Rancho Cucamonga employing transfer QB for second consecutive season

OS24-AMATDAMIEN-WL“One and done” doesn’t quite have the same connotation in the case of Rancho Cucamonga High School football as it does college basketball. But the Cougars are incorporating a senior transfer quarterback for the second straight season courtesy of Gage Pucci’s transfer from Damien.

Adam Friederichsen, a transfer from Carlsbad La Costa Canyon prior to last season, completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,849 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions before walking on at Arizona following his lone season at Rancho Cucamonga. Pucci’s numbers in two seasons as a starter at Damien don’t measure up, but the 5-foot-11, 195-pound rising senior will be surrounded by much more talent at Rancho Cucamonga, one of the best two or three programs in the Inland Valley.

As a junior at Damien, Pucci completed 47 percent of his passes for 1,498 yards with 15 touchdowns and 17 interceptions.

“He’s learning the offense, picking it up pretty well,” Rancho Cucamonga coach Nick Baiz said. “He’s a leader. He’s a tough kid. I think our biggest issue will be if we can put together an offensive line that will keep him upright.”

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Damien grad who walked on at USC, finished at Sacramento State, signed by Packers

Ryan McMahon, a safety who walked on at USC following his football career at Damien and played his final two years of college football at Sacramento State, was signed by the Green Bay Packers on Thursday.

Ryan McMahon USC MugMcMahon had multiple scholarship offers when he graduated Damien, but I remember the conviction in his voice five years ago when he explained to me his belief that he could play at a higher level. Apparently that attitude has carried him a long way.

He must have made an impression at the Packers’ rookie orientation camp in May, where he earned an invite to training camp. Of course, he still has a long way to go to make the 53-man roster, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who didn’t envision McMahon ever signing an NFL contract. At the very least, his look in this Sacramento State bio picture looks like something that would fit in Green Bay.

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Damien, St. Lucy’s file federal lawsuits against CIF, commish to avoid parochial league

With 44 schools from which to choose, only three were removed from the Mt. SAC area this year. All three are Catholic affiliated.

This is the argument lawyers representing Damien and St. Lucy’s will utilize in a federal lawsuit they hope will prevent their clients’ athletic teams from being placed in leagues with parochial schools in the fall of 2014, according to San Gabriel Valley Tribune Staff Writer Aram Tolegian’s story. The decision was ostensibly based on competitive equity, something the schools’ lawyers find questionable when the obvious common thread is the schools’ religious affiliation.

The reasons cited for the lawsuits are one thing. The reasons Damien and St. Lucy’s would like to remain in their current arrangement is another.

Both are competitive in the Sierra League, but if forced to move in the fall of 2014, could land amongst a group of private schools with a reputation for a higher level of play in all sports. Apparently that level is high enough that the two schools – along with Westlake Village Oaks Christian and Ventura St. Bonaventure – are willing to take the CIF State, CIF-Southern Section and CIF-SS Commissioner Rob Wigod to court.

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2013 All-Valley Boys Volleyball Team: Claremont senior follows in big footsteps

Steven Zetterberg Claremont POY
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Stephen Zetterberg, Claremont
Story By Staff Writer Michelle Gardner
Volleyball isn’t the traditional sport for boys to focus on growing up in the Inland Empire. For most that would be basketball, soccer or baseball.

Stephen Zetterberg grew up competing in those too but older brother Andrew played volleyball, so that’s the sport he gravitated toward.

He’s gotten pretty good.

Zetterberg, 17, registered 234 kills in 68 sets in leading the Wolfpack (25-6, 11-1 in Pacific League) to the second round of the CIF playoffs. He earned first team All-CIF recognition in Division II and is being honored as the All-Valley Player of the Year.

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2013 All-Valley Boys Golf team: Damien’s Tsujimoto goes out on top

Brandon Damien Golf POY
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Brandon Tsujimoto, Damien, Senior
Story By Staff Writer Keith Lair
Brandon Tsujimoto started the 2013 golf season strong and finished just as strongly.

The senior helped the Spartans to the season-opening Riverside Poly tournament championship. He had Damien’s co-low score of the event. He had the Spartans’ low scores in other tournaments and helped Damien to an undefeated team season and the Sierra League title.

He was fourth in the Father Joe Barry Masters tournament at Ancil Hoffman Golf Course. The Spartans finished fourth in the two-day tournament. He was 16th in the three-day Champions Invitational at the Golf Club at Terra Lago. He was also low medalist in six league matches.

