…..Fill in the blanks….

Above: Offensive coordinator Antyone Sims and Muir’s Myles Campbell celebrate.

If I were the preps editor, I would rank _________ No. 1 in the Star-News rankings.

Contrary to Miguel’s belief, the best high school football coaching staff is at ___________.

________ will win the Rio Hondo League title.

_______ will make the deepest run in the playoffs but fall short of winning a CIF title.

_________ will stand alone at the end holding up a CIF-SS championship plaque.

If I were in charge of the CIF-SS polls, I would rank Rosemead at _____.

________ was the biggest disappointment this season.

________ was the biggest surprise this season.

The final score in the Turkey Tussle will be ____.

I’d wish they would play the Turkey Tussle on _________ instead of Friday.

Scott Galetti never would have _____________.

Miguel Melendez should have ______________.

I’m online reading this blog and filling out this survey when instead I should be _________________.

The biggest story of the year is ___________________________.

The best game thus far this season was _____________________________.

The best place to tailgate this season was at ________________ because ___________________.

The best place to watch a high school football game was at ________________.

_____________ should be Star-News Coach of the Year.

_____________ should be Star-News player of the Year.

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Star-News Rankings: Alhambra, San Gabriel dropped


1. Muir (8-1)
Mustangs impatient in stables

2. Rosemead (7-2)
Panthers getting robbed by CIF

3. St. Francis (6-3)
Golden Knights need to win Friday

4. Monrovia (7-2)
Win on Friday and crown is yours

5. Temple City (5-4)
Turning doubters into believers

6. San Marino (8-1)
Titans can still clinch share Friday

7. Maranatha (9-0)
A lot on the line for Minutemen

8. Duarte (4-5)
Falcons are 4-1 in Montview play

9. Arcadia (4-5)
Apaches rooting for Burroughs

10. Rio Hondo Prep (5-3)
Prep League crown on line Friday

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….Early period National Letter of Intent Signing Day….

Wednesday is the early period in which all athletes except football can sign a National Letter of Intent.

I’ve received some e-mails and phone calls about local athletes signing.

If you are an athlete signing and would like to be included in that photo op, bring a hat and/or sweater of the school where you’re signing to the Star-News offices located at 911 E. Colorado Blvd.

We will take a photo of the athletes together in our conference room.

The photo op will take place at 2:30 p.m.

If you can’t make the signing but would like to be included in the story, e-mail all signings to miguel.melendez@sgvn.com or leave a comment on this post.

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Turkey Tussle: Throw away records, this one’s for pride!

Kevin Mills this, Pasadena that … They ain’t all that …

The Bulldogs are 1-8.

So what?

Pasadena has lost 11 straight.

So what?

None of that ever, and I mean EVER, matters when crosstown rivals meet at the end of the season.

Take UCLA three years ago. Nobody thought they’d knock off USC and out of contention for a national championship. But the Bruins did it even when nobody believed in them. The Bruins were the mockery of college football in L.A. But they got it done and UCLA’s season was made with that one win.

Know this: Pasadena’s season will be its best ever in the last 12 years if they knock off John Muir.

So when people blog that they won’t attend the game because they’re embarrassed I got this to say to you:

You’re no true Pasadena fan.

You don’t bleed red and white.

A true bulldog doesn’t hide its tail after a fight. He gets up and continues to fight. He keeps barking even if he’s getting kicked in the gut.

Keep biting because eventually you’ll grab a hold and it is then when you will never want to let go.

True fans stick to their teams in the thick and thin.

And know this: Come Friday, you can bet nobody at Pasadena will care about records.

It’s about pride. Don’t nobody wants their helmet blown off like in that picture above. When you’re getting pushed, push back.

Two teams.

One city.

Winner takes Braggin’ Rites because at the end of the day your rival couldn’t get one up on you.

And even if Muir makes a deep run in the playoffs, Pasadena fans will always have that one game to defend their trash talk.

And there’s that bell, too.

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….Star Picks….Stumbling into Week 10

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: 14-5; Overall: 114-45
Lair: Last week: 16-3; Overall: 127-32

Last week: You can’t overlook 114 wins this season. But just like The Stang Fan stated, I’ve had some laughable picks at times, and on top of that I started the season 3-9. Steve Ramirez over at the Trib seemingly goes out of his way to remind me every time I see him. Among my “laughable” picks last week were: South Pasadena (lost to La Canada); Alhambra (lost to Bell Gardens); San Marino (lost to Temple City); Arcadia (lost to Burbank); and Bosco Tech (lost to St. Bernard). Lair’s wrong picks were: Alhambra, Bosco Tech and Arcadia.

