BREAKING NEWS: Pasadena hires McFarland as coach

Pasadena High School principal Dr. Derek Evans called to say the school has hired Mike McFarland as the new football coach. Rumors quickly spread Wednesday about McFarland’s hiring. The school had set its eyes on McFarland but the background check still was not complete, thus the prolonged official announcement. Evans called three times to ask for patience until the results were in. While in a meeting with the Pasadena Unified School Board, Evans called to say the results were in and the decision to hire McFarland was approved.

Here’s McFarland’s bio from the Missouri Western University media guide:

Mike McFarland enters his second season on the Griffons football staff and will serve as the tight ends coach.

McFarland, originally from Modesto, Calif., came to Western after spending the 2006 season at Minnesota State University-Moorhead as the running backs coach.

He then coached the offensive line in the spring of 2007 and he also served as the primary academic coordinator for the football team.

Prior to MSU-Moorhead, McFarland was at Occidental College in Los Angeles, Calif. from 2002-2005. His duties at Occidental included coaching the offensive line in 2004-2005 and coordinating the strength and conditioning program in 2004. In 2002-2003 he served as the outside linebackers coach. McFarland also served as the head softball coach in 2004. Occidental advanced to the national playoffs in both 2004 and 2005 and made it as far as the quarterfinals in 2004 where they lost to the eventual National Champion Linfield College.

Prior to Occidental, McFarland was a special education teacher, assistant football coach and basketball coach at John Muir High School in Pasadena, Calif. In 1998-2000 he was a special education teacher, assistant football coach and head softball coach at Mark Keppel High School in Alhambra, Calif.

McFarland graduated from Arcadia High School where he lettered in football, basketball and track. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in social sciences from California Lutheran University in 1997.

McFarland resides in St. Joseph, Mo. with his wife, Tiffany and stepdaughters Breanna and Brittany.

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(UPDATED) Rumor Control: Pickens staying put

(UPDATED at 2:37 p.m.)

Rumors quickly spread on the Star-News’ preps blog when it was discovered the CIF-Southern Section’s website listed Marshall was looking to fill a varsity football coaching vacancy. After calling Marshall assistant principal Steve Gustin to ask if he was fired, Marshall football coach Rickey Pickens was told the complete opposite. “I told him that is now how we handle business here at Marshall,” Gustin said. “I told him ‘It’s your job and you’re not going anywhere.’” The school posted an ad in the “coaches wanted” section but the website accidentally listed an ad for a varsity coach. It was later changed to assistant coach. The school indeed is looking for several lower-level football assistant coaches and two varsity assistants to join Pickens’ staff. Persons interested can contact Marshall athletic director Jason Taylor at (626) 396-5810.


(Originally posted at 12:39 p.m.)

Oh, boy. You silly rabbits have gone at it again starting rumors where there is nothing there. I put in a call to Marshall football coach Ricky PIckens. Check that, I sent Ricky Pickens a text this morning and bluntly asked, “Is it true you’re gone from Marshall?” Moments later, Pickens called back and said it was not true and that he was there to stay. He is, however, looking for five coaches to join his football program. He needs three assistants for JV and two for varsity. Pickens also went on to say he feels Marshall can be one of the best programs in Pasadena and added the program needed much less turnovers and more continuity to move the program in the right direction. So folks, Pickens is here to stay. Over on the Temple City and Pasadena front: No official word yet. I’ve put in a call to Principal Derick Evans and I’m waiting for a call back to confirm if the school hired Mike McFarland.

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Star-News/Tribune All-Star Classic set for April 4

Above: Pasadena’s Keion Bell throws down one of his four perfect 10′s in last year’s dunk contest.

The sixth annual Tribune/Star-News All-Star Classic is coming soon. Rosters will be finalized by the end of this week and coaches will be notified soon. For the east, Nogales coach Ricky Roper will coach the boys and Sierra Vista’s Keith Locklear will coach the girls. The West coaches will be announced soon but here are some quick facts about the game.

