….Star Picks….This is why I’m (not) hot

Star-News preps writer Keith Lair and I will be going head-to-head throughout the season, and I will update our records each Monday on the “Star Picks” thread.

Melendez: Last week: 12-3; Overall: 86-36
Lair: Last week: 12-3; Overall: 96-26

Notes: I don’t understand how Keith is 10 up on me, but my 3-7 start in Week 0 didn’t help at all. I’ll take solace in that I’ve had 626 football knowledge only three months compared to Keith’s 10 years-plus. My wrong picks were: Duarte (whooped by Azusa); St. Francis (whooped by Crespi); and Alhambra (lost to Montebello). Keith’s wrong picks were: Duarte, Alhambra and Bell Gardens (lost to San Gabriel).

This week: Two very good games this week that pop out right away are Crescenta Valley at Muir and San Gabriel vs. Alhambra. The former will decide the Pacific League title. But after watching Muir at its best, the vote here goes to the Mustangs who just might be the very best team in the San Gabriel Valley. Period. It’s homecoming at Moor Field. (I wonder what they’ll think of this alumni?). The edge here goes to the Matadors who have an established running attack, something Alhambra has severely lacked since the departure of Brown & Smith. I had a really hard time picking Temple City over South Pasadena. The nod almost went to the Tigers but I went with the probably outcome, though that game will be close, me thinks.

Friday’s Games with Predictions
San Gabriel vs. Alhambra at Moor Field, 7 p.m. — Melendez (San Gabriel)
Crescenta Valley at Muir, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Muir)
Arcadia at Burroughs, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Arcadia)
La Canada at Monrovia, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Monrovia)
St. Francis at St. Paul, 7:30 p.m. — Melendez (St. Francis)
El Monte at Rosemead, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Rosemead)
Blair at San Marino, 7 p.m. — Melendez (San Marino)
Temple City at South Pasadena, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Temple City)
Workman at Duarte, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Duarte)
Gabrielino at South El Monte, 7 p.m. — Melendez (South El Monte)
Pasadena at Glendale, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Glendale)
Viewpoint at Rio Hondo Prep, 7:30 p.m. — Melendez (Rio Hondo Prep)
Bell Gardens at Keppel, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Bell Gardens)
La Salle at Mary Star of the Sea, 6 p.m. — Melendez (La Salle)
Marshall at Brentwood, 3:30 p.m. — Melendez (Brentwood)

Saturday’s Games with Predictions
Chadwick at Pasadena Poly, 3 p.m. — Melendez (Chadwick)
Maranatha at Campbell Hall, 1 p.m. — Melendez (Maranatha)
Bosco Tech at Cathedral, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Cathedral)

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Saturday Morning Quarterback Postgame: Say hello to your new #1 team…Muir dominates; Monrovia back to normal; San Marino rushes in win; Rosemead impressive, Alhambra and Pasadena not so much

Above: Muir’s Mitchell Garner returns a interception for a touchdown while being chased by Arcadia’s Garrett Tuck.


(UPDATED 11:33 P.M.)

Yeah, that win impressed me, Coach Antyone Sims (the Muir offensive coordinator).

Muir showed unmatched speed and wasted no time scoring early and often.

Thomas, the senior all-purpose back, rushed for 115 yards on 16 carries and scored on a 1-yard run in the third quarter with 7:22 left to make it 47-0.

Thomas also was dangerous defensively, intercepting Arcadia quarterback Garrett Tuck three times. Mitchell Garner, who returned from a shoulder injury from two weeks ago, also intercepted a pass from Tuck and returned it 42 yards for a score with 9:15 left in the second quarter.

So what will people now say about Reuben Thomas playing too many positions? Dude was on fire Friday night.

Muir is turning doubters into believers, and that includes me.

The Mustangs were led by a trio of standouts as they overwhelmed Arcadia, 54-0, on Friday night in Pacific League play.

The Reuben Thomas-Myles Campbell experiment proved successful for the second-ranked Mustangs (6-1, 4-0).

