…………Star-Jibber…………

Discuss anything and everything you want….

Sorry I’ve kept you guys out of the loop. It’s not on purpose I promise you. In a week I’ll be moving into my new town house in South Pasadena, which means I have to be out of my old apartment by the 31st, this Wednesday. That’s what’s been keeping me busy off the blog and limited to game assignments/Rose Bowl coverage. Things will settle back to normal by the start of next week, I hope. No longer will I be dreading the 40 minute drive from Downey to Pasadena to arrive early in the morning and no more hour-plus drive home in traffic. I’ll be loving the 14-minute drive to and from work, which means I’ll be much more productive, at least that’s the main plan =) As for tonight, I will be heading to the La Salle-Temple City Classic in a bit where I’ll cover St. Francis vs. La Canada at 7:30 p.m. at La Salle High. Andrew J. Campa will cover the other semifinal, Alhambra vs. Montebello at Temple City High, 7:30 p.m. About a week ago, I had planned on posting a Top 10 moments in WSGV Preps ala Robledo’s Top 10 Sports Stories. But I’ve been working here only four months and it’s probably not enough a time to compile such a list. That’s where you come in. What are your top stories of the year. Fill me in. Just for kicks, the best football game I ever covered this year had to be without a doubt La Salle vs. Maranatha, my pick for Game of the Year.

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Football: The 2008 Pasadena Star-News All Area Team

Player of the Year: Tra Sumler
School: Rosemead High
Year: Senior
Height: 5-11
Weight: 205
Notable: The senior was the premiere running back in the San Gabriel Valley. His speed and strength made him hard to bring down and also made him one of the best linebackers in the area. He rushed for 2,451 yards and 33 touchdowns, averaging nearly 190 yards per game. He led the Panthers to a Mission Valley League championship and to the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship game.

Coach of the Year: Ken Drain
School: Rio Hondo Prep
Years: 20th
Notable: Led the Kares to their 12th CIF championship with a win over Riverside Christian in the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division championship game. Rio Hondo Prep also clinched the Prep League title with the help of two 1,000 yards+ rushers in Tim Esguerra and Antonio Alanis.


FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB: Isaac Valdez, San Gabriel, Jr.
RB: Marquise Willliams, Monrovia, Sr.
RB: Jordan Canada, Duarte, Jr.
AP: Reuben Thomas, Muir, Sr.
WR: Marcos Villalobos, San Gabriel, Sr.
WR: Mitchell Crockom, Alhambra, Jr.
WR: Myles Campbell, Muir, Sr.
OL: Chris Flores, Rosemead, Sr.
OL: Matt Calver, Monrovia, Sr.
OL: Josh Ouellette, Temple City, Sr.
OL: Tim Starr, Duarte, Sr.
OL: Joseph De Leon, Muir, Sr.
K: Brian Gonzalez, Alhambra, Sr.

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL: Rian Younker, St. Francis, Sr.
DL: Fernando Aguilar, Muir, Sr.
DL: Edward Vasquez, Rosemead, Jr.
LB: Todd Golper, Arcadia, Sr.
LB: Nick Conora, Temple City, Sr.
LB: Gilbert De La Rosa, Rosemead, Sr.
LB: Joe Vazquez, Monrovia, Sr.
DB: Dietrich Riley, St. Francis, Jr.
DB: Steven Yortsos, San Marino, Jr.
DB: Mitchell Garner, Muir, Sr.
SS: Marcus Graves, Muir, Sr.
P: Bobby Maldonado, Rosemead, Sr.

SECOND TEAM OFFENSE
QB:
Matt Schilz, Maranatha, Sr.
RB: Max Ruckle, Temple City, Jr.
RB: Scott Dooley, San Marino, Sr.
AP: Jarron Williams, Muir, Jr.
WR: Terell Cornell, Maranatha, Jr.
WR: Steven Colliau, South Pasadena, Sr.
WR: Gianni Bruno-Lopez, Temple City, Sr.
OL: Nick La Croix, Arcadia, Sr.
OL: Luis Diaz, Rosemead, Jr.
OL: Joe McMahon, San Marino, Sr.
OL: Alejandre Bobadilla, San Gabriel, Sr.
OL: Robert Felton, Muir, Sr.
K: Eric Chalifour, Pasadena Poly, Sr.