He seemed to play his absolute best golf when it counted the most. That would be the postseason.

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2013 All-Sierra League baseball team: MVP was the only easy decision

The jumble of teams behind Sierra League champion West Covina South Hills during the regular season didn’t make for any easy decisions after the year ended. The all-league team had an obvious MVP, but there were plenty of arguments to be made beyond that. As it turned out, second-place Damien, and third-place Claremont (which tied in the standings) received three first team all-league selections as did third-place Chino Hills.

MVP: Adrian Dehorta, Sr., South Hills

First Team
Anthony Seminaris, Sr., Ayala
Robert Longtree, Sr., Ayala
Dylan Lowenstein, Sr., Chino Hills
Jeremy Steggell, Sr., Chino Hills
Austin Harvey, Sr., Chino Hills
Nick Costello, Sr., Claremont
Jeremy Giles, Sr., Claremont
Alex Galuchie, Jr., Claremont
Jordan Abernathy, Jr., Damien
David Banuelos, Jr., Damien
Grant Hockin, Jr., Damien
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Damien pitcher selected to Under Armour All-America game in Chicago

Damien pitcher Grant Hockin was selected on Tuesday to be one of 36 players in the Under Armour All-America baseball game Aug. 24 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

The junior right-hander committed to UCLA will participate in four days worth of events, including a formal workout for Major League Baseball scouts. The game will be televised live by the MLB Network at 11:30 a.m. on the last of the four days.

Saturday’s state tournament games: Will Damien’s magic continue?

No. 7 Damien (26-6) at No. 2 West Hills Chaminade (25-7), 7:30 p.m.

How they got here: In its last game alone, Damien was the victim and beneficiary of a buzzer beater. After a 40-foot bank shot pulled 10th-seeded Tulare Mission Oak even with Damien at the end of regulation, Jeremy Hemsley’s 3-pointer as time expired in overtime gave the Spartans a 74-72 first-round win on Wednesday. Chaminade had no such drama in its 42-point first-round victory.

Matchup: CIF-SS Division 3AA champion Damien will take on a Chaminade team that was the runner-up in CIF-SS Division 3A. Before losing it’s CIF-SS title game by 24 points to St. John Bosco, Chaminade won its previous four playoff games by an average of 37.5 points, a good indication of why it received the No. 2 seed in the state tournament. Damien’s confidence is certainly on the rise after winning a championship and capturing its first-round game in dramatic fashion. It will be interesting to see if Wednesday’s win was the perfect cure for Damien’s championship hangover.

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State tournament drama at Damien, but not elsewhere in La Verne

At one end of La Verne the Damien basketball team’s first-round game of the CIF State tournament was overflowing with drama. At the other end of the city, it was the opposite for the La Verne Lutheran boys as they began their run at a third state title in four years.

After a 40-foot bank shot sent the game into overtime (click ‘Continue reading’ below for the video), Damien bounced back when sophomore Jeremy Hemsley’s 3-pointer at the buzzer of the extra period (video above) to lifted the seventh-seeded Spartans to a 74-72 win over Tulare Mission Oak.

La Verne Lutheran, conversely, surged to a 40-point lead by the end of the third quarter in its Division IV first-round 85-42 win over 13th-seeded Tollhouse Sierra.

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Damien hires Riverside North head coach to take over football program

Damien High School’s search for a head football coach is over after it hired Mark Paredes, who spent the last three seasons as the head coach at Riverside North. Paredes replaces Greg Gano, who resigned in December after four seasons at Damien, where he posted a 20-22 overall record with two playoff appearances.

The last three years have been Paredes’ second stint at North after he coached there from 1994-2001, during which he won two CIF championships. Last season was a bit disappointing for North, which was expected to be a dangerous playoff team its first season in the Central Division. But the Huskies finished 6-5 after a first-round loss to eventual CIF champion, Kaiser. After a 2-8 season in 2010, Paredes led North to a 10-2 record in a 2011 season that also ended with a loss to an eventual CIF champ as Vista Murrieta dispatched the Huskies in the quarterfinals of the much tougher Inland Division.

The move back to the Catholic School system fulfills Paredes’ desire to return home to his coaching roots in the Catholic High School environment, according to a press release from Damien. Paredes will also serve as a history teacher.

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