Are you ready for some football? PHS is ready to roll!

Above: Ain’t it a beauty? (Photos courtesy of Rudy Mendez)

PHS and Muir will play in brand spankin’ new fields when the season kicks off in a few weeks. ‘Stang Nation will beam with pride when Diamond Ranch comes to town come Week 0, a rematch of last year’s first round of the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs. Then there’s PHS, playing its first home game on campus ever when the season begins, never mind that PHS’ schedule on CalPreps has them listed at PCC. Playing on a state-of-the-art field surely will give both the schools and the surrounding communities a sense of pride, too. These photos were provided by PHS alumnus Rudy Mendez who e-mailed to say: “(I) was allowed access to tour the new football field at the school. …. I spoke to the crew working on the field and they told me they’ll install aluminum bleachers next week.” Funding also was provided to upgrade and begin construction for new fields at Blair and Marshall high schools next summer. There’s a reason why Blair agreed to play its first five games on the road this season, to have those teams return the favor next year when Blair unveils its new field. Blair will spend less money this season by not having to play at PCC and the Vikings will generate some revenue next year when Blair Blair ends its second-year contract with this year’s nonleague opponents. Finally, some exciting news for Pasadena-based high schools.


Football: Muir, PHS getting new athletic fields

Football: Upgrades are taking shape at Muir, PHS

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BREAKING NEWS: Anthony White to teach at TCHS

Anthony White received approval of employment by the Temple City Unified School District at a Wednesday night board meeting. White will join the social science department.

White was hired earlier this year to replace Randy Backus as the Rams head varsity football coach. White previously taught two years of AP U.S. history and economics at Rosemead High. His official assignment begins Sept. 1, according to the school board agenda posted on the district’s Website.

White sounded excited when reached by phone Thursday morning.

“It’s incredible to be closer to the boys,” he said. “I used to teach AP honors history, economics and that’s pretty much what I’ll be teaching (at Temple City).

“It’s great to teach at a school district like Temple City where the academics prestige is there. it helps me in my professional career on and off the field.”

White will be part of a teaching staff that also includes Backus, who teaches English and previously coached the football program in one capacity or another for over a decade. White, however, said there will be no awkwardness.

“Randy’s a great guy and I’ve talked to him throughout this whole off season, talking about the guys on the team,” White said. “I don’t think it’ll be awkward at all.”

White went through a rigorous interviewing process where he had to make a 30-minute presentation in front of the TCUSD superintendent, asst. superintendent, TCHS principal and the head of the social science department.

White, who prepped at Rosemead High, will not only leave behind his colleagues but also his younger brother and Panthers junior running back Matt Fregoso.

“I’m really sad about that but we raised him tough,” White said. “My mom and my sister and my other brother we’re a close family. We’re together every weekend.

“I’ll make sure that his grades are up to par and does what he has to do. I’ve been coaching him and teaching him since he was born. One semester without me shouldn’t make that much of a difference.”

In other news, Temple City baseball coach Barry Bacon and Backus both were tenured by the school board, according to the agenda highlighting the approval of certificated personnel.

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NYT: Leagues see bloggers in the bleachers as a threat

Interesting story in today’s New York Times about leagues implementing rules on where game videos are broadcast and photos are published.

This is very similar to how the CIF-Southern Section set restrictions on live blogging of playoff and championship events

From The New York Times:

The dispute has reached high school sports. In Wisconsin, for example, Gannett, the newspaper chain that owns The Post-Crescent in Appleton, Wisc., has been enmeshed for months in a legal battle with the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

The controversy touches on a number of issues, including the live streaming of games, the definition of live blogging and the ownership of photographs taken during games.

“They are challenging our authority to run our tournaments,” said Todd Clark, a spokesman for the athletic association.

Debate over in-game blogging has been particularly contentious in Wisconsin. Last year, the athletic association sent $100 invoices — the fee it charges radio stations to cover games — to newspapers that it determined were publishing play-by-play blogs. The newspapers ignored the bills.

“It was absolutely ludicrous,” said Peter Fox, the executive director of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. “You can’t do play-by-play in a blog. You can’t type that fast, for crying out loud.”

