Sean Dollars inherits Rancho Cucamonga position from Jaylon Redd

Sean  Dollars has big shoes to fill and he knows it.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior will step into a leading role this season as a running back for the defending Baseline League champion Rancho Cougamonga Cougars. Just how daunting of a task is that? Well he is replacing Jaylon Redd. And all Redd did was run for 1,693 yards and 25 touchdowns. He led the Cougars to an undefeated regular season, earned All-CIF honors and was named Inland Valley Player of the Year.

Doillars is pretty good too. He ran for 443 on 44 carries (11.2 avg.) in relief of Redd, mostly when the game was out of hand and coach Nick Baiz was just trying to run out the clock.

Rancho is one of those programs that prides itself on having players step up when given the chance and Dollars will be evidence of that.

He was used in relief last year as a sophomore and yet he already has eight major college offers – UCLA, Oregon, Arizona State, Utah, Washington, Colorado. Nebraska and TCU.

Dollars admits Oregon has always been his “dream” school but that doesn’t mean that school is a slam dunk at landing him. Ironically, Redd is at Oregon now, along with former Rancho teammate Thomas Graham.

Rivals has Dollars ranked fifth at his position, 43rd nationally and fourth in the state for players in his class.

With a good season in a high-profile role who knows how many more will come.

“He was a great player but I am my own player,” said Dollars, who will wear Redd’s No. 5.  “I know I have big shoes to fill but I am ready for the challenge. I watched him a lot and I have watched a lot of film. I am looking forward for my chance to shine.”

Baiz is confident Dollars will be an impact player as well.

“People saw enough of him last year to know what he is capable of,” Baiz said. “I think he learned a lot by watching Jaylon last year and he will be that guy for us this year.”

Is Dollars actually faster than Redd? Baiz won’t go that far.

“Jaylon was faster than most cars in the parking lot,” he laughed.


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Rancho Cucamonga’s Nick Acosta looking to build on solid junior season

One of the biggest question marks going into the 2016 season for Rancho Cucamonga football coach Nick Baiz was who who would step in at quarterback for the graduated Angel Matute who had turned in a stellar three years at the position.

Not only did junior Nick Acosta meet expectations, he is exceeded them.

He completed 156 of 256 offerings for 2,288 yards with 27 touchdowns and only four interceptions in leading the Cougars (12-1) to an undefeated regular season for the first time in school history. Rancho advanced to the Division I semifinal before losing a hard-fought game to national power Mater Dei.

So Acosta, a first team All-Baseline League selection and second team All-Inland Valley choice, is ready for an even better senior season.

“He did a great job of not trying to do too much,: Baiz said. “He knew he had good weapons around him and used them.”

This season the 6-foot, 175-standout comes in more confident than ever with that experience behind him. He is one of just two returning starters on offense, the other being senior lineman Joshua Gray.

The biggest difference is that Acosta has matured into the leadership role that typically comes naturally for most quarterbacks.

“I definitely feel ready to take that on this year,” he said,. “I know a lot will be expected but I am ready. I learned a lot last season.”

Colleges are starting to take notice too. His stature is working against him but he has drawn some Division I interest. Ivy League schools are starting to come calling too and that woudln’t be a bad fit given that he boasts a grade-point average of 4.2.

We’ll have a more in-depth story on Acosta coming up in the newspaper soon. Stay tuned!


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Rancho Cucamonga defender Darren Hall chooses San Diego State

Rancho Cucamonga defensive back Darren Hall has committed to San Diego State, choosing that school from among 13 Division I offers.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder played sparingly last year, getting into games late when opposing teams were in passing situations but his stock rose over the spring and summer.

He was a first-team All-Baseline League selection the past season, recording 47 tackles, a recovered fumble and a forced fumble.

“I worked hard,” he said. “Even though I wasn’t a starter I was working like I was and I just tried to keep that mentality and stay positive.”

Hall attended a Rivals camp in Fullerton and a Nike Opening camp in Redondo . The Cougars’ showing this year helped as well.

With defensive backs Jaylon Redd and Thomas Graham seeing so much time on the offensive side of the ball Hall got more of a chance to shine and he delivered given the opportunity.

He made official visits to Nevada, Utah and Colorado. He took an unofficial trip to San Diego State but plans to go back there on an official visit next month.

A lot of factors helped him narrow down his list of choices.

“I looked at places I could see myself being, schools where the coaching staffs had been there awhile and one that were the best for my academic interest,” said Hall, who plans to major in communications.

