Star-Jibber: After Friday’s results, is St. Francis No. 1?

Discuss anything and everything you want … especially football

*No. 1 Monrovia — Ugly win vs. San Marino or San Marino just that good?

*No. 2 St. Francis — After a 14-0 lead dissipated the Golden Knights lose, 28-24, to Notre Dame. Good loss? Enough to move St. Francis to No. 1? I can see it happening.

*Who was the Week 6 player of the week? Have your say now or forever hold your peace.

*In case anybody’s wondering, I feel OK after taking a good fall at the ND-St. Francis game. Thanks to the Glendale News-Press reporter who got up off the bench, I took a good fall and almost hit the ground because I was sitting too close to the edge. The crowd had a good laugh, and so did I. But now my back’s killing me. Any good lawyer’s out there? I keed, I keed.

*After Monrovia’s sub par performance Friday, is Monrovia-Temple City still the Week 7 game of the week? Either way, I’ll be there. I think.

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Football: Paralyzed in 1976, former Muir High football player receives honorary varsity letter Friday night.

Above: Victor Wright, 48, receives his John Muir High School football varsity letter during halftime of the Muir-Arcadia game Friday night. Muir won, 27-7.

Paralyzed in 1976, former player given school honor

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

This story originally published on A1 in the Star-News section on Saturday, Oct. 17

It had been 33 years since Victor Wright had gone anywhere near John Muir High School’s football field.

There wasn’t much reason for him to return.

That was where Wright, a talented sophomore on the Mustangs’ frosh/soph team, suffered a devastating injury that paralyzed him from the neck down on Sept. 26, 1976.

It’s a memory Wright, now 48, remembers down to every detail – from the moment his knee gave out, which prevented him from squaring his shoulders for a clean tackle, to the second when everything went dark.

“When I made the tackle I fell to my left,” Wright recalled. “But I did not hit the player square. I made impact with the left side of my head and I went down.”

He still remembers feeling an electrical shock run through his entire body.

“I knew I was laying on the field and I knew I had just made a tackle, then I felt my body curl up.”

Wright’s high school football career came to an abrupt end on that warm Friday afternoon. And the kid they called “Bullet” never got a chance to move up and play varsity football for his beloved Mustangs.

The years have passed and in that time Wright has accomplished just about everything he’s set out to do – from earning a college degree to starting a nonprofit organization.

But those who saw Wright play knew he was good enough to one day play varsity football under Muir’s legendary coach Jim Brownfield.

They wanted to remind him, and on Friday night they did.

For the first time since being carted off the field and into an ambulance 33 years ago, Wright returned to Muir’s football field and was honored with a varsity letter from Mustangs head football coach Ken Howard.

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Friday Night Aftermath: St. Francis fumbles one away to Notre Dame, 28-24; Monrovia escapes San Marino, 14-12; Maranatha and Rio Hondo Prep win big in league action.




Notre Dame 28, St. Francis 24 — An impressive showing for St. Francis despite the loss. They were eight yards away. EIGHT YARDS!!! But a fumble inside the Notre Dame 10 was recovered by the visiting Knights who escaped with the win. It was a packed house and the game was not as advertised — Almost everyone pegged Notre Dame winning, and winning big. Not so. St. Francis led 14-0 at the half, led by Dietrich Riley who intercepted a pass in the first quarter and returned it 60 yards for a score. He intercepted Notre Dame QB Ryan Kasdorf’s fourth pass of the game. St. Francis was rockin and rollin until the second half came, particularly the fourth quarter. Notre Dame’s first lead of the game came on a 2-yard run by the unstoppable Kenneth Boggs. He rushed for a 2-yard score to give Notre Dame a 24-21 lead. Notre Dame put the final nail in the coffin when Kasdorf took off for a 10-yard score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter. On that scoring drive, Kasdorf and Boggs escaped from tackles in the backfield. If St. Francis makes those tackles we’d be celebrating a St. Francis win and I’d be enjoying lunch next week courtesy of another reporter. But alas, Notre Dame took advantage of a Justin Posthuma fumble inside the Notre Dame 10 to earn the win. Posthuma completed 18 of 25 passes for 218 yards and he rushed for 102 yards and one touchdown. That one fumble really bothered him after the game. His head hung while St. Francis coach Jim Bonds consoled him immediately after the game. Regardless, this was an awesome game to watch, and the standing-room only crowd proved it.

