Final thoughts on Colony/Kaiser

Sometimes, I cover a game, and it’s so entertaining a game that there’s more I want to get to than I can possibly mention in a story. Such was the Kaiser/Colony football game on Friday, won by Colony 23-19.

Some thoughts:

  • Each team scored 3 touchdowns and there were no other scores. Kaiser had its first PAT blocked, went for 2 on the second and failed, then kicked the third. Colony kicked the first, then went for 2 and made it on the second and third touchdowns.
  • The math wouldn’t indicate it, but Colony made the right move going for 2 on its final touchdown. Usually, you go for 2 late in a game when a TD puts you up 1, 4 or 5, but in this case, it put the Titans up 21-19. Going for 2 had more to do with Kaiser. Kaiser had attempted just one FG all year, and missed it. So going up 3 would’ve meant little in this game. But going up 4 would’ve been helpful because if Kaiser came back to score a TD and kicked an XP, Colony could’ve tied with a FG.
  • Kaiser’s drives ended with: Downs, lost fumble, TD, TD, halftime, punt, TD, downs/INT. Just one punt for the Cats. Kaiser ran more plays on its first drive 19 than Colony had in the first half (12). Colony had 3 drives end after just 1 play: 2 TDs, and one lost a fumble. Kaiser had six drives end in Colony territory.
  • On Kaiser’s opening drive, they appeared to be getting a first-and-goal at the Colony 9 as Colony was being called for pass interference on fourth-and-15 at the 19. But Kaiser also got a penalty for illegal man downfield. The down was replayed on the offsetting fouls and Kaiser failed to convert the 4th-and-15  the second time.
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Quarterback issue a great subplot for Don Lugo-Colony showdown

Don Lugo (5-4, 4-0) and Colony (6-3, 4-0) will be squaring off for the Mt. Baldy League football title on Friday at Colony.

There is a whole lot of irony in the quarterback situation that will be playing out. Senior Dane Ford of Don Lugo sustained a broken collarbone (non-throwing shoulder) in the third quarter of Friday’s win over Montclair, the next to last game of the season.

Rudy Garcia

Last season it was Colony quarterback Josh Thompson suffering the same exact injury in the next to last game, ironically enough, against Don Lugo.

Most thought when Thompson went down, so went the title hopes of the Titans. But no that wasn’t the case. Another senior, Jordan Johnson, who had played very little, stepped in manned the position until Thompson returned for the first time in a month in the CIF semifinal.

Thompson then went out and played in the title game like he had never gone down.

So let’s not sell Don Lugo short. Do the Conquistadores have the same supporting cast around Ford’s replacement, sophomore Rudy Garcia as the Titans did around Thompson? No. But games aren’t won on paper.

Don Lugo graduated a ton of players from a team that finished a respectable third last year in  a year most (including myself) had them pegged for finishing last. So for them to be in this position the last week of the season tells you the job this coaching staff has done.

Coach Luis Garcia will have his team ready to go. Yes, they’ll probably trim down the playbook just a little. But anyone who counts this team out is making a big mistake.

Also, let’s not forget that Thompson was just a sophomore when he took over the quarterback spot when then starter Jonathan Trucks was injured. Thompson kept the job even when Trucks came back. So this will be Garcia’s moment and likely have more in the next two years to come.


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Colony’s Josh Thompson not getting enough attention from colleges

Quarterback Josh Thompson led the Colony Titans to a CIF championship last year. Making the feat even more impressive was that he did it only a week removed from returning from a broken collarbone that sideline him a month.

One would think that would help land the attention from major colleges. Well that hasn’t exactly been the case.

Colony coach Steve Randall chalks that up to Thompson’s size. He’s 6-foot, 180 pounds. Thompson has all the physical attributes that go into making a good quarterback as well as other intangibles such as composure and toughness but nowadays they’re looking for physical stature as much of more than anything else.

“It’s all about passing the eye test,” Randall said. “I don’t understand it because he’s a batter quarterback than some of the guys that are getting all the attention.”

Thompson probably needed a good senior season to help draw more attention. Randall says his star player has been every bit at solid as in years past. It just doesn’t look like it on paper.

He threw for 4,465 yards with 37 touchdowns and 9 interceptions the previous two seasons. He is at 1,326 so far this season.

The problem – Colony’s schedule.

The Titans played a difficult schedule, with the first four games against elite teams in Southern California. The Titans were 2-3 over the first five games and four had running clock so Thompson’s stats were modest.

Then the Titans started league play with a 41-7 win over Montclair and a 46-0 thrashing of Ontario. He didn’t have great numbers in those games either because those were running clock too and Randall pulled back the reigns on the passing game so as not to run up the score. He didn’t have overwhelming numbers there to balance out the tougher games.

Thompson is also a good student and thought of highly by his teachers and peers so a college would be getting an athlete with great character as well.

Colony is also running a different offense, one that Randall was hoping would play in Thompson’s favor.

“He’s running the ball a little more and we’re doing some read option,” he said. “We thought that would show his versatility and that might help him. We’ll see. I really hope someone gives him a chance, They wouldn’t be sorry.”