ATTENTION COACHES, ATHLETIC DIRECTORS AND BOOSTERS: If your game changes from Friday to Thursday please let me know. I can be reached at 626.578.6300, Ext. 4485 or miguel.melendez@sgvn.com

This week: Nothing like league titles on the line in the final game of the regular season. Be sure to check back here Sunday for continuing updates when the CIF brackets are released. Here’s how this week’s season finale breaks down among leagues with titles that are up for grabs.

ALPHA LEAGUE: Maranatha will (finally) face a formidable opponent when they travel to Brentwood. The Minutemen seem to bring their best when they see some real competition (such as Rio Hondo Prep). Schilz leads the Maranatha to victory.

MISSION LEAGUE: If St. Francis beats Chaminade and St. Paul beats Alemany there could be a three-way tie for first. A coin flip will determine the league placement for the playoffs. St. Francis beats Chaminade and Alemany prevails against St. Paul. Final league standings: Alemany, St. Francis, St. Paul and Chaminade.

MONTVIEW LEAGUE: Duarte can clinch a share of the crown with a win at home against La Puente combined with an Azusa loss to Bassett. The Falcons can wish, right? Azusa pulls away with the crown and Duarte finishes second.

PREP LEAGUE: Rio Hondo Prep (5-3, 3-1) is a battle-tested team. The Kares have suffered some tough nonleague losses but it prepared them for league and the playoffs. Flintridge Prep (3-5, 3-1) got its act together when league rolled around. Look for Tim Esguerra and Antonio Alaniz to be too much for the Rebels to handle. FYI, Calpreps has Rio Hondo Prep winning, 31-8.

RIO HONDO LEAGUE: There could be a three-way tie for first at 4-1 if Temple City beats La Canada and San Marino beats Monrovia. A coin flip determines the final league placement. The call here is Monrovia wins outright by edging SM by 3, Temple City finishes second and San Marino third.

Thursday’s game with prediction:
Pasadena Poly at Webb, 3 p.m. — Melendez (Pas Poly)

Friday’s games with predictions:
Muir vs. Pasadena at Rose Bowl, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Muir)
San Marino at Monrovia — Melendez (Monrovia)
La Canada at Temple City, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Temple City)
Crescenta Valley at Arcadia, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Crescenta Valley)
Flintridge Prep vs. Rio Hondo Prep at Occidental, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Rio Hondo Prep)
Maranatha at Brentwood, 2 p.m. — Melendez (Maranatha)
Chaminade at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m. — Melendez (St. Francis)
Blair at South Pasadena, 7 p.m. — Melendez (South Pasadena)
Marshall vs. Kilpatrick at PCC, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Kilpatrick)
Bishop Montgomery at La Salle, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Bishop Montgomery)
San Gabriel at Montebello, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Montebello)
La Puente at Duarte, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Duarte)
El Monte at Gabrielino, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Gabrielino)
Alhambra at Keppel, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Alhambra)
Bosco Tech vs. Harvard-Westlake at St. Matthias, 7 p.m. — Melendez (Harvard-Westlake)

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Turkey Tussle: Muir going for 12th straight on Friday

WHO: John Muir (8-1, 6-0) vs. Pasadena (1-8, 1-5)

WHEN: Friday, 7 P.M.

WHERE: Rose Bowl

John Muir leads the series, 36-17-2


As the story goes, Muir and Pasadena, as do most schools that have a cross town rival, played their homecoming football games against each another. It’s the last game of the season and it’s played just before Thanksgiving — thus the “Turkey Tussle.”

The father of a Pasadena student, as usual, brags as to how much Pasadena is going to beat Muir in the football game. A Muir dad takes offense and fires back that Muir will be victorious.

After much discussion a friendly wager is made between the two excited men. Not for money, but for pride. Something that would be sorely missed if lost. The Pasadena dad was a retired Santa Fe railroad man and as a retirement gift from the railroad he was awarded the bell from his locomotive train.

