Offense of the future or just unfair?

Above: The Piedmont High School football team lines up against St. Mary’s in Piedmont, CA October 3, 2008. (Max Morse for The New York Times)

Here’s a very interesting from a story that ran in The New York Times last week (yes, I read the NY Times. I also read the Wall Street Journal).

The A-11 offense is a trip. It was created by a group of coaches in Piedmont who wanted to compete with the big boy schools. I read the story and I laughed because the offense bypasses so many loopholes.

Check out how it works (From The New York Times):

By placing one of the quarterbacks at least seven yards behind the line of scrimmage, and no one under center to receive the snap, the A-11 qualifies as a scrimmage kick formation — the alignments used for punts and extra points.

Thus interior linemen are granted an exception from having to wear jersey numbers 50 through 79. (The exception was intended to allow a team’s deep snapper not to have to switch to a lineman’s jersey if he was a back or an end.)

Any player wearing jersey numbers 1 through 49 and 80 through 99 is potentially eligible to receive a pass.

Piedmont’s basic A-11 formation calls for a center flanked by two guards, who are essentially tight ends. Two quarterbacks, or a quarterback and a running back, line up behind the center, with three receivers split to each side.

Under football rules, seven players must begin each play on the line of scrimmage and only five are permitted to run downfield to receive a pass — the two players at the end of the line and three situated behind the line.

The difficult task for a team defending against the A-11 is to quickly and accurately figure out who those five eligible receivers are.

Prior to each Piedmont play, only the center initially goes to the line of scrimmage. The two “guards” and the split receivers each stand one and a half yards off the line.

Then, just before the ball is snapped, Piedmont shifts into formation for the signaled play.

With this simple movement, the possibilities for eligible receivers become dizzying.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Piedmont High and Saddleback Valley Christian in Orange County are believed to be the only schools in the state to run the A-11 offense. Schools in at least five states are banned from using the formation. In North Carolina, the first attempt to run the A-11 will result in a 15-yard unsporting penalty and the second in disqualification of the head coach.

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….Star Picks….Super star status dwidling

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: 12-4; Overall: 74-33
Lair: Last week: 14-2; Overall: 84-23

Notes: I’m starting to worry a little and for good reason. Keith gets to check out one football game per week and that’s a stretch. I “cover” football just about all week yet he’s up 10 games on me. I didn’t do too bad last week. My wrong picks were: St. Francis (lost to Bishop Amat); Gabrielino (lost to Arroyo); La Salle (lost to Verbum Dei); and Rio Hondo Prep (lost to Chadwick). Lair’s two losses were Alhambra (lost to Schurr) and La Salle.

This week: Plenty of good action going on this week. Muir at Arcadia has a lot of intrigue. I’m not sure that playoff indications are on the line, but the end result of this game could map out the rest of the Pacific League. South El Monte at Rosemead will be a Mission Valley League showdown. Bell Gardens at San Gabriel could be the game that decides the Almont League title and St. Francis at Crespi is basically another St. Francis-Bishop Amat game. Kind of.

Friday’s Games with Predictions
Muir at Arcadia, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Muir)
South El Monte at Rosemead, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Rosemead)
Duarte vs. Azusa at Citrus, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Duarte)
Bell Gardens at San Gabriel, 7 p.m. — Melendez (San Gabriel)
San Marino at La Canada, 7 p.m. — Melendez (San Marino)
Monrovia at South Pasadena, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Monrovia)
St. Francis at Crespi, 7:30 p.m. — Melendez (St. Francis)
Montebello at Alhambra, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Alhambra)
Burroughs at Pasadena, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Burroughs)
Gabrielino at Mountain View, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Gabrielino)
Keppel at Schurr, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Schurr)
Marshall at Maranatha, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Maranatha)
Pasadena Poly at Rio Hondo Prep, 7:30 p.m. — Melendez (Rio Hondo Prep)
Flintridge Prep at Viewpoint, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Flintridge Prep)

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….The Straw Poll….

