BREAKING NEWS: Crutchfield fired at Duarte High

Hello Westside, this is your old pal Fred J.. Here is what’s happening. After a tip on the blog, I called Duarte High School to find out if the rumors are true and it was confirmed that Wardell Crutchfield has been removed as head football coach at Duarte. Principal Eric Barba apparently told Crutchfield on Friday that the school wants to go in another direction. “Coaching assignments are on a year-by-year basis,” Barba said this morning. “Next year we’re looking to make a change. We’re appreciative of the time Mr. Crutchfield has given to Duarte and our football program, but we want to move in a different direction.” Barba wouldn’t answer questions about Crutchfield’s coaching performance, or offer any further details that led to his decision, saying it was confidential between him and Crutchfield. We’ll have more in tomorrow’s newspaper. BTW, I talked to Crutchfield about possibly coaching at PHS in December, he said it was tempting, but he wanted to continue coaching Wardell Jr., at Duarte. Now that he’s available, wouldn’t he make a nice fit.

When reached Monday, Crutchfield said he was surprised when told on Friday that he would not be back. “He gave me the same reasons he gave you (newspaper), that he wants to go in a different direction,” Crutchfield said. “I talked to him about our accomplishments, and how we changed the culture, started winning and got kids into college, but apparently that wasn’t enough.” During Crutchfield’s tenure Corey Fluker (UNLV), Mike Harris (UCLA), Chris Harris (Utah State) and Jermaine Thomas (Fresno State) all earned Division I scholarships. They reached at least the CIF quarterfinals in three of the four years he was there, which included a semifinal appearance in 2006.

“I think the school only had one player ever earn a scholarhip in football before I came,” Crutchfield said. “I’m going to remain at the school as a (math) teacher and continue to help these kids get go college. I really think Duarte has a great chance to win the Mid-Valley Division next year. I can sit here and say a lot of things, but I’m going to take the high road. I don’t want to have this turn into something negative for the kids. I’d like to thank Duarte for giving me my first head coaching job, I think I got everything out of it that I could. I’m disappointed I won’t be back, but I’m still going to support the school and help the players in any way that I can.”

We’ll have more in tomorrow’s paper.

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Legendary football coach Randall Johnson passed away

It is with heavy heart that I report the passing of legendary football coach Randall Johnson. Rio Hondo Prep athletic director Ken Drain e-mailed late Thursday to write Johnson did not have much time left.

Drain sent an update today and received this e-mail when I walked into the office just now:

Randall did pass away last evening around 5:30pm. He coached here at the school for 25 years before he was forced to retire due to his illness in 2000. He won eight CIF championships in football and two more in girls basketball.

He also ran our summer educational tours. Every summer he would travel around the United States or Europe with either a group of high school boys or girls. He would plan the trips with the kids, work out all the details ahead of time, and handle all the problems that might arise during the trips. He would even drive the bus on the U.S. tours. I knew him before he was a high school coach because he coached me when I was 10 in the Kare Youth League program. He was my coach and leader, big brother, co-worker, and friend. He taught me everything I know about coaching and handling young people, he taught me what it means to be a leader, he taught me that the kids are more important than the game, and he taught me that what you are is more important than anything you can say or do.

He was a great man who was always a great example to the young people he worked with. He always would tell me that we coach not to win games, but to teach our kids values that will help them someday be great fathers, great citizens, and great leaders in their communities.

I will miss him greatly, but I know that every time I walk onto a field or court, for practice or game, the lessons I learned from him will go with me; and that fact alone will give me the strength to carry on no matter how bad things seem to be.

Randall Johnson by the numbers:
*8 CIF football championships (’77, ’79, ’82, ’90, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’00)
*4-time CIF runners-up in football (’81, ’83, ’87, 95)
*First 8-man football coach ever to receive California Small Schools coach of the Year award(1998)
*77 percent winning percentage.
*2 CIF championships in girls basketball (’90, ’94)

Memorial service will be held on Saturday, January 31 at 7 p.m. in Rio Hondo Prep’s Pavilion.