The Apaches (4-3, 3-1) couldn’t match the speed and versatility of Muir, who may have played its best game of the season.

Thomas returned the opening kickoff to near midfield and the Mustangs needed only three plays to score, on a 27-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Jarron Williams to Marcus Graves with 11:49 left in the first quarter.

Williams finished the night completing 10 of 14 passes for 194 yards and five touchdowns.

Campbell, a senior wide receiver, rushed for 22 yards, taking over for the injured Chris Dunlap and Tramel Clipper. But Campbell, despite his elusive speed at running back, proved more dangerous playing slot, catching five passes for 105 yards, including touchdown catches of 48, 32 and 34 yards.

Tyree Mills caught three passes, including a 27-yard touchdown pass with 1:44 left in the third to make it 54-0.

It was one of those nights for the Apaches, who couldn’t get into any offensive rhythm.

Tuck completed 10 of 26 passes for 92 yards, but had six interceptions.
Arcadia mustered only 108 yards in total offense. Todd Golper, who played despite a broken toe, carried the ball only once, but caught six passes for 60 yards and had 19 tackles at linebacker.

Robert Felton and Mills were the others who intercepted Tuck.
Muir coach Ken Howard credited Thomas, Campbell and Williams for playing well, in particular Campbell and Thomas who normally play wide receiver and quarterback.

“We put some numbers up and those three guys (Thomas, Williams, Campbell) did an outstanding job,” Howard said. “A lot of these guys can play three or four positions but they’ll play wherever the team needs them to play.”

Howard also credited his lines, which not only protected Williams in the pocket, but led a stifling defense in shutting down Arcadia.

Thomas, who has been spread out enough as it is, seemed to fit in wherever he played, not losing a beat whether it was on offense or defense.

Campbell, who was touted by Howard to be the go-to guy at receiver, has played well of late, amassing 100 yards in his last two games.

He showed his athleticism when he caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Williams with 1:30 left in the first quarter, leaping behind the defender to grab the ball.

Friday’s score with my thoughts

Muir 54, Arcadia 0 — Muir is good. Really good. The Myles Campbell-Reuben Thomas experiment? That was a success. Thomas finished with 115 yards rushing on 16 carries and Thomas caught five passes for 105 yards and three touchdowns. Jarron Williams, who took 98 percent of the snaps, completed 10 of 14 passes for 194 yards and had five touchdowns.

Rosemead 52, South El Monte 14 — Rosemead will look to take control of the Mission Valley League next week when it faces El Monte High. El Monte lost, 9-3, to Arroyo on Friday, a result that leaves the Panthers in control of the league standings. The Panthers received a solid performance from QB Angel Alejandre. He finished the game 10 of 12 for 169 yards and three touchdowns. Tra Sumler saw limited action, rushing for 90 yards and a score.

Azusa 44, Duarte 6 — The Aztecs (7-1, 4-0) took a giant step toward their first Montview League title in years, dropping the Falcons to 2-5 and 2-1. Azusa QB Adrian Gaeta rushed for 91 yards and a touchdown and threw for 86 yards and a touchdown on a night the Aztecs rushed for 291 yards as a team. Defensively, the Aztecs were just as polished, limiting Falcons running back Jordan Canada to just 43 yards and combining for six sacks against Falcons quarterbacks Demetrius Jackson and Durriae Williams.

San Gabriel 42, Bell Gardens 32 — QB Isaac Valdez threw a touchdown pass in the closing minutes of Friday’s Almont League game against Bell Gardens to secure San Gabriel High School’s 42-32 victory. Valdez completed 17 of 23 passes for 325 yards, including two touchdown passes, the last a 49-yard strike to Marcos Villalobos to put the game out of reach.

San Marino 23, La Canada 14 — The Titans rushed for 304 yards as a team. Scott Dooley rushed for 127 yards on 33 carries and scored once. San Marino rushed for 198 yards in the first half alone.

Monrovia 27, South Pasadena 10 — Marquise Williams rushed for 162 yards on 22 carries and scored a TD. Interestingly, Williams scored 116 of those yards in the second half.

