….Saturday Morning Quarterback Postgame: Alhambra shocks San Gabriel; Muir, Rosemead, Duarte win big….

(UPDATED 11:35 p.m.)

Well, well, well.

Turns out the Moors do have a running game.

Daniel Imaa rushed for 178 yards and scored two touchdowns to lead Alhambra High School to a convincing 30-14 win over San Gabriel on Friday night in Almont League play at Moor Field.

The senior running back wasted no time punishing the Matadors’ (4-4, 2-1) defense. The Moors (4-4, 1-2) made it clear they weren’t just ready to establish the run, but able.

Aside from Alhambra’s surprising running prowess, the Moors can thank their stifling defense that kept them in the game.

San Gabriel was out-matched, particularly on defense where the Matadors could not find a way to contain Imaa, among others.

Alhambra’s Mitchell Crockom had a quiet night with three receptions for 64 yards, but two of them hurt the Matadors.

Crockom helped keep a 7-play, 65-yard drive alive with a 31-yard reception from quarterback Darrian Cazarin after Cazarin connected with Erick Esparza on a 26-yard pass that moved the ball into San Gabriel territory.

Ryan Beatty capped that drive with a 30-yard touchdown catch from Cazarin to give the Moors a 10-0 lead heading into the half. Brian Gonzalez connected on a 25-yard field goal with seven minutes left in the second quarter to put Alhambra on the scoreboard.

San Gabriel was left dazed and confused, with its long possessions eventually stopped by a determined Moors defense that shut out the Matadors in the first half.

San Gabriel quarterback Isaac Valdez completed 17 of 27 passes for 133 yards and two interceptions.

The Matadors were led by running back Fabian Amaro, who rushed for 70 yards on 13 carries and scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards.

The Moors picked up right where they left off in the second half. Imaa capped a 7-play drive with a 3-yard run for a touchdown to make it 17-0.

San Gabriel scored on the ensuing kickoff with 3:53 left in the third quarter to make it 17-7, but Alhambra came back on its next possession as Crockom put the Moors ahead, 24-7, with 2:04 left in the third.

Alhambra controlled the line of scrimmage and had two tall cornerbacks (Crockom and Beatty) play a part in containing San Gabriel’s corp of receivers, who were led by Marcos Villalobos’s five catches for 50 yards.

Villalobos was limited because of a dislocated left shoulder suffered with 2:09 left in the third quarter.

It was popped back into place, but he saw little action the rest of the way.

The win helped Alhambra keep its playoff hopes alive as it heads to Bell Gardens next week. The loss was costly for San Gabriel, which next plays at league-leading Schurr.
This Moors team is not the same team it was a few weeks ago. Coach Gil Ruedaflores credited an offensive line, finally free of injuries, for opening holes in the middle of the field for Imaa.

“We finally have a healthy line,” he said. “They’re healthy and they are jelling. This is a big victory for our young men.”

Throughout the season, Ruedaflores said he’d been wanting to implement a ground attack but to no avail.

This time it was different.

A solid ground attack makes Alhambra a true two-dimensional team. That takes the pressure off of Cazarin, who finished the night with 7 completions in 13 attempts for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

San Gabriel coach Keith Jones was impressed, to say the least.

“We didn’t expect this,” he said. “They dominated the offensive and defensive line.”


Friday’s Results with notes and observations

Alhambra 30, San Gabriel 14 — The Moors looked really strong. The coaching staff over at Alhambra finally fed the ball like there was no tomorrow. Daniel Imaa is a big guy. He’s an old school back, getting his yardage with no fancy moves, all muscle. Matadors got outplayed plain and simple.

Muir 32, Crescenta Valley 6 — The Mustangs scored two touchdowns within two minutes to start the game, the first on a lateral pass from Jarron Williams to Reuben Thomas for 66 yards and then Marcus Graves snatched the ball out of a Falcons defender and returned it 48 yards for a score. Muir’s good. Scary good.

