Football: Dietrich Riley takes center stage this season

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St. Francis star Dietrich Riley is one of the most coveted recruits this season, and arguably the West San Gabriel Valley’s best Division I prospect; the San Gabriel Valley’s version of Matt Barkley, if you will. USC coach Pete Carroll was first to offer Riley a scholarship, and he hadn’t even set foot in his first varsity game. Yeah, Riley’s got game. Since then, Riley’s gotten well over a dozen offers from some of the top football programs in the nation, including USC, Ohio State, Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Riley’s graced us with his ominous presence the last three seasons, and as he prepares for his final season we will follow him every week and await his highly-anticipated decision of where he’ll continue his stellar career.

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Alhambra duo, others make The Times’ list of top players

The Times’ Eric Sondheimer has rated the top players at each position. Not surprisingly, some of the WSGV’s best are on that list, led by Alhambra senior Mitchell Crockom, rated No. 5 in Sondheimer’s top 10 list. He writes: “(Crockom) has speed and a 41-inch vertical leap.” Crockom is our top-rated wide reciever. Also making the list at No. 15 is Alhambra senior quarterback Darrian Cazarin, who threw for 2,204 yards and 24 touchdowns. When our FAB 5 list publishes this week on our blog, you’ll find Cazarin at No. 4 behind San Gabriel’s Isaac Valdez, Monrovia’s Nick Bueno and Muir’s Jarron Williams. Cazarin at No. 4 in my list might not be a popular move, but remember the guys above him had either an even much better season (Valdez), led their respective team to a semifinals run in the playoffs (Bueno) or led their respective team to a league title in a tough league (Williams). Cazarin’s stats this season will be of greater significance when he leads the Moors back to the promise land: an Almont League title and a quarterfinals run in the Southeast Division playoffs. Temple City’s Max Ruckle cracked the “Others to watch” part of the “Rating the running backs” list. St. Francis’ Patrick Carroll made the offensive linemen list. I didn’t see Dietrich Riley’s name come up, but no doubt the St. Francis star is a man among boys in the land of coveted recruits. You can throw Loyola running back Anthony Barr in the mix, too. The kid is a beast, running over Bishop Amat as a junior last season.

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Star-Jibber: It’s time to go to work boys ….

Discuss anything and everything you want to talk about, especially football …

Be sure to grab a copy of our football tab, which publishes Wed., Sept. 2 in the Star-News. As usual, we’ll have league overviews, the preseason top 10 poll, the top 6 returning athletes gracing the cover, team-by-team capsules and complete schedules, and beginning Tuesday we get back to full speed with daily notebooks and weekly features on your favorite teams …

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Week 0: Muir hungry for some (D)-Ranch dressing

“We’re aiming for heads.”

Those are the words of a Muir football player when asked if the Mustangs are seeking redemption when they host Diamond Ranch next Friday at 7. There are posters all over Muir’s campus promoting the school’s new football field, which is generating buzz around campus with students who will attend their first game just to see their team play on a new field. Muir will try to do what it couldn’t do in the first round of the Southeast Division playoffs. We’ll see how the Mustangs fare against the runner-up. Here’s a list of Week 0 games in the WSGV … Who’s ready to get this party started? By the way: the football preview tab publishes Wednesday, Sept. 2.

(All games 7 p.m. unless noted)

Thursday, Sept. 3

La Puente at Gabrielino — Harold Sanin, a longtime assistant coach, begins his first season after Vince Lopez resigned to become assistant principal. After La Puente’s debacle last year, the Falcons Warriors could give Sanin a tough Week 0.

Friday, Sept. 3

Diamond Ranch at Muir — All year long, a certain D-Ranch assistant coach has taken friendly jabs at Muir coach Ken Howard. It’s time to put that to rest, Kenny. The Mustangs won at Diamond Ranch last year in the season opener but faltered in the playoffs. Muir will protect its home field and reclaim SGV supremacy.

Arcadia at Monrovia — No truth to rumors Arcadia will jog to Monrovia High and use it as pre-game warmups (that visual popped in my head for whatever reason). Anyway, Nick Bueno & Co. takes on a revamped Apaches team that includes one of the area’s top QB in Garret Tuck and newcomers Taylor Legace and Rodney Arnett.

Linfield Christian at Maranatha — Yawn …. When’s that game vs. La Salle again? Oh yeah, but either way ‘Natha fans will finally get a chance to see what Cody Keith’s all about. Call this one a tune-up to the Minutemen’s showdown with La Salle and then Bakersfield Christian.

