Imagine beginning the season with a playoff game. Imagine losing that game. Season’s over, right?
That’s probably what it felt like for the San Dimas High School football team after losing to Bonita Sept. 1 in the annual Smudge Pot game, arguably the most meaningful on the schedule prior to December. Scheduled for Week 0 this year, the rivalry game not only went in favor of Bonita, the Bearcats gave a rude awakening to a San Dimas team with championship aspirations, 40-20.
“With the emotion involved in that type of game, a lot of guys could have thrown in the towel,” San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow said. “But there was no complaining, no moping. They just said, `Let’s clean this up.”‘
Shawn Kennedy may have had to recover from a sore neck, too, given the swiveling required to watch the San Dimas High School football team’s aerial attack last season.
The Saints senior, who missed 2010 with a shoulder injury after quarterbacking the team to a CIF-SS championship in 2009, will get to partake in the ramped-up passing game when he returns this year.
Well, maybe nobody needed a neck brace, but by San Dimas standards coach Bill Zernickow called for an extraordinary amount of passes last season. As a sophomore, Kennedy’s Valle Vista League and CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division championship team had 101 more rushing attempts than last year’s team. The Saints team that finished third in league and exited the playoffs courtesy of a 33-point semifinal loss to eventual CIF-SS champ Monrovia last season, had 70 more pass attempts than during Kennedy’s sophomore season.
“Last year we threw it the most we’ve ever thrown it here,” Zernickow said. “This year we’re going to throw it a lot, too. We’ve always known Shawn can do it. We wanted to give him the opportunity as soon as we could.”
Football coaches around the Valle Vista League take on a certain tone when addressing Pomona High School’s prospects this season. As was the case last season, the growing amout of talent at the school is aknowledged but the lack of results rings true as well.
Of course, 2011 will be just the second season at Pomona for head coach Anthony Rice, who won CIF titles at Colony in 2006 and 2007. The results in year two will be a much more revealing indicator of where the Red Devils are headed as they try to break a seven-year postseason drought.
“Our expectations are to be better than last year,” Rice said. “We want to make sure we’re in the running for the playoffs. I hope we’ve got a good shot because we’ve got a pretty good team.”
MVP: Courtney Hine, San Dimas, Sr.
P: Ana Mejia, Northview, Fr.
P: Elizabeth Celaya, San Dimas, So.
P: Anita Llevanos, Wilson, Jr.
INF: Sarina Jaramillo, Northview, So.
INF: Jazmin Chavez, Northview, Sr.
INF: Molly Ross, Covina, Jr.
INF: Miah Fernandez, Pomona, So.
INF: Aleena Avalos, San Dimas, Sr.
INF: Sarah Moore, San Dimas, Sr.
OF: Mercedes Menchaca, Northview, Sr.
OF: Candice Orozco, Covina, Jr.
OF: Blanca Lopez, Baldwin Park, Sr.
C: Janell Wheaton, San Dimas, Fr.
UTL: Erinn Jaramillo, Northview, So
MVP: Matt Lee, San Dimas, Sr.
P: Jason Martinez, Covina, Sr.
P: Steven Baltierra, Wilson, Sr.
P: Eddie Gutierrez, Baldwin Park, Jr.
INF: Andrew Carillo, Covina, Jr.
INF: Matt Munoz, San Dimas, Sr.
INF: Brandon Yepiz, San Dimas, Sr.
INF: Fernando Gonzalez, Baldwin Park, Sr.
OF: Albert Lemus, Nogales, Jr.
OF: Bobby Fraijo, San Dimas, Sr.
OF: Vinny Venegas, Covina, Jr.
C: Nick Hynes, Covina, Jr.
C: Ryan Dominguez, Baldwin Park, Sr.
UTL: Rames Nava, Covina, Sr.
UTL: Jake Ehret, San Dimas, Sr.
San Dimas offensive tackle Allen Brown committed to Fresno State last weekend during his official visit to Fresno. The 6-foot-4, 272-pound senior also had scholarship offers from UNLV, Colorado State, Montana State and San Jose State. Brown, a first-team All-Valley offensive lineman, helped San Dimas to 407 yards per game. He won a CIF title with the Saints in 2010 and helped the team to the semifinals this season.
Back of the year: Vinny Venegas, Covina, Jr.
Co-Lineman of the year: Allen Brown, San Dimas, Sr; Wardell Crutchfield, Baldwin Park, Sr.
QB: Billy Livingston, Covina, Jr
QB: Demetrius Counts, Pomona, Sr.
QB: Mario Rodriguez, Baldwin Park, Sr.
RB: Jordan Taylor, San Dimas, SR.
RB: Marquise Thomas, Northview, Sr.
WR: Demetrius Jackson, Baldwin Park, Sr.
WR: Kevin Kolbeck, San Dimas, Sr.
WR: Peter De La Cruz, Covina, Jr.
WR: Vinny Venegas, Covina, Jr.
TE: Samuel Guillen, Baldwin Park, Jr.
Last season San Dimas and Baldwin Park met in the final game of the regular season to determine the Valle Vista League champion, with San Dimas emerging to not only take the league title but the CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division championship as well. The two teams play a little earlier this season and with records not as shiny as the 8-1 mark with which each entered last season’s clash, but a league championship could be on the line just the same when they meet Friday at San Dimas.
Schedule changes: San Dimas (3-2) and Baldwin Park (1-4) may not win any beauty contests at this point but difficult nonleague schedules in 2010 may have each playing better than last season.
Pomona isn’t usually the subject of the most curiosity in the Inland Valley. Given that it has a two-time CIF champion coach on the sideline this year, the Red Devils might be the most intriguing team in 2009. Pomona appeared on the rise last season, raising the stakes for this year, but consider that the five teams they beat during a 5-1 start averaged 1.6 wins last year.
Due to a slightly deceiving 6-4 record in 2009, I think a lot of people expect coach Anthony Rice, who won a pair of CIF Central Division titles in four years at Colony, to step in a lead Pomona to its first playoff appearance since 2003. That’s a pretty tall order, especially considering he lost his best player a couple weeks ago when running back Taj Teague transferred to Claremont.
“It’s a work in progress,” Rice said. “We want to pick up where they left off last year when they took a solid leap forward. We want to work hard, add a little more discipline and focus on the little things to win games.”
Bill Zernickow sounded practically as happy a few days ago as he did through the press box wall at Citrus College on Dec. 12 – only a little less muffled. Winning the first CIF championship in school history will do that to somebody, muchless if you defeat the No. 1 seed in a dramatic six-point, rain-soaked victory. “It’s something you can take to your grave,” Zernickow said.
Fortunately for San Dimas, the Saints can probably afford to be a little fat and happy considering they return 14 starters from the team that went 13-1 in 2009. The entire offensive and defensive lines are back as are playmakers Jordan Taylor and Dillon Corona.
But it’s not all gravy for San Dimas. One of those returning starters, junior quarterback Shawn Kennedy, is out until midseason with a shoulder injury suffered playing baseball. In Ryan Kohler and Tre Evans, the Saints graduated 2,374 rushing yards and 37 TDs.