Damien looking for better showing second year in Baseline

The Baseline League is noted for tough competition top to bottom, no matter what the sport. But when it comes to football there are few better.

Damien was thrown into the mix last year. It was tough going for the Spartans who settled for fifth, finishing 4-6 overall and 1-4 in league play with that lone win coming over Los Osos.

They’re hoping for a better showing the second time around.

“We definitely learned a lot,” third-year coach Mark Paredes said. “We knew going in that all the teams were good and we had to rise to the challenge. Our guys really know now what they will be up against every week.”

Dylan Thigpen

Paredes and the Spartans do have two strong factors weighing in their favor and both are on the offensive side of the ball. Senior running back Dylan Thigpen is coming off a season that saw him rush for 1,254 yards and 12 touchdowns, which earned him first-team All-Inland Valley honors. He just got his first offer from Idaho.

Liam Ryan

The Spartans also have a couple offensive linemen returning, the most notable being senior Liam Ryan, a 6-foot-6, 270-pounder who also played center for the state championship basketball team in the spring. He has a handful of offers from eight schools including Washington State.

Paredes is also excited about the showing of senior guard Evander Achen.

Last year the veteran coach used two quarterbacks – Will Bryan and Mark Boragine. He has settled on the sophomore Bryan as the starter, with Boragine being his backup but also seeing time at wide receiver.

The Spartans also have a couple of receivers who should figure prominently in seniors Chris Gregg and Cameron Record.

The defense will be led by senior linebackers Nicholas Provenzano and Andrew Hernandez.

The defensive line is the biggest concern right now.

“We’re a lot smaller there,” he said. “That’s not to say we don’t have good players there but we’re smaller and more inexperienced.”

The Spartans open the new season on Sept. 4 against Eastvale Roosevelt, which was just 2-8 last year. The first Baseline contest will be at home on Oct. 9 against Rancho Cucamonga.







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Fresh off blowout loss, Kaiser looking to answer ‘wake-up call’

A CIF championship in 2012. A semifinal appearance in 2013. A 45-14 first-round playoff loss in 2014.

Which of these is not like the other?

Kaiser’s ears are still ringing from the “wake-up call” it received eight months ago. The Cats’ run a proud football program, something regularly reflected on the scoreboard. Blowout losses are uncommon, even less common in the postseason, where Kaiser strung together a successful five-year run including 11 playoff wins – prior to last season.


“That first-round loss was bothersome,” Kaiser coach Phil Zelaya said. “The players haven’t forgotten about that. But it says a lot about where we’re at against these new teams. All three teams from our league were out in the first round. That’ll tell you something about the competition.” Continue reading

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Chino looks to contend with top teams in Hacienda League

Last year the Chino High School football team settled for a fourth place finish. But the Cowboys have a new coach in place and he’s bringing in a new system.

Let the fun begin!

“So far I am very pleased. I think we’re going to surprise some people,” said newcomer Jesse Ceniceros, who comes over after heading the Norwalk program for seven years. “The kids have bough in to what we’re doing and they’re working hard. It’s a good start.”

Ceniceros is a disciple of Don Markham, so yes the Cowboys (5-5 overall last year, 2-3 in league) will be running the double wing offense that Markham popularized and says he has the right personnel to run that offense.

Junior Angel Herrera, the quarterback of the junior varsity team last year, is the leading contender for that job.

Junior Da’creh West, who Ceniceros believes was under utilized last year, will be the primary back with junior Daniel Pena and sophomore Andrew Almecan also getting the ball.

To run that offense you also need a strong offensive line, The new coach singles out senior tackle Manuel Avina and junior tight end Adrian Alfaro.

While the double wing focuses on the run, Ceniceros believes he has what could be one of the top wide receivers in the area in junior Willie Morris.

The defense will be led by junior linebackers Brandon Serrano, who could also see time at fullback, as well as junior corner Musa Graylor.

Chino’s defensive coordinator will be Nick Moreno, who was coaching in the Pasadena last year.

“I am really pleased with our depth,” Ceniceros said. “I don’t think we’re gong to have a lot of players going both ways and that’s great.

The Cowboys make their debut under Ceniceros on Aug. 27 against Bloomington, which is coming off a 1-9 season and also has a new coach.

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Etiwanda football team looking to challenge in tough Baseline

Coaches who talk about winning a league title a year after finishing fourth usually come off as a little TOO optimistic.

New Etiwanda coach Kevin Davis is in that position this year. But unlike most, the Eagles loom as a legitimate threat. Most agree the Eagles had more talent last year than any other team besides Upland. So yes they underachieved in finishing fourth with a 4-5-1 overall record.

Etiwanda, Summit set up football rivalry

“The biggest thing will be learning to close out games,” said Davis, who comes over after two years as offensive coordinator at Colony. “There were a lot of games here last year that could have gone either way.”