I never met Randall but have read stories from him written by the great Keven Chavez. It was clear how much Randall meant to coach Drain. He will be missed.

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Melendez: ‘Different direction’ shows no direction

I have again started writing my weekly columns that run in Friday’s sports section. This week’s column (published today in the Star-News sports section on page 2) focuses on the lack of transparency in the recent dismissal of two prominent coaches.


What is it with schools wanting to go in a “different direction”?

First, Temple City High School and its football coach and now Muir and its track and field coach.

It just doesn’t make sense.

Who fixes something that isn’t broken? More troubling is the timing.

If you don’t agree you might want to read this sitting down.

First, Temple City High School.

The school decided they are not happy with the direction Randy Backus was taking the football program. He got the ax a couple weeks ago, the decision coming two months after an incident in which school officials said he grabbed a student and cursed at him.

Oddly enough, Backus’ firing had little to do with that.

Really? So what was it?

Temple City High School athletic director John Van De Veere said the decision was based on school officials’ overall dissatisfaction with Backus’ performance as a head coach.

Lets go to the source.

“I’m just going to (say) that we decided to go in a different direction,” said Temple City High principal Mary Jo Fosselman-King when finally reached last week for an interview. “I don’t want to get into specifics.”

Of course you don’t, Mary Jo.

And what happens when specifics are not disclosed to the public? They come to their own conclusions, and so far it’s not Backus whose been put in bad light.
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What if I had to cover my son’s championship game?

I’m way too young to have or even be thinking about kids. But I wonder how I would deal with the dilemma of having to cover my son’s high school football championship game or my daughter’s softball championship game. That’s what Larry Fitzgerald Sr. is going through right now. The longtime sportswriter for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder has covered every Super Bowl since 1981 but this year’s Super Bowl will be different. Fitzgerald Sr. will cover his son, Arizona Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr. This is a very good read from one of my favorite sportswriters, Rick Riley, formerly of Sports Illustrated and now at ESPN The Magazine.

By Rick Riley
ESPN The Magazine

It’s been six years since Larry Fitzgerald’s wife died, and yet when you call his house, it’s her voice on the message machine.

“My sons asked me to keep it,” says Fitzgerald, father of All-Galaxy wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald Jr., of the suddenly Super Bowl-bound Cardinals. “If they were having a tough day, they wanted to be able to call and hear her voice. It’s comforting to them.”

That’s what makes his son’s trip to Tampa bittersweet for him. Every year since 1981, the longtime Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder sportswriter has covered the Super Bowl. Beginning in 1983, his wife, Carol, joined him. “She loved the Commissioner’s Party,” he says.

Now he’s going to be covering a Super Bowl in which their elder son is the most electrifying player in it. He’s already broken Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a single postseason, and he’s still got one game to go. So it’s going to be murder for Larry Sr. not to violate that no-cheering-in-the-press-box rule.

“I won’t cheer,” Fitzgerald says. “I’m going to stay objective. I’ve come too far to suddenly show up in the press box with pompoms. But if you could put a monitor on my insides, you’d find a whole fan club in there.”

If it were my son, I’d go into the bathroom every three minutes and scream into the blow dryer, but not Fitzgerald. He’s so old school he’s going to be two people during the big week, parent and sportswriter, and never the twain shall meet. “I’m not crossing any lines,” he says. He’ll take Larry Jr. to dinner at night off the record and interview him during the days on, the first sportswriter anyone can think of to ever cover his own son in the Super Bowl. “I’ll be at his interview table, trying to get my questions in, just like everybody else.”
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Riddle me this: Temple City the new No. 2 team?

I don’t want to toot my own horn, but for the record I called last night’s Temple City win over La Caada. It was Temple City’s first win over La Caada since 1999 and the Rams now are 4-0 in Rio Hondo League play. I guess Spartans coach Tom Hofman wasn’t just being politically correct when he said Temple City was the team to beat in the RHL this season. Does this mean since the Rams defeated the Spartans, 72-55, they are now the Star-News’ new No. 2 team? Common sense would say that’s correct but I want to go in a different direction on this one … I kid I kid ;-)

Some comments from a thread posted yesterday (My comments in italics):

pride said: jesus wat is this the RHL basketball paper..theres other leagues in the area too…

Nobody was complaining when we talked about Maranatha football, Flintridge Sacred Heart girls soccer and so on.