Village Christian at La Salle — The Lancers were routed last year at Village Christian. They hope to have regained their form with a revamped staff and renewed enthusiasm in the Lancers program.

Pasadena at Westchester — Isn’t Westchester a basketball school? I didn’t even know Westchester had a football team. Well, in that case, pencil in a “W” for the boys on Sierra Madre. The McFarland era gets off to a good start.

San Gabriel at Cathedral — Got a lot of heat for picking Cathedral last year. Someone still owes me a steak dinner. I’ll let it slide. With vengeance on his mind, Isaac Valdez leads the Matadors to an impressive victory.

Pomona at Keppel — Keppel has a 50 percent chance to win this game. But so does Pomona. My coin has the Aztecs breaking out of their 30-plus game skid.

Alhambra at Roosevelt — Alhambra’s Gil Ruedaflores and Roosevelt’s Javier Cid are very good friends and practically hung out all summer as coaches of the SoCal Fiesta Bowl. Ruedaflores, however, will feel no remorse when the Moors put the beat down.

Blair at St. Margaret’s — Why?

Duarte at Cajon — Tip Sanders gets his shot at reviving another program.

Rio Hondo Prep at Mission Prep — The area’s lone CIF champion last year opens the season with a victory.

Saturday, Sept. 4

Contreras at Bosco Tech, 1:30 p.m. — Tiger fans, save your Saturday afternoons for football games. All of Bosco Techs’ home games will be Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

Animo Leadership at Pasadena Poly, 11 a.m. — Grab a cup of coffee and read your favorite sportswriter in Saturday’s paper while also watching Poly cook up a win.

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Fire interrupts football practice for area teams

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

A blaze in the Angeles National Forest producing poor air quality across the San Gabriel Valley forced some high school football teams on Wednesday to cancel or restrict outdoor activities.

The fire, which broke out Tuesday afternoon on both sides of Highway 39 near Morris Dam Reservoir, has burned 750 acres. Chris Rush, an Angeles National Forest dispatcher, said the blaze was less than 10 percent contained early Wednesday.

The County of Los Angeles Public Health issued an air quality alert and urged individuals to take precautions where there’s visible smoke or an odor of smoke.

“All individuals are urged to be cautious and to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, director of Public Health. “We are also advising schools that are in session in smoke-impacted areas to suspend outside physical activities in these areas, including physical education and after-school sports until conditions improve.”

While some teams are done with two-a-day practices and begin preparation for next week’s season opener (Week 0), other teams which don’t kick off until two weeks from now (Week 1) and still have two-a-days scheduled are having to find ways to fill time for their morning sessions.

Coaches said they will focus on a light walk-through, watching film and hitting the weight room, activities usually reserved for afternoon sessions.

Rosemead High School football coach Matt Koffler said school and district officials canceled all outdoor activity before the team got on the field for its two-hour morning practice.

“We hung out in the morning and stuck around until further notice,” Koffler said. “Later we’ll go inside the gym, watch some film and do some push-ups, sit-ups and plyometric stuff to keep busy.”

Koffler said the interruption would not affect the Panthers’ readiness.

“We’re set and ready to play if we had to go today,” said Koffler, whose Panthers scrimmage South Pasadena next week. South Pasadena canceled practice Wednesday.

Damien coach Greg Gano said he’s waiting to hear from school administrators to see if they’ll cancel outdoor practice in the afternoon or go ahead as planned.

Glendora coach Mark Pasquarella said the Tartans would practice in one of the school’s gyms.

Monrovia, which ended two-a-days on Tuesday, had a walk-through in the gym and watched film Wednesday.

“The way it’s looking right now we won’t be doing any running,” Wildcats coach Ryan Maddox said. “We’ll review plays, watch some films so, yeah, it will affect practice.”

Maddox, who got a text from Monrovia athletic director Randy Bell about the limited practice, said there’s no timetable on the imposed practice restrictions.

Whether it affects preparation for next week’s opener at home against Arcadia is uncertain.

“I hope not,” Maddox said. “Hopefully this will be a one-day thing. We’ll play it day by day, but what could be affecting us is probably affecting (Arcadia). Hopefully it’ll clear up.”

Area coaches seem to be getting used to wildfires infringing on their practice schedule.

Last year, the Sierra Madre fire postponed the start of spring practice across the San Gabriel Valley and beyond.

“It was about three times worse than it’s out there now,” Koffler said. “Hopefully everything turns out OK. We’ll get through it.”

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