Monrovia 14, San Marino 12 – The Wildcats offense was not firing on all cylinders. The running game controlled the ball but they just couldn’t score. Monrovia’s defense came up huge, led by senior linebacker Josh Lowden. San Marino defensive game plan worked effectively and Monrovia couldn’t find a way to adjust. Monrovia seemed a little rusty and they didn’t make any in-game adjustments, allowing San Marino to stay within striking distance. The San Marino offense was patient and executed, but in the end Monrovia’s was just enough to earn the win. Lowden was the star of the game. He had a couple huge tackles for a loss and a sack. Ellis McCarthy also had a sack and pressured San Marino QB Joe Forgatch to force an incomplete pass on a two-point conversion in the final two minutes.

Muir 27, Arcadia 7 — The Muir defense came up big. They had five interceptions, including two that were returned for interceptions. Muir’s offense, however, stunk the place up. They couldn’t run or throw the ball. Jarron Williams completed 5 of 10 passes for 30 yards. Ouch. Arcadia had 155 on offense to Muir’s 106 and were still down at the half, 20-0.

Maranatha 27, Brentwood 7 — The Minutemen were led by running back Erik Johnson who rushed for 124 yards on 24 carries. He was like Steve Nash, setting up the Maranatha offense. Quarterback Cody Keith completed 7 of 12 passes for 90 yards and one touchdown over the air and one on the ground. This was a big win for the Minutemen who are 3-0 in Alpha League play.

Schurr 28, Alhambra 21 — There was no stopping Schurr wide receiver Carlos Arrendondo who had 11 catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Make that 5 out of 6 wins for the Spartans.

South Pasadena 27, Blair 20 — The Tigers (2-4, 1-0) built up a comfortable 20-0 lead going into halftime. But they were hit with an injury to quarterback Conor Bednarski before the end of the second quarter. Second-string QB Andrew Molina came in for his first rookie start. But the Tigers lost momentum and couldn’t contain Blair’s homecoming spirit. The Vikings scored back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter to make it 20-12. The Tigers’ Matthew Nelson scored the longest touchdown of the night with a 57-yard reception from Molina with 10 seconds to go in the third. “It’s a cliche, but that was an ugly win,” South Pasadena coach Edward Smith said. “We came out with a ‘W’ and have a two-game winning streak.” South Pasadena’s head trainer, Tamar Berberian, said Bednarski has a right-knee sprain after getting hit by a helmet

Gladstone 40, Duarte 14 — It’ll be easier for Duarte next week as a much-needed bye approaches.

Gabrielino 21, El Monte 14 — The Eagles earned their first second win of the season. Gabrielino (2-4, 1-0) jumped out to a 7-0 lead when Oscar Rivas took a handoff 55 yards for the score on the third play of scrimmage. After an El Monte (0-6, 0-1) punt, the Eagles drove 85 yards on 15 plays, capped by a Joshua Acosta 10-yard touchdown run, to push the lead to 14 midway through the first quarter.

San Gabriel 21, Keppel 7 — Capitalizing on miscues by its opponent and Fabian Amaro’s two touchdowns propelled the visiting Matador in the Almont League opener. With the game knotted at 7-7 early in the third quarter, the Matadors (3-3, 1-0) had quarterback Isaac Valdez hit receiver Mark Covarrubias on the last three plays of the first series of the second half. Valdez connected on passes of 30, 27 and finally, a 13-yard strike to Covarrubias. That gave San Gabriel a 13-7 lead. It concluded a nine-play, 70- yard drive. On the night, Valdez was 13-for-19 for 139 yards with an interception.

