Los Osos football looking to improve under new coach Alex Pierce

Grizzlies mascot photo.

It’s hard enough trying to jump start a struggling football program. It’s even tougher when you’re competing in the Baseline League.

That’s the tough task ahead of new coach Alex Pierce who moved to the school this year after an impressive run slightly East at Carter High School.

The Grizzlies were just 1-9 last year and have won just seven games in the last three years. The last winning season was a 6-4 showing in 2011.

Neighborhood rival Rancho Cucamonga is the juggernaut right now. Upland’s young team has matured and looks poised for a breakout season and Etiwanda, the other city school, always gets good athletes. Chino Hills, Damien, yes you get the picture. It has been a tough go for the Grizzlies.

Pierce is ready for the challenge though. His goal is to get the students who should be at his school to come to the school, rather then skip to one of the rivals or yet another school.

“This is a great academic school with a lot of other things to offer too. If the football program was a little better it would go a long way toward keeping those kids here,” he said. “I hate to use a college example, but there is Stanford. That’s a great example of school with academics that is also competitive. It can be done. It won’t be easy and no we have to do some things different.”

Pierce will serve as offensive coordinator as well with Tommy Martinez, now the school’s athletic director but the head football coach the last time the team had a winning season, stepping in to serve as defensive coordinator.

Pierce does have a solid quarterback returning in senior Brett Cabral, who threw for 1,409 yards in nine games. The key will be having enough weapons around Cabral to make the offense more formidable. The new coach is also high on junior wide receiver Andrew Walker and running back Kyle Jorgenson, who will also be an impact player at linebacker.

The line will be led by seniors Brandon Funke and Brandon Trejo.

Demsive standouts include senior linebacker Connor Helsius, senior nose tackle Matthew Williams, senior lineman Tahi Fakava and senior linebacker Isaiah Peck.

Right now Pierce has 100 players between the varsity and junior varsity teams and another 50 working the with freshman team.

“We’re going to play hard and try and outwork everyone else on both sides of the ball,” Pierce said. “We’re going to find a way and that way won’t be the same as everyone else’s way.”

Los Osos makes its debut on Aug. 25 against, of all teams, Carter – the team Carter just left. The schedule was made long before Pierce interviewed for the job and he admits walking the visitor’s sideline at that school will be difficult.

“It will be a little awkward, no doubt,” he said.

LOS OSOS SCHEDULE
Aug. 25 – At Carter
Sept. 1 – Northwood
Sept. 8 – At Alta Loma
Sept. 15 – Chino
Sept. 29 – At Silverado
Oct. 6 – At Etiwanda
Oct. 13 – Rancho Cucamonga
Oct. 20 – Damien
Oct. 27 – At Chino Hills
Nov. 3 – Upland

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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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New coach Justin Randall ready to lead hungry Carter contingent

Lions mascot photo.

Justin Randall considers himself pretty fortunate. He just landed his first “head” coaching gig and he is in a place where the cupboard is hardly empty – Carter.

Preparations for the season are underway and Randall, son of Colony Head Coach Steve Randall, has a hard time containing his enthusiasm.

“We have really good kids here,” he said, “I stepped into a good situation. I just want to keep the ball rolling.”

Previous coach Alex Pierce moved over to Los Osos and Randall was chosen as his successor. He spent last year at Citrus College. Before that he spent four years working for his father at Colony. He also had a year at Ontario as an assistant coach.

Despite being one of the younger head coaches in the area at 26, he says he considers himself an “old-school” coach from having hung around his father and his coaching contemporaries.

“I have been around the game my while life,” he said. “I can’t imagine not being part of it.”

Randall will be the team’s defensive coordinator while Steve Johnston, who had been with Randall’s dad at Colony, will be offensive coordinator.

Last year the Lions went 5-5 in the regular season with a 3-4 mark in the tough Citrus Belt League. Randall will have several key players returning. He is most high on senior safety-wide receiver Justice Hamilton whom he says has the potential to be one of the top players in the Inland Empire.

Many of the Lions top players will be asked to contribute one both sides of the ball. Among the others are senior linebacker-running back Lemusu Toailoa, last in the line of talented football-playing brothers, senior lineman Daimon Ross and senior receiver-corner Keion Guyton.

Randall likes the combination he will have at running back in Toailoa and D.J. Thomas and thinks the strongest part of the defense will be the secondary.

The biggest question mark will be at quarterback where senior Wayne Schuster, junior Eddie Torres and sophomore Serbando Lopez are battling for the starting job.

The Lions won;t have to wait long for an interesting storyline as they open the season against Los Osos, headed by their former coach. Stay tuned.

