Above: Stop raising your hand, Joey Diaz, the Panthers are still the No. 1 team.
On Tuesday, Dec. 16 at precisely 9:21 a.m. I created the “final” top 10 rankings. I had been getting a lot of heat already for not having a photographer at the Rio Hondo Prep game and again for not having a story about the Kares in Tuesday’s paper. I figured, heck, why not ruffle every one else’s feathers by giving them a spoof top 10 poll. That’s exactly what I did. I was telling Freddy how I thought I was losing my readers/comments on the blog. The truth is, I hadn’t lost my readers. In fact, our numbers were up! What hadn’t been coming in as much as I’d want were the comments. So I somewhat randomly guessed the final top 10 rankings to get Stang Fan, MADD DOGG and others to come out of hibernation and keep the conversation going (would you REALLY think I’d end the final top 10 rankings WITHOUT a 10th-ranked team?!?!?) After all, isn’t that what a blog is all about?
THE STAR-NEWS FINAL TOP 10 RANKINGS
1. ROSEMEAD (11-3) — The Panthers can compete with just about any team in the San Gabriel Valley. They’re loaded in the trenches, they have a good passing QB and of course Tra Sumler. Still, I wonder why Koffler didn’t hand the ball to Sumler more often. Sure, he had 28 carries but against Monrovia he had at least 10 more carries. Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda. Rosemead had a fantastic season and made the West, err, San Gabriel Valley proud.
2. MUIR (9-2) — The “One and done” wonder was fun to watch all season. I think I caught at least three games. Kenny Howard said Myles Campbell would have a breakout season and he did, catching nearly 800 yards receiving. The Mustangs have weapons at just about every position to compete with the big boys, whether it’s on the defensive line (Fernando Aguilar and Paul Devine), at quarterback (Jarron Williams) or at receiver and running back (Campbell and Reuben Thomas). If Chris Dunlap was healthy all season who’s to say Muir doesn’t fare better against Diamond Ranch in the first round of the Southeast Division playoffs. That might be far fetched, or is it? It doesn’t bode well that the Pacific League was weak this season. The Mustangs needed some stiff competition before the playoffs began but they didn’t get it, and then came the Panthers; starving for a playoff win which may have ultimately been what caught Muir off guard.
3. MONROVIA (10-3) — Steve Garrison to Ryan Maddox. The legend passed the torch to a legend-to-be. What Maddox did at Monrovia was amazing. Pundits are asking, “Who did they really beat?” but one must give credit where credit is due. Maddox inherited the schedule the Wildcats played this season. If I was a betting man, Maddox would have a tougher preseason schedule. The Monrovia staff at one point asked themselves whether they should scrap the Wing-T offense. But Maddox opted to continue with it and Monrovia improved week after week, riding Marquise Williams to the semifinals.
4. ST. FRANCIS (6-5) — In each of their final three games, the Golden Knights fell victim to a bad call here or there from the officials. This is not to say St. Francis shouldn’t shoulder the blame for not capitalizing on opportunities, but there’s little doubt the Golden Knights are talented. With Dietrich Riley returning next season and a more mobile QB in Justin Posthuma, look for St. Francis to climb the mountain next season and compete for the Mission League title and past the first round of the Western Division playoffs. And here’s hoping a Muir vs. St. Francis happens next season. The community deserves it.
5. TEMPLE CITY (7-5-1) — The Rams showed for at least one half against Paraclete in the semifinals of what a complete team playing in sync can do. Temple City had Paraclete on the ropes but faltered in the second half. If you thought the Rams played well this season wait until next season when a junior-loaded line returns next season to block for junior Max Ruckle, who rushed for most of his yards late in the season. Morgan Hatch did most of the intangibles that perhaps went unnoticed to a not so keen eye, but anybody with football knowledge knows how valuable he was to the team. The guess here is Tim Loya will not be taking a head coaching position. So much time and dedication goes into coaching and it gets much tougher when you’re a head coach that is NOT a teacher on campus. Randy Backus has been back on campus teaching for a week now, and It’s unfair for the Temple City administration to have Backus wondering whether he’ll return as coach or not. Give the man a break and get it over with whatever decision they’ve probably already come to a conclusion with.
6. DUARTE (6-6) – Come to think of it, there are so many exciting players to be on the look out for next season including Jordan Canada. The junior rushed for nearly 2,000 yards. The Falcons lose some big boys on the line but Wardell Crutchfield III is showing promising signs. He was the leading tackler for Duarte and he’s only a sophomore. Too bad Canada wasn’t healthy all season long. Who knows how more exciting the MD Classic would have been.
7. SAN MARINO (8-3) – The Titans had a promising start. They played simple but effective football with Scott Dooley running circles around defenders. But he was able to do that because of a big line led by Joe McMahon. Who knows what happens if Steven Wright doesn’t go down to an injury. The Titans likely would have had a more balanced offense. San Marino raised eyebrows with wins over San Gabriel and Cantwell, but lost some luster with losses to Temple City, Monrovia and then Paraclete, the eventual Mid-Valley Division champion. Still, they were able to create some buzz in a community that seemingly had forgotten about football.
8. SAN GABRIEL (5-6) — The Matadors were on the cusp of making a nice turnaround, only to lose to a questionable La Serna team in the first round of the Southeast Division playoffs. Isaac Valdez was a stud at quarterback, throwing for nearly 3,000 yards. At that rate, he’ll finish his senior season throwing for over 9,000 career yards at San Gabriel. He also rushed for nearly 700 yards, making him the complete quarterback in the WSGV. Marcos Villalobos was his favorite receiver (1,000+ receiving) but it’s a wonder how the Matadors couldn’t do more damage in the playoffs. That’s when you realize a running game can compliment and balance out a true offense.
9. RIO HONDO PREP (10-3) — Two running backs who rushed for over 1,000 yards legitimately makes the Kares one of the top teams in the WSGV. It’s likely they’d have more than a hard time beating the teams above but it’s not unlikely they wouldn’t give them a run for their money. Eddie Garcia was a monster on the defensive line with over 100 tackles and eight sacks and Tim Esguerra and Antonio Alanis gave Rio Hondo Prep a true 1-2 punch in the back field. Say what you want about the Kares, but with a total enrollment of only 87 students and the distinction of being the smallest school playing 11-man football in California, Rio Hondo Prep has quickly become a powerhouse among small schools.
10. MARANATHA (11-2) — Matt Schilz threw for nearly 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns and Terrell Cornell caught for just over 1,000 yards. He’s only a junior and he’s certainly shown his potential, but who will throw to him next season? The Minutemen need a stronger preseason schedule. Playing tougher opponents certainly would have prepared Maranatha against the likes of its nemesis, St. Margaret’s. Among the highly-anticipating football schedules to be released in the months ahead, I’m looking forward to the Minutemen’s. But will it be too late at this point? Will it lose its luster after Schilz takes his pro-style arm to possibly a Pac-10 school? Perhaps. But sometimes it’s fun to think about what could have been.