta Loma's Isac Velasquez (24) reaches towards the goal line only to come up short during the second quarter Thursday night against visiting Fontana at Chaffey High School in Ontario. Alta Loma hosts Fontana High School Thursday evening September 10, 2015 in a prep football game at Chaffey High School in Ontario. (Will Lester/Staff Photographer)

Alta Loma’s Isac Velasquez scores a touchdown last season in non-league game against Fontana.

Alta Loma was one of those schools that experienced some growing pains under a new coach last season. Mark Pasquarella wasn’t pleased with the Braves 4-6 showing but says his team is light years ahead of where it was at this time last year.

“We were really young last year,” Pasquarella said. “With so many kids coming back we’re really looking for a better finish. We believe in what we’re doing. It’s just a matter of changing the culture and getting the kids to believe they can win.”

Of course defending champion Colony looms as the Mt. Baldy League favorite but there should be quite the battle for the other two playoff spots with the Braves in the mix.

Among the players returning are quarterbacks James Josiah and Garrett Kettle, junior and senior respectively. Josiah saw considerable playing time last year with Kettle slowed by an elbow injury that never quite healed. Pasquarella said the job is up for grabs.

The strength of the team is likely to be the offensive line which boasts several returning starters. Pasquarella hopes that factor results in a more consistent showing by the offense which struggled at times last year.

Among the veterans up front are senior center Nick Gannuscio, senior tackle Angel Castellanos, junior guards Dylan Vanderkallen and Alex Bermudez and senior tight end Ryan Twist.

The Braves have always favored a balanced offense with multiple receivers and ball carriers and that will again be the case. Junior Isac Velasquez is a threat from a running and receiving.

Others coming out of the backfield include junior Christian Palmer, senior Jeremiah Goss.

“We need to move the ball more consistently,” Pasquarella said. “There were some times last year when we asked way too much of the defense. They were on the field a lot and that always gets you in trouble.”

Many of the same faces that will contribute on offense will do so on defense as well – Twist at defensive end and Velasquez playing some defensive back. Others will include junior nose tackle Kingston Toki, senior linebacker Michael Sanchez and junior linebacker David Bustamonte. Standouts in the secondary should include junior Jerry Valencia and seniors Ryan Pun and Kaedo Baynham.

The cast of promising newcomers is led by junior Joe Castillo, who will play in a lot of spots and senior receiver-corner Kenyon Johnson who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. Pasquerella is also counting on junior defensive lineman Ira Thomas and senior defensive end Joshua Abrams.

There has been a major coaching change as Jeff Kettle, father of the quarterback, is in as defensive coordinator. He is a graduate of the school.

The Braves open the new season at home on Aug. 26 against Diamond Bar. It will mark the first home game for Alta Loma, which like many other schools in the Chaffey Joint Unified School District, will be breaking in new stadiums.

Alta Loma had primarily used Chaffey  as a home field and was relegated to a lot of Thursday night games.

“Our guys are very excited to be able to play a home game,” Pasquarella said. “I felt sorry for our seniors having to watch it get built and not being able to play on it. But this is great for our kids and the community.”

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Mt. Baldy League honors: Football





Overall MVP – Khlalil Dorsey, Sr., DB-WR, Colony
Offensive MVP – Josh Thompson, Sr., QB, Colony
Defensive MVP – Devon Harper, Sr., Colony
Outstanding Lineman – Tre Bland, Sr., Colony

First team
Stacy Aneke, Sr., Colony
Jonathan Arcos, Sr., Colony
Elijah Arellano, Sr., Colony
Khoury Bethley, Sr., Don Lugo
David Bustamante, Soph., Alta Loma
Jose Campos, Sr., Montclair
Gabriel Casas, Soph., Don Lugo
Devin Collins, Jr., Don Lugo
Alec Cota, Sr., Alta Loma
Mikey Dean, Sr., Chaffey
Omar Delarosa, Jr., Ontario
Tyrique Faatiliga, Sr., Colony
Dane Ford, Sr., Don Lugo
Nicolas Gannuscio, Jr., Alta Loma
Jason Gardner, Jr., Don Lugo
Christopher Gonzalez, Sr., Don Lugo
Trevor Goulet, Jr., Don Lugo
Tyrone Hatchett, Sr., Colony
Matt Lawson, Soph., Colony
Reuben Leyva, Sr., Alta Loma
Ray Maldanado, Sr., Chaffey
Ryan Moya-Chapron, Jr., Colony
Jesse Munguia, Sr., Don Lugo
Nathan Orozco, Sr., Don Lugo
Antoine Paul, Jr., Ontario
Cameron Poe, Sr., Ontario
Jose Rivera, Sr., Montclair
Jovanni Sanchez, Sr., Chaffey
Nathan Solorio, Sr., Chaffey
Sebastian Soto, Sr., Ontario
Ryan Suliafu, Fr., Chaffey
Dallas Teren, Sr., Colony
Ryan Twist, Jr., Alta Loma
Marcos Valencia, Sr., Colony
Isac Velasquez, Soph., Alta Loma
Jiaire Wade, Jr., Colony
Roy Wiley, Soph., Montclair

  • Positions not provided


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Ontario coaches looking for redemption against Alta Loma

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The football teams from Alta Loma and Ontario will square off tonight at Montclair High School in a Mt. Baldy League game that will have little impact on the standings. But it will have quite the meaning for a couple of coaches on the Jaguar sideline.

Head coach John Kusleika spent seven years the Alta Loma program from 2002 to 2008 and among the players he had then were current San Diego Chargers standout Eric Wedell.

