Football: Monrovia Wildcats above all others in Top 10


1. MONROVIA (9-0) — Nick Bueno. Nick Bueno. Nick Bueno. Nick Bueno. Nick Bueno. Just thought I’d get writing Bueno’s name out of the way. Some “Monrovia” folks are saying they themselves are tired of hearing/reading about Bueno. But if you read my story last week carefully, I wrote: “While it’s Bueno garnering most of the attention, there’s also no doubt Monrovia (9-0, 4-0) is pummeling opponents with a valiant team effort. For instance, Bueno’s 23-yard run with 9:13 left in the fourth quarter was set up by Monrovia junior Christian Blanco, who on third and 8 from the La Ca ada 33 ran for a 10-yard gain to give the Wildcats a first down. Bueno connected with Grant Haggard for a 40-yard touchdown score with 8:33 left in the second quarter. Bueno did it again with 10:58 left in the fourth quarter, this time with Jordan Trujillo, whose score also was from 40 yards. La Canada (4-4, 2-2) hurt itself with penalties and turnovers, and it didn’t help that quarterback Rocky Moore established little, if any, rhythm. He was intercepted by Monrovia’s Derrin Jenkins and Evan Sanchez. Moore also couldn’t withstand the constant pressure in the pocket – Monrovia’s Haggard, Ellis McCarthy, John Adams and Josh Lowden each recorded a sack; McCarthy, a sophomore, now has seven this season.” …. Anyway, the Wildcats are the No. 1 team after St. Francis lost last week.

2. ST. FRANCIS (7-2) — The Golden Knights drop to No. 5 in the Western Division rankings. They were ranked as high as No. 1 early in the season. St. Francis can’t afford another loss this week when they travel to play Alemany Chaminade on Friday.

3. TEMPLE CITY (5-3-1) — Isn’t it odd that the Rams are not ranked in the Mid Valley Division? If you look closely, Temple City’s opponent, San Marino, is ranked at No. 9. Aside from the Turkey Tussle, here’s a huge showdown if you can’t make it to the Rose Bowl.

4. RIO HONODO PREP (9-0) — The Kares earned their second forfeit win of the season. To be fair, Rio Hondo Prep probably would have won anyway last week. Still, the Kares I’m sure would have wanted to play and keep their juices flowing.

5. LA CANADA (4-4) — Nice try last week, but no dice. The Spartans were overwhelmed in all facets of the game by Monrovia.

6. SAN MARINO (7-2) — Must-win game is Friday at home. What’s the game plan? How do you stop Temple City?

7. SAN GABRIEL (5-4) — I saw it coming. A loss to Schurr, again. The Spartans are used to playing in these pressure-moment situations. Simply put, San Gabriel is not.

8. PASADENA (5-4) — The Bulldogs not only climbed a few spots in our rankings, but they also made their debut in the Southeast Division poll. Pasadena sits at No. 9 after its stunning win over Burbank. Aaron Simpson has become one of my new favorite players.

9. ALHAMBRA (5-3) — Squeezed past Bell Gardens last week. A win’s a win, and they’ll need to find one Friday to make the playoffs. Alhambra should get the win, they play Keppel. And there’s no way the Gil Ruedaflores era should end without a playoff trip. Regardless, Ruedaflores should be carried off the field and on the shoulders of his players. Over two decades at one school. That’s impressive. Thanks for the memories, coach.

10. MARANATHA (7-2) — Quite a few things are on the line for the Minutemen. They have not won an Alpha League championship outright in a long long time. Not only that, but the Minutemen are hoping to keep their No. 2 ranking in the East Valley Division.

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Star Picks: Gobble, Gobble, Turkey Tussle’s here

Melendez last week (overall): 13-5 (108-57-1)

Last week: I’m still buzzing from last Thursday’s game. PHS’s Aaron Simpson connects on a 45-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Wells with 1.7 seconds left to give the Bulldogs an incredible 45-41 win over Burbank. It was easily the best game I’ve covered all season. I got wrong picks when I went with Bell Gardens (lost to Alhambra); Cantwell (lost to La Salle); St. Francis (lost to Alemany); Duarte (lost to Workman); and Burbank (lost to Pasadena).

