Ayala to start freshman quarterback in Battle of the Bone

The Ayala football team hasn’t beaten crosstown rival Chino Hills since 2009 and last year it was ugly – 31-0. The Huskies lead the young series 9-3.

There are new coaches on each side with Chris Stevens now heading Chino Hills and A.J. Gracia in charge at Ayala.

The quarterbacks will be a compelling storyline as Chino Hills will start Austin Zavala, a transfer from Ayala.

Meanwhile Ayala will be starting a freshman – Cole McCain, son of assistant coach Matt McCain. Gracia said it was a tough battle with McCain pushed by junior James Linn but in the end he went with the youngster.

“It was a battle all the way and they competed for it,” Gracia said.  “Cole just kind of separated himself in the end.”

Linn is still going to be a factor though, starting at safety.

Here’s a rundown of the scores in the series:

2015 – Chino Hills 31, Ayala 0
2014 – Did not play
2013 – Chino Hills 52, Ayala 28
2012 – Chino Hills 49, Ayala 34
2011 – Chino Hills 40, Ayala 17
2010 – Chino Hills 36, Ayala 8
2009 – Chino Hills 14, Ayala 7
2008 – Ayala 18, Chino Hills 17
2007 – Ayala 19, Chino Hills 10
2006 – Chino Hills 42, Ayala 21
2005 – Chino Hills 20, Ayala 7
2004 – Chino Hills 21, Ayala 16
2003 – Ayala 21, Chino Hills 17

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Ayala football team looks to get back on track under new leader


The Ayala football team is one of the many in the Inland Valley under a new leader. A.J. Gracia has taken over and is hoping to lead a resurgence of a program that most agree underachieved last year in going just 3-7.

It won’t be easy. The competition is pretty stiff in the Palomares League and the Bulldogs open the season on Aug. 26 with a non-league game against local rival Chino Hills which has owned them in recent years.

But the new leader is optimistic.

“There is talent here,” he said. “Everyone has been working hard and they have bought in with what we’re trying to do and that’s a good place to start.”

Like all new coaches who weren’t on the staff previously Gracia says every player comes in with a clean slate with him. No returning player is guaranteed a starting spot. Those have to be earned. That competition for playing time can only help.

One of the battles is at quarterback where freshman Cole McCain and junior James Linn are candidates for the starting spot. Linn saw some playing time last year as a back-up to the graduate Michael Morales.

The line will be led by junior center Justin Salazar and junior guard-tackle Addison Shackelford, both of whom saw considerable action last year.  Senior tackle Justin Winans, out last year with a knee injury, and junior tackle Brian McMillan will also be counted on.

Ayala also graduated the running back who was the workhorse of the offense the last three years in Jordan Charles. Several players are vying for time there including junior brothers Mason and Max Hura and Makaio Provoost, also a junior.

Gracia expects his skill position players and his defensive secondary to be the strong points of his team.

“We have some good athletes and we have some depth,” he said. “There are a lot of guys that can contribute.”

Among those in that secondary are senior Emmanuel Flowers, perhaps the best player on the squad. Seniors Zach Brozick and Moses Sanchez and juniors Joshua Pryor and Dominic Gaetano should be big contributors there as well.

Gracia says the biggest question marks are the defensive line and linebacking core because of the number of players graduated. Among those the rookie coach is looking for to step are senior linebackers Josh Elliott and Parker Wallace

Many of the same players who will see time on offense will do so on defense as well with Provoost and Hura among those.

Senior Brian Papazian, who handles all the kicking duties, is also back.

Gracia has brought in some experienced assistants to help him. Matt McCain and Rick Martin will head the defensive staff while Manny Saiz will serve as offensive coordinator.

Gracia, who came to the school from Hillcrest, says he’ll judge the season on how his players progress, not necessarily on how many games it wins since the first year is usually a transition one.  He had to finish out the year at his former school before moving over to Ayala full-time which slowed the process.

“It’s really about going out there and working hard and hopefully it all pays off,” he said. “We’re just really looking forward to being competitive and then see what happens.”



