………Biggest disappointments this season………

Not sure what was expected from Pasadena this season, but they were not the only team that flopped this season. Just off the top of my head I can think of Muir and Alhambra. The Bulldogs had a lot of depth entering the season but for one reason or another they just couldn’t connect the dots. Their offense was sporadic at best, though Pasadena did give Muir a run for its money in the Turkey Tussle. Speaking of the Mustangs … They played impressive in the regular season but when it came time to walk the walk in the playoffs Muir fell apart. Alhambra had a stud wide receiver and a good quarterback in Mitchell Crockom and Darrian Cazarin but the tandem couldn’t lead the Moors to a playoffs appearance and finished near the Almont League cellar. Here’s hoping these teams get it together next season. Any of you got info on the Pasadena situation? Folks over on Sierra Madre are keeping mum about the situation. What about Tim Loya as the new head coach of the Bulldogs?

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……Soccer: Who’s hot, who’s not……

As you all numbingly know, high school football is still alive with Rosemead and Rio Hondo Prep playing for a CIF division championship against Riverside Christian and Paraclete, respectfully. Add the fact Keith Lair is on a week-long vacation and you’ve got a one-man show here on Lake and Colorado, which is keeping me real busy with football. I’m counting on you soccer freaks to keep us abreast of what’s happening in high school boys and girls soccer. What key games/tournaments will be played in the following weeks and who should I keep an eye out on. When I’m done selecting the All-Area team for football I’ll be all over this puppy with soccer and basketball notes.

Here is the Star-News boys soccer top 10 rankings:

1. St. Francis
2. Pasadena
3. La Canada
4. Monrovia
5. South Pasadena
6. Arcadia
7. San Marino
8. Blair
9. Muir
10. Temple City

Here is the Star-News girls soccer top 10 rankings:

1. Flintridge Sacred Heart
2. Arcadia
3. Monrovia
4. La Salle
5. La Canada
6. Pasadena Poly
7. Alverno
8. Maranatha
9. Westridge
10. South Pasadena

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……..Homegrown Inspiration……..

Above: Eddie Garcia finds inspiration and a good role model close to home — his mother.

These are the kind of stories that just melt your heart, and stories like these are what I truly enjoy writing about. It hit especially close to me when interviewing for this story. I had a single mother who raised three of us, and at one point were homeless for two weeks; we lived in the street for a couple days. I told Eddie Garcia’s mom that everything would be OK one way or another. My mom made it and it is why I’m appreciative and admire single mothers. Behind every good man stands an even greater woman, and that woman was my mom.

Rio Hondo Prep’s Garcia looks to mother as example

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

Since he was 3 years old, Eddie Garcia always saw a familiar face working up a sweat.

It was his mother, Martha, who often worked long hours, and it wasn’t unusual for her to take up an extra one or two part-time jobs in addition to a full-time job to make ends meet.

It was that kind of determination and sense of urgency that Garcia admired and emulated.

“You raise me up so I can stand on mountains.”

He’s in his final year at Rio Hondo Prep, where he’s not only taken advantage of every opportunity but also been at the forefront of everything he’s been involved with, whether on or off the field.

The Kares hope Garcia doesn’t let up Saturday night at 7 when Rio Hondo Prep hosts Riverside Christian in the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division championship.

Garcia was voted toughest player on the team by his teammates last season, and he’s known for his intensity. It’s no surprise, then, why he leads the team in tackles (77) and sacks (4) this season.

“He’s the backbone of the team,” Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain said. “He’s what keeps us together out there.”

But when it comes to his mother, Garcia is about as sensitive, appreciative and loving as one can be.

“You raise me up to walk on stormy seas.”

Martha came to the U.S. at an early age after leaving her native Oaxaca , Mexico. She raised Aurelia, 21; Connie, a senior at Rio Hondo Prep; and Garcia, 18, by herself since her divorce when Garcia was 3. Garcia’s father has since started a new life in Minnesota, and Garcia said he has little to no contact with him.

“But she’s been there all the time,” he said. “I don’t know what we’d do without her.”

The family of four lives in Monrovia. They don’t indulge in much, except when it comes to education.

“We don’t have much and we’re not rich, but I always wanted them to have a great education,” said Martha from her home.

“When they started, I wasn’t sure how I’d pay for it, but I knew I would have to find a way.”
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Rosemead alumnus offers words of encouragement

Matt Koffler received a letter earlier this week from Derek Bland who helped the Panthers win the 1982 CIF championship (For the record, that’s a year before I was born).