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Rancho Cucamonga’s Thomas Graham makes college decision

Rancho Cucamonga football enthusiasts might want to start pulling for the university of Oregon. Not only is senior standout Jaylon Redd going there, so is Cougars defensive back Thomas Graham.

Rancho Cucamonga ‘s Thomas Graham jr (#11) has been a key player for the Cougars on both sides of the ball. (Photo by John Valenzuela/ Inland Valley Daily Bulletin)

Redd committed on his birthday in September but Graham made his choice public in festivities at the school today. He said his teammate going there was a factor, but not necessarily a “huge” one.

“It’s always nice to have someone there that you get along with and really trust,” he said. “But I had great talks with all the coaches there and when I went up there it felt right.”

Graham, a 6-foot, 1880-pounder who played defensive back and wide receiver, had more than 20 offers. He also took trips to Nebraska, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame.

Graham has been an impact player in his two years at Rancho after transferring from Roosevelt. He played defensive back exclusively as a junior but with the Cougars having graduated several wide receivers coach Nick Baiz put him on offense this year.

Graham was a major player in helping the Cougars to a 12-1 showing that included the school’s first ever unbeaten regular season. Rancho posted two impressive playoff wins and jumped into the national rankings before falling to No. 1 Mater Dei in the Division 1 semifinal.

Graham responded with 29 catches for 490 yards and six touchdowns. He also had a kickoff returned for a score and an interception for another. On defense he had 45 tackles, caused two fumbles and snagged two interceptions.

Graham had originally committed to USC but de-committed from there in April, eight months after his original decision. The coaching change and dismissal of the assistants who had most heavily recruited him was a big part of his decision to re-examine his options.

“I’m glad it’s all over,” he said. “I am happy with the decision and ready to go to the next level.”

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Rancho Cucamonga’s Jaylon Redd commits to Oregon

Rancho Cucamonga’s Jaylon Redd is tripped up by Murrieta Valley’s Joe Montoya at Rancho Cucamonga High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA., Friday, September 16, 2016. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Southern California News Group)

Rancho Cucamonga football standout Jaylon Redd wanted to celebrate his 18th birthday by making a big decision. He did just that, deciding the University of Oregon was the place he wanted to spend his college career.

Redd, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound defensive back, announced that decision today via video put together with the help of Bleacher Report. He started thinking about the concept about two weeks ago. It took about eight hours to film.

Redd went to Oregon in the spring along with teammate Thomas Graham on an unofficial visit. He plans to go back again in November, the weekend the Ducks play Stanford.

“It’s one of the schools I have been thinking about for awhile,” he said, moments after tweeting out the link to his video. “I think it will be a great fit for me and be a place I have a chance to play as a freshman.”

The only official visit Redd took was to Nebraska. He might still make one to UCLA because it is close to home. The Bruins have been pursuing him quite heavily in recent weeks.

Redd had 16 offers, 11 of those from Pac-12 schools. Among the others were Oklahoma, Michigan and Notre Dame.

Redd is one of the most coveted defensive backs in the country although much of his playing time this season for the Cougars (5-0) has been at running back. He has rushed for 754 yards and 10 touchdowns on just 93 tries and has managed more than 100 yards in every game so far this season.

Cougars coach Nick Baiz has spelled Redd on defense because he has depth there but Redd has played on that side of the ball against certain teams that throw the ball more proficiently.

Redd, who last week celebrated a selection to the prestigious Under-Armour All American game, plans to major in sports psychology and would like to get a master’s in business.


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Rancho Cucamonga football duo set for big all-star game

VIDEO: Jaylon Redd and Thomas Graham of Rancho Cucamonga talk about their selection to Under Armour All-American game.

It’s quite an honor for a football team to have a player selected for one of the nation’s premier all-star games. The Rancho Cucamonga football team will have two going to the same contest.

Senior defensive backs Jaylon Redd and Thomas Graham were presented commemorative jerseys for the Under Armour All-American game in festivities at the school during the lunch hour Wednesday. That game will be played at the Camping World Stadium (formerly known as the Citrus Bowl) in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1 and be televised live by ESPN.

Redd said he was first offered a spot in the game in April after his showing at a skills challenge in Baltimore.

“It will be fun getting to play with the best and against the best,” he said. “It will also be a fun experience for things outside the football.”

Graham was given his invite in June and is exited about getting to experience the event with his teammate.

“We have bonded so it will be great to be there with him,” Graham said. “It’s a great experience that not everyone gets.”

The two players are among the most highly sought after athletes in the country.