Crespi 34, St. Francis 0 — Ouch. The Golden Knights had only 123 yards total offense against a PAC-5 powerhouse. Celts quarterback Bryan Bennett threw for 206 yards on 14-of-17 passing, all in the first half. “The only positive thing coming out of this game is that everyone seems to be healthy going into league” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “We have a lot to work on, but we played a darn good football team.”

Montebello 41, Alhambra 34 — Where’s the D? Last week’s game Alhambra vs. South El Monte had over 30 penalties and 234 yards combined. Our very own Nathan Hawkins was there and he said he was not going to count the penalties this time. There were plenty from what he tells me. The Moors made a couple of good stops that would have tied it but Alhambra fumbled. The Oilers were led by running backs Joseph Marron rushed for 135 yards (2 TD’s) as did teammate Eric Espinoza who also had three TD’s, one running and two receiving. Mitchell Crockom played only the first quarter. He was injured and didn’t play the rest of the game. On the bright side for my alma mater, QB Darrian Cazarin threw four touchdowns and ran for one.

Burroughs 20, Pasadena 0 — The Bulldogs had 85 total yards. It would have been only 47 if not for a 38-yard completion midway in the fourth quarter. Burroughs running back Dominique Barnes rushed for 229 yards on 32 carries and scored one TD. Barnes scored seven TD’s last week. But that was against Hoover.

Gabrielino 28, Mountain View 14 — The Eagles needed this win. Gabrielino High School was powered by three touchdowns from Oscar Rivas.

Keppel at Schurr, 7 p.m. — Apparently, these two teams played yesterday. Thanks for letting us know, Keppel.

Marshall at Maranatha, 7 p.m. — Waiting

Rio Hondo Prep 34, Pasadena Poly 7 — Rio Hondo Prep’s game plan was simple: run the ball and run it often. Backed by RB Antonio Alaniz’s 260 rushing yards, the Kares (3-3) pummeled Pasadena Poly (3-3). Unfortunately for Pasadena Poly, Alaniz was just getting started. The senior captain scored touchdown runs of 19 and 27 yards to finish off an impressive night. Kares junior running back Sterling Hedges also got in on the fun, rushing for 99 yards on 14 carries. The Kares’ defense also hounded Panthers quarterback Neil Child all night. Child completed just 9 of 21 passes, including 0 for 7 in the second half, for 116 yards and two interceptions.

Flintridge Prep 20, Viewpoint 9 — Joel Bryant rushed for 152 yards and two touchdowns as the Rebels improved to 2-5 overall and 2-1 in the Prep League with a victory at Viewpoint. Bryant gave Flintridge Prep a 7-6 halftime advantage with a 17-yard run. Viewpoint (1-5, 0-2) rallied to make it 9-7 on a field goal in the third quarter. But the Rebels countered, going up 14-9 in the fourth quarter on a 29-yard run by Bryant.
Flintridge Prep then sealed it when Adam Ross returned a fumble 32 yards for a TD.

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Thursday Night Spotlight: Blair at Temple City


Tonight’s Game with Predictions:

Blair at Temple City, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Temple City); Lair (Temple City)

Temple City had its chances to head into this game at 1-0 in Rio Hondo League play. But the Rams didn’t do themselves any favors. They had four trips in the red zone and came out of it with only seven points. Temple City had a final chance to tie the score with a TD and win with a converted PAT, but the Rams didn’t get that far, overthrowing the intended receivers in the end zone.

I wonder if Joey Stewart better serves the Rams offense playing running back rather than fullback. I might swing by to this game to check it out. Our Nathan Cambridge will cover the game for the paper. It’s nice to just get out and watch as a fan, for once.

Temple City (2-4, 0-1) will try to bounce back tonight at 7 against Blair (0-1, 1-4). The Vikings’ lone win is a forfeit after Millennium canceled its game because of a lack of money for traveling expenses.

Last season, Blair shared the league title but the Vikings got off to a rocky start this season largely in part because of key player departures.

Taking on Blair the second game of the league season just may be what Temple City needs: a game in which it can score points and get its confidence up as it heads into the meaty part of its schedule.

