Chino Hills loses running back Sean O’Donnell for season

A damper was put on Chino Hills’ game against Legacy (Col.) even before the opening  kickoff as the Huskies learned Thursday afternoon that junior running back Sean O’Donnell is lost for the season with a torn ACL sustained in the season opener against Ayala two weeks ago.

O’Donnell tallied 15 carries for 77 yards and a touchdown before limping off with the knee injury in the fourth quarter against the Bulldogs.

He had an X-ray the Monday after the game, then had and MRI later in the week but the result didn’t come until today.

The Huskies defeated Legacy (Col.) 28-24 Thursday night with sophomore Walter Carl running for 117 yards on 18 carries.

Carl had 130 against Ayala and 95 last week against Diamond Ranch.

Noah Rigney, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass, had a carry for nine yards in the most recent win but no one else factored into the rushing total.

Huskies coach Chris Stevens conceded that he’ll have to come up with another ball carrier. Chino Hills has a bye next week to figure out just who that will be.

“It hurts our depth,” Stevens said of the injury. “They were a pretty good 1-2 punch. We definitely need someone else to help out there so it’s a good time to have that bye.



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Chino Hills football team to play Colorado opponent on Thursday

Chino Hills Football

Chino Hills will play Legacy High School out of Bloomfield, Col. tonight at 7:30 p.m. A junior varsity game between the two is set for 3:15, thus the later than normal start for the varsity.

That game was set up before Chris Stevens was named Huskies head coach. He said the game was set up through a travel agency that connects out of state foes with California teams with scheduling openings based on comparable factors such as school enrollment and demographics.

Part of the deal is that teams play on Thursday so the weekend is left free for sightseeing before departure on Sunday.

“It is always fun to play someone different,” he said.

Stevens added that junior running back Sean O’Donnell is still out with a knee injury. Offensive lineman Connor Garcelli, who sprained a knee in the same game two weeks ago, will be a game-day decision.

What could factor in is that next week the Huskies (2-0) have a bye so that would give each player another two weeks to heal.

Stevens also praised the recent play of senior quarterback Austin Zavala and senior linebacker Dylan Tucker.

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Chino Hills football team already dealing with key injuries

It might be one game into the season but Chino Hills is already dealing with a couple of injuries that could loom large.

Senior offensive lineman Connor Garcelli and junior running back Sean O’Donnell both sustained knee injuries in Friday’s 19-7 victory over cross-town rival Ayala.

Head coach Chris Stevens says O’Donnell will definitely be out and he’ll have other tests, possibly and MRI, this week.

The injury to Garcelli, a preseason All-Inland Valley selection, looks less severe. Stevens says Garcelli wants to play against Diamond Ranch on Friday and probably could if the game were significant but he is leaning toward holding the 6-foot-3, 275-pound tackle out so the injury doesn’t become a lingering one that Garcelli will have to play through all season.

If Garcelli can’t go, the start would go to sophomore Caleb Shockey.

O’Donnell ran for 77 yards on 15 carries in the opener, With him out more of the load might fall on the team’s other back, sophomore Walter Carl, who ran for 130 yards on 19 tries.

“They are both good kids and they want to play but we have to look at the bigger picture,” Stevens said. “We need to have them healthy in the long run.”

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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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Catching up with new Chino Hills football coach Chris Stevens . . .

It has been quite a season of turnover in the high school football coaching ranks. Perhaps the most interesting change has come at Chino Hills were veteran Chris Stevens has taken over for Matt Bechtel who led the Huskies to a Baseline League title and West Valley Division semifinal berth a year ago.

Stevens had most recently coached at Monrovia but welcomed the chance to return to the Inland Valley, admitting that the commute from his Chino home to Monrovia got tiresome.

He has had the spring to become familiar with his personnel. Just what does he think and what has he done differently?

“It was a great spring,” he said. “We won’t necessarily be running a new offense we’ll just look to take it up-tempo a bit. We’re going to be quicker on the ball and try and get more plays off.”

Stevens kept many of the coaches previously on the staff under Bechtel, including line coaches Scott Smith and Paul Garcelli and running backs coach Larry Moore, who did not coach last year but had been on staff before.

Among the others are Walter Ford, who had coached defensive backs but will be the defensive coordinator, as well as Jose Espinzoa (wide receivers) and Tony Gomez (defensive line).

Among those jumping on board will be Scott Calles, a former player at the school who will help with wide receivers. Other newcomers include Ryan Marquez (linebackers), Trevin Loza, outside linebackers), both from Ayala.

