Star-Jibber: The Top 5 returning football studs

Contrary to popular belief, I am not taking off on a two-week vacation. I’m somewhat dreading the one-week vacation as it is. Still have no definite plans but I’m very spontaneous when it comes to these type of things. I already know I’ve got Vegas the last weekend of August and a wedding in September down in La Jolla. While I’m gone, do you have any suggestions on how we can try to keep this thing flowing? Remember, I leave Sunday and don’t return until Aug. 10. Keith Lair doesn’t have the keys to this blog. I’m thinking of asking Fred to post a thread once in a while just to keep you guys in sane. I know there’s been limited action here. Some long-piece features have kept me busy. I can assure you once Hell Week is fully underway we’ll get this thing back on track. For now, let me give you my official unofficial Top 5 returning football players in the WSGV.

Leading things off is my boy …..

1. DIETRICH RILEY, ST. FRANCIS, SR.

QUICK LOOK: Riley, who quickly caught the eye of USC, Alabama, Texas and Texas Tech among others, was a strong presence on both ends of the ball. He earned most valuable offensive honors in the Mission League after rushing for 1,034 yards and six touchdowns He anticipated plays well at defensive back and his speed was unmatched.

MY TAKE: One look at this kid and you can’t help but go shopping for a couple footballs and a sharpie. This kid’s legit and will be making some noise well after his high school and collegiate playing days. St. Francis might be too predictable with Riley in the backfield, which is why they’re rotating him at several positions, which in the end may end up diminishing his role. Stick Riley at two (or three spots max) and you’ll see why Riley’s receiving so much buzz. Since the end of the season, Riley’s fielded offers from Notre Dame and LSU. Any chance he becomes a Bruin?

2. MITCHELL CROCKOM, ALHAMBRA, SR.

QUICK LOOK: Crockom was part of the talented group of receivers who immediately caught the eye of opposing defenses. He caught 36 passes for 791 yards and six touchdowns and he also provided a strong presence on defense while playing defensive back. Crockom caught most of his yards while being double-teamed and at times triple-teamed, putting his athletic abilities on display in just about every down whether the ball was thrown to him or not.

MY TAKE: Memo to Darrian Cazarin: Throw more to this kid. 791 yards receiving and six touchdowns aren’t exactly the numbers such an athletically-built player should have when it’s all said and done. The hunch here is Crockom will have a breakout year and have well over 1,000 yards receiving and 10+ touchdowns. Alhambra will finish second in the Almont League and make a quarterfinals appearance come playoffs.

3. ISAAC VALDEZ, SAN GABRIEL, SR.
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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.

4. NICK BUENO, MONROVIA, JR.

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.

5. STEVIE YORTSOS, SAN MARINO, SR.

QUICK LOOK: The junior helped the Titans open the season with eight straight victories and an appearance in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs. He caught 34 passes for 604 yards and nine touchdowns, averaging nearly 18 yards per catch. Yortsos was just as involved defensively, recording 35 tackles and seven interceptions.

MY TAKE: Quite a few players were up for the last and final spot (including Muir’s Jarron Williams and Monrovia’s Josh Lowden) but I’m feeling pretty high about Yortsos. His numbers above speak for itself, and with Joe Forgatch at quarterback we could see Yortsos having a breakout year as well. As scary as that may seem, Yortsos could be looking a lot stronger and dangerous on the defensive side. Yortsos and the Titans will be tested early. Soon we’ll see if they respond.

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Say goodbye to my award-winning live blogging ….

… OK, maybe not an award-winning live blog segment, but fans who follow our local teams playing in championship games are never out of the loop with up-to-the-minute updates such as my live blogging from last season’s CIF-Southern Section Division V baseball championship game pitting Maranatha vs. Woodcrest Christian.

That night, CIF-SS spokesman Thom Simmons informed me the Southern Section would soon take action and restrict live blogging this upcoming season. This much I had already seen coming since other high school sports governing bodies were doing the same in other states, a ruiling that will affect the way we cover sports in this ever-evolving digital era.

So, say goodbye to our live blogging. The Southern Section office released this statement today:


Each Credential Holder (including television, Internet, new media, and print publications) has the privilege to blog during competition through the Credential Entity.

However, the blog may not produce in any form a “real-time” description of the event. Real-time is defined by the CIF-SS as a continuous play-by-play account or live, extended live/real-time statistics, or detailed description of an event. Live-video/digital images or live audio are not permitted.

Each of the aforementioned descriptions is exclusive to the CIF-SS Web site and/or any other Web site designated by the CIF-SS and its rights holders.
Periodic updates of scores, statistics or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the event are acceptable.

Credential Holder agrees that the determination of whether a blog is posting a real-time description shall be in the CIF-SS’ sole discretion. If the CIF-SS deems that a Credential Holder is producing a real-time description of the contest, the CIF-SS reserves all actions against Credential Holder, including but not limited to the revocation of the credential.