The Vikings have scored just 18 points in four games combined.

Rams coach Randy Backus, however, exercised caution against discounting the struggling Vikings.

“You can’t,” Backus said. “They just haven’t put it all together. Three great plays followed by a bad play or a big run nullified by a penalty; sooner or later they’ll get that (offense) going. That can be scary.”

Temple City still is trying to figure out its offense, too.

Running back Joey Stewart has been shifted to fullback where Backus said the Rams have needed better production.

“He’s doing great,” Backus said of Stewart. “We’re getting great lead blocks and he’s carrying the ball for about four yards a game. He’s a threat out of the backfield.”

Max Ruckle has taken over at tailback. Ruckle and Stewart have showed signs they belong there, but Stewart thrives when he carries the ball more as the game wears on.

“They both work well together when we go to split backs,” Backus said. “They block well for each other and put the goal of the team first instead of individual statistics.”

Playing fullback is nothing new to Stewart, who played there as a sophomore. He missed parts of last season with a knee injury, but he played fullback near the end of the season.

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Team always comes first

Above: Adam Ross (No. 44) and Joel Bryant (No. 5) are leaders on and off the field at Flintridge Prep High School. (Staff Photo/Keith Birmingham)

Team always comes first
Bryant, Ross keep proper perspective at Flintridge Prep

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

LA CAADA – Sure, football is their passion.

But for Joel Bryant and Adam Ross, it’s just a small piece to the everlasting puzzle we call life.

Bryant and Ross are running backs at Flintridge Prep. The Rebels didn’t have the best of starts this season, but Bryant and Ross, who have taken on the leadership role this season, are not concerned.

Bryant, who is as cool, calm and collected as an athlete can get, calmly explained how he gets his teammates to keep it together despite Flintridge Prep heading into Week 7 with a 1-5 overall record.

“I go into every game expecting we can win,” Bryant said. “Records are deceiving. They don’t define a team.”

Call them Thunder and Lightning.

Ross is a thundering back who would rather go through you than around you. Bryant is a lightning-quick back who is elusive and can avoid defenders with his quickness.

Ross is the workhorse who accounts for much of the Rebels’ yardage and leads Flintridge Prep down the field on long drives.

Enter Bryant, who finishes the job getting into the end zone.

“They blend as one complete running attack,” Rebels coach Perry Skaggs said.

“If you put us together we’re Reggie Bush,” Ross joked.

Ross finished with 12 touchdowns and 860 yards rushing last season to Bryant’s eight touchdowns and 428 yards.

Bryant has nine touchdowns to Ross’ six this season, but Ross shrugs it off.

What Skaggs will miss in Bryant and Ross when they leave for college are their personalities. They are two good players who are even greater people and shined because of who they are rather than what they do on the field.
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Star-News Player of the Year: Who’s in contention?

We’ve reached the midway point of the season and several players have emerged, and some that we thought would be contenders have dropped off.

Here is the list of the top five players listed in the 2008 High School Football Preview:

*Dietrich Riley

*Todd Golper

*Mitchell Crockom

*Marquise Williams

*Myles Campbell

But this award isn’t won until league and CIF playoffs are done, so who do you think will be standing in the end?

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Alhambra, TCity: Bottom two but who goes where?

Last week’s rankings had Alhambra at No. 9 and Temple City at No. 10, respectively.

Both teams lost last week. If you drop them out of the rankings, what teams get in?

If they both stay in the rankings, do they keep their ranking or does Temple City get the No. 9 spot despite the loss?

Consider this:

Alhambra lost to Schurr, 38-24: The Moors (3-3, 0-1) could not capitalize on some of their offensive drives. Alhambra had a chance to go up, 7-0, in its first possession but squandered the opportunity. Darrian Cazarin hit Mitchell Crockom on the first play with a 67-yard pass, but all the Moors got out of it was a 25-yard field goal from Brian Gonzalez. Schurr countered with a 43-yard field goal and then Robert Duran ran for a 3-yard score to make it 10-3 before going into the half with a 17-3 lead. Alhambra’s defense vanished in the second half as the Spartans scored on three consecutive possession. Cazarin had a great game. He finished the night completing 14 of 25 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. But the running game that Coach Gil Ruedaflores said they’d implement so far is nonexistent. The Moors were held to 18 yards rushing on 12 carries. Can’t live by the pass the rest of the season.