Arroyo 14, Rosemead 12 — Arroyo held off a late fourth-quarter rally to defeat the Panthers. Rosemead had a chance to tie the game with 3:28 left, but Mike Amaya broke up a two-point conversion pass attempt and the Knights (4-2) hung on for the win. The Knights offense struggled early but took advantage of a turnover to score late in the first quarter. Amaya grabbed an errant lateral at the Panthers 13-yard line with 4:51 left in the first quarter. After a penalty, Steven Rivera hit Mikey Vasquez on a swing pass for an 18-yard touchdown.

Rio Hondo Prep 48, Flintridge Prep 0 — Quarterback Chris Llamas passed for two touchdowns and ran for another as the Kares dropped the Rebels to 1-4 on the season. Rio Hondo Prep was just too good, scoring in its first five possessions to build a big lead.

Mary Star 28, Bosco Tech 13 — Mary Star of the Sea High School found the holes in the Don Bosco Tech defense Friday night. The Stars scored on three long plays, two in the second half, to knock off the Tigers 28-13 in the Camino Real League opener for both teams at Daniels Field in San Pedro. “Those three big runs just killed us,” Bosco Tech head coach Chris Shockley said.

Calvary Chapel 55, Marshall 15 — The Eagles got banged up and the Grizzlies took advantage in an Alpha League game on Friday night. Quarterback Salvador Murillo went down in the third quarter, and the Eagles also lost two key linebackers. “Injuries cost us the game,” Marshall head coach Ricky Pickens said. “We lost a lot of key guys.” Murillo completed a 70- yard touchdown pass to Jessie Wright. But when Murillo went down, Pickens went to Aaron Shanklin, who hadn’t played the position at all this season.

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Thursday Night Postgame: Temple City routs La Caada, 40-20; Pasadena falls to Burroughs in Pac League, 35-12.

Temple City 40, La Caada 20 — What a game. Temple City soon will right the ship, and Thursday night was as good as start as ever. Max Ruckle rushed for 95 yards on 21 carries, but more importantly he went nuts and wandered into happy grass four times with scores from 9, 4, 7, and 5 yards to propel the Rams (3-2-1, 1-0) to a 40-20 win. Senior quarterback Justin Smith was just as spectacular in completing 14 of 18 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns. He threw for a 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Pultz and rushed for a 2-yard score. The unsung hero of the night has to go to senior wide receiver Andrew Anda. He caught 4 passes for 130 yards, and though he didn’t have a touchdown he did help set up two of the Rams’ six scores. He caught a 52-yard pass and a 56-yard pass to help set up Ruckle from 5 yards out in the fourth quarter and Pultz with 7:32 left in the fourth quarter. La Caada (2-3, 0-1) played sloppy and dug itself a hole from the beginning. It was tough already playing without stout wide receiver Josh Hanson, but to help Temple City score its first three touchdowns just wasn’t called for. The Spartans turned the ball over twice and a personal foul (late hit to Max Ruckle) kept a Rams drive alive that was eventually capped on an 8-yard run by Ruckle to give Temple City a 20-0 lead with 6:15 left in the second quarter. Spartans quarterback Rocky Moore completed 14 of 30 passes for 259 yards and one touchdown and one interception. It was Moore’s first interception of the season, courtesy of Temple City sophomore Andrew Gibson. This is also Moore’s fifth straight game in which he throws for at least 250 yards. My favorite play of the night, which had me jumping and hooting and hollering, was Ruckle’s leaping over a Spartans defender (photo below). I’ve seen that on TV and live when covering USC football a few years back, but never in person at a high school game. Someone should tell the Temple City band to play the “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” song next week when TC plays Monrovia.