Here you go, MuddyWaters, all because I’m a man of the people…This question comes from one of your very own. I thought it was a good topic so I decided to give it its own thread.

EVERYONE is invited to take this STRAW POLL:

With the rash of injuries as of late being reported from different high schools, I am interested to know what impact this has had for ALL of our kids. So here is what I am asking from each of you:

1. Please list the name of the local school and number of players from your team that have had a major knee injury this football season. (Please no player’s names for the moment. A “major knee injury” is anything where a player is unable to play for 6 weeks or more. I may consult an Ortho Sports Med guy for a better definition in the future).

2. Second, list whether the team plays on grass or artificial turf.

3. If you know the player was injured on grass or turf that would also be helpful.

Miguel, you may want to consider making a sticky thread of this post so this list can be updates as the season goes on. Anyone else have any thoughts or information we should be asking? Thank you in advance for everyone who replays.

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…Saturday Morning Quarterback Postgame: Freddy, I wear a size large; Bishop Amat too much for St. Francis; San Marino remains unbeaten; Monrovia in driver’s seat; Maranatha rallies in OT and Arcadia, Muir impressive…





Well, Robledo wins the bet. During the fourth quarter he texted me to give him the score. After I told him Bishop Amat was winning 21-10 he asked, “I hope you look good in blue.”

Sometime next week, I’ll wear a Bishop Amat hat to work and we’ll post the photo on both blogs. That’s what I get for thinking St. Francis would win.

But in all honesty, the Golden Knights had a chance but they committed some key mistakes that helped Bishop Amat keep some drives alive.

The Lancers wasted no time to start the second half that practically spelled the end of a magical run for St. Francis on Friday night.

Lancers QB Jerry McClanahan connected on a 56-yard touchdown pass to Jay Anderson with 8:21 left in the third quarter as Bishop Amat pulled away from the host Golden Knights en route to a 28-13 victory in front of a standing-room only crowd in a showdown that pitted the two best teams in the San Gabriel Valley.

McClanahan led Bishop Amat (5-1), completing 11 of 16 passes for 152 yards and two touchdowns, including a 19-yard score to Joshua Tierney with 5:08 left in the half. That score gave the Lancers the lead for good as they headed into halftime with 14-10 advantage.

Neither team got off to the best of starts.

St. Francis (5-1) quarterback Justin Sciarra’s first pass was incomplete and his second pass was intercepted by Adam Barrera to put the ball at the Golden Knights’ 29.

Anderson carried the ball on the first play for Bishop Amat, but was met at the line of scrimmage and tackled for a 5-yard loss by Dietrich Riley.

McClanahan fumbled, but the Lancers recovered and were forced to punt on fourth-and-13 at St. Francis’ 32.

Sciarra completed 6 of 16 passes for 192 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
He connected on an 80-yard touchdown pass to Malik Speed with 7:47 left in the first quarter. But it was the second and third effort by Speed that accounted for the score, as he averted two ankle tackles.

The Lancers scored on Anderson’s 12-yard run with 10:43 left in the second quarter.

Bishop Amat needed 10 plays and marched 95 yards; a key offsides call on third-and-5 at the Lancers’ 10 kept the drive alive.

David Sternau converted a 32-yard field goal with 8:25 left in the half to give St. Francis the lead again, 10-7.

Sternau kicked a 20-yard field goal with 9:56 left in the fourth quarter to make it 21-13, but that’s as close as the Golden Knights would get.

“I thought our guys played hard,” Golden Knights coach Jim Bonds said. “That’s a good Bishop Amat team.

“Coach Hagerty has done an outstanding job getting that program to where it once was. We had our hands full. We got up on them early with some trickery, but they just had some big plays and we weren’t able to stop them.”
Riley was slowed after the first quarter. He had nine carries for 35 yards and caught two passes, including a 48-yard reception.

Speed caught three passes for 121 yards.

Bishop Amat could have pulled away in the first half but two shoestring tackles stopped Anderson and Gaisie.

