Muir: (Diamond Ranch) don’t impress me at all

In today’s sports section (front page, bottom right corner) … I’ve gotten some positive feedback on the story and some, well, you knew negative feedback was also coming …

It looks like Muir has provided bulletin board material for Diamond Ranch and with that in mind here is the first of many polls to come so have your say on this one.


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By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

PASADENA — Being a high school football coach can sometimes mean not being a coach at all.

The logistics of running a program can become too tedious at times and even overwhelming for others.

Is the right equipment in stock? Is the field ready to go? Have the kids filled out and turned in all the necessary paperwork?

All of which are things every coach wants taken care of, preferably before the start of fall camp.

And as September approaches and the smell of the freshly cut grass roams campus, that can only mean one thing: getting back to the business of, well, coaching.

While some high school teams opened fall camp last week and others open next week, most opened Monday in preparation for their first game under the lights, which is just a few weeks away.


“It’s been a long wait,” Muir football coach Ken Howard said. “I’ve been trying to keep myself busy here (in the office) but now we can finally get out on the field and get a feel for how we’re going to do this season.”

And if the Mustangs’ first practice is an early indication on how the season will shape up then look for Muir to do some serious damage in the Pacific League and in the Southeast Division come CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

“I’m very surprised at how things are shaping up,” Howard said after his team’s first drill run, “but it’s a pleasant surprise.”

The Mustangs last season
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finished 7-0 in league and 8-3 overall. They were led by Willie Youngblood, who amassed 1,000 yards rushing but is now graduated.

During spring practices it appeared Muir wouldn’t have a true running back this season, but look for senior Chris Dunlap to get most of the carries while Tramel Clipper, a starting cornerback, plays backup.

While most teams tend to stay hush about real expectations this season, Howard did not shy away from what he expects: a monstrous season.

“It looks real good for us,” Howard said as the team wrapped up the morning practice. “A lot of teams need to watch out for us.”

Those teams are Diamond Ranch, which Muir will face in Week 0, and in Week 2 there’s perennial powerhouse Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, a team that boasts a core of players whose fathers need no introduction; their names alone speak volumes.

Joe Montana.

Wayne Gretzky.

Will Smith.

All three have sons who are playing with Oaks Christian and will draw a lot of media attention, especially from the entertainment side.

But nothing seems to faze Howard and the Mustangs.

“We’re not worried about anybody,” Howard said. “They (Diamond Ranch) don’t impress me at all.

“I’m more concerned about California (of Whittier), a team we’ll see in the playoffs and don’t know much about.”

Muir will rely on star quarterback Reuben Thomas, a two-year starter who is mobile, has a strong arm and can be a true threat on the ground.

Thomas took control as soon as he got on the field and immediately knew his role: a leader on the field who is vocal.

“Knowing that he’s excited about getting to work is a blessing,” Howard said.

A lot of schools will get their taste of what’s coming as they open camp. St. Francis, Arcadia and San Gabriel are others who opened camp Monday.

Alhambra, Temple City and Blair are still in their dead period and open camp sometime next week, while La Salle, Maranatha and Monrovia opened camp earlier than most.

Maranatha had a unique camp experience. The Minutemen had a week-long stay on campus, where they practiced, ate, showered and slept. Sleeping bags and inflatable beds littered the classroom and office building that once served as an actual dormitory.

The pads will come on later this week for most schools, meaning coaches will get a better look at how their teams will fare this season.

If nothing else, the start of camp certainly felt long overdue.

miguel.melendez@sgvn.com

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