SECOND TEAM DEFENSE
DL: Ryan Watkins, Temple City, Jr.
DL: Paul Devine, Muir, Sr.
DL: Eddie Garcia, Rio Hondo Prep, Sr.
LB: Michael Weston, La Caada, Sr.
LB: Joey Diaz, Rosemead, Jr.
LB: Frankie Villalobos, San Gabriel, Sr.
LB: Josh Lowden, Monrovia, Jr.
DB: Kendal Boggs, Monrovia, Sr.
DB: Joey Stewart, Temple City, Sr.
DB: Bobby Michael, Monrovia, Sr.
SS: Cesar Chavez, Rosemead, Sr.
P: Daniel Cisic, San Marino, Sr.

CLICK ON THREAD FOR FIRST-TEAM CAPSULES, HONORABLE MENTION AND THE FINAL STAR-NEWS FOOTBALL TOP 10 RANKINGS
Continue reading

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….. Enjoy the Holidays with the ones you love …..

“You spoke to soon about disappointments; this blog has a bad odor to it. Dude come up with something that people want to comment on. Numbers are the same because people are coming in to see what you have posted but leave without commenting when they see what seems to be no effort on your part. Come on Miguel bring something interesting to the table.” I’m just say’in

I don’t know what I’m just say’in‘s problem is but I wish him a happy holiday as well. Truth is, I’ve never been one to look forward to the holidays (hence the picture above) given that I have not been home for every major holiday the last five years (welcome to the glamorous life of a sportswriter). Slowly but surely I’m getting into the spirit of it all, but this isn’t to say I’m not appreciative and thankful this time a year. I would like to thank all our correspondents who helped us with football coverage this season. Sometimes you hated what they wrote and sometimes you loved them. But without them no way we cover every game in the San Gabriel Valley. There’s a reason why football fans from the Antelope Valley, San Diego and Los Angeles areas come to our blog and read our coverage. Special thanks to correspondents John Honell, Scott French, Mike Baca, Casey Cranford, Ismael Reynoso, Ariel Carmona, Bruce Little, Rudy Ramos, Mike Munford, Casey Thompson, Ali Jawad, Jerry Luna, Henry Montemayor, Ross Kimsey, Miguel Arcieniega, John Sherrard, Jeremy Balan, Nathan Cambridge, Nathan Hawkins, Royce Kirkland, Guillermo Tovar, Rick Matthauser, Ed Russell, Jason Lowder, James Moya, Mario Aguirre and Elizabeth Botello. I want to thank every blogger who has helped me become a better sportswriter and every critic and praise from parents, coaches and sports fans. Thank you for taking me in your beloved community and for making me feel like a celebrity when I’m out and about in the SGV. Even when I covered the Lakers I’d never get that kind of treatment. Well, maybe just a little. Special thanks to Star-News Editor Frank Pine, Managing Editor Steve Hunt and Tribune preps editor Freddy Robledo for the opportunity to work here after five long absent years from the SGV. Thanks to my colleagues at the Tribune and Star-News who have welcomed me with open arms and thanks to our wonderfully patient sports copy desk who never seem to get annoyed at my last-minute revisions. I am building a fort here on Colorado and Lake that will only get stronger and better in the months to come. FYI, the Pasadena Star-News 2008 All Area Football Team will publish Christmas Day and will be up on the blog at 5:30 a.m. for those who can’t wait to let the holiday smack-talking to begin. That’s it for now, folks. Enjoy the holidays and be safe. From my family to yours, Feliz Navidad.

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Girls Basketball: La Caada New Year’s Ball Tournament

POOL A:
Filmmore
Flintridge Sacred Heart
La Caada
La Salle

POOL B:
Agoura
Arcadia
Flintridge Prep
Serr

All games at La Caada High School gym

Friday’s Games:
Arcadia vs. Flintridge Prep, 2:30 p.m.
Agoura vs. Serra, 4 p.m.
La Caada vs. Flintridge Sacred Heart, 5:30 p.m.
La Salle vs. Fillmore, 7 p.m.

Saturday’s Games:
Arcadia vs. Serra, 2:30 p.m.
Flintridge Prep vs. Agoura, 4 p.m.
La Caada vs. La Salle, 5:30 p.m.
Filmore vs. Flintridge Sacred Heart, 7 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 29
Agoura vs. ARcadia, 2:30 p.m.
Serra vs. Flintridge Prep, 4 p.m.
La Caada vs. Filmore, 5:30 p.m.
Flintridge Sacred Heart vs. La Salle, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 30
Pool A 4th place vs. Pool B 4th place, 2:30 p.m.
Pool A 3rd place vs. Pool B 3rd place, 4 p.m.
Pool A 2nd place vs. Pool B 2nd place, 5:30 p.m.
Pool A 1st place vs. Pool B 1st place, 7 p.m.