Burroughs 56, Arcadia 9 — Well, that showed me. Burroughs was led by Dominique Barnes, the Pacific League’s leading rusher, who rushed for 277 yards on 18 carries and scored five touchdowns. Todd Golper did as much as he could to help the Apaches (4-4, 3-2), rushing for 212 yards on 16 carries and delivering several hard hits on defense. “(Golper) is really something special,” Dimalante said. “He is the pride of our team.” Golper gave the Apaches their only touchdown, a 68-yard dash with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Monrovia 10, La Canada 7 — Who else is surprised by how close this game turned out to be. Good for the Spartans, making this much more interesting than many of us thought it’d be. After a scoreless first half, the Wildcats (6-2, 3-0) scored their only touchdown with a 10-play, 66-yard drive to open the third quarter. Monrovia running back Marquise Williams scored the touchdown, on a 1-yard run. As bad as the Spartans (3-5, 1-2) looked on offense, they still had an opportunity to pick up a big win on the road. With the Wildcats on the Spartans 1-yard line with a chance to put the game away with 49 seconds left, La Caada recovered a fumble by Monrovia quarterback Nick Bueno. Unfortunately for the Spartans, the Wildcats had one big defensive play left in them, too. With the Spartans inching closer to field-goal range, Anthony Cordero intercepted Spartans quarterback Rocky Moore with 26 seconds left to end La Caada’s hopes.

St. Francis 15, St. Paul 14, 2OT — The Golden Knights pulled it off after Justin Sciarra passed to Dietrich Riley for a two-point conversion. The score was tied, 7-7, after the first OT.

Temple City 42, South Pasadena 15 — Max Ruckle rushed for over 200 yards and scored two touchdowns including a 75-yard sprint in the first quarter to give the Rams a 21-0 lead in the second quarter. Temple City scored in the opening kickoff on a Joey Stewart run. South Pasadena’s kickoff returned was fumbled and Ruckled scored again.

Duarte 41, Workman 28 — Jordan Canada had another spectacular game rushing for 270 yards on 15 carries. He scored four touchdowns including on runs of 68 and 65 yards.

Rio Hondo Prep 53, Viewpoint 0 — Tim Esguerra and Jim Davis scored three touchdowns apiece as Rio Hondo Prep rolled to an easy Prep League victory Friday night. The Kares, 2-1 in league and 4-3 overall, scored the first two times they had the ball. On Rio Hondo Prep’s first drive of the game, Esguerra went 21 yards for a touchdown. Esguerra then caught a 9-yard scoring pass from Chris Llamas.

Bell Gardens 46, Keppel 8 — Gotta feel for the Aztecs.

Maranatha 49, Campbell Hall 21— Undefeated Maranartha High School got to host Campbell Hall early and never let up en route to an Alpha League victory Friday afternoon. Tailback Daniel Koppin scored on a 30-yard counter play on the third play of the game. It would account for nearly half of Kopplin’s team-high 79 yards. He also rushed for another TD. But more impressively, playing defensive tackle, he had nine tackles and returned an interception 55 yards for another score. Quarterback Matt Schilz completed 14 of 21 passes for 302 yards and three TDs. He also rushed for a score. Six of those completions went to Terell Cornell, who finished with 137 yards and TD receptions of 55 and 40 yards. The Minutemen, 8-0, led 21-7 after the first quarter and 28-7 at the half.

Mary Star of the Sea 31, La Salle 17 — The Lancers just can’t catch a break. La Salle turned the ball over three times and Mary Star of the Sea put together a second-half rally to win the Camino Real League game Friday night. The Lancers led 9-2 at halftime, but the Stars scored 27 second-half points. They opened the second half with a long drive to tie the game 9-9 and then took advantage of a turnover to go ahead.

Gabrielino at South El Monte, 7 p.m. — ??

Glendale 28, Pasadena 12 — You really want to hear what happened?

Rosemead 42, El Monte 7 — Yawn.

San Marino 42, Blair 0 — Ummm … Yawn.

Marshall at Brentwood, 3:30 p.m. — ??