This week: This is it. After today, some of you will never wear a football uniform again. For the seniors, soak in the experience. The lights. The band. The smell of the food. The smell of the dirt. The smell of the grass. When you walk onto that field it may be the last time you get to enjoy the roar of a crowd. Enjoy the night or day while it’s still there. Win or lose, you were part of something special you’ll cherish the rest of your lives. We will have Turkey Tussle coverage every day this week, leading up to Friday’s game at the Rose Bowl. But this game isn’t the only one with playoff implications on the line. St. Francis, Temple City, San Marino, Alhambra, La Salle, Flintridge Prep and Pasadena Poly all need to win to get an automatic bid. Flintridge Prep seems to have the hardest road there because it not only plays Chadwick but the Rebels also need the Panthers to lose. Thursday I’ll be covering Arcadia and Friday I’ll once again be at the Rose Bowl.

Arcadia vs. Crescenta Valley at Glendale, 7 p.m. — Arcadia
Sierra Canyon vs. Marshall at Pasadena, 7 p.m. — Sierra Canyon

Muir vs. Pasadena at Rose Bowl, 7 p.m. — Pasadena
Temple City at San Marino, 7 p.m. — Temple City
St. Francis at Chaminade, 7:30 p.m. — St. Francis
La Canada at South Pasadena, 7 p.m. — La Canada
Campbell Hall at Maranatha, 7 p.m. — Maranatha
Keppel vs. Alhambra at Moor Field, 7 p.m. — Alhambra
Blair at Monrovia, 7 p.m. — Monrovia
La Salle at Bosco Tech, 1:30 p.m. — La Salle
Duarte at Bassett, 7 p.m. — Duarte
Rosemead at Gabrielino, 7 p.m. — Rosemead
Montebello at San Gabriel, 7 p.m. — Montebello
Rio Hondo Prep at Webb, 2:30 p.m. — Rio Hondo Prep
Pasadena Poly at Viewpoint, 2:30 p.m. — Pasadena Poly
Flintridge Prep at Chadwick, 3 p.m. — Chadwick

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Early signing day coming, where are you athletes???

We should have quite a list of baseball, softball and basketball signing letters of intent on Wednesday, but until now I have yet to receive any comments or e-mail. We want to have a group photo for our story that will publish Thursday, but I need to know where your sons, daughters, players, nieces, nephews are signing. If you know of anyone signing, let us know or email me at We’re getting a list together for a group picture…

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Football: Pasadena High vandalized in run up to Tussle

Pasadena High School was vandalized Sunday night in anticipation of the Turkey Tussle against rival John Muir.

School officials said parts of the school’s field, including a depiction of the school’s bulldog mascot, were painted blue, which are John Muir’s colors.

Obscenities were spray painted in parts of the field as well as the word “Muir.”

Police are investigating the vandalism, but don’t know whether the culprits are Muir students or possibly just a couple of the school’s football fans.

The two high schools meet Friday at the Rose Bowl.

Officials said that vandalism happens most years, but were hoping to avoid it this year since the high school put in a new field.

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Friday Night Aftermath: Monrovia explodes, 43-7; St. Francis and San Gabriel can’t hang on; Muir still alive.


Monrovia 43, La Caada 7 — The Nick Bueno Show officially kicked into third gear Friday night. That much was evident after Bueno rushed for 208 yards on the ground and scored on runs of 17, 81 and 23 yards. He also completed 10 of 14 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns (who said the kid can’t throw?). Bueno almost single-handedly shredded the Spartans defense, completing two 40-yard touchdown passes to Grant Haggard and Jordan Trujillo. “We knew (Bueno) could throw,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said, “and to be quite honest, our receivers finally stepped up and caught some balls. There’s no question in Nick’s ability to throw.” La Caada (4-4, 2-2) hurt itself with penalties and turnovers, and it didn’t help that quarterback Rocky Moore established little, if any, rhythm. He was intercepted by Monrovia’s Derrin Jenkins and Evan Sanchez. Moore also couldn’t withstand the constant pressure in the pocket — Monrovia’s Haggard, Ellis McCarthy, John Adams and Josh Lowden each recorded a sack; McCarthy, a sophomore, now has seven this season. The victory, however, didn’t come without some level of concern. Monrovia sophomore De’Shawn Ramirez left early in the first quarter with a slight left ankle sprain. He iced it and retaped it in the second quarter but never returned. On that drive, running back Derrick Johnson capped a 10-play, 52-yard effort with a 3-yard run with 7:00 left in the first quarter to put the Wildcats on the scoreboard. Bueno ran for the 2-point conversion to give Monrovia an 8-0 lead. Later, Justin De La Nuez, a senior running back, left midway through the second quarter with an ankle sprain. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays. Now, here’s the million dollar question — with St. Francis losing and Monrovia winning big, are yall expecting a swap come Wednesday in the latest PSN rankings? I know they mean nothing, but hey, I gotta do ‘em. Shout out to our boys from the desert. The Paraclete coaching staff sat in the La Caada side, and I had a nice chat with ‘Clete coach Norm Dhalia at halftime. Gotta love the in-game updates from Desert Rat.