Quarterbacks coach Joe Szczepanski is less than a year removed from his four-year stint as head coach there. He was let go last year after the Braves only finished fourth in the league a year after moving over the Baseline League. The prevailing thought among school officials was that the Braves should have been able to finish in the top three in a league that was far less competitive and it didn’t happen.

Szczepanski compiled a record of 15-25 at Alta Loma but took over after the program had back-to-back 0-10 seasons. The school had a 24-game losing streak in the Baseline League that dated back to the last game of the 2008 season.

Kusleika was only too happy to welcome Szczepanski, who still maintains his teaching position at Alta Loma, to his staff at Ontario.

“I have been a couple of other places since then so it isn’t as big a deal to me,” Kusleika said of facing his former school. “It’s different for Joe because he was just there and he has coached a lot of those kids.”

The Jaguars are 4-4 overall and 0-3 in league play.

The Braves, now directed by much-respected veteran coach Mark Pasquarella, are 3-6 and 1-2 in league play and need to win their last two to equal the record that Szczepanski had at the school last year.

We’ll see how this plays out.

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Mt. Baldy football teams brace for league battles

This could be the best year the Mt. Baldy League has had in football in quite some time.

Why? Well for starters there looks to be a very formidable threat to the Colony throne in the Chaffey Tigers. Last year coach Chris Brown’s team went toe-to-toe with the Titans for a half. Then lack of depth hurt and the Tigers wore down.

Colony graduated 25 or so players from the CIF Central Division winning team of a year ago. So yes the Titans are still good and they have been primed by a tough non-league schedule on which I have harped before. But they aren’t quite as good as they were last year. And the Tigers, led by diminutive dynamo Mikey Dean, are better.

The showdown between those teams is Oct. 30, the next to last week of the regular season. Mark it down!

Second, the teams that have traditionally been at the bottom of the pecking order, namely Ontario and Montclair – appear much improved with both taking 4-1 marks into play. No they haven’t played a challenging schedule but both have still beaten teams to whom they have lost in the past and that bodes well.

Then there are Don Lugo and Alta Loma. Don Lugo has played the toughest non-league schedule outside of Colony so I don’t think they’re as bad as their 1-4 record. I was impressed with how they played in the 22-21 triple overtime loss to Chino and i like what I see in that coaching staff.

Alta Loma? Well the jury is still out and I don’t quite know what to think. I have seen them once, a game they struggled to beat Fontana which was playing with its third-string quarterback.

I have heard great things about first-year coach Mark Pasquarella. But a first year is always a transition year and I try not to read too much into what happens in that first year. So call the Braves a wild card.

I’d say the playoff teams are Colony, Chaffey and Don Lugo – the same three that came out of here last year. But I’m not counting out the other three. If nothing else I think there will be more competitive games this year than ever before.



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New look Alta Loma looking to contend in Mt. Baldy League

Try telling new Alta Loma football coach Mark Pasquarella that this is a rebuilding year and he’ll have none of that. The veteran coach wants to win a Mt. Baldy League title right away.

“I think we have talent, we just don’t have a lot of experience,” he says. “Our goal is to go out there and win every game.”

Pasquarella is taking over the reigns following the departure of Joe Szczepanksi who had them for four years. It has been a slow transition. Until June 30 he was still working for the Covina school district so anything he did football-related had to come after 4 p.m.

The Braves, coming off a 5-5 showing last year, also had to hold spring practice at a nearby elementary school because construction of the new stadium on campus forced a temporary relocation.

As for other setbacks, well a couple of veteran players transferred out. Among those – quarterback Jacob Hennie. Sophomore Junior James and junior Garrett Kettle are fighting for that vacant spot.

Pasquarella, who will call the offense, singles out the offensive and defensive lines as the team’s strong suit. He also likes the depth he has at running back.

The defense is where his team needs the most work right now, with the most inexperienced units being at linebacker and in the secondary. Getting the Braves up to speed will be the responsibility of new defensive coordinator Bill Strycula.

As for other key players, Pasquarella singles out versatile senior Will Ukpong who will play safety and can line up at a varsity of spots on offense.

The team is heavy with sophomores and juniors. While Pasquarella singles out defending champion Colony as the team to beat, he isn’t counting out his.

“I really like what I have seen. The kids have worked hard and I think we’ll surprise people,” Pasquarella says.

The Braves get the new season underway on Aug. 28 with a non-league game at Chaffey High School against Rowland, which is coming off a 4-6 season.


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Alta Loma’s Jordan Perkins picks a college

Alta Loma football standout Jordan Perkins is headed to Trinity International University (Deerfield, Ill.).

Perkins, a 5-foot-11, 180-pounder, played some running back and defensive back.

Trinity is coming off a 3-7 season and competes in the Mideast League of the Mid-States Football Association.













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Alta Loma quarterback out with concussion


Alta Loma (2-2) will be without junior quarterback Jacob Hennie when it faces Grand Terrace (1-2) on Friday.

Hennie, who has thrown for 581 yards and rushed for 244 yards more, sustained a concussion last week against Summit.

The good news for coach Joe Szczepanski is that the Braves have a bye next week and Hennie is expected to be ready for the Mt. Baldy League opener against Montclair on Oct. 10.

Senior Austen Tanner, the starting quarterback on the junior varsity last year, will replace Hennie.

“We’re still going to do what we do,” Szczepanski said. “One kid gets hurt the next has to be ready to play. He’s had a couple of quarters and he’s getting all the reps this week in practice so he’ll be ready to go.”

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