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Saturday: Live Blogging from Glendale

Time to pay up.

As you guys know, I bet Freddy Robledo that St. Francis would beat Bishop Amat a couple weeks ago. I lost and as a result I was supposed to wear a Lancers hat to work, take a picture and post it on both blogs.

Instead, I will be attending the Serra League showdown pitting Loyola vs. Bishop Amat at Glendale High School. Kickoff is at 7 p.m. I’m tagging along with Robledo and he’ll provide the hat for me to wear during the game.

Picture the new fashion trend: dress shoes, jeans, collar shirt, Calvin Klein suit topped off with a Bishop Amat hat. Not sure how I feel about that.

Realizing there are Loyola players who reside in Pasadena, Freddy and I will be blogging live, providing score updates. We’ll also have video highlights and interviews available on Sunday morning.

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***CIF Football Rankings: Blame the coaches, media

***(UPDATED 3:12 p.m.)

Just got off the phone with CIF Spokesman Thom Simmons. Here’s how he explained the voting process:

The 36 members in the coaches advisory committee as well as an at-large member from each league and members of daily media organization (such as the Los Angeles Times, Daily News, Daily Breeze and Orange County Register) vote on a 10-point system to determine the weekly divisional rankings.

The ballot (which I’ve never received nor voted on while working here or at The Register) is sent out every Monday morning. The votes are tallied to determine the top 10.

So if Rosemead beat Monrovia handily why are the Panthers still four spots behind the Wildcats?

“It’s just like the BCS poll,” Simmons said. “If you lose early in the year you have a chance to come back. Monrovia lost that game early.

“Voters tend keep teams in those slots (so) it’s better to lose early than to lose late.”

Monrovia went on to beat Beckman, La Salle, Temple City and South Pasadena while Rosemead lost to Harvard-Westlake, beat Temple City and then lost to South Hills.

So what’s the deal if the Panthers played against much tougher competition?

“Those are quality losses,” Simmons said. “I’m not going to dispute that at all. They’ve played arguably a tougher schedule, but voters tend to take you where you are at that point; that’s why it’s easier if you lose early and tougher when you lose later.”

As noted earlier, if the season ended today the top four-ranked teams would essentially become the top four seeds in the division.

Votes by coaches and media are kept anonymous. If you think this voting process is wrong and want to voice your concern or frustration e-mail Thom Simmons at thoms@cifss.org

So Stang Fan, yes, if San Gabriel finished as the No. 1 team in the final top 10 rankings they were given the No. 1 seed. The final top four-ranked teams earn seedings and protected in the playoffs with either a bye and/or home field advantage in the early round of the playoffs. The rest of the teams are based on where they finished in their respective league.


Here are the latest CIF-Southern Section Divisional rankings.

Are you as bothered as I am when you look at the Mid-Valley Division rankings?

They are mind boggling considering Rosemead beat Monrovia handily, yet the Panthers are ranked four spots behind the Wildcats at No. 7. (No knock on the Wildcats, but come on!)

The Star-News rankings are fun to look at. It measures the local teams against the rest of the area. But at the end of the day they carry little weight.

But the CIF rankings determine playoff seedings and it is why those polls should be as accurate as possible.

I put in a call to the CIF-Southern Section and I’m waiting to hear back from them.

Have your say. Here’s mine:

1. Palmdale; 2. Alemany; 3. Quartz Hill; 4. Santa Monica; 5. Warren; 6. St. Francis; 7. St. Paul; 8. Mira Costa; 9. Eastside; 10. Leuzinger.

Thoughts: This looks about right. Friday’s Mission League opener for the Golden Knights will be key if they wish to hold on to the No. 6 spot. Next week will be tougher when St. Francis plays host to No. 2 Alemany. I’ll be there on assignment.


1. South Hills, 2. Charter Oak, 3. California, 4. Santa Fe, 5. Muir, 6. La Serna, 7. Crescenta Valley, 8. Rowland, 9. West Covina, 10. Bonita.