The Baseline League will be as tough as ever. Yes there is defending champion Upland, traditional challenger Rancho Cucamonga and Chino Hills which made quite the splash last year, its first in the league.

Damien and Los Osos, the bottom two finishers last year, also look much improved.

“We’re going in there with a goal of winning the league title,” Davis said. “We definitely have the talent. There are a lot of good teams in this league but we really believe in what we have.”

Leading a large group of returning players is senior defensive back Treyjohn Butler, who has more than a dozen offers from Division I schools. His presence is one reason Davis singles out his secondary as the Eagles most solid position.

Other key returners on defense are safeties Kamari Pleasant and Kendall Greer, middle linebacker Aidan Anderson, linebacker-end Kendell Jordan and defensive end Nate Neal, who will also play some tight end.

Quarterback Andrew Kanatsky heads the returners on offense and stand to be the big beneficiary in the arrival of Davis as head coach.

Joining Kanatsky as key returnees on offense are brothers Evan and Noah Gutierrez who will figure into the passing game, as well as senior center Kyle Bagnall and running back-wide receiver Kempson Pearce.

Among the significant newcomers are wide receiver Josh Keith, a speedster who has come over from Summit, as well as junior offensive lineman Chris Bradberry (6-6, 350 pounds), a transfer from Rancho Cucamonga.

Sophomore running back Lawrence Starks, who played on the freshman team, last year, is also expected to be a big contributor.

“The biggest factor for us will be how quickly the kids adapt to a new offense and new defense,” Davis said. “That’s one of those things you never know how long it is going to take.”

The curtain comes up on the new season Aug. 28 when Etiwanda challenges Norco.



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Peter Lambert of San Dimas heads MaxPreps honorees

Peter Lambert of San Dimas High School has been named Medium Schools State Player of the Year by MaxPreps, adding to a long list of previously earned accolades.

Lambert, the No. 44 overall pick in the Major League Baseball Draft by the Colorado Rockies, went 13-0 on the mound with a 0.34 ERA and 113 strikeouts in 83 innings pitched. He also posted five shutouts and nine complete games in helping lead San Dimas to a 31-1 overall record.

Junior teammate Jacob Castillo also made the first team as utility player. He hit .341 with 30 runs, 16 RBI, 4 doubles, 2 triples. On the mound he went 11-1 pitching with an  0.43 ERA and 119 strikeouts in  82.1 innings.

Senior Hazahel Quihada of San Gorgonio also earned a first team-selection. He hit .444 with 24 runs, 32 RBI, 15 doubles, 1 triple. On the mound he was 10-1 with 116 strikeouts and an 0.98 ERA in 71.1 innings.

The High Desert was also represented as senior outfielder R.J. Peace of Division 4 CIF champion Serrano made first team. He hit .352 with 30 runs, 14 RBI, 6 doubles, 1 triple and 1 home run.

Soloman Bates of Oak Hills and junior outfielder Saxon Andross of Serrano made the second team.

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Ayala football team looking to get over hump after missing playoffs

Ayala Bulldogs Ayala Football Program

Last year the Ayala High School football team missed out on the playoffs and it didn’t sit will with the Bulldogs, who were tied for third but were left home because of a tiebreaker.

Of course the Bulldogs (6-4 overall, 2-3 in league) had no one to blame but themselves. They lost three of their last four games, all of those Palomares League contests.

Well coach Randy Reams has a lot of players returning from that team and they probably haven’t forgotten the end of the season slump.

“It definitely didn’t sit well with us,” Reams said. “We just didn’t play as well as we did earlier in the season.”

Among those returning on offense are quarterback Michael Morales and running back Jordan Charles, both seniors. Morales threw for 902 yards while Charles ran for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns.

Among the promising newcomers is sophomore running back Max Hura who should take some of the pressure off Charles.

The Bulldogs also return four of their five starting linemen, led by senior guard Tito Buchel.

Among the veteran defenders returning are linebacker Cody Darrow, defensive end Isiah Flowers, safety Keiman Williams and corner Donnell Winston, who could also see time at slot receiver.

“We have a solid core of guys coming back. It’s just a matter of putting the rest of the pieces to the puzzle in the right place,” Reams said.

Reams also beefed up his team’s non-league schedule, hoping it would better prepare his team for league play. The Bulldogs open the season on Aug. 28 against local foe Chino Hills.

They also have a non-league game against Temecula Great Oak.

“I’m hoping that makes us a little tougher,” he said. “If we have any issues we’ll see them and be able to work on them before league games start.”

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New look Alta Loma looking to contend in Mt. Baldy League

Try telling new Alta Loma football coach Mark Pasquarella that this is a rebuilding year and he’ll have none of that. The veteran coach wants to win a Mt. Baldy League title right away.

“I think we have talent, we just don’t have a lot of experience,” he says. “Our goal is to go out there and win every game.”