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Football: PHS altering its mentality one day at a time

Above: Pasadena football coach Mike McFarland, far right, with some of his players during Tuesday’s practice. (Keith Birmingham /Staff photographer)

What’s to make of Pasadena this season? The morale hasn’t been the best at a school more known for its boys basketball team than anything else. Despite the strong fan base, the football team has generated very little interest among football fans in the West San Gabriel Valley. Yet, when Kevin Mills resigned last year, the PHS job became one of the more coveted jobs in the Southland because of what it can represent.

Mike McFarland has journeyed from Missouri. Call him the prodigal son, returning to his roots where it all began: The West San Gabriel Valley.

The Arcadia alum is battling with Pasadena’s past: its lack of continuity, success and passion. It’s why McFarland won’t define the Bulldogs’ success by wins or losses. It’s about taking the necessary steps to improve each day. It starts with the little details first before making grand aspirations.

In talking to McFarland on Tuesday during a 40-minute interview you easily sense the passion, determination and willingness to lift up the program to where it once was.

It’s what gives Pasadena more than a great shot to battle the Muirs and Arcadias. Perhaps not this season just yet, but definitely sooner rather than later.

“My motto with this team is to improve every day,” McFarland said. “We just take it one day at a time and we’ll look for ways to improve. I’m not worried about wins and losses. We feel we have enough talent to be very competitive.

“My ultimate goal for this team is that we play good football and put a good product on the field and compete at a very high level. The wins and losses shake out after that.”

Pasadena doesn’t have the J’Quan Hamilton to quarterback the offense. In fact, the Bulldogs will be a run-friendly team this season with senior Nick Escoe and sophomore Cleo Bates Jr. battling for time in the backfield. For those with a sense of history, Cleo Bates is the son of the great Cleo Bates Sr., a PHS running back in the 80′s and then went on to play at Colorado. Bates Jr. is a lanky (6-foot-1) speedster with the ability to take the ball the distance. PHS returns eight starters from last year’s team, including lineman Anthony Boykins.

“The first thing we have to get really good at what we can do well,” McFarland said. “We have to be able to execute a well-rounded scheme that has answers within it for different ways we can be defended. Offensively we have to present a scheme that a defense has to account for multiple ways it can be attacked. It can’t just be three plays, line up and run it.

“Through formations and personnel adjustments we have to have ways to come back so a defense can’t just line up and play us. Our scheme needs to be flexible enough that we can take advantage if a line wants to stack the box. We will have the ability to have a little bit of a spread dimension and spread the field and take advantage of the defense if they don’t adjust.”

Still, there are battles within the program McFarland is addressing first, which is why there are no bold expectations this season.

“There’s ups and downs,” he said. “We’ve battled demons here for the first few months with kids in terms of consistency not only in the past and maybe past disappointments, but I can’t put it all on it. I can just go on what what I’ve seen since I’ve been here.

“A lot of times when there’s not a level of success that has been achieved the passion isn’t there. It’s human nature, not just in sports. If you’re not being successful people don’t get excited. It’s the most important thing, to generate that passion. The passion comes when players start seeing themselves successful. When they know things are headed int he right direction and feel themselves the player they want to become, then you start to get guys with passion.

“We’re still in the building process and get this thing going at a consistent level. What we as coaches have talked about is our players need to get closer to success and see it and feel it, and when that happens that’s when you start to get more of a buy-in from your players.”

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From Week 0 to Week 10, the Must-See games in 2009

WEEK 0: Arcadia at Monrovia, Sept. 4
Monrovia got off to a horrendous start last year, though things did pan out for the Wildcats in the end. Arcadia hopes to keep season-opening momentum going the rest of the year.

Prediction: Monrovia

WEEK 1: Maranatha at La Salle, Sept. 11
Last year’s epic battle is renewed as both teams test their new quarterbacks in what promises to be yet another showdown. No truth to rumors of building a wall to separate La Salle fans from Maranatha’s.

Prediction: Maranatha

WEEK 2: Rosemead at Monrovia, Sept. 18
The Wildcats will have vengeance on their mind when they take on the Panthers, which ousted Monrovia in last year’s semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs. Rosemead QB Matt Macias vs. Monrovia QB Nick Bueno will be fun to watch. Lets see who out runs who.