Alhambra 14, Bell Gardens 7 — Brandon Wilson led Alhambra on both sides of the ball — two key sacks and two long receptions and a second-effort rushing touchdown. Alhambra led 7-0 at the half. With the win, the Moors keep their playoff hopes alive and can clinch a spot against Keppel next week at Moor Field. Alhambra’s Vailele Peko was hurt in the second half and carried off the field. He was carried off the field.

Schurr 38, San Gabriel 30 — While the Montebello and Mark Keppel high school football teams hired new head coaches and Bell Gardens, San Gabriel and Alhambra welcomed back seasoned quarterbacks, Schurr made no such noise in the offseason. As the old axiom goes, though, sometimes it’s the quiet ones who are most dangerous. Schurr proved that again Friday night by claiming a share of its seventh consecutive Almont League title in defeating San Gabriel.

La Salle 45, Cantwell 35 — Mike Alexander exploded in a good way, scoring four touchdowns and 387 all-purpose yards. The Lancers keep their playoff hopes alive with the win. They’ll close out the season next week at Bosco Tech. I have the Lancers playing at 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon. If that’s wrong, someone please e-mail yours truly. Our thoughts and prayers go out La Salle senior Mark Danhausen, who’s father passed away Friday morning. Danhausen converted a 35-yard field goal, converted six PAT’s and no kickoffs were returned.

Arcadia 42, Hoover 28 – Facing a third-and-24 at their own 32-yard line with a 34-28 lead — full momentum for Hoover — Arcadia’s David Maldonado got a screen pass and ran it back 68 yards for the dagger with 2:20 left in the fourth quarter. Arcadia’s Garret Tuck and Taylor Lagace connected on touchdown passes of 23, 48 and 19 yards.

Temple City 35, South Pasadena 12 — Temple City’s David Spratt was the man. He scored three touchdowns to lead the Rams — two on the air and one punt return. Next week’s game is huge. A Temple City win, the Rams clinch a spot in the playoffs. A Temple City loss, oh boy, someone get me a Tylenol.

Muir 34, Glendale 7 — The Mustangs defense had three interceptions and two fumble recoveries and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown. Defensive ends Trayveion Yates and Michael White had a great game for Muir, holding Glendale to 180 yards on the ground. With the win, Muir keeps its playoff hopes alive and must beat Pasadena at next week’s Turkey Tussle. I’m going on the record — PHS wins.

Alemany 13, St. Francis 7 — One year after transferring from St. Francis to Alemany, defensive back Deron Smith faced his former teammates Friday and came through with the performance of a lifetime. The sophomore intercepted two passes and broke up another key fourth-down pass, all in the second half, to help Alemany to the win and at least a share of the Mission League championship with one game remaining.

Workman 23, Duarte 0 — Workman High School held winless Duarte to 110 total yards in cruising to a Montview League win on Friday. The Lobos (6-3, 3-2) were led by senior quarterback Richard Cabreros, who completed 4 of his 7 passes for 139 yards and a touchdown. Workman jumped out to a 6-0 lead when Michael Silva scored from a yard out. The score capped off a nine-play, 38-yard drive. After a Duarte turnover on downs, the Lobos drove 50 yards and scored on a quarterback sneak from Cabreros. The score pushed the lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter.

Rosemead 52, El Monte 20 — The Rosemead duo of Matt Macias and Matt Fregoso put on a show in the Panthers’ easy win. The Panthers (4-5, 3-1) used 35 second-quarter points to pull away from the Lions (0-9, 0-4) and take a 42-14 halftime lead. Fregoso finished the game with touchdown runs of 10, 51, 64, and 32. He also had a 78-yard punt return in the second quarter to give Rosemead a comfortable 28-7 lead.