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Ayala’s Riley Shackelford signs with Portland State

Ayala High School football standout Riley Shackelford has signed with Portland State, doing so while on a visit there earlier this week.

“I liked the atmosphere and everything about it and I knew it was the place I wanted to spend the next four years,” he said.

Shackelford is joining the Viking program as a long snapper, an increasingly sought after specialized skill. He has only been doing that the last two years. He played on the freshman team for one year, then on the junior varsity as a tight end and defensive end and went to the coaching staff to see where he could get more playing time.

“That’s where we really had a need at the time and I have been doing it ever since then,” he said.

Shackelford ha improved over the last two years after working with noted specialist Chris Rubio who trains most of the premier snappers. The 6-foot-1, 230-pounder is currently ranked 16th in the nation and seventh in the state through through Rubio Long Snapping.

He was also considering Hawaii, Memphis and Humboldt State.

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Ayala football player Cody Darrow rallies back from injury

Ayala High School’s Cody Darrow admits he thought he was probably going to have to go the community college route when it came time to picking a college. The senior linebacker sustained a torn ACL the third game of the season against Temecula Great Oak, an injury that usually spells disaster for a potential recruit, especially a senior.

Darrow was being recruited by some Division I colleges and while the injury scared some away, it hasn’t been quite the blow it could have been.

He has a handful of offers and a couple of schools who really want to come as a preferred walk on.

“I am very thankful because I had a lot of doubt when it happened,” Darrow said of the injury.  Some schools went away but I am pleased so many stuck with me and want to give me a chance to show them what I can do.”

Darrow, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder had five offers so far. Those are from Division II schools Wayne State (Neb.) and Western New Mexico and NAIA schools Robert Morris and Missouri Valley. The latest to check in is Louisiana-Monroe.

Both Fresno State and Colorado State want him as a preferred walk-on.

Darrow is leaning toward Fresno State although he has not visited yet. His father Scott played at the school and he likes that is close to home but is still weighting his options and waiting to see if any other offers come along.

In the meantime Darrow has worked hard to recover from the injury. Then when all seemed like it is going  better – another blow. Darrow was involved in a car accident last week that left his vehicle totaled. Fortunately, he walked away with out any injury.

“It definitely has been a year filled with ups and downs,” he said. “I can’t seem to catch a break. I am just going to keep working hard and it will all pay off in the long run.”


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Ayala running back Jordan Charles headed South

Ayala High School running back Jordan Charles has committed to and will sign with the University of San Diego on Wednesday.

Charles’ second choice was Dartmouth. He was also considering Harvard and Brown. The Ivy League education was appealing but he opted to stay closer to home.

“They have a good business school and that’s what I am interested in,” Charles said. “It’s also close enough my family and friends can come see me play.”

Charles has been the top offensive player for the Bulldogs the last two years. This season he rushed for 1,017 yards on 176 carries with six games of 100 or more yards despite injuries to both ankles that slowed him.

In 2014 as a junior he ran for 1,012 yards with four games of 100 yards or more.

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Palomares League honors: Football

Athlete of Year – Matt Fink, Sr., QB, Glendora
MVP (Offense) – Jordan Charles, Sr., RB, Ayala

MVP (Defense) – Amir Ainsworth, Sr., Bonita





First team offense
WR Quinn Cotter, Sr., South Hills
WR Logan Zylstra, Jr., Bonita
WR Tyler Schoenick, Sr., Glendora
WR Kyle Yada, Sr., Diamond Bar
WR LaQuamie Bond, Jr., Claremont
OL David Lebel, Sr., Glendora
OL Andre Rodriguez, Sr., Ayala
OL Carlos Calderon, Sr., South Hills
OL Ricardo Sandoval, Jr., Claremont
OL Victor Arteaga, Soph., Glendora
OL Baylee Smith, Sr., Bonita
OL Max Shapiro, Sr., Claremont
QB Tanner East, Sr., Bonita
QB Raine Pohaku Kaheaku-Paiva, Sr., Claremont
RB Duy Tran-Sampson, Jr., Claremont
RB Markelle Davis, Sr., Claremont
RB Dimaggio Rico, Sr., Diamond Bar
RB Andrew Montano, Sr., Glendora
K Caleb Watkins, Sr., Glendora

