Monrovia and Rio Hondo Prep will try to go the distance


Above: De’Shawn Ramirez & Co. ran past Paraclete in the semifinals. Can Monrovia do it again Saturday night when it hosts Whittier Christian?

It’s going to be a busy week. The winter sports are well under way and some big basketball tournaments get underway today. While I concentrate on that today I will leave you with the chance to ask as many questions as you want regarding Monrovia and Whittier Christian in the Mid Valley Division and Rio Hondo Prep and Salesian in the Northeast Division. What do you want to know about your teams? What do you want to know about the opposing teams? Rio Hondo Prep’s Mike Collins already asked why it is Salesian forfeited four of its games, and when I call the Salesian coach it’s something I will definitely ask and hope to have for you in Tuesday’s paper. There may also be some questions you want answered regarding the second round game, such as Ryan Maddox’s thought process when he opted to punt on third down in the Wildcats’ first series against Paraclete. What about Rio Hondo Prep’s Cody Cowell and how he’s feeling after returning since separating his shoulder in the first round game. How many of you are going to attend the other semifinals Friday night? I’m sure Monrovia’s making the trip to San Dimas and Rio Hondo Prep’s probably making the trip to Temecula to watch No. 2 seed Linfield Christian take on Chadwick. We will devote daily coverage of both teams leading up to what promises to be an action packed Saturday when Monrovia, the undefeated top-seeded team in the Mid Valley Division, and Rio Hondo Prep, the unbeaten, top-seeded and defending Northeast Division champions, try to keep its season alive and get closer to the promised land that is the championship game.

SATURDAY’S GAMES — WITH PREDICTIONS
CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION PLAYOFFS
SEMIFINALS
MID VALLEY DIVISION

Whittier Christian (9-3, Olympic League 3) at No. 1 Monrovia (12-0, Rio Hondo League 1)
PREDICTION: Monrovia

NORTHEAST DIVISION
Salesian (6-6, Santa Fe 1) at No. 1 Rio Hondo Prep (12-0, Prep League 1)
PREDICTION: Rio Hondo Prep

Star-Jibber: Monrovia, Rio Hondo Prep back in semifinals

Discuss anything and everything you want to talk about…

Here we go again: Monrovia and Rio Hondo Prep are back in the semifinals. Top seed Monrovia (12-0) takes another Olympic League team in Whittier Christian (9-3) in the CIF-SS Mid Valley Division. MaxPreps has this game at Whittier Christian on Saturday night, but Freddy’s got it listed at Monrovia. I’ll make a phone call. Either way, I will be there and once again it’ll be the Star-News Game of the Week. I’m off Friday, but I’m debating whether I should go watch Azusa-San Dimas or make it a rare Boys Night Out on a Friday night during football season. Decisions, decisions. Also on Saturday night, top seeded and defending champion Rio Hondo Prep (12-0) will host Salesian (6-6) in the Northeast Division. I had a chance to chat with Salesian coach Roddie Hiatt, who attended the Rio Hondo Prep-Saddleback Valley Christian game. All this week I’ll bring you notes and tidbits not just on Monrovia (cuz I know you can’t get enough of them) and Rio Hondo Prep, but also on their opponents. If you must know, I’m picking both teams to advance to the finals. San Dimas and Linfield Christian will be the losers in the Mid Valley and Northeast Division finals.

Finals Coin Flips: The coin flips for home games in the CIF finals were held this morning. In the Mid-Valley Division, Monrovia gets the home game over San Dimas, and Azusa gets the home game over Monrovia. Whittier Christian gets the home game in both scenarios if it advances.

Winter Begins: Basketball, soccer and other winter sports have begun or are soon to begin. The Rose City Classic Boys Basketball Tournament begins Monday at Pasadena High School. We will have a reporter covering the marquee game that night, and our boys basketball/girls basketball preview will run later this week. If you have tournament schedules for basketball and soccer be sure to post them here and/or e-mail them to miguel.melendez@sgvn.com. With football still alive, and I suspect it’ll go well into next week, it’ll be tough getting a grip on Winter sports. You can help us by e-mailing updates to me and/or calling in box scores to 626.962.8811 Ext 2242 or 2233.