CARTER SCHEDULE

Aug. 25 – Los Osos
Sept. 1 – At Rancho Verde
Sept. 8 – San Jacinto
Sept. 22 – At Miller
Sept. 29 – Redlands
Oct. 6 – Redlands East Valley (At Citrus Valley)
Oct. 13 – Yucaipa
Oct. 20 – At Citrus Valley
Oct. 27 – At Cajon
Nov. 3 – Eisenhower

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Etiwanda wide receiver Geordon Porter one to watch this season

As the prep football season fast approaches, I thought it might be good to take a look at some of the players sure to do great things the coming season. One of those is senior wide receiver Geordon Porter of Etiwanda.

Porter currently has 15 offers and has narrowed his list to seven schools. He has planned visits to Utah (Sept. 2), Notre Dame (Sept. 9) and Arizona State (Sept. 16). Four other schools – Alabama, Cal, Colorado and UCLA – are still in play.

He had quite the smorgasbord to chose from. Others offering included Purdue, UNLV, Washington State, Hawaii, Georgia, San Jose State, Colorado State, UNLV  and Duke.

The 6-foot-2, 172-pounder had a decent season as a junior with 33 catches for 512 yards and five touchdowns. He came up big in a 45-42 win the last game of the regular season against Damien which got his team into the playoffs.

Etiwanda coach Kevin Davis said interest in his speedster picked up in the spring after he ran 10.6 in the 100 during a spring track meet. A couple of offers quickly turned into more than a dozen.

“He was on the radar before that,” Davis said “But when schools saw that the interest really did pick up in a big way. He is really ready to have a huge season,.”

Porter’s potential is not surprising given his genes. Father George was  a track standout at USC. Older brother Grant, who graduated from Upland in 2016, red-shirted last year at Washington State and is looking to be a factor for the Cougars this year at defensive back.

Porter says he learned a lot from watching his brother go through the recruiting process.

“It can be a lot of fun but at times it is stressful too,” he said. “You have to find the school that is the right fit and there are lot of things to consider – what offense it runs, how soon you thing you can play, what school fits you best academically.”

Davis said while Porter’s biggest contributions will come on offense, he night also be used on defense as well as on special teams.

“He makes things happen so we definitely have to get the ball in his hands,” Davis said.

Porter and the Eagles make their debut on Aug. 25 against Summit in their annual rivalry game at Miller high School.

 

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Chino Hills basketball gets late game at State Preview

The Chino Hills boys basketball team is used to playing in showcase events with the success it has had over the last three years.

One of those is the State Preview, previously hosted by Fairfax and now by Rolling Hills Prep at Cerritos College.

This season’s event is set for Jan. 27 with the Huskies playing the 8:30 p.m. game against Oak Park.

Earlier games will be:
* Long Beach Jordan vs. Crean Lutheran, 9:30 a.m.
* Heritage Christian vs. Brentwood, 11 a.m.
* Durango vs. Maranatha, 12:30 p.m.
* Loyola vs. Rolling Hills Prep, 2 p.m.
* Corona Centennial vs. Taft, 3:30 p.m.
* Wasatch vs. Santa Monica, 5 p.m.
* Fairfax vs. Bishop Montgomery, 7 p.m.

Not only do the Huskies have the last of the Ball brothers, LaMelo, now a junior, but much of the focus is likely to be on new head coach Dennis Latimore. He took over after Stephan Gilling was fired, the school couching that change by saying it preferred an “on-campus coach.”

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Etiwanda lineman Alec Anderson commits to Washington State

Perhaps no major college recruit was more prepared for the recruiting process than Etiwanda offensive lineman Alec Anderson. He has three older siblings who went

through the process. Father Anders Anderson was the girls basketball coach at Etiwanda and he had many players from that program move on to the next level.

The 6-foot-5, 280-pound offensive tackle recently committed to Washington State, picking that school from among 10 offers.

He and his father  visited Washington State, Arizona State and Oregon State.

“I liked that it is in a smaller city away from other distractions,” he said. “Just walking around campus I got a positive vibe and all the players and coaches were very uplifting.”

Anderson said he got a chance to speak with a lot of players who had nothing but good things to say about their experiences.

Anderson plans to major in criminal justice. In addition to the schools he visited, offers came from Utah, Colorado State, Colorado, UNLV, New Mexico, Hawaii and San Jose State.

Oldest sister Ashtyn played basketball at NCAA Division II Chico State before her career was derailed by multiple knee injuries. Another sister Alyssa is entering her junior year at UNLV where she too plays basketball.

Brother Aidan will be sophomore at the University of Regina (Canada)  where he played football.

“Each one raised the bar higher than the other,” Alex said of his successful siblings. “I have definitely benefited from the experiences each one of them has had.”

Anderson has worked hard in preparation for his senior season, adding 60 or so pounds to his 6-5 frame.

He and his Eagle teammates open the season on Aug. 25 with the rivalry game against Summit at Miller High School.

 

 

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Ganesha football team looking to improve from tough season

Ganesha Football

Last year was not an enjoyable one for Ganesha football coach Don Cayer. The Giants went just 3-7 (0-4 in the five-0team Miramonte League) and underachieved for the talent Cayer thought he had. He chalked that up to some selfish attitudes and poor team chemistry.