Maranatha 49, Marshall 0 — Maranatha quarterback Cody Keith threw for 175 yards and running back Erik Johnson rushed for 200 to lead the Minutemen in Alpha League action Friday night at Pasadena High School. Maranatha (7-2, 6-0) will play for an outright league championship next week when it hosts Campbell Hall. The Minutemen last season finished in second place and have not won an outright league title in 23 years. Maranatha shared the league title in 2006. Maranatha’s Ben Young led the defense with two interceptions. Minutemen coach Joel Murphy has been pleased with his team’s balanced attack. “What’s nice is the last month or so we’ve been incredibly balanced,” Murphy said, whose team is on a seven-game winning streak. “We’re not just proficient but we can excel at it, too.”

San Marino 51, Blair 0 — Stevie Yortsos lined up in the backfield at tailback and proved to be just as effective as he is at receiving by scoring three touchdowns on the ground to lead San Marino High School to a 51-0 win over winless Blair (0-9, 0-4) in Friday’s Rio Hondo League game. The Titans (7-2, 2-2) led, 35-0, at the half. The game was played with a running clock in the second half. Everyone got a piece of the action for San Marino, including linebacker Trent Converse, who returned a fumble for a score. The win helped the Titans keep their playoff hopes alive as they head into next week’s must-win game against visiting Temple City. But as far as San Marino coach D.R. Moreland is concerned, the postseason already began. “The playoffs started Friday night,” Moreland said. “That’s the position we find ourselves in and starting tomorrow we have to prepare for Temple City.” San Marino will have to deal with an explosive offense led by Rams running back Max Ruckle and quarterback Justin Smith. “Temple City’s both sides of the ball will be a challenge for us,” Moreland said. “We’re going to have to play one of our better games next week, that’s for sure.”

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UPDATE: Rio Hondo Prep-Pas Poly game canceled

Pasadena Poly athletic director Steve Beerman confirmed the Panthers’ football game on Saturday against Rio Hondo Prep has been canceled. The game will not be made up, therefore giving the Kares a forfeit win. The news comes almost a week after Pasadena Poly’s Jackson Allan sustained a serious head injury in the final minutes against Chadwick. He was rushed to UCLA Harbor Medical Center where he underwent brain surgery to relieve swelling and internal bleeding. Allan remains in the intensive care unit. Allan’s parents, Les and Rhonda, posted a message Wednesday on Facebook saying “We had a quiet day with doctors satisfied at Jackson’s progress although he remains in the ICU.” The decision to not play Saturday came early Friday morning. “When you take the week into consideration,they were not prepared to play,” Beerman said. ” The administration and coaches talked and we just don’t feel, based on the week of practices and preparations, we were ready to play.” Pasadena Poly drops to 5-4 overall and 2-2 in Prep League play. The Panthers can still make the playoffs with a win over Viewpoint next week. Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain said earlier this week the team planned on honoring Allan during Saturday’s by wearing orange wristbands that had Allan’s No. 41 number on it. “This is a situation where if they wanted to not play we would totally understand,” Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain said earlier this week.

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Correction: Pasadena, Muir still in contention for playoffs


CORRECTION: Pasadena did not clinch a spot in the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs with its 45-41 win over Burbank. The Bulldogs need Muir to lose to Glendale tonight to clinch a spot. Muir, however, is still in the hunt for a playoff spot with a win tonight, and would have to beat Pasadena in next week’s Turkey Tussle to clinch a spot. It was erroneously reported in today’s paper that Pasadena clinched a spot and in the process eliminated Muir from playoff contention. I jumped the gun and made a mistake. For that, I apologize. — MM

Aaron Simpson connected on a 45-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Wells with 10.8 seconds left in the game to help Pasadena pull off a stunning 45-41 upset over Burbank on Thursday night in Pacific League action at Burroughs High. Pasadena (5-4, 4-2) clinched a spot in the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs while also knocking rival Muir out of playoff contention can clinch a spot in the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs if Muir loses tonight. Burbank (7-2, 5-1) had one final chance with 1.7 seconds left and attempted five laterals before several flags were thrown, including one for a forward pass. That ended the game and sent the Pasadena crowd into a frenzy. The Bulldogs were back at their own 32 with 1:20 remaining. Simpson, faced with fourth and 2 at his own 40, found an open Eugene Tripling for a 15-yard gain and a first down. On the next play, without any hesitation and his eyes focused on the end zone, Simpson threw a pass to Wells, who had three Burbank defenders on him. Wells caught the pass, prompting the Bulldogs players, coaches and administrators to rush the field. Pasadena turned to the Muir football players watching from the visitors stands and yelled, “You’re next.” The Bulldogs were assessed with an unsportsmanlike penalty, but the damage was done. Burbank’s loss put a damper on next week’s showdown against rival Burroughs (6-2, 5-0), which also had players at the game.