The new playoff groupings were recently announced and Chino Hills was at the top end of Division 2 while league foes Upland and Rancho Cucamonga are in Division 1 with some real powerhouse teams such as Corona Centennial and St. John Bosco.

What does Stevens think of that?

“Division 1 is going to be tough,” he said. “Those are teams that never have a down year. They just keep reloading. We’re happy to be where we’re at.”

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Chino Hills’ Josh Zappala signs with University of San Diego

Defensive back Josh Zappala of Chino Hills is the first player from the Huskies to decide on a college, signing with University of San Diego while on his visit there this weekend.

Zappala was a pivotal player for the Huskies (10-3) who went undefeated in Baseline League play and advanced to the West division semifinal before losing to No. 1 and eventual champion Mission Viejo.

“It had everything I wanted,” Zappala said. “It’s a good education, a good football program. And it’s close enough to home but not home.”

Zappala also took visits to Cornell and Division II Azusa Pacific.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder  managed 59 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery. He was a second team All-Baseline League selection.

Zappala is carrying a 3.83 grade-point average and plans to major in biology.

San Diego is coming off a 9-2 season that included a 7-1 mark in conference play.


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Baseline League honors: Football

Offensive MVP’s – Curtis Price, Sr., Chino Hills; Dylan Thigpen, Sr., Damien; Aaron Manning, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga

Defensive MVP – William Hackenberg, Sr., Chino Hills

First team offense
QB Caleb Arreola, Sr., Chino Hills
QB Angel Matute, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga
QB Andrew Kanatsky, Sr., Etiwanda
QB Warren Bryan, Soph., Damien
RB Nathan Tilford, Jr., Upland
RB Donovan Williams, Sr., Los Osos
RB Darreyon Jones, Sr., Upland
WR Noah Gutierrez, Sr., Etiwanda
TE Tavoi Hoching, Sr., Upland
OL R.J. Stripling, Jr., Chino Hills
OL Matt Kivler, Sr., Chino Hills
OL Liam Ryan, Sr., Damien
OL Ray Matelau, Sr., Upland
OL Cohl Cabral, Sr., Los Osos
OL Nathan Thomas, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga
K Matthew Amrhein, Sr., Damien

First team defense
CB Jaylan Brown, Sr., Chino Hills
CB Cameron Record, Sr., Damien
CB Jaylon Redd, Jr., Rancho Cucamonga
S Kendall Greer, Sr., Etiwanda
LB Anthony Rosales, Sr., Chino Hills
LB Dylan Tucker, Jr., Chino Hills
LB Cole McCarty, Sr., Upland
LB Bryce Youngquist, Sr., Los Osos
LB Cameron Smith, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga
DL Grant Trueman, Jr., Chino Hills
DL Kelon Ferdinand, Sr., Upland
DL Lane Haywood, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga

Second team offense
RB Grady O’Donnell, Sr., Chino Hills
RB Kamari Pleasant, Sr., Etiwanda
WR Vos Price, Jr., Chino Hills
WR Joshua Keith, Sr., Etiwanda
WR David Farmer, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga
OL Miles Dutton, Sr., Los Osos
OL Jonah Latu, Jr., Rancho Cucamonga
OL Connor Garcelli, Jr., Chino Hills
OL Austin Evans, Sr., Damien
OL Evander Achan, Sr., Damien
OL Ratu Faupula, Sr., Upland
OL Siani Malere, Jr., Upland

Second team defense
DB Josh Zappala, Sr., Chino Hills
SS Craig Worthley, Sr., Chino Hills
SS Darrial Busby, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga
CB Thomas Graham, Jr., Rancho Cucamonga
LB Sione Piutau, Jr., Upland
LB Semisi Pahulu, Jr., Upland
LB Mikael Fakhoury, Sr., Los Osos
LB Mikey Rosales, Soph., Chino Hills
LB Nicholas Provenzano, Sr., Damien
LB Aidan Anderson, Sr., Etiwanda
DL Oscar Burgueno, Jr., Chino Hills
DL Isikeli Otuafi, Sr., Upland
DL Sosaia Sekeni, Sr., Upland
DL Mason Vega, Sr., Los Oso
DL Johnny Latu, Sr., Rancho Cucamonga

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William Hackenberg a shining star in the Chino Hills defense

VIDEO: William Hackenberg talks about 45-21 win over Etiwanda.


All season long Chino Hills has used a tenacious defense to set the tone for the offense.

Last year it was Trent Goens in the middle of almost everything wreaking havoc.

This year that distinction goes to 5-foot-10, 215-pound senior defensive end William Hackenberg. Never heard of him? Well then you probably haven’t paid attention. He’s No. 11.