UCLA-bound Isiah Bowens returned for the first time since sitting out because of injuries.
Bowens, a senior, had two key sacks that knocked the wind out of St. Francis’ sail with 4:14 left in the fourth quarter.

“I thought they played really good,” Bishop Amat coach Steve Hagerty said. “Their quarterback and (Riley) were really good.

“For us to kind of take them out a little bit and make them one-dimensional and force them to throw the ball at the end, I thought, that was key to the game.”

Above: Bishop Amat’s Josh Tierney catches a 19-yard touchdown pass from QB Jerry McClanahan in the second quarter to give the Lancers a 14-10 lead

Friday’s Results with my thoughts

Bishop Amat 28, St. Francis 13 — The game was close to start but the Lancers pulled away in the second half and proved just how good they really are. Jay Anderson was impressive as was Deshawn Gaisie and Isaiah Bowens. Dietrich Riley and Justin Sciarra were kept in check by a stout defensive unit.

Monrovia 13, Temple City 7 — This game turned out to be closer than I thought.

Arcadia 24, Pasadena 13 – No way the Bulldogs would have pulled the upset. The Apaches are more disciplined. Oh, and they have this guy named Todd Golper.

Muir 47, Burbank 7 — Coach Kenny Howard said he wanted to make a statement and the Mustangs may have finally done that tonight. Muir needed to win big time to erase doubts.

San Marino 31, South Pasadena 7 — It’s highly likely the Titans won’t be challenged until they face Monrovia in the final game of the season, which could very well be the game that decides the Rio Hondo League title.

Arroyo 16, Gabrielino 13 — Arroyo earned its first win of the season. Gabrielino held a brief lead but in the end couldn’t hang on. Never sure which team will ever show up.

Schurr 38, Alhambra 24 — How did I know this would happen?

San Gabriel 35, Keppel 0 — What a yawner.

Verbum Dei 28, La Salle 7 — The Lancers offense continues to struggle. La Salle has had a few games to adjust and get its offense together.

La Canada 33, Blair 0 — I know Gary Parks doesn’t want to think of it this way, but it’s a rebuilding year over on Marengo.

Maranatha 34, Kilpatrick 28, OT — I hope Joel Murphy has a good insurance plan. The Minutemen keep making too close for Murphy’s liking.

Marshall at Calvary Chapel Downey, 7:30 p.m. — waiting

Bosco Tech at Serra, 7 p.m.
— waiting

Rio Hondo Prep at Chadwick, 3:30 p.m. — waiting

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Taking a closer look at Bishop Amat

Bishop Amat is ranked No. 1 by the Tribune. The Lancers hung close to Inland Empire power Los Osos before losing, 24-20, to open the season.

Bishop Amat then shocked many when they overcame a 24-0 deficit on the road and rallied in the third quarter to stun Orange Lutheran, one of the top teams in the state.

The Lancers are led by quarterback Jerry McClanahan who gets plenty of protection from a *stout* offensive line. (Note: I had towering line but that was my bad, blogger dude. Freddy gets the assist on that correction, too).

The defensive unit is anchored by UCLA-bound linebacker Isaiah Bowens, who is expected to make his return Friday, and UCLA-bound cornerback senior Sheldon Price.

Others can be a big factor, too. Seniors Brent Seals and Jesse Prieto are strong linebackers along with Jonathan Maffie, who also is a senior. Deshawn Gaisie will get a load of carries at running back.

The Lancers defense have shown several different fronts and coverages and have the ability to blitz and also play man coverage. They can rush five and play zone, too.

Bishop Amat boasts an all-star coaching staff and at the center of the defensive schemes is former USC standout Daylon McCutcheon, the defensive coordinator.

Steve Hagerty, a 1980 Bishop Amat alumni, is in his first year as coach of the Lancers and boasts an impressive resume.

Hagerty won three consecutive CIF-SS championships from 1997-99 in his first head coaching gig at Paraclete, and later won two more as an assistant at J.W. North and Citrus Hill before returning to Bishop Amat.