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Yahoo! Sports takes a closer look at Cody Keith

Photo courtesy of Steve Clarkson

Josh Peter over at Yahoo! Sports chronicles Cody Keith’s path to Maranatha, his third school in three years. Keith is the Minutemen’s starting quarterback, and we profiled him back in July. Peter writes: There are no simple answers with Cody Keith. Even to the biggest question: Can he be a star quarterback? On the night of Maranatha’s season opener, Peterson watched Keith complete just 13 of 35 passes and throw three interceptions in a 20-14 loss to Linfield Christian. Afterward, Peterson still didn’t know what to make of the 6-foot-4 senior. “You can see the potential is there,” he said. “He has pretty good mechanics and he’s making throws some quarterbacks can’t make. I really can’t say if he’s a (college) quarterback.” One thing is certain: He’s been in the spotlight and under scrutiny for years. Warning, the story is pretty lengthy.

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Football: The race for Player of the Year is in full effect

With less than a month before the playoffs, I’m going to list ten players in the running for player of the year. If you’re not on this list, that doesn’t mean you won’t win it. So much can change once the playoffs begin, but if it ended today, these are the top ten in consideration, in no particular order of course.


Dietrich Riley, St. Francis, RB/DB — Riley, one of the most coveted recruits in the nation, does just about everything for the Golden Knights. Offensively, he’s rushed for 518 yards and nine touchdowns and has caught 21 passes for 381 yards and five touchdowns. Defensively, he has three interceptions and averages six tackles per game. The scary part is Riley’s played in only two complete games this season and played only the first half in the first six games of the regular season. Riley is perhaps the most versatile player in Southern California this season.


Isaac Valdez, San Gabriel, QB — Valdez leads the San Gabriel Valley in passing with 2,033 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s the primary reason why the Matadors are in hunt for an Almont League championship. In addition, he’s also rushed for 444 yards and seven touchdowns.


Justin Posthuma, St. Francis, QB — Looking at MaxPreps and it doesn’t list Posthuma having thrown an interception. I’m not sure about that, but I could be wrong. Nevertheless, Posthuma’s proven to be one of the Valley’s elite quarterbacks. Dietrich Riley is the heart and soul of the team, but without Posthuma anchoring the offense it’s uncertain how good the Golden Knights would be this season. He’s thrown for 1,398 yards and 12 touchdowns, and if MaxPreps is correct, no interceptions. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s also rushed for 441 yards and eight touchdowns.


Max Ruckle, Temple City, RB — Ruckle’s been impressive with 1,043 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns. He’s lightning quick and tough to bring down.


Justin Smith, Temple City, QB — Whether the Temple City fans will admit it or not, the Rams have on their hands a legitimate quarterback in Smith. He’s thrown for 1,405 yards and 10 touchdowns, helping Temple City’s offense with good deception. Smith is mobile and not afraid to take a hit. He doesn’t go down without a fight.


Nick Bueno, Monrovia, QB — Bueno is CIF’s sixth-leading rusher at the QB position with 795 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. He’s thrown for 517 yards and three touchdowns this season.


Darrian Cazarin, Alhambra, QB — He’s thrown for 1,628 yards to lead the Moors offensively. He has 15 touchdowns and rushed for two more.


Josh Lowden, Monrovia, LB — Mr. 55 averages 11 tackles per game and has one sack this season. Monrovia heavily prides itself for its tenacious defense, and anchoring the D is Lowden.


De’Shawn Ramirez, Monrovia, RB — The sophomore sensation has rushed for 732 yards and nine touchdowns. He averages nearly 12 yards per carry and has returned three kickoffs for touchdowns.


Stevie Yortsos, San Marino, WR/DB — Yortsos has 27 receptions for 484 yards and six touchdowns. More impressively, Yortsos five interceptions to lead the West San Gabriel Valley.


Rocky Moore, La Canada, QB — Moore is leading the Spartans to an unbelievable years. I wasn’t expecting first-year coach Dan Yoder to have La Canada competing, but that’s exactly what he’s done. Moore is at the forefront and his numbers don’t lie. He’s thrown for 1,641 yards and 17 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Two!! If the Spartans make the playoffs you can bet Moore will be a serious candidate come season’s end.

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