Prediction: Monrovia

WEEK 3: Temple City at Arcadia, Sept. 25
Randy Backus spent 14 years at Temple City but he’ll be wearing cardinal and gold when his Apaches take on the rookie Anthony White and the Temple City Rams. “Brawl for the Mall” … uh, yeah, real clever. Who came up with that?…

Prediction: Temple City

WEEK 4: Temple City at Rosemead, Oct. 2
Last year’s Mid-Valley Division championship game that never happened, thanks to our friends in the desert. Perhaps a preview of this year’s final?

Prediction: Rosemead

WEEK 5: La Salle at Temple City or Rosemead at South Hills, Oct. 9
La Salle beefed up its schedule considerably and it’ll only help the Lancers in the long run. Still, Rams run away in the second half.

Prediction: Temple City

WEEK 6: Arcadia at Muir, Oct. 16
The Apaches had a tough time handling the Mustangs’ speed last year. Things are not as even but Arcadia will compete and give Muir a run for its money.

Prediction: Muir

WEEK 7: Monrovia at Temple City, Oct. 23
A shot at the Rio Hondo League championship will be on the line when the WSGV’s two best offensive line meet. Monrovia’s core of returning players at key positions will propel the Wildcats to a victory.

Prediction: Monrovia

WEEK 8: Alhambra at San Gabriel, Oct. 30
The Almont League’s two best quarterbacks clash when Darrian Cazarin leads the Moors against Isaac Valdez and the Matadors. Alhambra came away with a 30-14 victory courtesy of a surprise rushing attack. The Moors offensive prowess again will overwhelm San Gabriel.

Prediction: Alhambra

WEEK 9: St. Francis at Alemany, Nov. 6
The Dietrich Riley show continues. This could be a make-or-break game for the Knights who hope to secure a playoff berth with a victory.

Prediction: St. Francis

WEEK 10: Muir vs. Pasadena at Rose Bowl, Nov. 13
The Turkey Tussle won’t be as lopsided this year, though the Mustangs figure to be the odds on favorite to win, again.

Prediction: Muir

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TC Coach Anthony White: “Your vacation is over!!!”

This one’s for my boy tcchamps …

As promised, I headed over to Temple City High School where the Rams opened camp. Gotta love the green T-shirts the Rams wore during practice: “Why not us?” in reference to Temple City shy of reaching the Mid-Valley Division final. Practice started winding down around 10:30 a.m. with three groups running sprints. As some players trailed the rest TC coach Anthony White wasn’t having it; “Your vacation is over!!!” he yelled. Anyway, there’s not much mystery surrounding the Rams this year, but the one question that remains is: Who will replace QB Morgan Hatch? Temple City returns four of its five offensive linemen from last season, including senior Matt O’Malley. Also returning is the bruising Max Ruckle at running back. That much you already knew. The QB situation is still being sorted out. After all, today was only the first day of practice. White will know more when the team throws on pads Thursday. For now, here’s what I saw … There’s a three-player rotation at quarterback, led by senior Justin Smith. The others are sophomore Calvin Copping and freshman sensation Brandon Cox. Smith appeared to get most of the snaps Monday with Cox and Copping looking on. If the season started today, I would guess Smith would start, Cox is the back-up and Copping the third string, respectively. Cox, however, is more athletic than the two, in my opinion. He’s fast, has height (he’s 6-foot-1) and has played quarterback since pop warner, though he did play running back, too. He was limited to action because of a strain ligament in his left elbow. Still, you can tell the kid’s got some serious raw talent. “I bring a lot of good assets to the team,” said Cox after Monday’s practice. “But I i’m just trying to do what i can to help the team win. I’m really a quarterback but I’ve been wanting to be a quarterback since i was 2. If they need me at receiver i’ll do it. I just want to help the team win. Speed’s one of my advantages; I’m tall and I can leap.” Rams fans will love to read this: Cox said doctors have told him he has a chance to grow to be 6-foot-4.

How you like them apples?

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…. Pinch hitting over the weekend …..