Pasquarella is taking over the reigns following the departure of Joe Szczepanksi who had them for four years. It has been a slow transition. Until June 30 he was still working for the Covina school district so anything he did football-related had to come after 4 p.m.

The Braves, coming off a 5-5 showing last year, also had to hold spring practice at a nearby elementary school because construction of the new stadium on campus forced a temporary relocation.

As for other setbacks, well a couple of veteran players transferred out. Among those – quarterback Jacob Hennie. Sophomore Junior James and junior Garrett Kettle are fighting for that vacant spot.

Pasquarella, who will call the offense, singles out the offensive and defensive lines as the team’s strong suit. He also likes the depth he has at running back.

The defense is where his team needs the most work right now, with the most inexperienced units being at linebacker and in the secondary. Getting the Braves up to speed will be the responsibility of new defensive coordinator Bill Strycula.

As for other key players, Pasquarella singles out versatile senior Will Ukpong who will play safety and can line up at a varsity of spots on offense.

The team is heavy with sophomores and juniors. While Pasquarella singles out defending champion Colony as the team to beat, he isn’t counting out his.

“I really like what I have seen. The kids have worked hard and I think we’ll surprise people,” Pasquarella says.

The Braves get the new season underway on Aug. 28 with a non-league game at Chaffey High School against Rowland, which is coming off a 4-6 season.


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Three locals earn All-State baseball honors from MaxPreps

The final baseball honors are out and three local players have been honored by MaxPreps which named its Large Schools All-State team.

Pitcher Bailey Falter and outfielder Chris Ceballos, both seniors, were named to the first team while senior second baseman Kyle Isbel of Etiwanda made the second team.

Falter, who was drafted in the fifth round and signed by the Phillies, was 6-2 with a 1.20 ERA and 97 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched.

Ceballos, who has signed with Cal State Fullerton, hit .422 batting with 7 doubles, 25 RBI, 27 runs and a school single season record of 12 home runs.

Isbel, the Most Valuable Player in the Baseline League, hit .397 with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 6 home runs, 28 RBI and 34 runs scored. He has signed with UNLV.

All three players were first team All-Inland Valley selections by the Daily Bulletin.


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Ayala’s Austen Awosika decides on Cal State Fullerton

Ayala High School point guard Austen Awosika has decided he’ll attend and play at Cal State Fullerton.

Awosika, a 6-foot-2 senior who also carries a 3.5 grade-point average, also visited Pepperdine, Cornell and UC Santa Barbara.

“I really felt like they wanted me,” he said. “They have been to every one of my travel ball games the past few weeks and that really let me know I was a high priority for them.”

Awosika led the Bulldogs to a share of the Palomares League title. He was a Co-MVP in the league, also earning first-team All-CIF honors. He was also a Daily Bulletin All-Inland Valley first-team selection.

Awosika averaged 17.1 points and 6.7 assists with a season high of 34 points coming against Palm Springs.

He said he is relieved to finalize the decision.

“I really want to concentrate on my senior season,” he said. “Now I can just go out there and play free without that pressure.”

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Pomona football team looking to repeat with new cast

Dec 5 2014. Lancaster CA. Pomona football team holds the CIF award, during the CIF Southern Section Mid-Valley Division football final as Pomona took the win 37 to 29 over Paraclete. Photo by Gene Blevins/LA DailyNews

The Pomona High School football team can no longer get away with flying under the radar. Last year the Red Devils won their first CIF title since 1951, capturing the Mid-Valley Championship.

So head coach Keith Richardson’s team is now the hunted not the hunter. The Red Devils also graduated 20 or so players, some of them key contributors on both sides of the ball so their loss is even more costly.

The pressure is, no doubt, on.

“We know people are focusing more on us this year,” Richardson said. “We have to rise to the challenge. We have some very good players but they may not be ones people know right now.”

The Red Devils (11-4 last year) did inherit a couple of transfers who will be counted on heavily. One of those is senior quarterback Aaron Sandoval who came over from Chino Hills and will be the starter.

Sandoval’s arrival will allow Darreon Lockett, to slide over to a receiver slot for which he is better suited. Lockett will also see time on defense.

“He is one of those players that can help you in a lot of places,” Richardson said of Lockett. “But this is more of a true position for him.”

The other big new arrival is senior Chris Jackson, the top player last year at Garey who will also play at wide receiver and defensive back.

Other key newcomers are junior wide receiver Ricky Lua, brother of Manny who was a key player on last year’s team, as well as senior Denario Critton who competed in track last year but did not play football.

Among the holdovers from the title-winning team are senior linebacker-safety Brian Lamb, senior offensive lineman Christopher Mendez and junior lineman Joel Trujillo.

Leonard Hudson is back as offensive coordinator but Richardson will no longer be defensive coordinator so he can oversee the entire game. John Brown, who was on staff, will head the defense.

Pomona starts the new season on Aug. 28 at Oak Hills. It begins defense of its Miramonte League title on Oct. 16 against city foe Ganesha.



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