Football: Rio Hondo Prep must play without Parker

WHAT: CIF-SS Northeast Division Championship
WHO: No. 2 Linfield Christian (13-0) vs. No. 1 Rio Hondo Prep (13-0)
WHEN: Saturday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Covina District Field
PREDICTION: From The Sidelines (Rio Hondo Prep); CalPreps (Linfield Christian)

Rio Hondo Prep’s football team suffered a blow Thursday when it was learned senior J.T. Parker would not be allowed to play Saturday night against Linfield Christian (13-0) in the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division championship game at Covina District Field.

Parker suffered a concussion in the first five minutes of last week’s 20-14 win over Salesian.

The top-seeded and defending champion Kares (13-0) not only lose a leader on the field but they also literally lose five players rolled into one. Parker, part of last year’s championship team, is a starting wide receiver/linebacker, backup quarterback, punter and holder on extra points.

“It’ll definitely be hard,” Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain said. “But it’s just a matter of somebody else stepping up and taking his place.”

Parker’s absence started a ripple effect in Drain’s lineup. Jimmy Davis will move from cornerback to linebacker; Andrew Quintero will take Davis’ spot; Jason Wiley will hold on PATs and field goals and starting running back Nick Preciado will punt. Freshman Jake Holguin will start at wide receiver.

Drain is confident they’ll all make a seamless transition.

“They’re very capable of filling those spots,” Drain said. “But I feel really bad for J.T. because he’s a senior and it’s his last game. We just have to rally around that and overcome it.”

Familiar foe

Rio Hondo Prep last year dispatched Linfield Christian, 28-21, in the semifinals. The Kares had to rally from behind to move on and win their 12th CIF-SS championship.

Linfield Christian doesn’t exactly have revenge on its mind, but it would like to make it right this time.

“We’ve definitely been thinking about it,” Linfield Christian coach Jimmy Kemmis said. “I don’t know if it’s as much about last year as it is about this senior class wanting to take that next step.”

In 2006, this year’s seniors went 1-9, then improved to 8-4 as sophomores and reached the quarterfinals. Last year, the Lions went 10-3 and reached the semifinals. In fact, Linfield Christian is an impressive 22-1 in its last 23 games.

Its only blemish? Rio Hondo Prep

Lions cheer on Kares

Four coaches from Linfield Christian’s staff and eight of its players attended last week’s Salesian-Rio Hondo Prep. The Kares fell victim to injuries, which depleted their roster even more since they suited up only 27 players. And cheering for Rio Hondo Prep wasn’t just its home fans, but also the visiting Lions staff.

“To see what they’ve done with their small school size and to win, that just took pure guts and determination,” Kemmis said. “By the end of that game we were hoping and rooting the Rio (Hondo Prep) guys would win.”

Salesian was very physical and would have made for a great finals game, Kemmis said, but there’s the matter of unfinished business.

“After losing to Rio Hondo Prep, if we could have written our story this would have been it,” he said.

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  • Football kid

    If Rio Hondo prep wins this after taking a couple injuries from Salesian ,wich I honstley thought Salesian was going to win will show how good there coaches are .should be exciting game .

  • Football kid

    If Rio Hondo prep wins this after taking a couple injuries from Salesian ,wich I honstley thought Salesian was going to win will show how good there coaches are .should be exciting game .

  • Linfield Fan

    Rio Hondo is going to lose they suck yea good thing Salesian took out ur quaterback now you guys are done . Go linfield !!

  • SALESIAN FAN

    SALESIAN AND LINFIELD WOULD HAVE BEEN THE BEST GAME OF THE YEAR THERE BOTH PHYSICAL AND TUFF RHP LOST LIKE A BUNCH OF SISSIES

  • SALESIAN FAN

    SALESIAN AND LINFIELD WOULD HAVE BEEN THE BEST GAME OF THE YEAR THERE BOTH PHYSICAL AND TUFF RHP LOST LIKE A BUNCH OF SISSIES

  • rhprep champ 08

    yo melendez why do you have a picture of cody cowell?? JT is number 15. sorry salesian, maybe you can borrow my ring just to give you a little taste. its gonna a while before you guys get close.. sorry. i honestly feel bad for you..

  • all-cif rhp champs 08

    yo melendez JT is number 15.

    salesian fan:
    i honestly feel bad that we beat you guys. i also feel bad how terrible your team is, how did you guys not beat us with our freshman team playing? thats probably the closest youll get to a chance at a ring.. if you want ill let you borrow mine to try it on for a little taste of how winning is. were sorry for winning so much well ease next time.

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  • RHP Player

    I am really glad u linefield fans are just super happy, i mean 1 cif championship you are only 11 behind us, have fun catching up

  • RHP Alum

    Salesian Fans:
    I dont why you guys are crying and whining, you basically lost to a JV team, if we had our starting team play the whole game it would have a blow out, RHP was on their way to a 21-0 lead before llamas got hurt. Yeah ill admit you guys did play a little tough but not more than RHP did, and it shows because they won with half their JV team in.

    Linfield Fans:
    You guys should not be talking because honestly salesian was better than you guys, you just got lucky that it rained and Rio had the ball in the mud the entire game except for once, and that one time they scored. If it didnt rain or if the game would have been played on a turf field RHP would have ran all over you guys, you are just lucky that the conditions took away RHP’s speed. And your also lucky that Rio played a good team in salesian the week before which kept parker from playing. Basically both salesian and RHP were better than linfield, linfield just happened to get lucky.

    RHP, still the kings of small school football, 12 CIF championships to show for it

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