Football: San Marino trio have futures mapped out

Above: Alan Felix, right, has his sights set on Dartmouth.

There wasn’t the slightest hesitation when three San Marino High School seniors talked about the future.

It was only the third day of fall camp, but Alan Felix, Seve Woods and Oliver Campbell already have mapped out their post-graduation journey. The process began early for some and late for others.

Felix, a 6-foot-4, 290-pound lineman, recently attended Dartmouth’s football camp. He was invited to work out after sending several tapes. Felix holds a cumulative 4.1 GPA and is confident about meeting Dartmouth’s high academic requirements. That he’s a student-athlete makes him even more coveted.

“There were a lot of good players there,” Felix said. “It’s always a good feeling that they are looking at you, and I was proud to be chosen. I’ve wanted to go (to Dartmouth), and hopefully football can be my way there.”

Woods is a 5-foot-11 wide receiver/defensive back who has one destination in mind: West Point. Woods comes from a family of several people who at one point or another served in the military. His grandfather served in the Marines, one uncle served in Vietnam and another uncle in Korea.

It was Woods’ great-grandfather, though – who didn’t serve in the military – who had the biggest influence on him setting his sights on West Point.

“My great-grandpa always told us how great West Point is,” Woods said. “I’ve always wanted to serve in the military and serve my country.”

So much so that Woods began inquiring about West Point his freshman year, when he made sure he took the necessary courses that one day would qualify him to the prestigious academy. He got even more serious about it the summer going into his junior year.

Woods also is thinking about the Air Force Academy and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. He’d like to continue playing the same position, but made clear West Point is his first choice.

“Cal Poly is more of a safety net,” he said. “But if I get into West Point, that’s where I’ll definitely go.”

Campbell will play a bigger role at linebacker this season. The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder said he wants to lead by example the same way Trent Converse (125 tackles) did before graduating. One thing different about Campbell (76 tackles) is his passion to join the Army – the Airborne Rangers, to be exact.

Over the last five years, Campbell’s eagerness to join the Army has increased, and he recently sat down and talked to a recruiter. His parents were taken aback by the news, but only at first.

“After we talked, they really supported me in my decision,” said Campbell, who added it’s possible he might play football at Army. “I know they’ll always support me in what I do.”

Campbell was within earshot and listening to Woods talk about his plans to serve his country. As it turned out, it was news to Campbell.

“He hasn’t really told anyone about it,” Campbell said. “But that’s very admirable what he’s planning on after high school.”

San Marino coach Mike Mooney, in his first season as the Titans’ head coach, knows all about his patriotic student- athletes, including senior Chris Faulkenbury, who wants to attend the Air Force Academy.

“One thing this community in general has preached is about giving back and loving your country and being grateful,” Mooney said. “It’s a new way of appreciation for the things that have been given to them.”

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Football: Tim Sanderson reflects on coaching carousel

Temple City senior Tim Sanderson didn’t have the best of starts to the Rams’ fall camp opener this week. Sanderson, a punishing linebacker expected to solidify the secondary, pulled a muscle during weightlifting on Monday, and as a result was limited to practice because of continuing back spasms. He saw a therapist early Tuesday morning before the start of practice, but so far there still are lingering effects. Sanderson said he hopes he’s given the green light come Saturday, that’s when Temple City distributes pads, throws them on and give themselves a true gauge of where they stand a week into fall camp.

Of course, you knew all this if you picked up the newspaper today. What didn’t make the paper was our conversation afterward. This year, on the blog, I hope to bring you entries in story format, stories that I’ll reserve exclusively for the blog. It’s my attempt to provide exclusive content for print and exclusive content for the blog. Remember the Nick Bueno and Derrick Johnson story posted on the blog below? Notice it didn’t make the paper? Well, that was by design. In short, I hope to provide you with more in-depth stories to go along with tidbits and banter subjects.

And now, Sanderson …

It was one of the first times I got a chance to speak with Sanderson. The 6-foot-4 senior made a name for himself as a bruising linebacker last season when he made 112 tackles. It’s because he was such an integral part of the Rams’ success that frustrated Sanderson sitting practice.

After we talked about the injury, we touched on some subjects, like playing for a third coach in three years. Sanderson played for Randy Backus, Anthony White and now Mike McFarland. If you include Tim Loya, that makes four coaches (Sanderson was brought up from JV to varsity late his sophomore season). As Sanderson pointed out, “It wasn’t like it was another coach because (Loya) was just taking over the same system.”