He then bet that Pasadena would defeat Muir and was willing to put his most sacred possession, his bell up as the prize.

Pasadena did win that game and the bell was heard rigging loud and clear after the game.

The following year, he once again put the bell up as a symbol for the victor – but Muir won the game and “The Bell” was silenced.

Muir demanded that the bell be sent to their campus until they played again next year.

And so it began…

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An assault on coach shows cracks in Eagle Rock

This story comes from our friends over at the L.A. Daily News. So this is why there recently was a big shakeup over at Eagle Rock and why most of its coaches left for Glendale, hence the revamped Nitros coaching staff. Here’s hoping I won’t have to write a story like this on this side of town…

By Vincent Bonsignore
Staff Writer

The call arrived at 8 a.m. Friday morning, the male voice on the other end saying: “You’re not going to believe what happened with the Eagle Rock football team.”

The caller then proceeded to explain how a former Eagle Rock player allegedly assaulted first-year coach Johnny Lopez at practice Thursday by attacking him from behind while wearing a helmet, apparently sending Lopez to the hospital and forcing the cancellation of the Eagles’ game at Belmont on Friday.

With just one game remaining, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they just canceled the rest of the season.

Reportedly, the player was egged on – perhaps even paid – by current players on the team to carry out the cowardly act.

It was a shocking story, but the saddest part is that I wasn’t surprised it happened.

If you’ve paid any attention to what has happened at Eagle Rock over the past year or so – and the Daily News has reported on it every step of the way – you understand a terrible disservice has been done to the kids on the football team by most of the adult figures in their lives.

It goes back to Eagle Rock principal Salvador Velasco’s decision to get rid of coach Jerry Chou after last season. Chou had submitted a letter of resignation during the season in protest of Velasco’s handling of some coaching matters at Eagle Rock. But Chou was under the impression his differences with the principal were resolved when he reached an accord with Velasco and coached the final few games of 2007.

Chou was shocked when Velasco informed him he’d have to re-apply for his job if he wished to coach the football team again.

Insulted, Chou declined to re-apply and ultimately moved to Glendale High as an assistant while remaining at Eagle Rock as a teacher.

The parents and players were enraged, pleading with Velasco to reconsider through protests, phone calls, letters and meetings.

Velasco held firm.
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Saturday Morning Quarterback Postgame: St. Francis loses on controversial call; Temple City ousts San Marino; Monrovia, Rio Hondo Prep, Pas Poly win big

(UPDATED 12:32 A.M.)

What should have been a momentum-swinging play midway through the first quarter proved disastrous for St. Francis High School.

The Golden Knights didn’t get off to the best of starts and Justin Sciarra’s frantic attack in the end fell short as Alemany pulled away with a 24-21 victory Friday night in Mission League play.

The victory gave the Warriors (8-1, 2-0) at least a share of the Mission League title. The loss puts the Golden Knights (6-3, 1-1) in a must-win game next week at home against

Chaminade if they are to keep their playoff hopes alive. Justin Sciarra came of age in the second half after a disastrous start that lasted only two minutes.

He led the frantic attack that got St. Francis to within striking distance after an impressive sequence of plays midway through the fourth quarter.

The rally would not have been necessary if not for a controversial call that negated Dietrich Riley’s 53-yard fumble return with 5:58 left in the first quarter.

What appeared to be a fumble by Alemany quarterback David Mercalf on an attempted handoff was later ruled a shuffle pass by the umpire.

Riley’s score would have tied the score, 7-7, and given St. Francis the momentum it had desperately needed. Instead, the ball was brought back, which prompted Golden Knights coach Jim Bonds to rush on the field in protest. He needed to be held back by three of his assistant coaches as he went after the referee.

Alemany didn’t score on that possession, but the damage had been done.
St. Francis didn’t get off to the best of starts.

Sciarra’s first pass slipped past Luther Walker’s hands and was returned 45 yards by Marabel to put the Warriors ahead, 7-0, just 22 seconds into the game.

The Golden Knights didn’t fare any better on their next possession. On first-and-15 at Alemany’s 39, Sciarra was backed out of the pocket and forced a pass that was intercepted by Brendon Costi.

Sciarra was immediately pulled out of the game and replaced by backup Justin Posthuma.