I spent my Saturday evening covering the Seattle-Galaxy soccer match since our soccer beat writer couldn’t make it. Normally, I would have kept my Saturday night open for other fun activities but I decided to pinch-hit since covering the game meant I would get a chance to see my old soccer scribe buddies. After deadline some of us went out for a bite and reminisced our traveling days. Two years ago, all of us in the photo above were reporters at major newspapers. Now, only two of us continue to work in print journalism (myself and my good friend Jose Romero of the Seattle Times, far left). Everyone else is freelancing and working in PR. A lot sure has changed from just two years ago, but for at least one night we were all smiles. … Anyway, I got into the office not long ago and walked over to Subway to grab a sandwich. As soon as I walked in I heard, “Hey, Miguel.” I turned and there was the one and only Dietrich Riley. He was there with his mom grabbing a bite, too, and we chatted a bit. I spent most of my morning at Temple City High where the Rams opened camp. Later I made a pit stop at the Tribune office before heading over to Monrovia High to chat with Ryan Maddox. I’ll dispatch reports in a bit …

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Football: La Salle QB’s vying for starting spot, etc …

As coaches call back to give me the low down I’ll be posting here with the latest information on your favorite teams. Here’s La Salle …

Antoine Peterson was probably hired too late last season in terms of not having time to install his own summer and offseason program. Then, the season began and the Lancers’ roster was depleted with injuries. The fallout led to Chase Rettig’s transferring to San Clemente High and a shakeup in the coaching ranks (Eddie Howard, special teams coach, and Pat Walker, offensive coordinator, are the only returning coaches).

Now’s the time for the Lancers faithful to forget the 1-9 season.

Fall camp started today and the final two-a-days end Saturday with afternoon workouts beginning Monday.

Peterson has turned the leaf and said his staff and players are all now on the same page, which clearly wasn’t the case last season.

Case in point: Chase Rettig was the only player taking snaps last season even during practice. Had he gone down with an injury there would have been no viable backup with the necessary reps. Sure, Kishon Sanders was designated the backup quarterback but never took a snap.

This season, four quarterbacks have taken plenty of snaps, and so far junior Will Harriety and sophomore Mike Novell are neck-in-neck for the starting spot. Mike Alexander is probably the third QB with Kishon Sanders also available if needed; he took most of the spring snaps.

This clearly is a different scenario from last year when the offensive coordinator limited snaps to Rettig.

Pat Walker, secondary coach last year, was promoted to offensive coordinator this season. In having a four-player rotation at quarterback Walker is giving the Lancers depth at a key position.

The coaching staff is all brand new this season (Ed Ramirez, defensive coordinator; Robert Maxie, wide receivers coach; Harold Johnson, running backs coach; Casey Hilland, offensive line coach; and David Shaw, offensive line coach) and the Lancers will look just as different on the field.

Gone is the spread offense Rettig was supposed to thrive in last year. In comes a balanced attack in an effort to rid the predictability La Salle fell victim to last season.

On paper, the Lancers look like a formidable team that’s back with vengance on its mind.

They return 14 starters from last year’s team and its entire offensive line, including Andrew Pankow (6’3, 270 pounds) who is drawing interest from a score of small schools and some major Division I programs. He’s taken a trip to Penn State.

With a revamped staff and an energized team, expect the Lancers to make a run for the Camino Real League championship and a sure spot in the playoffs.

How this year’s Maranatha-La Salle game will match last year’s epic battle is uncertain, but expect a battle from start to end for supremecy among two small school powers.

I wonder if La Salle will have In-N-Out …

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Rio Hondo League Football: Temple City’s Anthony White a crowd pleaser? Monrovia will finish on top

i-5dd0e07bc4dffeeb62b93b6456896e5e-Temple City.jpg

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.

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Football: The top 5 returning quarterbacks in the WSGV

I wanted to put together a top 10 list of the top returning quarterbacks in the West San Gabriel Valley, but frankly there just isn’t that kind of talent this season. Gone is Matt Schilz (Bowling Green) and Chase Rettig (transferred to San Clemente), two guys that annually battled for the list’s top spots. So we’ll limit the list to the top 5 and make it a good one. Without further adieu, here is the first list for you hungry-football freaks, the top 5 returning QB’s in the West San Gabriel Valley.


QUICK LOOK: Valdez completed almost 64 percent of his passes. He was the Star-News’ first team All-Area quarterback after throwing for 2,754 yards and 16 touchdowns. The 5-foot-7 Valdez displayed his speed as well, rushing for nearly 700 yards and six touchdowns.