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Boys Soccer: 30th La Caada Holiday Classic

POOL A:
Salesian
La Caada
Santa Clara
Village Christian

POOL B:
Burbank
Golden Valley
Grace Brethren
Maranatha

All games at La Caada High School

Friday’s Games
Burbank vs. Maranatha, 3 p.m.
Grace Brethren vs. Golden Valley, 4:30 p.m.
Salesian vs. Village Christian, 6 p.m.
La Caada vs. Santa Clara, 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s Games
Maranatha vs. Grace Brethren, 3 p.m.
Golden Valley vs. Burbank, 4:30 p.m.
Village Christian vs. Santa Clara, 6 p.m.
La Caada vs. Salesian, 7:30 p.m.

Monday, Dec. 29
Santa Clara vs. Salesian, 3 p.m.
La Caada vs. Village Christian, 4:30 p.m.
Burbank vs. Grace Brethren, 6 p.m.
Maranatha vs. Golden Valley, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 30
Pool A 4th place vs. Pool B 4th place, 3 p.m. (For 7th and 8th place)
Pool A 3rd place vs. Pool B 3rd place, 4:30 p.m. (For 5th and 6th place)
Pool A 2nd place vs. Pool B 2nd place, 6 p.m. (For 3rd and 4th place)
Pool A 1st place vs. Pool B 1st place, 7:30 p.m. (For 1st and 2nd place)

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Spending the holidays at a gym or soccer field?

I wouldn’t know what it’s like to be a parent, and I don’t know that I want to. But I can only wonder how most parents spend their holidays. I know I’ve spent most of my major holidays covering major sporting events (like the Rose Bowl) but for the first time this season I will have Christmas day off. While most families take vacations I will be covering holiday tournaments as I’m sure most of you will be attending (as if you had a choice) your son and/or daughter’s basketball or soccer tournaments. But unlike just about every high school varsity team in the area, the La Caada High School girls soccer team will not be taking part in a holiday tournament. La Caada coach Louie Bilowitz has had it that way since 1994 when he realized that his son’s senior year would probably be the last time they could all take a vacation. Since then, Bilowitz has opted to not play in holiday tournaments, realizing most families would rather take the holiday break to vacation as a family, perhaps for the last time before the kids head off to college. “I’ve coached the girls now for five years and coached the boys for 15 years,” Bilowitz said. “When my son was a senior in high school in 1994 I realized that he was going to be going to college and summer he’d be with friends and that was the last time we were going to be with him.” The parents were not only receptive to the idea but appreciative. So where will you be this holiday break?


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Football: St. Thomas Aquinas crowned national champs

From Rivals:

ORLANDO (Fla.) – It doesn’t take long to realize Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas is a national championship-caliber football team.

Just ask a coach who has been at the top of the high school football universe.

“They are the best, no doubt about that,” Lakeland coach Bill Castle said after falling to the national champion Raiders in Florida’s Class 5A state championship game.

Castle led the Dreadnaughts (14-1) to a pair of national championships in 2005 and 2006, but he could not come up with any solutions to stopping St. Thomas (15-0) in a 56-7 drubbing Friday in Orlando, Fla., a game that clinched the RivalsHigh national title for the Raiders.

It marked the first national championship and fifth state title for St. Thomas and coach George Smith, who has guided the Raiders for 32 years. Three of the last four national champions came out of Florida’s Class 5A, which is arguably one of the most challenging divisions in the country.

“If you win the state championship in the state of Florida, you’ve got a decent football team no matter what class you are in,” Smith said. “We didn’t talk about that [the national championship], but if that comes with it, that is a very unbelievable event.”

Click here to read the rest of the story and for a list of the nation’s Top 100 teams.

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Steve Ramirez: Did he really say that?