First team defense
LB Soloman Tu;liaupupu, Soph., Claremont
LB Corey Taylor, Sr., Glendora
LB Luis Astorga, Sr., South Hills
LB Nathan Smedley, Sr., Bonita
LB Damien Cannon, Sr., Claremont
LB Anthony Mendoza, Sr., Glendora
DL Logan Zylstra, Jr., Bonita
DL David Label, Sr., Glendora
DL Kyle Kelly, Sr., South Hills
DL Isaiah Flowers, Sr., Ayala
DL Cole Mraz, Sr., Glendora
DB Mato Pacheco, Sr., Claremont
DB Mike Lowe, Sr., Glendora
DB Emmanuel Flowers, Jr., Ayala
DB Winston Donnell, Sr., Ayala
DB Tyler Schoenick, Sr., Glendora
P Caleb Watkins, Sr., Glendora

Second team offense
WR Garrison DeShay, Sr., South Hills
WR Matthew Banfield, Sr., Claremont
WR Darren Ireland, Sr., Bonita
WR Josh Peifer, Sr., Bonita
OL Tito Bucheli, Sr., Ayala
OL David Omana, Sr., Diamond Bar
OL Jeffrey Lu, Jr., Diamond Bar
OL Joe Bazza, Sr., Ayala
OL Ryan Roh, Soph., Diamond Bar
OL Justin Salazar, Soph., Ayala
RB Andrew Segura, Sr., South Hills
RB Griffen Herrera, Sr., Glendora
RB Max Hura, Soph., Ayala
RB Blake Goodman, Sr., Diamond Bar
K Garrett Dean, Jr., Bonita

Second team defense
LB Cody Darrow, Sr., Ayala
LB Jack Sheehan, Sr., South Hills
LB Connor Donohue, Sr., Diamond Bar
LB Tim Hendricks, Jr., Glendora
LB Isaiah Garcia, Sr., Bonita
LB Ryan Torres, Soph., South Hills
DL Markelle Davis, Sr., Claremont
DL Carlos Salinas, Sr., South Hills
DL David Armana, Sr., Diamond Bar
DL Connor Tolliver, Sr., Claremont
DL Tracey Riordan, Sr., Glendora
DB Tahron Tolbert, Jr., South Hills
DB Matthew Scott, Sr., Ayala
DB Zach Brozick, Jr., Ayala
DB Jamie House, Jr., Diamond Bar
P Raine Pohaku Kaheaku-Paiva, Claremont

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Ayala head football coach Randy Reams steps down

Another school is looking for a head football coach as Ayala’s Randy Reams is the latest to step down.

Reams and Athletic Director Warren Reed did not return multiple calls but school district spokesperson Julie Gobin confirmed Reams’ resignation.

The Bulldogs went just 3-7 the past season despite returning most of its starters. They qualified for the playoffs however, finishing in a tie for third with Claremont in the Palomares League but advancing to the playoffs because it had head-to-head tiebreaker with Claremont.

Injuries were a big reason the Bulldogs did not live up to expectations. At one time the Bulldogs were without their entire starting linebacking core with the leader of that unit, senior Cody Darrow, being lost for the season in the third game.

Reams directed the program for five years, his teams going a combined 21-30 in that stretch after taking over for Tom Inglima in 2011.

Reams will remain in his teaching position.


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Ayala injury troubles worsen in 40-14 loss to Glendora

Senior linebacker Cody Darrow has been waiting for a chance to play against Glendora for a year. He never got that chance because he watched Thursday night’s game between those teams at Citrus College from a wheelchair after having surgery for a torn ACL last week.

Darrow was one of eight starters who sat out last week’s win over Claremont.

Most of those returned for Thursday’s game against the Tartans, the exception being Darrow and fellow linebacker Josh Zavosky who has a broken leg.