Thoughts: Same here. Can’t complain about the rankings. They are spot on though you can argue Muir should be No. 3. Crescenta Valley a little high?


1. San Dimas, 2. Cerritos Valley Christian, 3. Monrovia, 4. Azusa, 5. San Marino, 6. Northview, 7. Rosemead, 8. Paraclete, 9. Workman, 10. Pomona.

Thoughts: No way Rosemead is No. 7. They’re getting robbed. The Panthers should be at least No. 3 but don’t be surprised if they suddenly rise to the No. 2 spot, which is where they belong.


1. St. Margaret’s, 2. Marantha, 3. Brentwood, 4. Twentynine Palms, 5. Aquinas, 6. Fillmore, 7. Desert, 8. Santa Paula, 9. Malibu, 10. Big Bear.

Thoughts: Ah yes, the Maranatha always in St. Margaret’s rear view mirror. Tartans vs. Minutemen in the finals.


1. Saddleback Valley Christian; 2; Riverside Christian; 3. Boron; 4. Linfield Christian; 5. St. Genevieve; 6. Bell-Jeff; 7. Fairmont Prep; 8. Rio Hondo Prep; 9. Pasadena Poly; 10. Chadwick.

Thoughts: The Kares have played a tougher schedule than Bell-Jeff and Fairmont Prep. They should be at least No. 6 after almost knocking off Maranatha and Brentwood.

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October: National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Above: From left, San Gabriel’s Chad Carlson, Tony Vong and Eren Garcia, whose mothers each were diagnosed with breast cancer. The pink wristbands and ribbons show support.

Strong dose of reality
San Gabriel trio deals with mothers’ illnesses

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

SAN GABRIEL – Football suddenly wasn’t all that was on their minds.

During practice, on the sidelines, on the field, during a play or celebrating a touchdown. It didn’t matter.

Reality had hit.

When Eren Garcia, Tony Vong and Chad Carlson found out their mothers were diagnosed with breast cancer, the news hit them with such brutal force those two words would change their lives forever.

Aside from skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Nearly 180,000 women were diagnosed last year.

The news hit home and much too close for the San Gabriel High School football team to let Carlson, Garcia and Vong cope through it alone.

Friday marks the end of National Breast Cancer Awareness month, but for Carlson, Garcia and Vong it’s become a cause they’ll live their entire lives raising awareness.

Carlson and Vong are sophomores who serve as backup quarterbacks/linebackers for the Matadors. Garcia is a senior wide receiver who has become a fixture in coach Keith Jones’ lineup.

San Gabriel (4-3, 2-0) is a strong contender for the Almont League title and potentially could make another deep CIF-Southern Section playoff run, which could serve as a brief distraction from the harsh reality the mild-mannered trio faces.

Springing into action was Jude Oliva, the Matadors’ offensive coordinator the last four years who learned during fall camp about the players’ situation at home.

He wanted to do something to honor their parents and wanted them to know they were not alone.

Continue reading

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Football: Star-News Top 10 Rankings Explained

Giving devoted fans and loyal readers an insight to what goes through this head when selecting the Star-News Top 10 Rankings:

1. MUIR (6-1, 4-0) — (Previously No. 2) The goal for the Mustangs was to play to their potential and the last two weeks they’ve done just that. Had St. Francis battled and made it close against Crespi last week no way Muir jumps to the No. 1 spot. At this point, comparing schedules will lead us no where. The determining factor at this point is looking at final scores and how dominant or competitive each team is against its respective opponent. And at this point, Muir has dominated the competition thus far, legitimately earning its spot as the area’s No. 1 team.

2. ST. FRANCIS (5-2, 0-0) — (Previously No. 1) The meaty part of the Golden Knights schedule has passed. Still, their schedule will be tough. St. Paul and Alemany will be tough league foes. St. Francis, however, should make the playoffs. If the Golden Knights played against Muir, the Mustangs would win similar to the way Bishop Amat did two weeks ago. Dietrich Riley is the leader of the team and there are others like Rian Younker on defense who can lead the charge, but beyond that there are no other players who can dictate the game the way a Myles Campbell, Jarron Williams, Mitchell Garner and Tyree Mills can.