Just about an hour ago, I got a call from a fellow Rosemead alumnus who wanted to get in touch with Koffler and send an e-mail or a letter.

Mike Prunk, 53, graduated from Rosemead’s Class of 1973 and played linebacker for the Panthers’ varsity team in 1971 and was captain in 1972.

Prunk played quarterback his freshman year (then it was called the “C” team); played center on the “B” team his sophomore season. In the middle of Prunk’s junior season, fellow teammate Jim Wyatt was involved in a serious car accident. Prunk broke into the starting lineup and Rosemead advanced to the semifinals of the Division IV-A playoffs where they lost to Bishop Amat. John Sciarra was the quarterback for the Lancers that season before going on to star at UCLA and the Philadelphia Eagles (Sciarra’s son, Justin, was the St. Francis quarterback this season).

During Rosemead’s run to the semifinals, Prucker recalls numerous pep speeches but one he remembers is that of Wyatt whose speech was recorded from his hospital bed replayed during a team practice.

“He gave a heck of a speech,” Prucker said. “That one sent chills down my spine.”

Had the Panthers beaten Bishop Amat that year, Rosemead would have played in the championship game at the Coliseum. In the semifinals, the Panthers had two touchdowns called back and lost by a touchdown to the Lancers. Rosemead lost to Santa Maria in the second round the following year in which Prucker was selected All-CIF, All-Western San Gabriel Valley and defensive back of the year.

When Prucker attended the 50th reunion he saw many of his former teammates there, and it was at that time he learned he’d been inducted into the Rosemead Hall of Fame.

“It was a great team but we never made it to the finals,” he said. “It was nice to see them again. I know Rosemead doesn’t have a lot of kids to choose from and when we played we were small but quick and wouldn’t take no for an answer, the same as these kids.”

Prucker said it’s unfortunate the game is so far away. He would have liked to see the game closer. Many of the 1973 class who played for the Panthers currently reside in Glendora, including starting quarterback Tom Chrom, backup quarterback Pete Talley and defensive lineman Jeff DeSalvo.

It’s always nice to remember your roots.

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Ice Princess, add KTLA to your list of “Wimpy Media”

“You media types are such DORKS! When in the cold, layer up … The cold will mostly affect those not in the game: reserves, coaches, fans, and the whimpy media (who are making too big a deal out of this!).”

–The Ice Princess, on “Rosemead football gets winter gear” thread at 1 p.m.

So I got a lot of heat for writing that Rosemead will play in frigid, yes frigid, temperatures against Paraclete at Knight High in Palmdale on Saturday night for the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship. I wake up this morning to turn on my favorite morning news show and waddaya know?!?! I find this! Like I said, I’ll take my hot chocolate with four marshmallows, por favor.

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Tim Loya ready to spend time with Gabriela


It’s been four days since Temple City interim football coach Tim Loya left the field since the Rams lost a thriller, 27-6, against Paraclete in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

After us reporters got done interviewing him we asked Loya to make sure he’d come back. Why wouldn’t you want a guy like Loya to stick around. If there are such things as a players’ coach, Loya quickly assumed that role for reporters, too.

Loya’s response to the media after the game was he’d been overwhelmed. Not by the responsibility that it takes to be a head coach but the logistics of getting to time on practice after battling through traffic to Temple City from his work as a worker’s compensation specialist in Glendale.

“The situation itself never overwhelmed me,” Loya said. “We all shared the responsibility. It’s hard when you’re not a teacher; when you’re not on campus full-time. It makes it difficult for us walk-on coaches to leave the job and to leave for practices on time. It makes it really really hard and that’s what makes it so tough.

“You end up driving all over the place and having to rush things to make it to practice and I’ve been doing that for a long time.”

So what has Loya thought about since he left the field last weekend?
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Rosemead’s Raul Lira is a fan of football and ftbol

ABOVE: Raul Lira (No. 11) watches a play from the sideline.

There have been heroes and unsung heroes along the way.

Raul Lira has quietly clocked in and out for Rosemead High School.

The senior has become a fixture in coach Matt Koffler’s lineup at wide receiver. Don’t forget returning punts and kickoffs, too.

He’s returned six of them for touchdowns and averages nearly 31 yards per catch this season.

And whoever said ftbol and football don’t mix couldn’t have been more wrong.

Lira is on the Panthers soccer team.

