Through the eyes of a teenager, football typically is viewed as the destination, not the vehicle. Football sometimes begets a free college education courtesy of the small number of lucrative scholarships, but in the case of the four captains of the Diamond Ranch High School football team, it’s quite the opposite.
Whether it’s congressmen or Ivy League school officials in the meeting room, game film never is a request, but football might be the most appealing extracurricular activity available. Jacob Ardron believes he likely wouldn’t have been admitted to Columbia without the football prowess that made him an all-CIF middle linebacker. Andrew Fischer, a track-star receiver, was on the radar of Pacific-12 Conference schools but physics programs don’t get much better than those he’ll be in at Harvard next year. Blake Benjamin and Peter Neise will head off to Navy and Army, respectively, next year after completing rigorous application processes that required more time than they devoted to football.
Each of the four Diamond Ranch captains will sign with their respective schools Wednesday, national signing day, but their all-expenses paid educations are what they are most happy to be cementing. Each of the seniors maintain grade-point averages greater than 4.5 on a four-point scale, literally off the charts for your average high school student but fairly pedestrian in the Ivy League.
Offensive Player of the Year: Chris Solomon, West Covina, 12
Defensive Player of the Year: Dorrin Turner, West Covina, 12
Coach of the Year: Mike Maggiore, West Covina
Joey Davis, Santa Fe 12
OJ Medina, La Serna, 12
Zander Anding, Burbanks Burroughs, 12
Johnny Hills, La Mirada, 11
Jimmy Frazier, West Covina, 12
Justin Fa’aola, Los Altos, 12
Ryan Harris Bellflower, 12
Myles Carr, Arcadia, 12
Gerry Myres, La Mirada, 11
After 12 years at the helm, Bonita head football coach Eric Podley will step down… but not very far. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune’s story special teams coordinator Adrian Medrano will take over as head coach and Podley will be his offensive coordinator.
Podley led the team to two league titles, nine playoff appearances and the CIF-SS Southeast Division championship game two seasons ago where the Bearcats lost a game for the ages, 37-33, to West Covina. Bonita’s long time head coach struggled with a health issue last season, an infection that caused him to drop a large amount of weight, that played a large role in his decision.
Player of the year: Chris Solomon (West Covina)
Offensive player of the year: Jimmy Frazier (West Covina)
Defensive player of the year: Garrett Horine (Bonita)
QB: Shane Virnala (Los Altos)
QB: Henry Omana (Diamond Bar)
RB: Justin Fa’aola (Los Altos)
RB: Aaron Salgado (West Covina)
RB: Cameron Griffin (Bonita)
RB: Terry Ford (Rowland)
TE: Ryan Ramirez (Bonita)
WR: George Katrib (Diamond Bar)
WR: Cody Lepp (Walnut)
WR: Austin Venegas (Bonita)
Diamond Ranch’s Chris Miller verbally committed to Oregon State on Monday after receiving a written scholarship offer from Beavers head football coach Mike Riley, according to Diamond Ranch coach Roddy Layton. Miller, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound athlete, plays both running back and safety for Diamond Ranch. Washington, who has also shown interest in Miller, was coming on strong around the same time Oregon State made the senior his first offer.
The Diamond Ranch High School football team’s approach has made it easier to dismiss it as a contender. Never one for pristine win-loss records thanks to difficult nonleague schedules, the Panthers were cast in the role of surprise team when they reached the CIF championship game in 2008. Until they did it again in 2009… finishing each season with a 7-7 record.
The only surprise last season was when Diamond Ranch didn’t make its typical postseason run. After an 0-3 start to the 2010 season, Diamond Ranch suffered two lopsided losses to end the year before exiting the playoffs in the opening round for the first time since 2002. As it turned out, the three teams that defeated the Panthers at the end of last season all reached the semifinals in the Southeast Division.
So when Diamond Ranch’s losing streak stretched into this season when the Panthers suffered their sixth consecutive defeat three weeks ago, it was easy to think their championship-game days were behind them.
If the natural rivalry of these neighbors wasn’t enough, Diamond Ranch (2-3, 1-0) taking down Bonita last week only adds fuel to tonight’s matchup against Diamond Bar (2-3, 0-1) that has major playoff implications.
41-0: Neither of these teams has forgotten the beating Diamond Ranch dealt Diamond Bar last season’s league opener. The 41-0 victory for the Panthers can’t be far from either team’s mind.
After years of trying to schedule Diamond Bar to no avail, Diamond Ranch head coach Roddy Layton got his wish when both teams were moved into the Hacienda League last season, requiring them to play. The Panthers wasted no time dismantling a Diamond Bar team that was undefeated at the time after winning its first four games of the season.
Only two teams from the CIF-SS Southeast Division played 14 games last season. They both hail from the Hacienda League.
Bonita and West Covina played twice in 2010, once for the Hacienda League championship and once for the CIF title. West Covina walked away with all the hardware, though it took a late drive to earn a 37-33 win in the Southeast Division championship game.
With Hacienda League play beginning this week, West (3-1) Covina again sits atop the Southeast Division rankings, but the difference this season is Bonita is the league’s only other team to grace the top 10. Six squads from the seven-team league formed last year spent time in the 2010 rankings.
The high school football game between Diamond Ranch and Diamond Bar on Oct. 7 will have more at stake this season than just a Hacienda League victory. The city of Diamond Bar is introducing the inaugural Mayor’s Cup, a trophy that will be awarded to the winner of the matchup at Diamond Bar High School next week, with Mayor Steve Tye doing the honors.
The schools played each other last year — a 41-0 Diamond Ranch victory — for the first time since Diamond Ranch coach Roddy Layton took over six years ago. Layton, whose team hails from Pomona, attempted to schedule the Brahmas to no avail until they landed in the Hacienda League last season.
“Sports, particularly when they involve youth, have a way of bringing the community together,” Tye said. “The Mayor’s Cup is a means for celebrating that togetherness.”
Will Lester/Staff Photographer
Claremont receiver Andrei Tarankow pushes off Bonita’s Garrett Horine (23) during the second quarter of Claremont’s 18-15 win.
When a backup quarterback scores a team’s first offensive touchdown in the fourth quarter, it’s usually a sign that the outcome has long since been decided.
With Bonita, the No. 2 team in the CIF-SS Southeast Division, taking on a Claremont team that graduated 18 starters from last year’s team, it looked as if plenty had decided the winner before Friday night’s game began. But thanks to a gritty effort by its defense and some late field position, it was Claremont that emerged with an 18-15 victory over Bonita.
The Wolfpack (2-0) gained just 191 yards, 73 of which came on a reception that preceded a blocked field goal.
Dylan Kegans connected on two field goals and Claremont’s two touchdowns consisted of an 87-yard interception return by Stan Reeder late in the first half and a 13-yard scamper by shifty backup quarterback Paul Manus for the go-ahead touchdown with 7:02 to play.