If media intend to blog at a CIF-SS championship event, the media entity must indicate so through the credentialing process.

Any media entity posting a blog during a CIF-SS championship must submit a direct link to the blog to www.cifss.org. In return, all media entities entering a blog must post the CIF-SS logo/link on their site. All blogs must be free of charge to readers. All must adhere to the conditions and limitations of this CIF-SS Blogging Policy.

Video “blogging” of a CIF-SS event may not exceed more than 15 total minutes in duration and cannot include consecutive game action.

The CIF-SS and its designated championship personnel shall be the final authority on whether a Credential Holder or Credential Entity is following the CIF-SS Blogging Policy.

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Football: The 2009 top running backs in the WSGV …

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Gone are the days when the WSGV was heavy with stellar running backs. Marquise Williams, Tra Sumler and Todd Golper have since graduated, and Duarte’s Jordan Canada transferred to South Hills. This year’s list of the top running backs won’t be as loaded but the five who make the list are ready to go on a tear. And if you really think about it, any list can start with the one and only Dietrich Riley.

1. Dietrich Riley, Senior, St. Francis — Like my boy Jay-Z said in his “Black Album”: What more can I say?

2. Max Ruckle, Senior, Temple City — Ruckle is just as deserving to be at the top of the list. He rushed for 1,599 yards and 17 touchdowns. He averaged 123 yards per game last season for the Rams in nine games as a starter (including the playoffs). He rushed for at least 100 yards in each game. Joey Stewart was designated the starting running back to start last season and then came Ruckle stealing the spotlight. I wonder if Ruckle, now knowing he’s the starting running back heading into camp, has a different mentality compared to last year when things were still a bit up in the air.

3. Fabian Amaro, Senior, San Gabriel – Amaro was the second-leading rusher for the Matadors (five yards shy from Issac Valdez) with 610 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was limited to action because of injuries. If you thought San Gabriel was loaded with running backs last year (Arthur Brown was third on the depth chart) then you haven’t seen nothing yet. Not only do the Matadors have Amaro, Brown and Valdez, but San Gabriel is expected to add another running back with the additino of a JV call-up.

4. D.J. Cole, Senior, Monrovia — Rushed for 580 yards and had a season-high 121 yards and three touchdowns rushing, albeit against Blair. Cole was largely behind the shadow of the great Marquise Williams. But Cole’s speed was evident early in the season, enough that Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said Cole’s presence gives the Wildcats’ an added element to the rushing attack.

5. David Maldonado, Junior, Arcadia — He rushed for only 354 yards all season but he was a late-season callup to the Apaches squad. He rushed for 198 yards against Hoover and 106 yards against Glendale. Sure, Glendale and Hoover are not the most inferior teams in the Southland, but for a sophomore with no varsity experience to come into a tough situation and help the starving Arcadia offense proves Maldonado was ready to take on the situation head-on.

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NFHS: High-tech swimsuits banned in high school

Amid a wave of new world-records set at international competitions, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) followed suit with FINA, the international swimming federation, and has banned high-tech swimsuits in high school competition. The NFHS sent out a release earlier this afternoon.

INDIANAPOLIS — High-tech swimsuits that have been linked to record performances at all levels of competition the past couple of years have been banned for high school competition, effective immediately.

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Swimming and Diving Rules Committee approved changes to Rule 3-2-2 that will make the high-tech swimsuit no longer a legal suit for swimmers at the high school level. The committee’s recommendations were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Effective immediately, swimmers shall be limited to one swimsuit, which shall be constructed of a woven/knit textile material, permeable to water and air, constructed so as not to aid in buoyancy, and shall not contain zippers or other fastening systems. In addition, the suit shall be constructed so that the style/shape for males shall not extend above the waist or below the top of the kneecap and for females shall not extend beyond the shoulders or below the top of the kneecap, and it shall not cover the neck.

“These high-tech suits had fundamentally altered the sport and become more similar to equipment, rather than a uniform,” said Becky Oakes, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the Swimming and Diving Rules Committee. “The rules of swimming have always prohibited the use or wearing of items that would aid in the swimmer’s speed and/or buoyancy. The technical suits and styles had evolved to a point where there was little, if any, compliance with these basic rules,” Oakes said.

The committee discussed the high-tech swimsuit issue at its meeting in March, but did not have enough factual information to take action at that time.

“With new developments in the swimming community, the committee knew that in order to preserve the integrity, tradition and heritage of the sport, as well as protect and enhance the interscholastic swimming program, these new requirements were necessary to promote fair play and the educational values of high school and could not wait for another year,” Oakes said. “The immediate implementation date, including style, will help guarantee fairness in competition throughout the high school swimming seasons and allow meet officials to fairly and consistently enforce the rule.”

Swimming/diving ranks eighth in popularity for girls with 147,197 participants in 6,766 schools, according to the NFHS 2007-08 High School Athletics Participation Survey. The sport ranks 10th among boys sports with 111,896 participants in 6,428 schools.