Burroughs 35, Pasadena 12 — Huckster, who let you out of your cage? Relax, dude. Mike McFarland is not 100 times worse than Kevin Mills. Everybody knew Pasadena was up against a tall task facing Burroughs. I still commend McFarland and what he’s done thus far this season. Take it all in perspective. The Bulldogs are still 2-1 in the Pacific League and have a very good shot at making a playoff appearance. This loss to Burroughs will be growing pains for the young Bulldogs. Burroughs scored 21 points in the first quarter. That right there was a huge hole for the PHS defense to dig out of. “We got a wake-up call,” McFarland said. “We’ve had some success the last few weeks and we got taught a lesson on what it takes to win in this league against tough opponents.”

Photo courtesy of Carlos Mota Sr. Awesome photo!!!

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NLCS: One down, two more to go for our Boys in Blue

I have the Dodgers winning in six. Then it’s on to beat the hated Yankees in 5 (I mean, really, who in the heck would want a Freeway Series. East vs. West, New York vs. L.A. C’mon, the West Coast is the best and L.A. is the greatest city in the world). The bigger question is will I call in sick to attend the Dodgers parade and what will I wear that day? My Dodgers jersey. Hmmmm … decisions, decisions, decisions. A lot of my friends wanted to play the Rockies. Even one guy in our newsroom said we’d have an easier time facing Jim Tracy & Co., but I say bring on the Phillies. It’s time to exact revenge for what they did last year. I’m not a fan of Shane Victorino, not because he’s not a good player, but because of how he took the sword and twisted it on the back of every Dodger fan last year. Game 1 is tonight at 5. Hmmm … Phillies-Dodgers or Temple City-La Caada? Decisions, decisions, decisions. Just kidding. I just turned down an offer for four tix in the lodge section for $110 each. So, yes, I’m banking on the TC-LC game being just as exciting.

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Road to Stardom: St. Francis’ Dietrich Riley is top recruit

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

LA CAADA-FLINTRIDGE – Dietrich Riley’s road to stardom had humble beginnings on the fields of Victory Park in Pasadena.

This was where he played flag football, and having lived in Altadena and later in Pasadena, Victory Park practically became Riley’s backyard.

Also at the time, St. Francis High School football coaches noticed an aggressive Riley, who was heading into the eighth grade the summer he attended St. Francis’ football camp.

Since then, it was Riley’s dream to play at St. Francis. The three-year letterman not only accomplished that dream, but he’s built a legacy at the school.

Riley, with over 20 major Division I offer, including USC, UCLA, Florida, Notre Dame, Alabama, Michigan, Oklahoma and Tennessee, has no doubt left a foot print at the football-rich program.

That he’s one of the most coveted recruits in the nation is a testament to Riley’s unparalleled work ethic on and off the field.

That he got there at all is a true testament to Riley’s mother, Marika McWhorter.

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This year, it’s Monrovia, St. Francis and then the rest?

It used to be that every year (at least since I’ve been here, which is what, all of 14 months) people were lamenting there wasn’t a Muir-St. Francis showdown. Everybody wanted it and I called on it too in a column early last season. To think of Muir-St. Francis would have played this season. Holy cow! St. Francis probably would have run away with a win. Sure, the game itself would have appeased the masses, but what’s the point? All anyone talks about now is who can beat who if Monrovia and St. Francis squared off. My money would be on Monrovia, but that’s just me. St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said Monday after practice that quarterback Justin Posthuma is one of the best in the Valley. You can make the argument, sure. Posthuma had an off night last week against El Rancho, but otherwise has posted impressive numbers, on the ground and over the air. Is he better than Nick Bueno? No way. Bueno’s much too fast on the ground. I’m sure Dietrich Riley and Christopher Cabrera would like a piece of Bueno charging up the field. There’s no argument: a Monrovia-St. Francis matchup is coveted given both teams are the top-ranked team in the Mid-Valley and Western Division, respectively. When putting together the top 10 every week there’s no argument Monrovia and St. Francis belong in the top two spots. Where exactly is an argument both teams can make. Still, it’s becoming more clear every week that this season it’s all about Monrovia and St. Francis, and then the rest follow. Weak football season in the WSGV? Not so, but it’s not all that far off. Temple City is 2-2-1 but you can’t forget they advanced all the way to the semifinals of last year’s playoffs with pretty much the same team. Rosemead and Muir have fallen off the face of the Earth, their absence perhaps weakening the top 10 rankings. There’s yet to be a dominant week by the top 10 corp, and if there’s a week to get it done it has to be this week to proof this season is not a down year for high school football in the West. Otherwise, the sentiment resonates:


St. Francis.