Bishop Amat has played powerhouses Los Osos and Orange Lutheran, handily beat West Covina (4-1) and Damien (1-4), and edged Diamond Ranch (1-4).

The Lancers have played far more superior teams than St. Francis has, making Bishop Amat’s schedule stronger compared to the Golden Knights’.

“It’s not going to be easy,” Bonds said. “It’s by far the toughest game we’ve played.”

It’s going to get tougher for St. Francis the following week. The Golden Knights will then face another Serra League powerhouse in Crespi, who is 4-1 in the season and also play in the PAC-5 Division.

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So what’s wrong with Pasadena this season?

I know, Pasadena is coming off a 51-6 win over Hoover, but lets be honest, it’s Hoover!

If not for Hoover in the Pacific League opener there’s a good chance the Bulldogs start the season 0-5.

Coach Kevin Mills is not much of a talker. For example, when I asked him about the assessment of his team Mills said, “All I’m gong to say is stay tuned.”

Mills is in his fifth year at Pasadena and has compiled a 17-30 record through Week 5. The Bulldogs (1-4, 1-1) offense can’t seem to get it together.

Mills said near the start of the season that he finally had the depth Pasadena has lacked over the years, but the Bulldogs fared better in ’07 and ’06.

The lineup experimentation has led to a 30-19 loss to Arroyo Valley; a 51-12 loss to Saugus; a 36-0 loss to Long Beach Jordan and a 35-14 loss to Burbank to open league play two weeks ago. Pasadena is averaging 19 points per game but giving up nearly 32 points per game.

No doubt the Bulldogs lost some good talent: six starters lost to graduation including Tyron Crockom who now is at Western Missouri.

But Pasadena returned five starters from last year’s team that went 7-5 and finished third in league with a 5-2 record.

Senior tailback JQuan Hamilton, senior wide receiver Joseph Jackson, senior linemen Justin Jones, junior linemen Anthony Boykins and junior linemen Chris Connell all returned this season.

Hamiton has shown signs of brilliance on the field, such as when he showed nice moves to go with with his breakaway speed. He went 59 yards for a touchdown to close the gap, 10-7, against Arroyo Valley. Isaiah MacKlin had a good defensive game that day, recovering a fumble and recording 1 1/2 sacks. Josh Desmuke completed 9 of 16 passes for 114 yards, but to no avail.

Against Saugus, Pasadena’s offense struggled as two errant lateral passes led to 10 first-quarter points for the Centurions, and its running game finished the first half with only 33 yards on the ground to go with only three first downs.

Then came the debacle against Long Beach Jordan. The Bulldogs failed to record a first down, didn’t complete a pass and had minus-9 yards of total offense. Pasadena’s defense gave up 278 yards.

“I think to everybody’s knowledge, we lost quite a bit, but I like our chances in the Pacific League,” said Mills before the start of the season. “I’m not going to put anybody ahead of us. We have just as good a chance as anybody.”

Pasadena’s record over the last four years:

2007: 7-5 overall, 5-2 league
2006: 5-5 overall, 2-2 league
2005: 3-7 overall, 2-3 league
2004: 1-9 overall, 1-4 league

Pasadena has steadily improved since Mills took over in 2004. But things look to be on the decline this season and with with a talented team the question is, why?

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The bet is on!!!!!

Freddy finally caved in. The initial bet was going to be the loser would wear a USC shirt to work Monday.

But Robledo wanted no part in that. So the new bet is going to be this:

Loser has to wear the other team’s hat to work the following week. A Bishop Amat win, I’ll wear a Lancers hat.

If St. Francis wins, Robledo will wear a Golden Knights hat. I’ll remember to buy a hat at Friday’s game for Robledo. So who else is bothered that Robledo forgot his roots? How quickly they forget….

This is the alternative, Robledo said, because in no way, shape or form, will he ever wear anything with USC on it.

I guess I can understand. We’re both huge UCLA fans. I’m almost certain if we put on a USC shirt we’d burst on fire.

Well, time to compare stadiums.