I wondered what he thought about McFarland, and so far Sanderson is excited about him.

“He knows what he wants to get done and he’s doing a good job about making sure we’re all on the right page,” Sanderson said.

What’s been the biggest part about adjusting to a new coach, I wondered.

“Definitely the biggest adjustment has been the lingo, the terminology,” Sanderson said. “They all have their different perspective. At first you wonder what kind of coach they’re going to be, but then after a few days you realize they’re going to be a good coach because they’re passionate about the work. We saw that with coach quickly.

“But of course, because he’s a new coach we have to learn new things.”

There also are different personalities.

“We’re starting to get the hang of it all,” Sanderson said. “White was easier for me because I was new to varsity. So it went from finally learning what he wanted to something new.”

Fade, streak. Those were terms commonly used by Anthony White.

Take off. That’s what McFarland says instead.

“The way we call the plays on offense,” Sanderson said, “it’s different.”

The coaching carousel hasn’t been as bad as it may seem for seniors at Temple City, at least not for Sanderson.

“You learn that each coach has their own philosophy and you learn to adapt to make it work,” Sanderson said. “You know they all want to be successful, and they were successful before coming here.”

Randy Backus was a top assistant coach under Mike Mooney and was the architect behind the 2008 Rams team that reached the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

Anthony White won the Wendy’s High School Heisman, a prestigious national award, before playing for Urban Meyer at Utah.

Mike McFarland was a stellar prep athlete at Arcadia where he was a three-sport athlete, lettering in football, basketball and track. He served assistant coaching stints at Occidental College, Minnesota State University-Moorhead and Missouri Western University.

“So when you realize all that, and you put it all together, you take little things from each of them and you learn to make yourself better,” Sanderson said. “And when you do that, you hope that you give yourself more variety as a player and as a person.”

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Football: McFarland, Temple City in search of top QB

There’s a three-player race for the starting quarterback job at Temple City. Almost a week into fall camp, Temple City football coach Mike McFarland said he still hasn’t seen any of the three emerge as the front-runner. The quarterback position seemed to be the one position the Rams were not so worried about when last year’s disappointing season came to an end. Brandon Cox, a 6-foot-2 speedy passer, was expected to take the reigns from Justin Smith. Cox was to provide another element to the Rams’ dynamic with his elusiveness and playmaking ability.

But wasn’t to be. Cox transferred to Pasadena where his father is now a strength and conditioning coach under first-year Pasadena coach Randy Horton. Suddenly, Pasadena goes from having the talented Aaron Simpson taking snaps to Cox creating a quarterback competition. It’s looking a lot like Cox will be the Bulldogs’ quarterback this season.

Pasadena looks set, but what about Temple City?

Senior Alec Vigil, senior Bruce Pacilio and sophomore Mike Quintanilla are the three vying for the starting spot. McFarland said after Tuesday’s practice that Temple City didn’t start fall practice as if from scratch. The Rams have played together and built cohesiveness since the start of spring and throughout summer camp. Still, between the start of the year and through summer, neither Vigil, Pacilio nor Quintanilla have taken ownership of the position.

That can be taken in one or two ways: All three are creating such a competitive atmosphere and each one has their own unique talent that so far it’s been difficult to pinpoint one particular QB as the front-runner. That’s great and all, but with pads ready to go on Saturday, McFarland hopes someone starts separating himself from the pack, given the season is only a few weeks away.

“These guys are all getting reps,” McFarland said. “But I’m still not ready to catapult anyone to the top. It’s still very much a competition.”

Should someone have taken an edge anyway, McFarland still wouldn’t have had a clear picture of his new quarterback.

“We gotta be in pads to make that assessment and see what they look like,” he said.

Vigil was a junior wide receiver/defensive back on varsity last season. He’s the lone player in the three-man rotation with varsity experience, and that could play to his advantage. He recorded 24 tackles on the defensive side. Pacilio was on the junior varsity last season and Quintanilla was a freshman.

Whichever quarterback emerges, one thing is for sure: replacing Justin Smith won’t be easy. Smith completed nearly 60 percent of his passes (99 of 170) for 1,737 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also rushed for 419 yards and six touchdowns.

Temple City scrimmages El Monte on Sept. 3 and opens the season Sept. 10 at home against Arroyo.