Then the rest.

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Football: No movement in latest Top 10 Rankings

1. MONROVIA (5-0) — Well, what can you say. Disciplined, focused, talented, young and tough. Certainly last week’s bye refueled the Wildcats even more as they get ready for the Rio Hondo League.

2. ST. FRANCIS (5-0) — Now, this game should have been played at Cowboys Stadium. Notre Dame comes to town with a 4-1 record. This game will serve as a good measure to see where the Knights stand. But so far the Golden Knights have been impressive.

3. SAN MARINO (5-0) — A lot’s been said about the Titans’ schedule, soft or not? We’ll see how San Marino stands against the SGV’s best. It’ll be a tough task, but someone’s gotta do it.

4. ALHAMBRA (3-1) — The Moors look like they’re getting their act together on offense. Schurr will be a tough start to the Almont League, but Alhambra might as well get it out of the way. The result of this game could shape the rest of the Almont League.

5. TEMPLE CITY (2-2-1) — Max Ruckle rushed for 203 yards last week and scored three touchdowns. There will be games when QB Justin Smith shines and games when Ruckle leads the Rams, sometimes both. That’s the beauty of the spread offense, it’s an added dimension in the long run. The feeling here is Thursday’s La Caada will be a fun one to watch with the action swinging back and forth.

6. SAN GABRIEL (2-3) — The Matadors took a beating in preseason. I know they’d like to think otherwise, but losses to Cathedral, Burbank and San Marino have been a bit demoralizing. I guess if we’re going to get down to it we should also question San Gabriel’s schedule, which includes wins over South Pasadena and Contreras. Yeah, never heard of them either.

7. LA CAADA (2-2) — The Spartans are off to a good start. They will be good this season and very much will contend for a playoff spot this season. A missed tackle here and there is what has La Caada staring at a 2-2 record instead of 3-1. QB Rocky Moore is every bit as advertised. He’s thrown for at least 250 yards in each game this season and is yet to throw an INT (I really hope I don’t jinx the kid). Josh Hanson is also fun to watch. He’s an athletic (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) wide receiver with slick moves, quick feet and good hands. He put a sick move on an Arroyo defender for the Spartans first TD last week. He scored on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Moore. When he caught the ball, Hanson went left, right, left, quickly spun around and raced down the Spartans sideline and into the end zone. That’s probably the sickest move I’ve seen all season long.

8. BOSCO TECH (3-2) — The feeling here is the Tigers will make the playoffs. Bosco Tech had a tough stretch offensively when facing the likes of Salesian and Pioneer. They were losses the Tigers pretty much handed themselves with silly mistakes and penalties. To be fair, Bosco Tech did play without its heart and soul — senior Johnny Calderon.

9. LA SALLE (3-3) — I’m no fan of moral victories, but the Lancers will come out stronger after this tough preseason schedule. Anytime you schedule teams playing in tougher leagues and divisions there’s always a lesson to come from it, and La Salle definitely will grow from that experience. I think I missed my chance at checking out QB Mike Novell and the exciting Mike Alexander. Looking at the schedule the rest of the season I just don’t picture myself covering a La Salle game. Luckily, Novell’s a sophomore.

10. RIO HONDO PREP (5-0) — The Kares are taking care of business like they’re supposed to, which is why they are ranked. The defending CIF-SS Northeast Division champions have a huge target on their back, and Flintridge Prep is the first team from the Prep League with a chance to knock off Rio Hondo Prep when they meet Friday night at 7:30 at Rio Hondo Prep.