When: Saturday, April 4
Where: Azusa Pacific University
Girl’s game: 5:30pm
Boy’s game: 7:30pm
Admission: $8 adults, $5 students/children
Girls 3-point contest: Three Girls from each team.
Boys Slam Dunk contest: Three boys from each team.
Boys 3-point contest: Three Boys from each team.

Boys: Star-News leads series, 4-1
Girls: Tribune leads series, 3-2

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JORDAN BELL ….. Behind the Feature …..

It’s been at least a month or two since I’ve written a feature on one of our student-athletes. I know a lot of you out there enjoy the human interest stories that have sprung in the sports pages of the Star-News this season. Not sure why these stories are not regularly written but it is my aim to bring you stories of our athletes who do and have gone through so much more beyond the world of sports. These stories are different. They are not the usual game stories/notebooks we write on a daily basis. Lots of thought go into writing these potentially sensitive stories. But they’re stories that, if written well, can have a positive impact on the reader. Many parents and coaches tell me all the time they enjoy the “human interest” stories I’ve written since I’ve started working here seven months ago. I’m humbled by their words. It’s those kind of stories that I’m most proud writing about and the kind of stories I will continue to look for and write along with my gamers, notebooks and the spicy columns.

On that note, I bring you this new thread I’m calling “Behind the Feature.” More often than not, readers ask how I found a particular story and what went into writing the piece, and I’m always happy to oblige with a response. This new thread will focus on what went into writing the feature, any hurdles that had to be jumped and the angles I considered. This thread will either be popular or it’ll fizzle like my “High School Heisman” thread that didn’t last more than four weeks during football season.

I’d be happy to hear your thoughts and if this is something you’d be interested in reading.

For our first “Behind the Feature” post I bring you the story of St. Francis boys soccer keeper Jordan Bell.

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Jordan Bell’s brother gone in body, not in spirit

Above: Kyle Bell, top, pictured when he was 16, hugs his younger brother, St. Francis High School goalkeeper Jordan Bell, who died in 2008 of sudden heart failure.

By Miguel A. Melendez
Staff Writer

This story appeared in page 3B of Star-News sports section on March 18

His chubby cheeks, frizzy, curly hair and infectious smile never were difficult to spot from the sidelines.

St. Francis High School boys soccer keeper Jordan Bell, patiently waiting for the action to come his way, always felt, saw and heard encouragement from older brother Kyle Joseph Bell standing from afar.

Regardless of the play’s final outcome, Jordan never once second-guessed he’d lose interest from his No. 1 fan.

But then came Aug. 29, 2008. What was supposed to be a routine Friday was anything but.

That morning, Jordan’s father, Jim Bell, went to Kyle’s room to wake him. The frantic effort was in vain. Kyle, 22, died in his sleep. Sudden heart failure was the culprit.

This came just as Jordan was getting ready for the upcoming 2008-09 season.

Although his physical presence no longer was on the sideline, Jordan made a conscience effort to feel his spirit.

The initials “KJB” are written on the side of Jordan’s cleats, just as they are on his captain’s armband. And just before he settles into the goal crease, Jordan bends over and, with his right index finger, tries to inscribe his brother’s initials in the grass, A simple gesture becomes a great tribute, and Kyle again is there providing comfort.

“There were many times this season when I could see him smiling and laughing,” Jordan said. “I could feel him over my shoulder.”
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Football: Temple City, Pasadena nearing decision

Word on the street (and by street I don’t really mean an actual street) is that Pasadena High might make an announcement tomorrow to finally end the saga that’s dragged on for much too long. They will name the new coach football coach four months after Kevin Mills resigned. When I find out I promise to let you all know. Over on Lemon Ave., according to an extremely (and I mean extremely) reliable source, Temple City should be making its choice to succeed the fired Randy Backus. Temple City is down to three finalists. The source I talked to said the last candidate was given a tour of the school Monday. I’ve also confirmed the three names but I’ve decided to not publish them until after the school board approves the candidate I know will be chosen.