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PrepXtra Magazine Preview: Top 5 lists coming soon

Our first-ever PrepXtra Magazine will hit the presses Friday, meaning we’re in the final stages of editing proof pages and making sure we covered all our bases. The magazine is tentatively scheduled to run Sept. 1, and it’ll be a newspaper insert just like our past football preview sections. We have your favorite features ready to go, like your top 10 poll, cover story, and much much more. I spoke with my managing editor Tuesday and I’ve been told the magazine sold very well, and we’ll have 40 pages dedicated purely to prep football coverage. Folks, this doesn’t include the advertising pages, which bumps the page-count to over 50 pages. We compiled Top 5 lists that I’m planning on publishing next week on the blog while I’m on a week-long vacation. I’ll have top 5 quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs and defensive players. Here’s where I want your input. Do you folks want them in that order, one each day next week, or all on Monday so you have all week to discuss the list? I’ll let you guys pick. I’m heading to San Marino later this morning, so later I’ll post more notes from that practice, as well as Temple City. Keith Lair will takeover next week, but before I leave let me know which schools you’d like for Keith to visit beginning next Tuesday. In short, you’re all in the driver’s seat for what you want reported in the paper and the blog, too.

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Dylan Covey the subject of Baseball Tonight on ESPN

I was taking a nap when I woke up and saw the image above on TV. There’s been an outpouring of support for Maranatha’s Dylan Covey, who forfeited a huge signing bonus with the Milwaukee Brewers after it was learned Covey was Type 1 diabetic. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel goes on to report that blood tests aren’t always included in physicals but one was performed on Covey, with a diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, which often comes at an earlier age. Covey was selected with the 14th overall pick by the Brewers in the MLB Amateur Draft. Family and friends erupted in celebration when Covey’s name was announced as the 14th pick. He felt ready to turn pro and begin his road to the big leagues. The road there, however, will now take a detour, as Covey will attend the University of San Diego before he realizes his big league dream. This much is certain: It’s a matter of when, not if. I’ll go as far as saying Covey may be a top 5 draft pick in a few years, and then the celebration will be even sweeter. Good luck, Dylan.

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Football: Nick Bueno at receiver. Let the fireworks begin.

It was too early to call it the Nick Bueno Show after Bueno rushed for 230 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns in Monrovia’s 27-13 win over Arcadia in the season opener last year. This year there’s no holding back. You and I both expect big things out of Bueno, who added some serious muscle to his 5-foot-9 frame.

The bicep curls have done Bueno good, but it’s his unparalleled speed that separates him from the pack. He was in midseason form during Monrovia’s first week of practice. His passes were crisp and on target. But what we didn’t see was him lining up at slot receiver. That’s right, receiver.

Don’t get it twisted. Bueno still will be the exciting quarterback we saw last year. But the offense will add a new weapon to its arsenal thanks to some depth in the pocket.

Monrovia’s in the process of grooming the next starting quarterback, and all signs point to sophomore George Frazier, who stands a solid 6-foot-2, to take over the reigns next season. He took all snaps with the second unit. Frazier’s not as agile or elusive as Bueno, but he does gives the Wildcats some serious pocket presence because of his size.

He’s a hard hitter and doesn’t appear shy from contact. Because he’s caught on so quickly, the chance to move Bueno around a bit was too hard to pass up.

“George has great knowledge of the game,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said. “He leads by example, and he does it not just with his play, but also verbally. He’s a sophomore and can communicate and lead verbally, and seniors will follow.

“That’s something very few people have. He’ll most likely start somewhere on the field, whether on defense or possibly offense. And then we’ll get him at quarterback, put Nick in the slot. We’re going to move him around a little bit.”

Bueno spent dead period practice with teammates, working on patterns, timing and execution. Expect Monrovia’s aerial assault to make a bigger impact this season.

Still, it begs the question: Why move Bueno around?

“He’s a phenomenal weapon with his legs and arms,” Maddox said. “I don’t want to say he plays with an attitude, but he’s a warrior, and that’s evident by how he plays.

“He’s really impressed people. We used him all over the field (during summer). At defensive back, receiver and he impressed a lot of people with his versatility. We can definitely use him wherever we put him. he’s one of our best receivers. best runners and he’s great at defensive back. Really, we can use him wherever and he can excel. He’s clearly one of the premiere football players in the San Gabriel Valley.”