The injury situation got a little worse again though. Senior slot back Winston Donnell rolled an ankle in the first half and never returned. He had two catches for 28 yards before going down.

Senior strong safety Matthew Scott, who has been playing through a myriad of injuries, went down with a hand/wrist injury  and he too didn’t return.

“It’s definitely the year of the injury for us,” Ayala coach Randy Reams said. “All teams have them, we’re just having more than our fair share right now.”

The Bulldogs (3-5, 2-1) have a home game against South Hills next Friday, then round out the regular season against Bonita on Nov. 6.


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Ayala football team overcomes obstacles for second big win

The Ayala football returned a lot of players from last year’s team that just barely missed the playoffs. But the Bulldogs got off to a 1-4 start in non-league play that had most, including head coach Randy Reams, a bit puzzled.

Reams upgraded his team’s non-league schedule significantly because he thought a sub-par one last year was the big reason the Bulldogs struggled so much in the stretch run a year ago.

Well that appears to have worked.

Click on the slide!

The Bulldogs improved to 2-0 in Palomares League play with a 24-21 upset of previously undefeated Claremont. It had chalked up a win over what looks to be a much-improved Diamond Bar team 28-21 the previous week.

The non-league games weren’t pretty with losses coming to rival Chino Hills (31-0), Diamond Ranch (33-10), Great Oak (24-12) and Damien (34-21).

Reams admitted he was worried about his team’s mental state after being so overwhelmed in the tougher games. But he had other reason for concern.

“I was really worried about the injuries. We had some ones to some key players and I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond that had to be put into roles where so much more was going to be expected of them,” he said.

Just how significant were the injuries? Very.

Among those lost for the season is senior linebacker Cody Darrow, the heart and soul of the Ayala defense who sustained a torn ACL against Great Oak. He had surgery to repair that on Thursday.

Junior Josh Zavosky is also done, having broken a tibia and fibula against Diamond Bar while another junior, Josh Elliott, has been sidelined with a concussion. That means the linebacker core has been severely depleted.

Yet the Bulldogs have prevailed. Much of the credit goes to the offense, in particular senior running back Jordan Charles, who tallied 252 yards on 28 carries in the win over Claremont.

“We know they have a good offense and a good running back,” Reams said of Claremont. “So our game plan was to run the ball, take time off the clock and keep the ball out of heir hands. We executed that perfectly.”

The Bulldogs will find out exactly what they’re made of this week. The foe – Glendora (6-1, 2-0), the team most pegged as the favorite coming into the season. The teams will square off on Thursday at Citrus College with the winner taking sole possession of first place.


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Palomares League should be competitive to the end

Glendora uses big plays to beat South Hills football 28-7

Glendora opened Palomares League play with a win over South Hills on Thursday.

Last year the Palomares League was one of the more balanced and competitive leagues in all of Southern California. Three teams finished tied for second and it took a tiebreaker to decide who went to the playoffs and who stayed home.

Based on the showing of teams in the first half of the regular season, that could very likely be the case again.  The teams went into league play with a combined record of 31-11.

Three teams are ranked in the top seven in the CIF’s Central Division – Glendora at No. 3, Bonita at No. 5 and Claremont at No. 7.

Two of those teams – Bonita and Claremont – are undefeated and will square off in their league opener tonight. Glendora, led by USC commit Matt Fink, bested South Hills last night.

Those teams all seem to be the most significant players this year. But don’t l;eave out Diamond Bar. The Brahmas, who finished in last place in 2014, are much improved under second-year coach Marcus Hughes. That first year is always a tough transition one and the Brahmas ended up 3-7. But they’re already 4-1.

Defending champion South Hills has struggled, as has Ayala. South Hills graduated some key players so they’re a bit in rebuilding mode

The Bulldogs are a bit of mystery. All seem to agree they have enough talent to compete but it hasn’t looked that way, at least to this point.  We”ll see right away as Ayala faces Diamond Bar tonight.

.Let the battles begin.

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