No word yet on whether the city of Temple City will give Anthony White a key to the city, but the welcome mat is still laid out on the footsteps at Temple City High. White’s task at hand wasn’t an easy one. He had to hire a new coaching staff, get his parents and players to believe in the new spread offense he’s instilling this season all the while lurking behind the shadow of Randy Backus, who became extremely popular among players and staff during his 10-plus years at TC. Since his arrival, White’s been given the support he was seeking, and so far things are looking up. The Rams return one of the best offensive line in the West San Gabriel Valley and arguably the second best running back in Max Ruckle. Despite the lack of depth at the skill position and everywhere else on the defensive end, Temple City is still built to compete for not just the Rio Hondo League but also in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs, that’s my assertion given the pool of talent Sir White will have to choose from. White concedes there is some pressure to perform but added he’s confident with his abilities and grateful for the support of his administration and his star-studded coaching staff. If Temple City finishes second (my prediction) this season or, better yet, as the RHL champion, you can expect the Rams family to praise White and continue embracing the up-and-coming coach with open arms. One thing White wants to make clear is this: “I will do all I can to also please Goldenarm.” You see, that, Goldenarm? Even you have some influence in this little community of ours. It’s nice, ain’t it? With that in mind, I give you a crack at my predicted order of how teams will finish in the Rio Hondo League:
1. Monrovia — Nick Bueno is back to lead the way offensively and the addition of several running backs gives the offense added depth it didn’t have the luxury of having last season. Add the fact the Wildcats return four of their five offensive lineman and you’ve got one of the best group of linemen in the WSGV. The only question mark is the experience behind the depth; there’s very little. Also, baseball stud Justin De La Nuez will play outside linebacker this season. Should be fun to watch.
2. Temple City – Much like Monrovia, the Rams arguably have one of the best offensive linemen in the WSGV. This group have the experience fresh teammates will depend upon when the Rams make a deep run in the playoffs. Running behind that group will be Max Ruckle, who probably should have carried the ball a lot earlier last season, no diss on Joey Stewart. Smash-mouth football was the Rams’ tradmark for decades, but with White in place expect Temple City to run a spread offense. More players tried out for wide reciever for the first time in 50 years. There will be a long list of receivers White will get to choose from, but who will throw them the ball is the question and primary concern for the Rams, who open camp Monday. You want names of the players competing at QB? I’ll hook you up Monday.
3. Blair — I can already see the e-mails coming but bare with me. Based on what I’ve heard and listened from second-year coach Gary Parks, the Vikings could compete for a playoff spot this season. A bunch of heavy-hitters will anchor the line, something the Vikings’ success will heavily depend on. Add a few key players at key positions and you’ve possibly got a wild-card team in Blair. That said, I can easily see myself swapping the Vikings with San Marino when the football section runs later in August.
4. San Marino – Still hate me, Titans fans? Well, don’t. Until we know exactly where everyone else stands (offensive line, secondary, skill positions) we won’t know if San Marino will be the same team that started the season unbeaten heading into league. What we do know is Joe Forgatch returning at quarterback and Stevie Yortsos filling the role as Mr. Everything gives the Titans a pretty good chance at moving up on this unofficial list. Use it as motivation, use it as another reason to throw tomatoes at me, but the season’s still early and nothing ever is certain. Just look at my predictions from last season.
5. La Canada – New coach. That’s about as much as I know about the Spartans. First-year coach Dan Yoder is very familiar with the program having been the JV coach the last four years. He’s also been a history teacher at LC the last five years. I imagine Rocky Moore will be back at quarterback. Aside from him, not really sure what’s to made of the Spartans. I’ve put in a call to Yoder and I’m sure he’ll call back. Still, based on last year, La Canada again could be the dark horse and provide a good scare to some RHL teams. Just ask Temple City.
6. South Pasadena – Conor Bednarski is the returning quarterback. The junior will shoulder more responsibility on offense. But the question is, who will he be throwing to? Steven Colliau is gone, meaning every other receiver entering camp is either brand spanking new or lacks varsity experience. The Tigers return five starters on offense, including senior running back Howard Serrian. South Pasadena on the defensive side is very thin. They return just three players. This could be another rebuilding season for the boys on Fremont.