So get ready folks, because Monrovia’s looks more than ready to unleash its wrath on Glendora and San Dimas.

The offense hasn’t skipped a beat, it seems, and if it’s possible has gotten even better. Jay Henderson looked good in practice as well. He’ll be a top receiver to keep your eye out on. Don’t let his subtle numbers from last year tell you otherwise.

Charlie Cimmarusti, the Wildcats’ top safety the last two seasons, also lined up at receiver with the first unit. He was part of the receiving rotation last year, but saw limited time. He’s expected to contribute more on offense this season.

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Football: McCarthy casts imposing presence at Monrovia

There was a towering and intimidating presence at Monrovia High School’s fall camp opener Monday at Cliffton Middle School.

The towering part isn’t a surprise. Ellis McCarthy was a 6-foot-4 standout as a sophomore and has grown an inch since then.

The intimidating factor? That’s where it gets interesting.

McCarthy is a boy trapped in a man’s body, now standing 6-5 and a weighing a staggering 290 pounds. It’s a drastic leap from when McCarthy weighed 245 pounds as a 15-year-old sophomore. It’s not like McCarthy’s been piling on the Doritos, a strong weakness of his. He shredded the baby fat and added muscle to his now-lean frame. McCarthy altered his eating habits, too. He cut off soda and opted for water and protein shakes. He also hit the weights hard this offseason and increased his bench-press max to 295 pounds.

“I also did a little cardio,” McCarthy said after practice. “I just wanted to be more healthier so I can be ready to go both ways and wherever my team needs me.”

McCarthy attended the Nike and USC camps and Pete Carroll’s “Win Forever” camp at Home Depot Center and earned rave reviews at all three as a top 2012 prospect. McCarthy mentioned Nebraska, UCLA and elsewhere in the Pac-10 as being among the places he’s considering.

McCarthy is destined to play on Saturdays, perhaps Sundays, too.

“He’s a Division I football player,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said. “He is absolutely the real deal.”

McCarthy finished with 11 sacks last season as a defensive end. He’ll see a lot of time at tackle this season, although he’s expected to spend some time at end, too. The biggest adjustment, however, will come on offense, where McCarthy goes from tight end to tackle in an effort to bolster the line. He caught nine passes for 152 yards, but McCarthy often bailed out the Wildcats in long-yardage situations for first downs. His size, surprisingly quick feet and soft hands made it hard for opposing coaches to leave single coverage on McCarthy.

His tremendous upside as a junior-to-be has Maddox and future college coaches beaming.

“He’s young for his grade,” Maddox said. “So you figure at 245 (pounds) he was only 15 years old and he was at a 6-4 frame. So he’s just starting to fill out and become a man. He’s not even probably close to what he’ll be eventually, and that’s the scary thing.
“He’s only 16 years old and he’s got growing to do. He’s a young man in an adult’s body. He’s massive.”

Also …

Monrovia’s fall camp is being held at Cliffton Middle School because of work at Monrovia High. The new football stadium — complete with a grandstand, press box, weight room, turf field and track — is in the late stages of construction. Monrovia’s first home game is scheduled for Sept. 17 against Arcadia.

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BREAKING NEWS: Brewers unable to sign Dylan Covey

I just got off the phone with Darrell Covey, who said that Dylan Covey’s diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes was the reason why Dylan and the family felt it was in Dylan’s best interest to forgo signing with the Milwaukee Brewers and stay close to home in an effort to better manage the diabetes.

The discovery was made Friday after a routine physical Dylan underwent Wednesday. Upon the discovery, Darrell said the family had to think hard about the best way to handle the news. Darrell said the Brewers still were willing to sign Dylan, who was selected with the 14th overall pick in Major League Baseball’s first-year player draft.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior right-hander led the Minutemen (19-10) to the CIF Southern Section Division 5 quarterfinals this past season and posted a 7-1 record with three saves, a 0.40 ERA, 138 strikeouts and 20 walks in 70.2 innings. He also hit .414 with a home run and 17 RBIs and led the Minutemen to a Division 5 championship last year.

We first reported the family asking for at least a $2 million signing bonus, and it seemed apparent that the Brewers and Covey were close to getting a deal done before the diagnosis was discovered.