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Admit it, you all know you missed me …

Last week was the first vacation I’d taken in five years. Please, don’t ever let me go through that again! While it was fun sleeping in, catching up on every episode of “Entourage” and enjoying empty movie theaters during the day while the rest of the world is at work, I’m ready to start cranking out the football preview section. At least that’s what I had in mind before I arrived to my desk and found no internet connection. I called I.T. and they said they couldn’t do anything about it until next week. Awesome! Sounds like someone wants to slow me down, but it ain’t gonna work. After finally figuring out my password to log onto this blog I’m ready to make phone calls and feed you guys with football news. If there’s anything specific you want me to get at be sure to leave a comment and I’ll hunt down the news for yall.

This “welcome back” note isn’t exactly the red carpet rollout I had in mind, but it’ll do from Blog Mayor Goldenarm:


MIGUEL,

I know you said no way you were getting married on your vacation, but police reports pieced together from various desert communities indicate the following:

1. Apparently, you broke all “man laws” and went on a blind date.

2.Drank 1/2 gallon of Patron, ate two racks of oysters, took a 100mg little blue pill. Started feeling really good.

3.Hailed a yellow cab, demanded a ride to Stateline Nevada. Dropped to one knee, proposing marriage to the beautiful girl with a Marine’s jaw line, happy, oh so happy, when she smiled and in a husky, james earl jones kind of voice saying, saying Yes, Yes!

4.Called Robledo on your cell from the cab backseat, asking him for Webster’s definition of TRANS – VEST- TITE…and to stand up as your best man once you made it to Whiskey Pete’s

5.Cab blew a tire near the big thermometer at Baker and something snapped in your head. The driver stepped out to check the tire, and scrolled on the back of his jacket was “Mid-Valley News”…then it hit you, Hell Week is here! What am I doing? You ran from the vehicle like the old defensive back you claim to be…with Teresa the Tranny in hot pursuit..yelling desperately for her Latin lover – with only the lonely desert moon as witness.

6. Sometime near daybreak as you stumbled along some lost highway that intersects US 15, you were picked up by a busload of Amat alumni, returning from the annual conference on Delusional Fanatic Football Supporters.

WELCOME BACK.

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Helping us sports guys do our thing ….

While Miguel’s on vacation, I’m sharing the top ten serious and not-so-serious things football teams can do to increase newspaper coverage…

1. Thursday Night Games: This is what the mid-major’s do for national exposure, and it works in our backyard too. Highly recommended for teams that normally feel slighted on Friday night’s by the more traditional schools.

2. Schedule Muir/St. Francis: This is sort of a joke, but also has a ring of truth to it. When an area teams takes on the best the area has to offer, its newsworthy.

3. Programs/Rosters: What will inevitably happen the first full week of football games is that half our reporters will return to the office complaining that schools not only don’t have programs, they forget rosters. If you’re going to charge $5 bucks to get into the stadium, the least you can do is provide fans/writers with names to go with the numbers.

4. Non-League rivalries: Not enough of these anymore. You have the Smudge Pot: Bonita-San Dimas; MD Classic: Duarte-Monrovia, and whatever Temple City vs. Arroyo is called, but we need more of these. In other words, when will Muir and St. Francis sign the contract.

5. Earlier kick-off times: This is why you see reporters running off the field after the final whistle. Those who traditionally play 7:30 p.m., football games will have a rough time making our deadlines this season. If you’re shocked that some games miss the newspaper entirely, it’s probably because the game ran late and missed deadline. Our deadlines are nearly two hours earlier than they were a decade ago, so 7 p.m., games and (can I ask) 6:30 p.m., games are strongly encouraged.

6. Scheduling Upgrade: Nobody is asking that you go crazy and schedule like Muir did earlier this decade, but upgrading the schedule against traditional locals or Southland giants is always appealing.

7. Quotable: Coaches and players who don’t make us wait long after games and aren’t afraid to speak their mind go to the front of the line.

8. Snack Bar: We don’t accept free food, but we take donations (hint, hint).

9. Parking: Time is precious. For those stadiums impossible to get out quick, reserve a spot close to an exit for your hometown newspaper.

10. Stats: Our annual reminder for coaches to upgrade stats on MaxPreps. Stop hiding and saying you don’t want to be scouted, stats are for the many fans that follow your programs, and for the newspapers that desperately need them to keep track of what’s going on.

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Prep Sports Writers needed …


Here’s the deal, we’re always looking for correspondents to cover Friday night football games, and since all the experts reside here, I thought I’d start with you. We generally don’t ask that you write too much, and in some cases will just ask that you call in the box score with a recap of the game. You will receive a press pass to cover the games from the sidelines or in the press box, and be paid a small fee for your time. If you’re a journalism major or thinking about it, this is ideal. If you’re a football junkie who can spell, this will be great for you also. To be considered, please send an email with your contact information to set up an interview.
miguel.melendez@sgvn.com

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