Rams09 said: pride, Miguel can’t be everywhere all at once. RHL basketball is exciting one this year and is also really the area that reads the pasadena star news. Tonight the rams won 73-56 by 17 points. La Canada tried their best to contain JC45, but he nailed two long ranged jumpers in the first two possessions for the rams. The Rams began pulling away before the end of the half with a nice jumper before the half ended. Players like Zachary Aquino, Leo Tse, Robert Chuang, Andy Scazzilo, and Derek Lau stepped it up when JC45 was being covered. I think Zach Attack had about 24 points? The Spartans got frustrated and the game pulled away. Does anyone know the standings of Monrovia, South Pas, San Marino, and Blair as of tonight? Watch out M-town we’re coming this friday.

Enough said.

JC45Lover said: i think i died in an accident cause this must be heaven. it was a good game for lc, but tc just takes the cake. hofman and his spartans could not keep jc on lock. and miguel…. did you get Mr. Scauzillo’s text?? i had a nice talk with him today after the game… hope you did bro.

I did get Mr. Scauzillo’s text. We talked about the game two hours before tipoff and told him I gave TC a slight edge. Maybe I do know what I’m talking about, huh?

BlairVikingFan said: 6’5″ Blair Forward, Brice Hill scored 17 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the victory over Monrovia Wednesday night. However the Wildcats were without their standout forward Chris Bullock. The Wildcats were down by 20 in the fourth but came back to put the game in overtime with some great outside shooting. Deon Geary did not play until midway in the second quarter? Nevertheless he still managed to pump in 16 points, along with 17 from Katorio Walker and 12 points and 11 rebounds from 6’5″ 10th grader, Marcus Bagnerise. The Wildcats had one player in double figures Jay Henderson with 24, as he hit everything from everywhere.

Thanks for the recap.

This e-mail came from Jerry Berres: Whats happened to your paper?
Temple city pulls a masterful win off,against Rio Hondo La Canada…..and not word one
in your sports section ! Thats a joke,somebody doesn’t know what their doing in there.
Todays paper is the last i’am gonna waste my time, and money on……

When the rematch comes I’ll chip in your 50 cents, but save the receipt so I can tally it on my expense account.

Current Rio Hondo League standings:

1. Temple City (13-5, 4-0)
Next game: at Monrovia, Friday

2. Monrovia (12-6, 2-2)
Next game: vs. Temple City, Friday

3. La Caada (15-4, 2-2)
Next game: at San Marino, Friday

4. Blair (11-6, 2-2)
Next game: vs. South Pasadena, Friday

5. South Pasadena (6-15, 1-2)
Next game: at Blair, Friday

6. San Marino (3-15, 0-3)
Next game: vs. La Caada, Friday

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Girls Basketball: Monrovia dispatches Blair in OT

Got to catch the Monrovia-Blair girls basketball game. For a game recap click on this link. To me, the Wildcats (11-6, 3-1) seem to be a bit of an enigma. They play well in stretches but at times make bad decisions on the floor that halts any, if not all, momentum. Monrovia got off to a big start thanks to Vanessa Hernandez’ seven points. The Wildcats had a 15-13 lead after one quarter. But then came Blair (8-13, 2-2). The Vikings were the surprise thus far in the Rio Hondo League. There’s a lot of potential on that team and they have shown they can go toe to toe with the quicker teams. But at some point in last night’s game, Blair started playing a half-court offense which played to Monrovia’s advantage. The problem was that Jasmine Gordon didn’t have time for a good warm-up. She sat out the first quarter for disciplinary reasons. She entered the second quarter cold, got warmed-up in the third and got on a roll in the fourth. Blair’s Angeline Jefferson Iesha Fudge and Shaela Flynn are a good tandem. Jefferson has a good outside shot from way beyond the perimeter, though she can launch some in erratic fashion. It was hard to judge whether Blair’s defense collapsed late in the game or if Monrovia resurged. It was a scrappy game and the win certainly was an ugly one for Monrovia.