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Baseball: Who’s going to step up for No. 10 Alhambra?

There’s no need to panic.


Three games into the season and the Alhambra High School baseball team is looking from the bottom up with a sub .500 record as they await Almont League action to begin Friday at home against a sizzling Bell Gardens team.

The Moors (2-3) opened at No. 2 in the preseason top 10 rankings but after an inconsistent week they’ve dropped to No. 10, possibly the biggest drop ever.

The problem stems from a lack of hits and the same can be said even when Alhambra does win.

In a 7-4 win over Mountain View, the Moors mustered only four hits. In the season-opener, Alhambra managed only three hits and allowed 12 in a 6-1 loss to South Pasadena.

It’s hard to pinpoint what’s attributing to the dry spell, but a combination of mental mistakes, a young makeup of the team and an early slump have been contributing factors.

“I thought we’d start a little slow but not this slow offensively,” Alhambra coach Steve Gewecke said. “Nobody wants to be 2-3 especially when they thought they had a better club than that. “The deal is you can’t be bummed on the field. You have to keep working on it.

“In baseball you’ll slump all year but we’re working to get better, and we have to get it done starting Friday.”
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Baseball: Brace yourselves … New top 10 released!

4148-TC Baseball.jpg
OK, guys. No need to over do it. You only moved up two spots.

As noted, Alhambra made the biggest drop in the latest top 10 rankings released today. But others made significant jumps. After an impressive run, including winning the Southern California Invitational, La Caada (5-0) moved from No. 10 to No. 3. Temple City (4-1) moved up two spots. Its lone loss is a 5-1 defeat to No. 1 Arcadia (5-0) in the championship game of the Elks Tournament. After playing Walnut tough in the season opener, San Marino (4-1) moved up three spots to No. 5. La Salle (4-1) debuts this week at No. 8 and Gabrielino (3-3) dropped out after opening at No. 7.

Compiled by Miguel A. Melendez

1. Arcadia (5-0)
Rutherford, Tuck on a roll

2. Maranatha (4-1)
Ready to take on anybody

3. La Caada (5-0)
Better than we expected? Yes

4. Temple City (4-1)
Rams can hold their ground

5. San Marino (4-1)
Played Walnut tough in opener

6. St. Francis (3-1)
Lost close one to Temple City

7. Monrovia (3-2)
Win over Alhambra is suspect

8. La Salle (4-1)
Lone loss is to Temple City

9. South Pasadena (3-2)
Wins over Alhambra, Pasadena

10. Alhambra (2-3)
Moors start inconsistent

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Softball: Say hello to your new No. 1 team, La Salle

Compiled by Keith Lair

1. La Salle (4-1)
Third-place in Duarte Tourny

2. La Caada (3-1)

Lone loss to La Salle

3. Temple City (1-0)
Beat Schurr, 10-0

4. Maranatha (3-1)

Only loss to La Salle

5. Monrovia (3-2)
Up and down start

6. Flintridge S.H. (2-2)
Needs work vs. better teams

7. South Pasadena (2-2)
Faced tougher Duarte Tourney teams

8. Keppel (3-2)
Three consecutive wins

9. Arcadia (0-2)

League opener today at Burroughs

10. San Marino (3-0)

Titans return a lot of players

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La Caada break-in last Thursday was second in a week

Turns out last Thursday’s break-in to the La Caada locker rooms wasn’t the first time. As you know, the baseball team arrived Friday morning to find out their equipment (jerseys, cleats, bats, balls, gloves) were stolen along with some equipment from the golf and wrestling teams. No electronics were stolen, only someone’s iPod and wrestler’s scales. Well, turns out that on Tuesday night someone broke into the golf shed. More details as they become available, but it seemed odd that La Caada was hit twice in one week.

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