Redd plans to announce his college decision on Monday and will do so via video. He has 16 offers and already made trips Nebraska and UCLA and scheduled one for Oregon.

Graham, whose 21 offers include 11 from the Pac-12, had originally committed to USC but later de-comitted. He has visited Nebraska and Notre Dame and has trips planned to Oregon, Arizona and Arizona State.

The duo has led the Cougars to a 4-0 record with three of those wins coming against ranked teams. They’ll play at least three more ranked teams, one of those coming up this Friday when Rancho squares off against Citrus Hill, ranked ninth in Division 2.

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Rancho Cucamonga football appears loaded for another run

Tayari Venable, left, Thomas Graham, Jaylon Redd and Darren Hall at Rancho Cucamonga High School in Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Wednesday, August 3, 2016. (Photo by Jennifer Cappuccio Maher/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

You don’t necessarily have to win a league title to make a run deep into the playoffs. The Rancho Cucamonga Cougars are proof of that. They were only third in the Baseline last year but marched to the West Valley semifinal before losing a 5, yes 5, overtime game to Vista Murrieta.

Rancho looms as the Baseline League favorite this year though, returning a large group of players who were part of that playoff run.

“I like what we have,” Rancho coach Nick Baiz said. “We have some holes to fill, just like everybody else but we could be pretty good.”

Most of the voids though are at the skill positions. Junior Nick Acosta steps in as quarterback,. replacing Angel Matute who had held down that spot for three years. Leading rusher Aaron Manning is gone too. Senior Jaylon Redd, known more for his exploits on defense, will see time in Manning’s spot.

Other key players on offense will include senior center Brandon Watson, senior guard Jordyn Hill and senior wide receivers David Farmer and Tyree Baker.

Newcomers who should factor in up front are junior tackle Isaiah Alejo and senior guard Nick Parson Santiago, both up from the junior varsity.

Senior defensive Thomas Graham, like Redd, will, see time on offense at wide receiver.

It is on the other side of the ball where the Cougars  return a scary amount of talent. The secondary of Redd, Graham, Tayari Venable and Darren Hall has combined to land 60 or so Division I offers.

Baiz is also high on Farmer and Aaron Lewis  who also star in the secondary. Other key defenders are senior ends Jonah Latu and Donnel Harris, tackles Lavaka Latu and Jonathan Meza and senior lineman-linebacker Dylan Beridon.

The Cougars enter the new season with the target on their back. But Baiz says his squad is up for the challenge. The Cougars will play at Temecula Chaparral tonight. They’ll return home next week against Norco to mark the first game in their new on-campus facility.

“We have a lot of seniors and I think they like the challenge,” Baiz said of being the team with the target. “I think they’ll go out and want to prove their the team to beat.”

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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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Los Osos, Rancho Cucamonga to play at Chaffey College

The Rancho Cucamonga and Los Osos football teams will play their annual rivalry game this year at Chaffey College at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Both teams use Los Osos as their home field but this is a Rancho home game and the decision was made by that administration.

Principal Cary Wilborn said Chaffey seats an extra 800 to 1,000 people and in recent years spectators have had to be turned away when the games as held at the high school.

The other benefit is the stadium is better set up for crowd control. While there was no issue at last year’s game between the two, there were problems at the one two years ago.

The down side is the added cost to rent Chaffey which is about $2,500.

This will be the last time the Rancho administration will have to make that decision as it will open a new stadium on campus next school year.

The Cougars (5-2 1-1), ranked ninth in the West Valley Division, are looking to bounce back from a 24-10 loss to Chino Hills while Los Osos (3-4, 0-2)  is coming off a 42-17 loss to Etiwanda.


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Rancho Cucamonga’s Thomas Graham still committed to USC

Rancho Cucamonga defensive back Thomas Graham has always wanted to play for USC and grew up idolizing Reggie Bush.

Despite the events of the weekend, Graham, who committed to USC in July, says he is still committed to the school.

Thomas Graham talks recruiting

Graham says he spoke with Athletic Director Pat Haden this morning and the USC Athletic Director told him the scholarship offer was still on the table and he was still wanted in the program.

“I talked to my family about it and right now we’re still committed,” Graham said. “We’ll see what happens but this is the school I wanted to go to and it still is.”

Graham, who transferred from Roosevelt to Rancho Cucamonga, also considered offers from Arizona State, Oklahoma, UCLA and Washington. He visited all but Oklahoma before making the decision over the summer.

Head coach Steve Sarkisian was put on an indefinite  leave of absence on Sunday amid reports of an alcohol problem.

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