Hands down St. Francis has a stadium that’s second to none. The turf allows for great playing conditions even when it rains.

Friedman Field, nestled on Foothill Blvd., looks as if it has an enormous home stands; its backdrop is a tall-standing building of classrooms that provide an eagle eye’s view from atop.

I’ve been a few times to Keifer Stadium in La Puente. The stadium and its campus sits in the middle of a neighborhood. It kind of reminds me of St. John Bosco’s stadium but with easier access.

Bishop Amat’s press box is tiny unless you climb to the top for an aerial view. The field has grass and though it’s neatly manicured, the stadium doesn’t compare to Friedman Field.

The winner is St. Francis by a landslide.

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Football: Major movement in Star-News Top 10 poll

Above: St. Francis faces a tough task when Bishop Amat comes to town on Friday night.

There was some major movement in the Star-News Top 10 football poll polls this week. Back by popular demand, my explaining of the top 10 poll.

1. ST. FRANCIS (5-0) — (Previously No. 1) The Golden Knights face their biggest challenge of the season when they play host to Bishop Amat on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Lancers (4-1) are the No. 1 team in the Tribune rankings. They have recorded impressive wins including an upset over Orange Lutheran. St. Francis, who is holding strong at the No. 1 spot, is hoping to avenge a loss from two seasons ago at Bishop Amat when the Lancers got a favorable call on a 2-point conversion.

2. MUIR (4-1) — (Previously No. 2) The Mustangs are looking beatable but Coach Ken Howard said Muir needs to win big this week to erase doubts other teams may have about the Mustangs. Pacific League teams, for good reason, are probably thinking they can knock off Muir, which is why Howard said they need to start putting up points and make it known that the Mustangs are, and will remain, the best team in the Pacific League. Muir is holding strong at the No. 2 spot, but to me they definitely look beatable. Muir’s defense is great but at some point other teams will start capitalizing on the Mustangs’ offensive miscues.

3. ROSEMEAD (3-2) — (Previously No. 3) The Panthers proved they can hang with the big boys. I knew this game would be very close and I was almost going to pick Rosemead. South Hills said they didn’t come prepared to play. Maybe they thought they could walk away with a win, but Rosmead coach Matt Koffler & Co. had other plans. Come playoffs the Panthers will be making some serious noise.

4. SAN MARINO (5-0) — (Previously No. 4) The Titans passing game suffered a bit against San Gabriel last week but did just enough to get by and prove San Marino is back in full force. Scott Dooley proved to be too much for the Matadors to handle in a 29-17 win over San Gabriel.

5. ARCADIA (3-2) — (Previously No. 6) The Apaches jumped up one spot. They are on a two-game winning streak and talk about proof that Todd Golper is the heart and soul of the Apaches team. Golper finally returned against Glendale last week and scored three touchdowns. I know he’s in major pain because of the injury but once he got the doctor’s clearance there was no way getting him off the field. With Golper back, and Garrett Tuck throwing the ball well and Dimalante finding a surprisingly good tailback in sophomore David Maldonado, the Apaches could be making a run for a second-place finish in the Pacific League. Why people continue to bash Golper is beyond me. The kid is the real deal. I’ve seen him play and after watching him I was convinced. I’m glad he’s going to UCLA next year because boy do we need his hard nose defense. In my opinion there are two teams that can knock off Muir: Crescenta Valley and Arcadia.

6. MONROVIA (3-2) — (Previously No. 7) The Wildcats jumped up one spot. Monrovia finally got its offense together, consistently improving week after week, and that falls on the coach. Ryan Maddox is getting the most out of his players week after week and the results have shown. I’ve never met Steve Garrison and from what I hear he was a great coach. I’m not going to say Maddox will replace Garrison, but in Maddox the Wildcats football program has an inspiring coach who will start his own legacy at M-town.