MY TAKE: Imagine the college scouts all over San Gabriel High if Valdez was 6-foot-3?!?! Heck, he’d like to be at least 5-foot-10, Valdez said to me once during the All-Area photo shoot. Nonetheless, Valdez has shown he has a rocket of an arm, each year improving on yards passing. He’s not elusive but he is quick, making him a true threat for the Matadors which already boast a talented backfield. San Gabriel finished 5-6 overall and were ousted in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, but you have to remember injuries plagued San Gabriel with the loss of Marcos Villalobos, who wasn’t the same after separating his shoulder in the Alhambra game. Things are looking up for the Matadors. Keep an eye out on their offensive line. They won’t exactly match Temple City’s studs, but they’ll be up there, meaning Valdez could have an even better season come Fall.


QUICK LOOK: Bueno completed 55 percent of his passes and threw for 1,037 yards and had 10 touchdowns with just three interceptions. He rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns as well. Bueno was instrumental in leading the Wildcats to the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs. Bueno also led Monrovia to a Rio Hondo League championship after an impressive 5-0 record in league.

MY TAKE: Bueno was thrown to the fire and the kid didn’t disappoint. Monrovia took some bumps and bruises in mastering the Wing-T offense and though Marquis Williams was a big part of the offense’s success, it was Bueno’s dependability that grew as the season progressed, allowing the Wing-T offense to be effectively executed. Monrovia’s one dimensional offense evolved when Bueno was given more responsibility. He’s not quick but he is patient and mastered his way into finding options even when the pocket sometimes collapsed. Look for Bueno to have more responsibility in the offense with the absence of Marquis.


QUICK LOOK: Williams emerged as the team’s quarterback after Muir lost key players in the backfield, moving Reuben Thomas from quarterback to Mr. Everything, particularly at running back. Williams threw for 1,599 yards and 15 touchdowns with only three interceptions. He also rushed for three touchdowns. Williams led Muir to a 9-2 record and another Pacific League title.

MY TAKE: Though the Mustangs lost to Diamond Ranch in the first round of the Southeast Division playoffs, it was Williams who fueled a frantic rally in the final minutes of the game. Williams doesn’t have the speed or elusiveness that Thomas had but in Williams the Mustangs have a patient, subtle leader that can inspire teammates with his actions on the field. It took a while for Williams to get used to the pressure in the backfield but as the season progressed he became more comfortable throwing on the run. Williams could have a breakout season if in fact Muir has a stout offensive line like coach Kenny Howard claims.


QUICK LOOK: Cazarin threw for 2,209 yards and 24 touchdowns. The lone downside was he threw for 12 interceptions. Despite having a talented quarterback and true threats at wide receiver with Mitchell Crockom and Vailele Peko, the Moors had a sub.500 record and missed the playoffs.

MY TAKE: Cazarin no doubt is talented but he needs to implement the run in order to give Alhambra another much-needed dimension. And if the Moors have a talented Crockom playing they need to find him more than they did last season. For someone ranging 6-feet-3 one would think Crockom would get a lot more touches. Still, that wasn’t the Moors problem last season. They had no rushing game whatsoever, not until the final two games of the season when they discovered Daniel Imaa. If Cazarin can limit the turnovers and find a way to connect more often with the talented Crockom, expect the Moors to make a return to the playoffs, albeit as the league’s No. 2 representative behind San Gabriel.


QUICK LOOK: Tuck completed 1,598 yards and threw for 15 touchdowns and had 18 interceptions. The Apaches didn’t have the best season once Todd Golper went down with an injury, meaning the Apaches were suddenly had to rely on Tuck to carry the offense.

MY TAKE: Coach Jon Dimalante said they expect big things from Tuck, and so do I. When a team like Arcadia has a player like Golper, you hand him the rock. Unfortunately for the Apaches, Golper went down along with much of the Apaches’ offense. But Tuck showed his resilience and didn’t falter despite the turnovers. Arcadia is scheduled to participate in several passing tournaments which will prove beneficial for a guy like Tuck who knows he’ll have a bigger role in the offense as the season approaches.

OTHERS: Conor Bednarski (South Pasadena); Rocky Moore (La Canada);

Coming soon: The top 5 running backs and wide receivers. But don’t wait for me, start your own list in the latest Star-Jibber thread.

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