3. ROSEMEAD (5-2, 3-0) — (Previously No. 3) There’s not much to say about the Panthers. They are dominating the competition in league with a stout running attack led by Tra Sumler. The key now will be if QB Angel Alejandre can hone his skills because come playoffs, Rosemead will need a balanced attack. But the feeling here is the Panthers will make some serious noise come playoffs.

4. SAN MARINO (7-0, 2-0) — (Previously No. 4) Yes, patiently waiting for Monrovia. Look, the Titans are a strong team this season. Their schedule has been questioned by a few posters but San Marino has won handily. The two wins that help solidify the Titans as a contender this season are Cantwell and San Gabriel. Is it possible Blair and La Canada can pull off the upset? Yes, it’s possible, but highly unlikely. San Marino and Monrovia will be 4-0 heading into the season finale. The concern, however, is whether San Marino is outmatched given it now lacks a true passing game without Steven Wright.

5. MONROVIA (5-2, 2-0) — (Previously No. 6) Ryan Maddox the savior. It was a comment definitely not to snub coach Garrison. Never met the guy but have no doubt he’s a great person and even better coach. The comment alluded to Maddox finding a way to make it work this season. Don’t kid yourselves, the Wildcats struggled to start the season and gradually improved after their win over a then-unbeaten Beckman team, and what this comes down to is coaching. Maddox has earned his money.

6. ARCADIA (4-3, 3-1) — (Previously No. 5) For a second imagine the Apaches healthy and strong. Maybe they’re 6-1 instead of 4-3, but the reality is injuries are slowing down Arcadia. Besides the Monrovia game, the Apaches have not shown their true potential. Arcadia though should make the playoffs. Arcadia beat Monrovia so why are the Wildcats ranked higher? Because even with a healthy Todd Golper, the way Monrovia is playing now, the Wildcats would win.

7. SAN GABRIEL (4-3, 2-0) — (Previously No. 8) The Matadors are the strongest 4-3 team. Here’s a scary tidbit: San Gabriel’s three losses are to teams who are a combined 21-0!!! Enough said. Isaac Valdez is the best QB in the Almont League. He proved that much last week.

8. MARANATHA (7-0, 2-0) — (Previously No. 7) Talked to coach Joel Murphy a couple days ago about possibly playing a tougher nonleague schedule next season. Imagine a Maranatha vs. South Pasadena or Maranatha vs. Temple City, though it might be pointless next season when the Minutemen lose Kansas State-bound QB Matt Schilz. Maranatha needs to get its act together and finish teams quicker, especially if they’re against inferior opponents (like Kilpatrick). Brentwood vs. Maranatha will be a good one.

9. TEMPLE CITY (3-4, 1-1) — (Previously No. 9) The Colorado Rockies come to mind when I think of the Rams in terms of possibly peaking at the right time. That would be the playoffs. Temple City still is figuring out how to win games. Sure, they blew away Blair last week but for a little while the Vikings were in the thick of things. The secondary might be tested this week with Tigers QB Conor Bednarsky, only a sophomore, throwing like there’s no tomorrow. Then comes another test when TC faces a potent ground attack from San Marino’s duo running backs.

10. ALHAMBRA (3-4, 0-2) — (Previously No. 10) I’ll be covering San Gabriel vs. Alhambra on Friday, but something tells me the Moors won’t be rolling out the red carpet for me at Homecoming. Look, Alhambra has way too much talent to be 0-2 heading into its game against its rival. How Mitchell Crockom isn’t making more catches is beyond me. But someone with his size and athleticism should be able to lead the way offensively.

Crescenta Valley is not in our coverage area. Not sure why but those are the rules. But if they were in our area I’d rank the Falcons at No. 3 in the top 10.

p.s. I swear last night I had a dream I was covering the Turkey Tussle. The Rose Bowl was sold out, the lights didn’t work but the game was played anyway. I hate it when work follows me into my dreams.

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