You wouldn’t have had reason to have heard of him before this season. He barely played as a sophomore or a junior because the Huskies already had stars playing ahead of him in Goens and J.P. Lanathou. Both those players have graduated, with Goens going on to Northwestern.


Now Hackenberg is finally getting a chance to shine. Yes it has been a long time coming.

“I really just kept hoping I’d get a chance,” he said, moments after the Huskies disposed of Etiwanda 45-21 in their regular season finale Thursday night. “It was frustrating but I just tried to keep preparing myself for when I did get a shot.”

Hackenberg went into Thursday’s game with 67 tackles, an astounding 21 1/2 of those for a loss. He has 10 1/2 sacks.

Who knows how those All-League votes are going to go. Usually the first place-team gets the top awards and the Huskies boast the best defense in the league. So Hackenberg would have to be a leading contender.

There are some good defensive players in the league – senior linebacker Bryce Youngquist of Los Osos, junior defensive back Jaylon Redd of Rancho Cucamonga and defensive back Treyjohn Butler among them.

After the game Etiwanda coach Kevin Davis sang Hackenberg’s praises.

“They have some good players on that side of the ball. He’s the guy I really like,” Davis said.

It just goes to show there is something to be said for playing against good teammates in practice preparing every day like your shot is coming tomorrow.

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Baseline League once again to be hotly contested

Non-league games are over. The race for league titles is on and again it is the Baseline League with numerous compelling match-ups looming.

Damien and Los Osos were the bottom two teams a year ago and both of those have shown much improvement over the course of the non-league season. Damien has RB Dylan Thigpen upon who they rely while the Grizzles have a couple of Division I signees in LB Bryce Youngquist (Oklahoma) and OL Cohl Cabral (Arizona State).

Los Osos has also come up on the winning end of some close games so they seem poised when it matters.

Have those teams improved enough to actually contend? They are probably going to be hard-pressed to do so but they’re god enough to pull an upset that could throw a monkey wrench into some team’s title hopes.

The top team a year ago was Upland but the Highlanders graduated a majority of their starters including nine who advanced to Division II schools. Is Upland as good as in years past? Only time will tell. But if the Highlanders are going to repeat, it will take big contributions from those who weren’t the headline performers a year ago.

Rancho Cucamonga is the team with the most returning starters with that group including quarterback Angel Matute, running back Aaron Manning and DB Jaylon Redd. The Cougars also added a top-notch DB in Thomas Graham, who has committed to USC.

Chino Hills the most formidable test for Upland a year ago and looks like it too poised to challenge. The Huskies had newcomer at QB in Caleb Arreola. He was banged up in the Huskies win two weeks ago. His backup is already out for the season, so much of the Huskies hopes hinge on his health and development.

Just where does Etiwanda fit in? The Eagles wee a disappointing fourth a year ago and they have a new and energetic coach in Kevin Davis. The got off to a tough start this season but stayed the course and have momentum going into league play. They face Upland tonight so we’ll see right away what Etiwanda is made of.

The battle for the top spot could take place the last week of the regular season when Upland and Rancho square off. But no doubt, every battle is going to be a big one.

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Should Chino Hills-Ayala football game be moved to a neutral site

The prep football season opener between Chino Hills and Ayala sold out in a day. Sale of tickets at the school was open to the general public so many students were left out and disgruntled.

Some are calling for the game to be moved to an alternative site with a bigger seating capacity. But is that the way to go?

Chino Hills Athletic Director Phil Garcia is against that idea. He goes a lot on recent experience. He had to move a boys basketball game against Mater Dei in March from his school to Colony in Ontario and he ended up losing money. How much?

“Maybe not $1,000 but hundreds,” he said.

Garcia says he also talked to Don Lugo Athletic Director Joe Marcos who talked about moving a Milk Can game against rival Chino several years ago to Chaffey College and that didn’t go over well for the same reason.

Garcia also doesn’t want to give up home field advantage.

“That’s theirs this year and it should be so I don’t want my team to give it up next year,” he said.

The teams also don’t have the luxury of a suitable facility in the neighborhood. Mt. SAC is about 13, depending which school are coming from. Chaffey is about 20.

Moving the game literally out of the city will also likely take away from the atmosphere and community feel. It’s about a backyard rivalry and wouldn’t it be different it was played in another city several miles away.

Garcia says the schools may look into how they distribute tickets so that many students wouldn’t be left out. But he is against the idea of selling on campus just to students because he dubbed it “a community event, not just a school event.”

What do you think?


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