St. Francis trailed, 21-0, heading into halftime after Mercalf scrambled for a 32-yard rushing score with 9:08 left in the second quarter and his 1-yard run with 24.1 seconds left in the half.

Sciarra shook off the horrendous first half and played like a veteran, leading the late attack.

He guided an 11-play, 98-yard drive that lasted 4:42 and was capped on an 18-yard run by Riley with 7:18 left in the fourth quarter.

Sciarra went 6-for-7 on a nine-play, 87-yard drive that was capped on a 6-yard touchdown pass to Riley with 3:40 left in the game and St. Francis trailing by only 21-14.

Alemany marched down to the St. Francis 13 and after unsuccessfully drawing the Golden Knights offsides, Todd Kilroy converted a 23-yard field goal with 2:13 left in the game.

Sciarra again led the attack on a nine-play, 68-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard score from Evan King with 36.1 seconds left in the game to put St. Francis to within three.
The Golden Knights went for an onside kick but it was recovered by the Warriors, who kneeled twice to end the game.

Sciarra completed 11 of 19 passes for 185 yards with two interceptions and a touchdown to lead St. Francis. Riley rushed for 52 yards on nine carries.

Alemany was led by Mercalf, who completed 5 of 10 passes for 79 yards. But it was his work on the ground that tortured the Golden Knights defense, as he rushed for 128 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns.

During the third quarter there was an obnoxious St. Francis fan in that stands who irked me.

He was yelling at Luther Walker after a few dropped passes. It came on the drive where Dietrich Riley scored on an 18-yard run.

Sciarra’s wobbly pass to Walker was dropped. It was catchable but in Walker’s defense it wasn’t the best of passes. The fan started yelling at Walker. It was loud. Loud enough for Walker to hear.

Sciarra again threw to Walker. After a valiant effort where he dove to the sidelines, Walker came away empty. The fan laid in him again and yelled, “Luther, get back in the huddle!” Walker looked up to see who this guy was. I believe one of the assistant coaches looked up as well.

This fan should have kept quiet. Dude, let the coaches do the talking and you enjoy your hot chocolate in the stands. Riley went on to score on that drive, but the fan had his arms crossed while others cheered. He eventually clapped effortlessly.

This guy should have been ejected from the game.

On the controversial call by the referee:
“You can’t appeal a call like that, once they’ve made the call it’s a call. That could be the difference in the game but there was a lot of things we didn’t execute. I was proud of the way we battled in the second half.”

On Justin Sciarra’s remarkable play in the second half:
“He’s a gutty guy. He’s a competitor. I thought the decision he made on the second interception in a league championship game (was his fault) so we had to give Justin Posthuma a chance. I don’t blame (Sicarra) for the first (interception). We didn’t get any points with Posthuma so we went back with Sciarra and (he) showed what a competitor he was in the second half.”

On Alemany QB David Mercalf:
“He’s a better runner alive than he was on film. We saw him play a couple games live and he didn’t do much on the ground as he did tonight. They get us unconscious on the power pitch and they sneaked him down the middle.”

On Mercalf’s 32-yard scramble for a score:
“We had some injuries. We were having some troubles getting lined up. Matt Vidales went out with a broken leg, we think; He’s our starting fullback and inside linebacker and the guy that was starting on the defensive line had to take his spot at linebacker (Eric Dowling) and he got banged up late in the game so he’s on the bench. We just got thin and it was just a case of being misaligned and the quarterback caught us off guard.”

On his QB David Mercalf
“He’s a very good athlete just like the St. Francis QB. We told him to be ready to tonight. You don’t expect him to go 60-yard on a quarterback sneak. We had the game under control and to let them come back it was just… ”

On the controversial call:
“It was a pass. I told the refs before the game that when they come there we pass the ball. Why he didn’t blow the whistle is because he didn’t know that it hit the ground. Once he found out it hit the ground there’s no play.”

On Mercalf’s mobility that surprised Bonds:
“He’s ran the ball well all year. He hasn’t busted 60-yarders but he’s ran for first yards. He’s a very good athlete and that’s why he’s back there.”

On the playoff scenario:
“We have a tie for a championship, it all depends on St. Paul and Chaminade. If St. Paul wins and St. Paul beats us it’s a three-way tie and with a coin flip you can be out. If Chaminade wins we clinched the first spot.”