7. MARANATHA (5-0) — (Previously No. 8) The Minutemen jumped up one spot after their 14-7 win over Rio Hondo Prep. Maranatha has a favorable schedule from here on out with the exception of Brentwood whom the Minutemen don’t face until Nov. 14 to end the regular season. One loss and Maranatha could drop out of the polls, but as of now they are holding strong at No. 7.

8. SAN GABRIEL (3-3) — (Previously No. 5) The Matadors dropped three spots. The major movement I was talking about started with San Gabriel’s loss, which sort of caused a domino effect (Maranatha, Monrovia and Arcadia each moving up a spot). The Matadors had too many turnovers that not only helped San Marino establish a rhythm but it also energized the home crowd. If I’m correct, fumbles and other mistakes were the same committed against South Pasadena. The Matadors prevailed but I remember writing that if San Gabriel commits those mistakes against a better team (like San Marino), the better team would capitalize and prevail. The Matadors dug a hole too deep and just couldn’t get out.

9. ALHAMBRA (3-2) — (Previously No. 9) This reminds me, I have to put in a call to Gil Ruedaflores. Players were ejected in the Moors’ 35-7 loss to South El Monte last week. But the biggest question is, what happened to the offense? What happened to Cazarin’s 300+ yards passing? Cazarin completed 9 of 19 passes for 151 yards and one touchdown but was intercepted twice. The offense practically dissipated which resulted in another puzzling Alhambra loss. There were way too many penalties and that made for a sloppy game. But more puzzling was Alhambra giving up 21 points in the third quarter.

10. TEMPLE CITY (2-3) — (Previously No. 10) The Rams enjoyed a much-needed win, and it came (again) at the expense of La Salle. So here’s my question: Does Temple City now have two outstanding backs in Joey Stewart and Max Ruckle. From what I remember, Ruckle was more a receiver in the first few games and then brokeout for a huge gain two weeks ago. Things definitely won’t get easy as Temple City opens Rio Hondo League play on Friday in a showdown against Monrovia.

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I’m addding hockey to my list

I went to my first NHL game last night at Staples Center.

I helped in covering the Stanley Cup Finals two years ago or so when the Ducks won it all, but I wasn’t in the press box. I covered the Angels game during the day and then walked over to Honda Center to get fan reaction, both games played the same day.

That was a fun day because I followed around some Ottawa Senators fans at the Angels game and thy got pelted with peanuts.

But that didn’t compare to last night when I watched the Ducks against the Kings last night. All I wanted to see was two things: at least one goal scored and a fight.

Well, I saw a total of five goals (my friends and my date didn’t arrive until six minutes into the second period) including a goal late in the third period when the Kings scored on an empty net.

My new favorite player is defensemen Denis Gauthier Jr. When his goalie was plummeted to the ground, Gauthier had the goalie’s back, taking off his gloves and fought the Duck.

He was penalized of course but if I was on a team that’s the kind of guy I would want on my team. My friends over at The Register texted me to tell me they saw me on TV. We had good seats: Section 109, Row 7. Now I can add another team to my list: Lakers, Dodgers, UCLA and the Kings.

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Robledo: Rio Hondo, Pacific League boring

The War of Words has begun.

Here’s what Robledo over on his blog had to say about our teams out here in the West, where we have Paseo Colorado, the Rose Bowl and Old Town while the East has Subway.

“….this is where it heats up. (Bishop Amat is) going back on the road for the first time in a month, against an undefeated team that has given them fits in recent years.

… On the Pasadena side of town, Star-News prep editor Miguel Melendez is hyping it up to no end. You see, the Pasadena area has been down since I left for the Tribune.

The Rio Hondo league is looking more like the Montview every day, and the Pacific League is kind of boring.

All they really have to get excited about is St. Francis and Muir. So, here it goes, the Tribune No. 1 against the Star-News No. 1. This will decide who IS the top team in the Valley.”

I don’t expect Rio Hondo and Pacific League teams to take that sitting down.

I took Dadof3′s suggestion for a bet, the loser (Robledo) having to wear a USC shirt to work Monday, but Robledo said he’d never wear a USC shirt.

Any other ideas for a bet?

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