Saturday Night Football: Rio Hondo Prep cruises, 68-6

SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO — Seriously, can anybody stop Rio Hondo Prep?

There’s a simple answer to such a complex question: No.

Junior stud running back Charles Quintero rushed for 244 yards on 15 carries and scored on runs of 8, 76, 7 and 67 yards to lead Rio Hondo Prep over Saddleback Valley Christian in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division playoffs on a cold and rainy Saturday night at St. Margaret’s High.

Rio Hondo Prep (12-0) will host Salesian (6-6) next Saturday in the semifinals.

Quintero proved too elusive and strong for the Warriors (7-5) defense, which needed third and fourth efforts to bring Quintero down. Junior fullback Nick Preciado was just as dangerous, rushing for 153 yards on 12 carries. He scored on a 20-yard run with 5:09 left in the third quarter to give the Kares a 47- lead.

“Charles had a great game and Nick ran pretty hard himself,” Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain said. “He wasn’t feeling well but played well.”

The defense didn’t skip a beat, limiting Saddleback Valley Christian to 64 yards rushing and 135 yards total.

Jason Sterris and Ed Drain each recorded an interception and Chris Llamas and Preciado each recorded a sack.

The biggest surprise of the game came when senior Cody Cowell played despite sustaining a separated shoulder last week. The injury is nothing new to Cowell, who separated both his shoulders last season but came back in time for the playoffs. The 6-foot-1, 225 pound linebacker/tight end anchors the Rio Hondo Prep defense, but he’s just as valuable on offense.

“He’s our enforcer on defense and he’s a great tight end,” Drain said. “He’s our lead blocker on a lot of our running plays.”

Friday Night Aftermath: Monrovia is headed back to the semifinals, outmuscles Paraclete, 14-3; Palmdale knocks out St. Francis in 2OT; San Marino, Maranatha stunned; Linfield Christian too much for Pasadena Poly, 49-0.

CLICK HERE FOR A PHOTO GALLERY OF FRIDAY’S MONROVIA-PARACLETE GAME, SHOT BY STAR-NEWS ACE PHOTOGRAPHER KEITH BIRMINGHAM

PALMDALE — Monrovia’s (12-0) season will be defined by what will simply be known as “The Drive.” They showed heart, battled through adversity and didn’t let a virtual wall deter them. Simply put, the Wildcats proved why they are favored to win the Mid Valley Division crown. Facing a second-and-6 at the Monrovia 24, sophomore standout De’Shaw Ramirez took off for a 33-yard gain, only to have it negated on a holding penalty. On third-and-20, Wildcats quarterback Nick Bueno connected on a 27-yard pass to a leaping Ellis McCarthy (below) for the first down. Bueno then connected on a 16-yard pass to Luke Williams, and a face mask on Paraclete (7-5) helped Monrovia move the ball all the way up to the Spirits 25 yard line. Bueno was nearly intercepted in the end zone on the next play, and on fourth-and-1 at the Paraclete 16, Bueno took off on a sneak and got the first down by a few millimeters. The roller coaster drive was capped by a 15-yard touchdown run by Ramirez to give Monrovia a 7-3 lead with 48.6 seconds left in the second quarter. That pretty much summed up Monrovia’s night. Paraclete (7-5) was limited to a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter to take a 3-0 lead, but after that it was all Monrovia, particularly its defense which came up with two interceptions, one sack and constant pressure that deflated any momentum by the Paraclete quarterback in the second half.