(St. Paul defeated Chaminade, 35-28, OT)


Friday,’s Games with Thoughts

Alemany 24, St. Francis 21 — You have to feel for the Golden Knights. This really was the refs blew, and it wasn’t just that call. There were numerous calls that didn’t go in favor of St. Francis. But Jim Bonds, classy as always, didn’t point any fingers.

Temple City 21, San Marino 10 — OK, I’m ready to hear it from all of you. I’m going to use my “I’m a rookie” card. Either way, the Rams proved all the doubters and I’m sure that only included me. Max Ruckle rushed for 177 on 22 carries and scored two touchdowns. First play of the game Ruckle sprinted for a 77-yard touchdown score. The Rams were not messing around. They went for an on-side kick and though nothing came of it, it showed they wanted to take over and do it early. Coach Randy Backus had a mouthful of quotes after the game. “We responded with a great defensive effort tonight,” Backus said. “They intercepted one and then we got one right back. Then we had that great stop down there at the goal line at the end of the first half which turned out to be huge, because if they score there, they’re down by one score and they were getting the ball to start the second half. “But we responded and got that stop on fourth down to hold them where they were.” If the Rams don’t win next week and San Marino beats Monrovia, La Caada can get in, so this was like Temple City’s first playoff game.

Schurr 14, San Gabriel 7 — How does this happen? Really? Matadors head into the Alhambra game huffing and puffing only to be on the verge of missing the playoffs.

Burbank 29, Arcadia 22 — Todd Golper gives it his all and he paid the price. The senior linebacker tore his ACL bad and is most likely done for the season. What a career for this kid. On to bigger and better things at UCLA.

Muir 47, Hoover 0 — Bring on the Bulldogs!

Monrovia 48, Blair 12 — DJ Coles and Marquise Williams combined for 233 yards and six touchdowns. The Wildcats can clinch the Rio Hondo League title outright at home next week with a win over San Marino.

Crescenta Valley 35, Pasadena 6 — It’s all about pride now for the Bulldogs.

Bell Gardens 24, Alhambra 20 — I’ve said it all season long: the Moors are an enigma.

Duarte 54, Bassett 0 — Falcons roll while Coach Wardell Crutchfield serves a mandatory suspension.

Rosemead 36, Gabrielino 6 — Patiently waiting for the Panthers…

Montebello 34, Keppel 16 — Aztecs played inspired.

Cantwell Sacred Heart 50, La Salle 7 — Oh man.

Maranatha 39, Calvary Chapel — Minutemen finally win big as they should have been all season.

Pasadena Poly 34, Viewpoint 6 — This win creates a showdown for a shot at the Prep League title next week against Rio Hondo Prep.

Rio Hondo Prep 28, Webb 6 — Kares ride Antonio Alaniz and Tim Esguerra for a shot at the crown.

St. Bernard 44, Bosco Tech 20 — On to next season for the Tigers…

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St. Francis Football: The Area’s Best Coaching Staff?

Surely, Ken Howard over at Muir and others will have something to say about this.

But how many high school football coaches do you know would have gone for the 2-point conversion in the second overtime?

“Screw the tie, we’re going for the win!”

Such was the case last week when St. Francis defeated St. Paul, 15-14, in double overtime in the Mission League opener for both schools.

“I talked to to my defensive coordinator and said, ‘Lets go for two’”, St. Francis coach Jimmy Bonds said. “And he said, ‘If that’s what you wanna do lets go for it.’”

Bonds gambled.

Bonds won.

Most coaches would have played the safe card and gone for the PAT and try to win it in the third OT. But Bonds wasn’t having that. He wanted the game over and he trusted his players.

I’m not saying that play alone solidifies Bonds’ staff as the area’s best football staff but it does bring up a good question: Which team has the best coaching staff?

Let us start with Jimmy Bonds:

He is in his ninth season at the helm. In his previous eight seasons the Golden Knights have reached the playoffs each year making the semifinals three times with an overall record of 56-28. He played high school football at Hart High and led them to the 1986 CIF Championship in the Northwest conference. He was a two-time All-CIF quarterback earning CIF player of the year as a senior and graduated from UCLA where played backup QB to Troy Aikman and Tommy Maddox.

Bonds is one of the smartest football coaches I’ve ever met.

Off the top of my head here is the Top 3 coaching staffs this side of the 626:

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