But more impressively, this is his first season playing varsity football.

His near-30 yards per catch could be an added weapon for Rosemead when it travels to Palmdale to play Paraclete on Saturday night at 7 at Knight High School in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship game.

Lira initially tried out for the football team his sophomore season but decided it wasn’t for him, yet.

When he came to tryouts this spring Koffler didn’t think he’d make an impact, at least not initially.

“He came in this season and stuck it out,” Koffler said. “First year guys don’t usually do good their first year because of the physicality of the way we do things but Lira responded very well. He’s helped us big time.”

Lira has spent time with the track and field team and it was in soccer where he not only built his stamina from running the entire game but also learned to play physical, something he quickly adjusted to while playing for the Panthers.
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Rio Hondo Prep soaking in the CIF Finals experience

WESTMINSTER — The last time Rio Hondo Prep won a CIF-Southern Section football championship was in 2005.

At the time, Antonio Alanis, Tim Esguerra, Eddie Garcia and Julian Hernandez were playing on the freshman squad.

They witnessed the glory that is high school athletics.

Three years later, Alanis, Esguerra, Garcia and Hernandez found themselves at the center of it all when they attended Monday’s CIF-Southern Section football press conference and luncheon at the Rose Center in Orange County.

Some teams came in shorts, polo shirts and tennis shoes but the Kares players looked gentlemanly and royally, wearing white collar shirts and a tie tucked inside their black, cotton vest that had an “RHP” crest on the left pocket-side.

Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain has been to quite a few of these. One of his assistants, Mark Carson, also attended but, along with Esguerra, couldn’t contain themselves from taking a picture of the guest speaker.

USC football coach Pete Carroll took the podium and out came the digital cameras. Carroll’s presence in the podium commanded attention, enough for Esguerra to put down the brownie ice cream sundae and take a picture of Carroll.

A surreal experience it was for the seniors.

“Pete Carroll was here so that was pretty special,” Drain said. “It’s always kind of the same routine but for the kids it’s a fun experience.”

But Monday’s luncheon wasn’t the ultimate stop. It was just the beginning of what lies ahead.

The Kares will play host to Riverside Christian on Saturday night at 7 in the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division championship game.

The road to the title game wasn’t all glitz and glamour. There were some squalor times, too.
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Update on Todd Golper’s surgery earlier today

UCLA-bound linebacker Todd Golper (Arcadia) underwent surgery on his knee today. The surgery went well. Doctors at UCLA were able to repair the meniscus by suturing it back together. The recovery time will be longer (initially expected to be ready to run by January) but more successful in the long run. The MCL and partial PCL tear will heal itself. Doctors said he will be able to start running on it by mid-March and Todd plans to be fully ready to go by the time he reports to UCLA spring camp in late June. Will Golper restore Bruins football tradition back at UCLA? I hope so.

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If Rosemead wins Saturday night, does that mean ….

During the first half of last week’s Rosemead-Monrovia game, I walked the home sidelines keeping stats. During halftime, I headed over to the visitors side and talked with a few people before the second half got underway.

Some quick observations:

For one, there were WAY too many people on Rosemead’s sideline. Among the masses there I saw three Schurr football players, some assistants from San Gabriel and Alhambra and way too many fans that needed to be in their seats.

Walking the sideline was also St. Paul head football coach Pete Gonzalez. But what struck me as odd was St. Paul defensive coordinator Gil Jimenez on the rise with a Rosemead assistant coach. Jimenez was yelling down plays to the Panthers D-coordinator. I, along with my colleague Andrew J. Campa, saw Jimenez relay plays for the better part of the second half. Others from the Mid-Valley News also saw him and it struck them as odd, too. We wondered if there was some sort of CIF rule barring coaches from other teams helping out. We couldn’t think of one but brought up whether it was unethical. It’s one thing for a former coach walking the sideline to yell out plays but it’s another thing when a coach is up on the high-rise just short of putting on headphones. So if Rosemead wins does that mean St. Paul gets credit for the win, too? That was the initial thought when I found out Jimenez was a coach at St. Paul, but then the Mid-Valley News guys and I figured Jimenez was probably an old friend of Koffler.

I brought up the subject with Rosemead coach Matt Koffler earlier this morning. Turns out Jimenez was part of Rosemead’s 1982 championship-winning team, the lone year the Panthers won a CIF football title. As an alumni, Jimenez simply was helping out the school where he once played. Well, that explains it, I guess.

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