I’m sitting in my car and parked at a gas station with my laptop at hand. All the scores are updated below, but I don’t have much details on the game since I’m a world away in (ahem) beautiful Palmdale. Off hand, I’m stunned by Maranatha’s loss to Ontario Christian. I guess Maranatha coach Joel Murphy was right, Ontario Christian’s record was deceiving, and they proved it. San Marino at one point lead, 24-20, I believe but couldn’t hold on. I’m shocked by St. Francis’ double overtime loss. I thought the Golden Knights had this one. They were having such a good run and it’s tough to see them go out like this. Pasadena Poly should take solace in that it reached the quarterfinals of the Northeast Division. Linfield Christian was a tough draw. I’ll be at the Rio Hondo Prep game Saturday night. This is it for now. I’m headed home and will try to update this thread later. Someone asked why I didn’t post scoring updates on Monrovia. I was roaming the sidelines the entire game and sent text updates to Robledo, hence the updates on his blog. Oh, and for those who made the trip to Palmdale, it was a chilly 48 degrees, but that was nothing compared to last year’s finals. Still, I can barely feel my thumbs.

TONIGHT’S RESULTS

Monrovia 14, Paraclete 3
Linfield Christian 49, Pasadena Poly 0
Palmdale 49, St. Francis 42, 2OT
Azusa 27, San Marino 24
Ontario Christian 28, Maranatha 24

SATURDAY’S GAME
Rio Hondo Prep vs. Saddleback Valley Christian at St. Margaret’s High, 7 p.m. — Rio Hondo Prep

Monrovia offense a defensive coordinator’s nightmare?

No truth to rumors that Paraclete coaches are sleeping on memory foam pillows this week, given the tall task at hand when the prowess that is Monrovia marches into the desert Friday night to face defending Mid Valley Division champion Paraclete. (By the way, the game may be pushed to 7:30 p.m. if Paraclete can’t get someone from Knight High to open the stadium locker rooms by 4:30 p.m. I’ll keep you posted)

Back to the Wildcats’ offense …. They have so many weapons that it’s virtually a “pick your poison” type of deal. It always has been and it’ll remain that way throughout the playoffs. Paraclete coach Norm Dahlia agrees, to an extent. “Not so much about the offense, but it’s more about the few players they have and what they can do on offense,” Dahlia said. “Their offense is something we’ve faced six times this year.”

Monrovia’s Ryan Maddox begs to differ. “You can’t stop everything. You have to pick what you’re going to take away or try to confuse Nick, but he’s a heady football player and gotten better and better at what he does. We’ll just try to put him and the other players in the best positions to make plays.”

Everywhere I go people always tell me the same thing: Stop writing about Bueno! Seriously. When I’m at Vons, the barber shop, even my mom who’s never been to a football game in her life tells me she’s had enough of Nick Bueno. But you can’t neglect the fact that the Monrovia offense starts with Bueno. As he goes, so do the Wildcats, and Dahlia understands that much too well. “Obviously you have to contain Nick Bueno,” he said. “I think that’s the whole key to stopping everything. That’s going to be a job in itself.” So, the offense starts with Bueno, right? “Oh absolutely,” Dahlia said. “He makes things happen. We’ve watched him from the Arcadia game on and he’s definitely key on offense.”

Yes, those guys wearing the black/red bomber jackets roaming the visitor sidelines and concession stands are just a fraction of the Spirits traveling army. Paraclete has attended four games this season: Arcadia, La Canada, San Marino and Blair. “Coach (Maddox) hasn’t changed his offense,” Dahlia says. “Saw a little wrinkles, a couple things out of trips, but nothing we haven’t seen. Nick Bueno, yeah, he’s got other weapons and we cannot turn away our eyes from anybody, but our biggest thing is containing Nick Bueno. Our whole slogan is we don’t care who we play, as long as we don’t beat ourselves we’ll be OK.”

Paraclete will go into Friday’s game facing an early uphill battle. They’ll have to play without stud tailback Rosevelt Davis who is out the rest of the season after two small hairline fractures in his right fibula. He suffered the injury in the waning seconds of the second quarter against La Puente. Davis rushed for 630 yards and five touchdowns and caught 14 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns.

But no doubt the biggest lost for the Spirits has to be senior Todd Daivs, a 6-foot-2, 230 pound middle linebacker who was tossed out of last week’s game after accumulating two personal foul penalty calls. “Absolutely he’s a big loss but I’m not worried about it,” Dahlia said. “He’s a great player and obviously we’d love to play with him, but I have three linebackers who could have played the whole year, and one of them (John Tovar) was one vote away from All-CIF last year. He played four varsity games last year and he’s extremely effective.”