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By all accounts, Knowles’ firing remains complex

Kiss this picture goodbye?

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

Two days since Michael Knowles went public with his firing as Muir High School’s track coach, vice principal Charles Park contacted the Star-News late Wednesday afternoon to give his side of the story.

Park acknowledged a meeting with Knowles in November but disputed Knowles’ account that the meeting initially was scheduled for an overview of the junior varsity football program. Knowles, part of the JV football coaching staff, said the school wanted to go a different direction.

“I did express to him coaching that positions are year to year,” Park said. “The (phrase) new direction – in terms of how that was used – I believe was regarding the interview procedures that our district will use to find the new track coach.”

“He is saying a lot of false things,” Knowles said. “An overview of the JV football program was the reason he called me to have the meeting and he also mentioned that they’re putting a teacher as track coach, that he wanted to let me know up front and that they’re looking at people in our family of the Muir staff here on campus.

“He never said it was year to year. That never came out of his mouth. I’ve been a walk-on for 28 years. I know it’s year to year, so I don’t need to know that.”

Park would not elaborate when asked for specific reasons for Knowles’ dismissal.

“I would say that’s a personnel issue,” he said.

When pressed, Park gave the same answer.

Knowles went to the Pasadena Unified School District last week and spoke to Joanne Abhold, executive director for secondary schools.

When reached by phone Wednesday afternoon, she acknowledged a brief meeting with Knowles and she would get back to him last Wednesday or Friday at the latest.

After not hearing from her, Knowles sent Abhold an e-mail Sunday to find out if there was any progress.

Abhold cited Monday’s holiday and Tuesday’s conference in Porterville for the delay in getting back to Knowles.

“I have not gotten back to him,” she said. “I recently had a conversation with (Muir High School principal Sheryl Orange) and Mr. Parks late last week. I’m just getting back to the office.”

Abhold contacted Knowles minutes later.
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More claims of racial issues at OC high school

Having been in this area six months now, I have noticed the vast difference between schools in and around the Pasadena area. Some schools are heavy in minorities while other schools – whether public or private – are not. The basketball games have been fun to watch and there have never been any incidents, certainly not to the extent of what happened recently at a Mater Dei-Servite boys basketball game. Steve Fryer at The Orange County Register reports.

More claims of racial issues at Servite

The school works on improving the situation after racial taunts, but others say the problems aren’t new.

The Orange County Register

Servite’s campus was “turned upside down” after racial taunts students directed at Mater Dei players, but the revelations prompted a former athlete and an ex-Servite strength coach to share their experiences with intolerance involving the school.

ESPN broadcaster Doug Gottlieb, a former Orange County player of the year for Tustin High, said Friday what he heard on an video from the Jan. 9 varsity boys basketball game was “indefensible and reprehensible.”

“But I’d seen it before,” said Gottlieb, who said Servite’s “Pit Crew” hurled anti-Semitic remarks at him in the ’90s.

Lou Smith, a former Servite strength and conditioning football coach, said racial tensions existed at the school and in its football program when he was there less than two years ago. He said he was fired for informing the Servite administration of the situation.

Dr. Ted Lawton, a Servite alumnus and past president of the school’s alumni association, said “the campus has rightfully been turned upside down” as Servite deals with the aftermath of racial comments and noises directed at black Mater Dei players.

Servite president Peter Bowen said the school will more closely supervise the “Pit Crew” cheering section and is providing specific directions on what sort of cheering is unacceptable.

“We take full responsibility for our mistakes,” he said. “We see this as an opportunity to get at deeper issues that lie within our school and exist at any school.”


Racial taunts directed at Mater Dei players

STEVE FRYER COLUMN: Servite, others must confront problem from all sides

STEVE FRYER COLUMN: Students’ actions sad exception to rule at Servite

Enthusiastic Servite fans start to move forward
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