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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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Colony football team trying to keep the faith despite losses

VIDEO: Colony coach Steve Randall talks about his team’s tough schedule.

The Colony football team is at a crossroad. The Titans head into their last non-league game 1-3. After an opening-week win they have been manhandled three straight weeks.

Tonight it was La Habra 49, Colony 6

The other scores:
Bishop Amat 59, Colony 20
Alemany 42, Colony 0

Next week it is Riverside Poly. The Bears were CIF runner-up a year ago, but like Colony graduated a lot of players.

Colony coach Steve Randall isn’t taking any team lightly but says Riverside Poly is a team his matches up against better physically.

Randall has preached that the schedule will get his team ready for Mt. Baldy League play. Yes it should. But you don’t want kids to completely lose confidence in the process.

The Titans could use a win. Randall should be able to get some help if he wants it. His former offensive coordinator Kevin Davis is the first-year head coach at Etiwanda and the Eagles just played and beat Riverside Poly.

The good news Randall points to is that his team has survived physically. There have been no major injuries, or even minor injuries to speak of.

The other teams in the Mt. Baldy have have looked good, most notably Montclair and Chaffey. But both have played weak schedules. Real weak. Ontario looks improved but the jury is still out on the Jags too.

Alta Loma is a question mark under a new coach.

We’ll see what kind of senior leadership this team has this week. The coaches can keep preaching about the bigger picture but the seniors can help rally the troop. Sometimes it helps to hear the right words from you peers rather than your coaches.

Colony's Jaire Wade (3) finds room to run near the goal line during the second quarter against La Habra Thursday night. Colony hosts La Habra Thursday night September 24, 2015 in a prep football match up at Colony High School in Ontario.  (Will Lester/Staff Photographer)

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Colony football coach Steve Randall doesn’t regret challenging his team

Few teams are playing a tougher non-league schedule than the defending CIF Central Division champion Colony Titans.

Coach Steve Randall’s team has already played West Covina, Alemany and Bishop Amat with games around the corner against La Habra (Sept. 24) and Riverside Poly (Oct. 2).

The Titans are 1-2 with the losses coming to Alemany 42-0 and Amat 59-20. Those are pretty decisive losses. So does Randall regret scheduling such formidable foes? No, at least not yet.

“I don’t,” he said. “If you want to raise the profile of your program those are the teams you need to go out and play. We’re looking at the bigger picture and our guys are smart enough to know what we’re facing and where we want to be in the end.”

Randall added that the biggest risk is that the physical nature of those opponents could possibly lead to costly injuries. But so far, so good in that department. RB Fred Harrison is out with a nagging shoulder injury but it is one that has lingered.

Senior quarterback Josh Thompson has taken some extra hits but only because he is running the ball a little more often.

Randall thinks the schedule will prepare his team for Mt. Baldy League play which gets underway on Oct. 8 against Montclair. The league looks to be improved with Chaffey, Ontario and Montclair all off to 3-0 starts, Alta Loma sitting at 2-1 and energized by veteran coach Mark Pasquarella.

Don Lugo is 1-2 but was the most improved team in the league a year ago.

Those teams haven’t played the schedule Colony has so the jury is still out on them.

Other coaches get it though.

“If Colony played the teams we have all played they’d be 3-0 too,” Chaffey coach Chris Brown laughs. “I give them a lot of credit for going out and playing that type of schedule. Not everybody an do that.”

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Colony set for Honor Bowl game against Alemany

The Colony football team plays its second in the long line of tough non-league foes at 5 p.m. on Friday when it faces Alemany in one of the game in the so-called Honor Bowl at Oceanside High School.

The game will be televised live by Time Warner Sports Net.

Coach Steve Randall is excited about the opportunity to play in the event which is held in Conjunction with the Wounded Warriors Project.

The team will leave at 8:30 a.m. The day will also include a stop at Camp Pendleton to visit some of the “Wounded Warriors.”

“It’s important for these kids to have this experience and see about something outside of football,” he said. “These are men that have overcome tougher obstacles than most of us have faced.”

Both teams were impressive in their openers last week. The Titans got the usual stellar showing at quarterback from Josh Thompson and a solid effort on the ground from Jiaiare Wade. Sophomore defensive tackle  Matt Lawson was the standout on defense.

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Colony football wins without high profile college prospects

Last year the Colony Titans cruised to a CIF Southern Section Central Division championship. One would think that meant coach Steve Randall sent a lot of players on to Division I schools. Not so.

Colony (12-2), which won its last nine games of the season, didn’t have a single player that continued on to a high-profile school. Was it because they didn’t make the grade academically? Not at all.

They just had a lot of seniors that didn’t pass the old “eye test.” They were players that didn’t measure up to the physical stature the bigger schools are looking for.

That doesn’t mean Colony hasn’t sent players to major colleges. Samajie Grant has emerged as a key player at Arizona.

But the Titans have made their living off having blue-collar players that buy into their role and worked well into the framework of the team concept.  Does it make the coach’s job more rewarding? Absolutely!

“It does kind of tell us that what we’re doing is working,” Randall said. “A lot of the teams we beat last year have those marquee players. So we’re doing something right.”