Star-Jibber: It’s that time again, start thinking All-Area

Above: Rosemead’s Tra Sumler was a unanimous pick for the Star-News Player of the Year.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! With hardly of us working today I thought today would be a good day to throw up this thread and let you have your say about the Star-News’ All-Area football teams while the turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie get set on the table. You can fill in the blanks and make your arguments. The AP is all purpose, which can be used for an extra quarterback, two-way standout or just about anyone that absolutely deserves to be on the team. You might think the hardest decisions are at quarterback, running back, but it’s actually the offensive lineman, the ones that make it all happen.

Player of the year:
Coach of the year:
First Team Offense
QB: (1); RB: (2); AP: (1); WR: (3); OL: (5); PK: (1)
First Team Defense
DL: (3); LB: (4); DB: (3); SS: (1); P: (1)

The Scouting Report: St. Francis vs. Palmdale

CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION WESTERN DIVISION PLAYOFFS
SECOND ROUND
FRIDAY, 7:30 p.m.
ST. FRANCIS (9-2) vs. PALMDALE (9-2) at PALMDALE HIGH (2137 E Avenue R, Palmdale)

Palmdale is led by quarterback Joshua Shaw’s 1,586 yards and 12 touchdowns. St. Francis coach Jim Bonds is keeping an eye on the Florida-commit, who is the second-leading rusher with 637 yards and nine touchdowns. “They have a stud (Shaw) who is committed to Florida. He’s a starting safety/defensive back and does some nice job running,” Bonds said. “He can throw the ball. They have an outstanding back on Corey Washington whose another guy we need to account for.” Washington’s rushed for 758 yards and six touchdowns. Dietrich Riley, who injured his hamstring against Loyola, is getting closer to 100 percent, though he probably won’t get there until the season’s over. As Bonds put it, “When you’re a guy of his speed, that’s your game,” he said. “You have to have a hamstring that’s functioning. It’ll linger but it won’t be 100 percent.” Quarterback Justin Posthuma (1,996 yards, 17 touchdowns) still has a cast in his non-throwing hand. It broke in two places against Alemany, though he returned in the final game of the season to lead the Golden Knights to an impressive win over Chaminade. “I was amazed the doctor let him go back in the game,” said Bonds regarding the game against Alemany. “They thought he might have dislocated it in one place. In the game, the doctor taped it up and let him go.” X-Rays later showed it was fractured in two places. He’ll continue to play with the cast and a half inch of foam, per CIF rules. Posthuma (634 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns) no doubt is tough, and that much was accentuated by his late-game heroics. “If you have a fracutre you’re gonna be in quite a bit of pain,” Bonds said. “He’s tougher than nails to get back out there and do what he was able to do.” St. Francis will drive to the Palmdale area for a playoff game for the fourth time since 2002. The Golden Knights played at Palmdale in 2003 and lost 26-0 in the first round of the Division III playoffs. St. Francis had better luck the following year and beat the Falcons, 19-10, before reaching the semifinals and running into Mission League rival Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Last year, St. Francis lost in the first round, 30-17, to Quartz Hill, located just 16 minutes from Palmdale. As for the chilly weather in Palmdale … “We told our guys it’s going to be colder than it is down here,” Bonds said, “but we’re not going to overemphasize it. It’s going to be cold for both teams, but they’re used to it because they live up there.” St. Francis defeated Gahr, 55-34; Palmdale defeated Santa Monica, 45-26.