Covey subsequently will attend the University of San Diego where he was offered a full ride two years ago. Darrell said the family spoke with the school and were more than willing to help manage the diabetes, such as providing a nutritionist. I asked Darrell if Dylan agreed that staying home was the best option.

“Dylan was the one who was at the front of this decision,” Darrell said. Obviously, it’s tough that this didn’t pan out, but Darrell said that this perhaps is a sign that Dylan should take another road to the big leagues. “Money was never an issue,” Darrell said. “Dylan wanted to play in the big leagues, but now he feels this is a sign that he must go about it in a different direction.”

Tom Haudricourt at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also spoke with Darrell, who admitted to him that he and the family will “… probably now be a Brewer fan the rest of my life because these guys were great with us.”

Darrell added: “The bottom line is that we didn’t have a lot of time to make this decision, so we went with our gut feeling. We couldn’t even sleep on it. But Dylan went down to the UCLA diabetes center today and talked with the director there; got all the information he could.

“This wasn’t an easy decision. With the time element, we were up against the wall. At the end of the day, all five family members (including Dylan’s two brothers), thought college was the better answer, because of the proximity and structured environment. The Brewers tried to convince us otherwise but they respected our decision.”

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Football: Monrovia’s Derrick Johnson goes the distance

I’ll have a story on Monrovia’s Ellis McCarthy in Tuesday’s paper. But here’s a story I also wanted to share, this one regarding running back Derrick Johnson. I caught up with Derrick after Monday’s practice to talk about the knee injury suffered in the CIF-Southern Section Mid Valley Division championship game, his recovery and his role on the field.

There’s never a good time for an injury, but if Monrovia’s Derrick Johnson had his druthers, he certainly would have preferred that deep bruise in his left knee at any time but the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship game last December against San Dimas.

Johnson, a senior-to-be, suffered the injury in the second quarter when his knee was caught in a pile. It was initially feared that Johnson had torn his ACL, but Johnson learned the extent of his injury when he arrived at Methodist Hospital in Arcadia. Johnson spent two hours at the hospital, and it was there where he learned from a nurse that Monrovia lost to San Dimas. He didn’t know the final score, no less how the Wildcats almost pulled off a dramatic comeback in the fourth quarter thanks to Nick Bueno’s relentless push.

Johnson found out in the most unusual of ways.

“I was in the bed alone when the nurse walked in,” Johnson said. “She said, ‘Oh, you’re a Monrovia football player. My nephew plays for San Dimas.’” It wasn’t long before Johnson was delivered the news, by the nurse who did so in a polite way.

“She just said ‘I’m sorry you guys didn’t win,’” Johnson recalled. “I wasn’t mad that she told me. How could I be mad? I was mad at myself because I felt I let my team down. I wanted to go back into the game after the injury, but they wouldn’t let me. I felt I could.”

Johnson said he was heavily medicated, so his reaction was subtle, if that. He spent two months in intense physical therapy. Before he knew it, Johnson was back on the field trying to regain his prowess that led him to 648 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns. As a hard-nosed linebacker, Johnson recorded 94 tackles, 61 of which were solo tackles.

Johnson looked sharp during Monrovia’s fall camp opener Monday morning at Cliffton Middle School. He looked more lean and had a quicker step to his game. Johnson was a straight-up-the-middle kind of back as a junior, bouncing off tackles and extending for extra yardage. But there was a noticeable first-step explosion Monday. Granted it was only practice, Johnson opted to use his speed and head for the wings instead of taking the rock down the middle.

“I feel faster and stronger,” Johnson said. “If my team needs me to pound for yardage, I’ll do that. If they need me to run outside, I can do that, too.”

Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox was impressed in other aspects, too.

“He’s come full circle in the two years,” Maddox said. “He’s grown tremendously. His leadership and work ethic is great. He and Nick (Bueno) are the two most respected leaders on our football team.”

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Football: La Salle QB Mike Novell is a stranger no more


PASADENA – There was a time when La Salle High School’s Mike Novell calmly flew under the radar.

That time was last season, when Novell was the Lancers’ starting quarterback as a sophomore.

He went from mentally preparing to be the starting quarterback on the junior varsity team his sophomore year to being thrust into the starting role on varsity after winning the job in fall camp.

By season’s end, Novell had quietly made a name for himself. He completed 60 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,167 yards and 12 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.

A year later, Novell understands that the pressure is on. He’s now under the microscope and the learning curve is gone.

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