He got rid of a dozen or so players between the end of the season and Christmas and is hoping new team chemistry will translate to a better product on the field.

“I want to have guys out here that I like and kids out here that get along,” he said. “I probably let more stuff go last year than I should have and that’s on me. I don’t want to have another year like that.”

Cayer, starting his fifth year, is optimistic though. The Giants are young but the veteran coach likes the potential.

“We’re going to be young so if we can keep improving we should do pretty well. But everyone looks good this time of year,” he said.

He singles out his backfield as the strength of the team. He is high on freshman Jaylin Sims who moved into the area last year as an eighth grader. Cayer says he has the potential to be as big a factor as Donovan Davis was when he led the area in rushing in 2013.

Junior Zaquand Irby, who did not play last year so he could get academics in order, will also be a big contributor.

Of course a good running game is dependent on a formidable front line. Cayer singled out tackles Diego Mora and Luis Lopez and guard Jacob Delgadillo as the leaders up front.

The biggest question mark will be at quarterback with the departure of three-year starter John Mosqueda. Top candidates are Angel Bernal and senior Tyler Wardsworth. Bernal was the junior varsity quarterback but  Wardsworth is a newcomer better known as the starting center fielder for the baseball team.

Top performers on the defensive side of the ball will be senior defensive end Jaques Wilborn and sophomore middle linebacker Alonso Arce. Cayer said Wilborn will also play some wide receiver-tight end hybrid.

GANESHA SCHEDULE
Aug. 25 – At Sierra Vista
Sept. 1 – Gladstone
Sept. 8 – At Jurupa Valley
Sept. 15 – San Gabriel
Sept. 22 – Montclair
Sept. 29 – At Southlands Christian
Oct. 13 – La Puente
Oct. 20 – At Garey
Oct. 27 – Bassett
Nov. 3 – At Pomona

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Damien baseball standout Andy Garriola selects a college

Damien baseball standout Andrew Garriola has made a verbal commitment to Old Dominion located in Norfolk, Va.

Garriola, who will be a senior in the fall, was limited to 15 games last season after sustaining a broken hand while sliding into second on a stolen base attempt. He had 12 RBIs, seven runs scored, four doubles, two triples and a home run.

He went to Old Dominion on an unofficial visit earlier this month. The school had been looking at him since early his sophomore year on the recommendation of pitching coach Chris Beck. The school saw him play in a travel ball game in Georgia and had been interested ever since.

Garriola, a g-foot-4 first baseman, is looking forward to the change of scenery.

“I think it will be nice to live someplace else,” he said. “The campus is nice and its right on the beach.”

The team has a good first baseman coming back but Garriola is hoping to land playing time as a designated hitter or at a corner outfield spot as a freshman.

Garriola also took an unofficial visit to Ole Miss and was planning to go to West Virginia as well but the latter got canceled.

He is undecided on a major but considering business.

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Etiwanda baseball standout Matt Bardowell decides its USC

Etiwanda baseball standout Matt Bardowell just wrapped up his freshman season but he already knows where he wants to play in college  – USC. He made a verbal commitment to that school today.

He says is twas his dream school all along so he didn’t need to wait to see what other offers night roll in.

“One of the first games, maybe the first game my dad ever took me to was USC,” he said. “I have loved the school all along. It also really seemed like the perfect fit so when I got the offer I wanted to jump on it.”

Bardwell was a versatile player for the CIF Division 2 champion Eagles, pitching and playing first base. He said USC will take him as a two-way player although he likes to pitch because he can be “in control of the game.”

Bardowell started this season as a freshman, hitting .381 with 20 RBI, 21 runs scored, five doubles, two triples and four home runs. On the mound he went 2-1 with a 2.74 ERA in six appearances.

Bardowell has been to the school on an “unofficial” visit and also made trips to San Jose State, San Diego, San Diego State, Arizona State and Arizona,

He plans to pursue dental school ,which also factored into his decision.

“They have a very good dental school so that was important to me too. Not just baseball,” he said, “It was a good fit all the way around.”

 

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Damien grad Zach Shinnick part of world record relay quartet

Damien High graduate Zach Shinnick has had quite the summer.

Last month he won the USA Junior National championship in the 400 meters and last week in Peru he placed third in that event in the Pan American Junior Championships which serve as the world championship for athletes 20 and under.

He closed out the meet as part of a 4×400 relay that posted a 3:00.33 for a new American and World Junior record. Shinnick, who is headed to USC, ran a 44.71 on the second leg.

That mark bested the 3:01.09 in 2004 by the quartet of Brandon Johnson, LaShawn Merritt, Jason Craig and Kerron Clement.

Also on the record-setting relay were Georgia high schooler Brian Herron, Texas Tech signee Sean Hooper  and Josephus Lyles, a Virginia native who runs professionally for Adidas.

 

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