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Football: Maddox bringing Glory Days back to Monrovia? Legendary coach Steve Garrison says yes, reminisces

It’s hard not to think about what Ryan Maddox has done in less than two years as head coach at Monrovia. Are the glory days back at Monrovia?

Think about it: Monrovia is unbeaten at 5-0 heading into league action; they’re the No. 1-ranked team in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division; they’re the No. 1-ranked team in the WSGV; and their young studded lineup makes them the favorite to win the Mid-Valley Division championship.

Monrovia’s plummeting opponents to a pulp with little regard, and they’ve done it against two teams (Rosemead, San Dimas) who previously were ranked No. 2 in the division at the time they faced Monrovia.

They’ll take on San Marino on Friday night, the third team the Wildcats face that are ranked No. 2 in the division.

You guys remember the late 90′s when Monrovia made three straight CIF finals appearances in 1997 (vs. Mira Costa), 1998 (Paso Robles) and 1999 (Paso Robles).

In talking with Steve Garrison today it seems that 1998 game still stings and lingers to this day. The Wildcats lost, 24-22, but what made it harder to deal with the loss was knowing Monrovia dropped two passes in the end zone.

There were other good times. Who can forget when Monrovia didn’t lose a Rio Hondo League game from 1996-1999.

Monrovia this season’s yet to accomplish anything and at the very least whatever they have done is subjective.

But you can’t deny they’re an awesome team to watch and they have the makeup of a championship-caliber team. The signs are there — Monrovia’s glory days are looming.

“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Garrison said. “They’re getting back to where it used to be. Coach Maddox’s done a fantastic job. Him and his staff have put together a championship team. I think they’re certainly on their way, and they’re the team to beat.”

I don’t see Monrovia getting ahead of themselves. Maddox and his staff are much too smart to let it happen.

Since Maddox’s arrival there was discipline from the start on and off the field. That this young squad has maintained humble and remain level-grounded is a testament to Maddox and his coaching staff, which is why I don’t see Monrovia getting ahead of themselves.

Maddox and his staff are much too smart to let it happen. Earlier this week, Maddox stressed the significance of staying humble, and Garrison echoed his sentiments.

“I truly hope Maddox and the Wildcats bring home the school’s first CIF championship,” Garrison said. “As much as I like it in my heart — and I have a lot of Wildcat in my heart — we still have the Rio Hondo League to get through; Temple City, La Caada and San Marino will have a say in it before it’s all over.

“It’s important to stay grounded and realize this is still a one game, one week at a time adventure. If you start getting ahead of yourselves, it can come back to bite you.”

Garrison hasn’t had a chance to watch any Monrovia games this season. Damien’s bye landed the same week as Monrovia’s. But he sees the kids’ excitement filter into Monday after each Friday night victory.

He was in his office when giving me a brief history lesson. He has Monrovia pictures plastered all over his wall, a constant reminder Garrison’s still very much part of the Wildcats football program.

“Without a doubt,” he says. “This was my first head coaching experience. To sit here and say I forget about it … I’d be lying to you.”

The experience went far beyond the gridiron.

“This head coaching experience helped me grow as a coach and also as a man and I just,” said Garrison, before taking a deep breath and continuing, “they’re fond memories I’ll never forget.”

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Football: What to do with San Gabriel in the Top 10?

Monrovia, St. Francis and San Marino are not likely to move from their current standing, and even though the Titans barely got past San Gabriel last week, a win is a win, right? Nevertheless, places 4-10 are still up in the air. It’s unlikely a new team will jump into the top 10. No, not Muir. Not Rosemead. Not Pasadena. Who else is really out there? Exactly. This means Alhambra, Temple City, San Gabriel, La Canada, Bosco Tech, La Salle and Rio Hondo Prep will remain in the top 10. The question is, where? Should San Gabriel drop a few spots? Should the stay at No. 6? If not for that fumble the Matadors probably win. They definitely shouldn’t move up, right? I’m putting together the top 10 right now, so have your input. I turn in my rankings at 5 p.m. today.

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