When I covered Major League Soccer at The Register I was well-known for asking the tough questions whether it was after a game, practice or at a press conference. I’m sure U.S. Soccer men’s national team head coach Bob Bradley would admit it and so would every executive/coach who has worked and works for Chivas USA, my first pro beat as a 20-year-old sportswriter (of course when I covered the Lakers I let the big boys do the heavy lifting). But after listening to Rob Parker’s tone and his last question not only did he clearly cross the line but it sounded personal despite what he wrote in his column today on the Detroit News website. Parker goes on to write in his column how he and Rosemead native Rod Marinelli have had talks after press conferences and their mutual respect for one another. Heck, even former Chivas USA coach Bob Bradley pulled me aside one time after a soccer practice and asked me why I wrote a critical story, calling a 0-0 tie tasteless. We talked for a good 20 minutes about the game, his experience coaching the Chicago Fire and comparing the media in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. There was also that one time Bradley yelled at me for continually asking whether one of his best players was in fact pondering to leave the club. Turned out I was right; the player left to Mexico. And his predecessor (Preki) and I went at it, too, after a report that the team was trading a marquee player. I was sure there was video footage of it but I can’t find it and I know there is audio recording because there were five other reporters who watched it unfold. Coaches/players/executives reach a level of comfort with the media. When Bradley was hired as the U.S. MNT coach I approached him and said it was probably the last time I’d interview him since I was thinking about leaving journalism to go to law school. He wished me well, shook my hand and had words of encouragement for me. The point is there’s a difference between asking tough questions, staying professional and acknowledging respect for one another as opposed to crossing the line, something Parker clearly did

From Steve Ramirez (AKA The Instigator) on Robledo’s blog:

There’s an old saying in politics, whether you are republican or democrat, that thou shall never speak ill of another party member.

It’s also goes for the journalism profession. But today I’m going to break that unwritten rule. I’m embarrassed today of being a sportswriter, and I have Detroit News columnist Rob Parker to blame. He clearly stepped over the line Sunday when questioning Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli after the Lions became the first NFL team in history to go 0-15.

Parker tried to place the blame on the Lions defense, and defensive coordinator Joe Barry, asking Rosemead native Marinelli why he hasn’t replaced his DC, who also happens to be his son-in-law.

When he didn’t get the answer he wanted, he crossed the line, asking Marinelli, “Do you wish your daughter would have married a better defensive coordinator?”

This coming from someone who probably doesn’t know the difference between a ‘Cover 2′ or a ‘Plug 1.’ Why get personal, Rob?

The Lions problem lies not with the coaching staff, but with the players that former team president Matt Millen put together. I reflect back to motor sports, and what Al Unser Jr. once told me, and that was that if two cars are close in performance, the better driver can make a difference. But if one car is clearly quicker, the best driver in the world is not going to make that difference up. It’s the same in team sports, where if the gap in talent level is too great, the best coaching staff in the world is not going to be able to win with it.
I guess Parker doesn’t know that. And the Fox Sports staff agrees with me, listen to what they say at the end of the video.

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U.S. Soccer Development Academy: A strain on players?

It wasn’t long ago I was lambasted for an article I wrote being critical of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy. I asked U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati a few years ago what his thoughts were about coaches saying the academy undermined high school competition, specifically in Southern California. He compared me to Mr. Jack Bell for asking such a question which he answered vaguely if I recall. FYI, Jack Bell is a journalist for The New York Times.

In a soccer preview a few years ago, here’s how I ended my report:

U.S. Soccer Development Academy a hit?

Hardly. There was not a single coach surveyed who likes the idea of U.S. Soccer having the newly created Development Academy play during the high school season.

Several teams lost top players to the academy.

Competition in the CIF-SS and tournaments in Southern California are as tough if not more competitive than the schedule the academy has set out: playing other club teams that are not even Premiere teams, the highest level in club soccer.

The West Coast Classic in January is one of the toughest high school tournaments in the nation. Case closed? Time will tell.

I will get into this subject more as we get closer to league play, but the consensus among high school coaches is the academy is doing more harm than good. With this side of town being a hot bed for youth soccer, I wonder what are the parents’ thoughts of the academy and if you prefer the academy over high school competition where there is just as much exposure, if not more. What schools and/or players are still being affected by the academy and why should kids make the grueling decision, playing for your high school team or the Academy? I know this was a hotly contested issue in Orange County, but there are other soccer hotbeds, this part of town included.

Click here to read what my boy Jaime Cardenas, formerly of the Los Angeles Times, wrote on the Academy.

And … for a complete break down of the Academy by Jaime Cardenas, click here.

For the record, Cardenas and I cover high school soccer together in Orange County while he worked at the Los Angeles Times and I with the Orange County Register. We had numerous debates over the Academy and the plan was to both write explanatory reports on the academy, but just as I was about to report on it I was promoted from Major League Soccer to Lakers/Angels while Cardenas got heavily involved in the origins of the academy as you can tell by his well-done reporting.

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