Temple City lost to Monrovia, 13-7: Some probably expected Monrovia to blowout the Rams. But Temple City kept this game closer than many expected. The main objective for the Rams defense was containing Marquise Williams. That didn’t happen. Williams rushed for 244 yards on 18 carries and scored two touchdowns that came on the ensuing possessions following missed field-goal attempts by Temple City. Both of Williams’ touchdowns were 80-yard sprints. Overall, Temple City’s defense clamped down the Wildcats resurgent offense. Max Ruckle scored on a 5-yard run to cut the Rams’ deficit to 13-7 with 5:31 left to play. Monrovia failed to score on its ensuing possession, giving TC one last change to win. Not sure what’s the deal with Joey Stewart. He’s not mentioned in the story and it appeared the Rams preferred the passing game against a secondary that played back. Temple City’s running game could have taken advantage here. In any case, the Rams played a stout Monrovia team tough and nearly pulled off the upset.

The polls 1-8 will stay just about the same. No movement there (I’m sure Muir will argue that).

But does Temple City takeover the No. 9 spot because it played the No. 6 team in the area tough?

Does Alhambra drop one spot despite having beaten the Rams earlier in the season?

Tough call, eh?

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Arcadia’s Courtney Lee named 2009 Rose Queen

Above: Courtney Chou Lee reacts upon hearing she has been chosen as the 91st Rose Queen at the Tournament House in Pasadena on Tuesday. (Walt Mancini / Staff Photographer)

By Caroline An
Staff Writer

PASADENA – Arcadia High School senior Courtney Chou Lee was named Rose Queen during a morning ceremony at the Tournament House on Tuesday.

Lee is captain of her school’s varsity volleyball team, president of the Arcadia High Senior Men and Women group and is a committee member of the Methodist Hospital Foundation.

The seven-member Rose Court will reign over the 120th Rose Parade and 95th Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 1.

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Monrovia has proud, painful tradition

This story comes from longtime staffer Jim McConnell, the man we call, “The King” around the office. He writes a weekly Then & Now column. He gives us a bit of history today about Monrovia football.

Jim McConnell

Say “wait ’til next year” one hundred times. When you’re done, you will have articulated the mantra of Monrovia High football.

Few Southern California football programs have been as successful as Monrovia’s. None have been as star-crossed.

In the 100-year history of football at Monrovia High, the Wildcats have had legitimate shots at no less than 24 CIF-Southern Section titles. Incredibly, they’ve failed to win any.

Monrovia High was founded in 1887, which makes it one of the oldest high schools in Southern California. The school first fielded a football team in 1898. In 1914, it was one of the founding members of the CIF. By 1921, Monrovia was in the running for a berth in the CIF-SS playoffs and took a 7-1 record into its regular-season finale against L.A. Lincoln. A win would have vaulted the Wildcats into the playoffs, but Lincoln won 33-0.

By 1927, under the guidance of former USC star Hobbs Adams, the Wildcats were back among the top teams in Southern California. Monrovia was 7-1-1 entering its final regular-season game against league rival Covina. The powerful Colts – two-time defending league and CIF-SS champs – prevailed and denied Monrovia a playoff berth.

The 1928 season brought more heartbreak for Monrovia rooters. The Wildcats went undefeated in nine games, but were held to ties against league rivals El Monte and Citrus, and Covina once again wound up representing the league in the playoffs.

The leading player on the 1927 and 1928 Monrovia teams was quarterback Willard Brouse, who went on to play for Howard Jones at USC.

After a couple subpar seasons, Gene McAlister took over as Monrovia coach and put together a powerhouse in 1935. It was quite possibly the best team in school history and among the greatest San Gabriel Valley teams ever.

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