The Scouting Report: San Marino vs. Azusa at Citrus

CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION MID VALLEY DIVISION PLAYOFFS
SECOND ROUND
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.
SAN MARINO (9-2) vs. AZUSA (9-2) at CITRUS COLLEGE (1000 E Foothill Blvd, Glendora)

RELATED LINK: Azusa on the verge of history again (SGV Tribune)

“They’re 10-1 for a reason,” San Marino coach D.R. Moreland said. “Offensively they spread the ball around and have their athletes in space. It’s a challenge to cover them. They’re going to definitely mix up our defensive schemes. They’re physical and they fly to the ball. They’re going to hit us when they get the chance.” John Chavez leads things at quarterback for the Aztecs. He’s completed 57 percent of his passes for 1,352 yards and 11 touchdowns. Running back Kendrec McDade’s rushed for 973 yards and 12 touchdowns. Nick Valverde is tough as nails with eight sacks and Jose Nunez leads the team in tackles with 93 for an 8.5 average per game. San Marino’s offense will present matchup problems for Azusa. It won’t be easy to defend the Titans’ Benny Hung, Stevie Yortsos and the mobile quarterback Joe Forgatch. “I think in our offense we’re finding that you have a lot of weapons,” Moreland said. “There’s a lot of our offense to defend, which puts a lot of pressure on defenses.” Yeah, tell that to Rosemead. The Panthers couldn’t find a way to contain Hung, who rushed for 190 yards on 22 carries. Forgatch completed 12 of 19 passes for 186 yards and two touchdowns. San Marino defeated Rosemead, 42-20; Azusa defeated Covina, 41-13.

The Scouting Report: Maranatha vs. Ontario Christian

CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION EAST VALLEY DIVISION PLAYOFFS
SECOND ROUND
FRIDAY, 7 P.M.
MARANATHA (9-2) vs. ONTARIO CHRISTIAN (5-6) at ONTARIO CHRISTIAN (931 W. Philadelphia St., Ontario)

Ontario Christian’s record is deceiving. The host Knights played Cerritos Valley Christian and were leading until the fourth quarter; they led by two touchdowns against Azusa before falling, 28-27; lost to the Northeast Division’s No. 2 seed Linfield Christian, 27-26; and Ontario Christian lost in the last minute to Aquinas for the Christian League championship. “They easily could have been 7-3 or 8-2,” Maranatha coach Joel Murphy said. Ontario Christian is a senior-heavy team, starting with quarterback Andrew Lachelt who’s thrown for 563 yards and rushed for 746 yards and nine touchdowns. “He’s mobile as could be and a dual threat at quarterback,” Murphy said. “It’ll be quite a task to keep him in check.” Maranatha defeated Frazier, 59-13; Ontario Christian defeated 29 Palms, 14-9.

Scouting Report: Rio Hondo Prep vs. Saddleback VC

CIF-SOUTHERN SECTION NORTHEAST DIVISION PLAYOFFS
SECOND ROUND
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.
RIO HONDO PREP (11-0) vs. SADDLEBACK VALLEY CHRISTIAN (7-4) AT ST. MARGARET’S HIGH (31641 La Novia Ave., San Juan Capistrano)

Someone asked if I was going to the Rio Hondo Prep game. To answer your question, yes I will be there live from St. Margaret’s. It’ll be the first opportunity I get to watch the Kares live and in action. I really hope my attending won’t jinx their vibe. Rio Hondo Prep is the defending champion and no doubt have a target on its back. They’ve had it all year with teams gunning for them, but as always the Kares have taken care of business. Saddleback Valley Christian boasts a good quarterback in Zac Rodarmel who’s passed for almost 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns. He’s also the team’s second leading rusher behind William Hinn’s 1,177 yards and 22 touchdowns. “He’s a tall kid and throws pretty darn good,” Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain said. “Their running back is fast and farily quick. Those guys do 99 percent of the offense; stop those guys and you can stop the offense, that’s the plan.” Rio Hondo Prep will have to go into Saturday nights’ game without Cody Cowell, a 6-foot-1, 225 pound tight end/linebacker. Cowell separated his right arm in the first round. That injury is not new to Cowell. He separated both his shoulders last season, but returned in time to play in all the Kares’ playoff games. Judging from Drain’s words, Cowell is without a doubt Rio Hondo Prep’s best player and heart and soul of the team. “He’s our enforcer on defense and he’s a great tight end,” Drain said. “He’s our lead blocker on a lot of our running plays. He’ll be a big loss.” Rio Hondo Prep defeated Desert Christian 34-0 in the first round. SVC squeezed past Riverside Christian, 21-20.