Randall passes much of the credit on to his senior quarterback Josh Thompson, who is quiet by nature, but leads by example. He’s one of those guys that fits into the “not passing the eye test” category.

He has thrown for 4,465 yards and 37 touchdowns with just nine interceptions in the last two years. Those numbers should garner a little bit of a look. But he’s one of those 5-foot-10 guys and that’s a bit small for a quarterback. Schools aren’t looking at the intangibles such as toughness and poise under pressure.

He injured his shoulder the next to last game of the regular season and was thought to be done for the season. He worked hard, came back and got a bit of playing time in the semifinal. Then led his team to the win in the title game.

Most of the interest Thompson has drawn thus far has been from Ivy League schools and he has the grades to get in.

“He has said about four words in three years here,” Randall joked. “But he doesn’t get rattled and our guys feed off that. They feel like he’s in control and they’re in control too. That showed a lot last year in the way he handled his injury.”

As far as other possible major college players, Randall says senior defensive back Khalil Dorsey and linebacker Devon Harper are the most likely candidates. But Dorsey, who was fifth in the state in the 100 hurdles during spring track season, is listed as 5-9, and Harper is just 6-0.

Time will tell. But colleges that aren’t snatching up some of these athletes are missing out.



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Colony football team aiming to defend Central title

Some say it’s harder to stay at the top than get to the top. Count Colony High School football coach Steve Randall among those who agrees.

“You’re on everyone’s radar when you’re the defending champion,” he said. “We’re not going to sneak up on anyone.”

Well the Titans (12-2) are confronting the challenge of defending head on. They’re playing as tough a non-league schedule as you’ll see so they should be prepared by the time Mt.Baldy League play rolls around.

The Titans graduated 30 or so seniors, with a dozen of those being significant impact players.

Leading the returning cast is senior quarterback Josh Thompson, who has thrown for 4,465 yards and 37 touchdowns in the last two years. He separated his shoulder later in the regular season and was thought to be lost for the season only to return for the title game against Los Altos.

“He worked really hard in the off-season to get stronger,” Randall said. “He has looked good. We’re looking for more good things out of him this season.”

Some of the other vital cogs in the offense are gone. Look for Fred Harrison to shoulder some of the load carried by the departed Ryan Kinard with Tyrone Hatchett pitching in as well. Senior Tre Bland and sophomroe newcomer Oscar Noyola will be among the big bodies up front clearing the way.

Hugo Malana and Marcos Valencia headline the receiving core.

The offense will be a bit different this season. Chalk that up to the departure of offensive coordinator Kevin Davis who left for the head position at Etiwanda.

Randall says his team will not go up-tempo all the time as it did last year. Instead it will pick and choose its spots. Thompson will also be more over center as opposed to in shotgun formation.

“I like going up-tempo but it hurt as at times,” Randall said. “So we’ll be more conventional at times.”

Randall singles out the defensive line as the team’s strong suit. Returner Tyrique Faatiglia will head the effort along with a couple of newcomers in junior Jacob Chagolla.

Other key defenders include defensive back Khalil Dorsey, who had 11 interceptions last year, as well as newcomer Dallas Trena and linebacker Elijah Arellano.

The Titans begin defense of their title on Aug. 28 with an opener at West Covina, a foe that made it to the second round of the playoffs a year ago.

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Colony football team bracing for tough preseason foes

Colony celebrates after defeating Los Altos 35-7 during a CIF Southern Section Championship football game at Cerritos College in Norwalk, Calif., Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

The Colony High School football team had quite the storybook season in 2014, marching all the way to the CIF Central Division title game where it completely dismantled Los Altos in a finale that was over by halftime.

Much of the reason the Titans accomplished that was that they played a tough slate of non-league foes. Among those Pomona, who won a CIF title in the Mid-Valley Division.

Well it isn’t going to be an easy road this year either.

Coach Steve Randall may have graduated 30 seniors but that didn’t mean he was going to scale back the schedule. It may be even tougher.

“I like to schedule tough teams but I am a little concerned this year,” he said. “It will be a real challenge. Hopefully we get through it healthy.”

The Titan opponents will include West Covina, Alemany, Bishop Amat, La Habra and Riverside Poly.

Those teams were a combined 44-16 last year and all but one made the playoffs. The one that didn’t, Alemany, played in a tough league and finished fourth.

Riverside Poly is coming off a 13-1 season that included a narrow 36-31 loss to Redlands East Valley in the Inland title game. Of course REV went on to win a state title. So that easily could have been Poly.

Bishop Amat lost a semifinal playoff game by one point to perennial title contender Corona Centennial. That says it all right there.  Amat is expected to be the top team in the San Gabriel Area and possibly in the entire division.

The other aren’t too shabby either. La Habra is one of only two teams to beat the Titans last year, doing so by a 45-27 score.

It will also be quite the start because although the Titans have a quarterback returning in Josh Thompson, they do have a new offensive coordinator and a few additions to the coaching staff as well. Previous offensive coordinator Kevin Davis left for the head job at Etiwanda, taking a few of Randall’s other assistants with him.

“We’re going to know right away where we stand,” Randall said. “If we have any flaws they will be exposed.”


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