I promise you won’t find another publication quite like PrepXtra which covers the 2011 high school football season in the San Gabriel Valley. The second annual Star-News PrepXtra Preview Magazine will be available in your home subscription or at newsstands on Tuesday, Aug. 30. If your newsstand runs out or you simply want extra copies, you can purchase them for $1 at the Pasadena Star-News (911 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena) office. They will go quick, so get here early. You can also purchase San Gabriel Valley Tribune or Whittier Daily News PrepXtra preview editions at those offices.

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Football: Monrovia No. 1 in CIF-SS preseason’s Mid-Valley Division Top 10 poll. Maranatha No. 5; In the Southeast Division, Arcadia is No. 4 and Muir No. 6. And how’s this for a shocker: La Salle is No. 5 in Northwest.

1. Monrovia, 2. Covina, 3. San Dimas, 4. Whittier Christian, 5. Maranatha, 6. Village Christian, 7. Arroyo, 8. Bell Gardens, 9. Baldwin Park, 10. Azusa.
Others: Montebello; South Pasadena; Pomona; San Gabriel; La PUente; El Monte.

1. West Covina, 2. Bonita, 3. Mayfair, 4. Arcadia, 5. Santa Fe, 6. Muir, 7. Diamond Ranch, 8. Walnut, 9. La Serna, 10. Diamond Bar.

1. Bishop Union; 2. Boron; 3. Rio Hondo Prep; 4. Desert Christian/Lancaster. 5. Vasquez. 6. Salesian. 7. Chadwick. 8. Desert. 9. Pasadena Poly. 10. Mojave.

1. Lompoc; 2. South Torrance; 3. Santa Ynez; 4. Nordhoff; 5. La Salle; 6. Cabrillo/Lompoc; 7. Carpinteria; 8. Bishop Montgomery; 9. North Torrance; 10. Templeton.

1. Chaminade; 2. Arroyo Grande; 3. Dominguez; 4. Serra; 5. St. Paul; 6. St. Joseph/Santa Maria; 7. Atascadero; 8. St. Francis; 9. Culver City; 10. Rio Mesa.

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Football: St. Francis’ Riley expected to start at UCLA


By Steve Ramirez, Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES – A year ago, Dietrich Riley would do whatever it took to get on the Rose Bowl turf.

But now, a year later, it may be his time to shine.

“Being penciled in as a starter, gives me a lot of confidence,” said Riley, a former St. Francis High School star who came to UCLA as one of the top defensive back recruits in the country. “It makes me want to work harder.

“I just want to prove that I’m that guy who can make big plays. I’m excited. I have a lot of energy going into the season and I want to prove to the world that UCLA is going to be a great team this year.”

If the Bruins are to recapture some of their past glory, Riley could play a major role in that transition.

The sophomore saw limited playing time as a freshman, but there were some indications of future greatness.

He played in 11 of UCLA’s 12 games and had 22 tackles. But he caught some attention with a jarring hit on Oregon State star Jacquizz Rodgers in UCLA’s 17-14 victory on Nov. 6. It’s one of the most viewed sports videos on YouTube.

It also was a quick glimpse of the Pasadena native’s untapped potential.

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Football: Young Matadors steadily grew up, growing.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

SAN GABRIEL – A few years ago, San Gabriel High School football coach Jude Oliva started a number of sophomores, not out of necessity but because of athletic ability.

Among that group who now are three-year starters are Hunter Garcia, Carlos Purser, Brian Lopez and Alex Villalobos.

Villalobos has stood out the most while earning first-team Star-News All-Area honors as a wide receiver, but Oliva feels the rest of the group can hold their own, too.

That much was clear on Wednesday afternoon at San Gabriel, where the Matadors wrapped up their final day of two-a-day workouts before today’s walk-through and scrimmage at Maranatha at

7 p.m. San Gabriel opens the season at home Sept. 2 against Muir.

Garcia, a 6-foot, 225-pound defensive end, had a strong presence at practice. He muscled his way into the backfield with a strong upper body that allowed him to record eight sacks last year as a junior.

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Jared Lebowitz, welcome to sunny Southern California.

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

LA CANADA-FLINTRIDGE – Jared Lebowitz has not played a down of football in Southern California.

But the quarterback has already been projected, by some, to lead St. Francis High School’s football team to places the Knights have not visited in several years.

“He hasn’t played a down of varsity football in Southern California yet and he’s had newspaper articles written about him,” teammate Travis Talianko said. “I think there is pressure on him, but I don’t know if he feels it. I do know he’ll live up to all the hype.”

Lebowitz transferred from South Burlington High in Vermont to St. Francis last January. He has worked extensively with quarterback coach Steve Clarkson.

“He seems like he had been pretty well coached before he got here because he has a very good eye for what I like in quarterbacks,” said St. Francis coach Jim Bonds, who played the position at UCLA. “He is doing great.”

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound right-hander left Vermont where there was 3 feet of snow to 60-degree weather in Southern California. He said that while his teammates hit the weight room in sweatshirts and pants, he wore a T-shirt.

His father, Harrison, who owns the Snow Farm Vineyard, which makes ice wines, began doing extensive work in Pasadena and brought his family with him.

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Football: La Caada’s Vardanian a “physical specimen”

An offensive lineman isn’t supposed to beat wide receivers in running drills, but that’s what happened at La Caada High School when Marty Vardanian showed up last week for the Spartans’ first official day of practice dubbed “Midnight Madness.”

“It’s a tradition we do,” La Caada coach Dan Yoder said. “We can’t run them for three weeks on dead period because of CIF rules. They show up and when it turns 12:01 on Monday morning we open the gates, turn on the lights and run them.”

La Caada, which tied for second place last year in the Rio Hondo League and lost to Covina in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs, spent an hour running 10 240-yard sprints from one goal post to the other and back, counting as one rep.

“We time them,” Yoder said, “and it’s a chance to prove they did their homework in those three weeks. Usually we get two thirds of the team who get it in the time allotted.”

Vardanian, a senior offensive lineman and middle linebacker, was impressive.

“He showed up to camp just a physical specimen,” Yoder said. “We ran his conditioning test and was beating receivers. He just really stepped up as a leader and with his physical performance. He was ready and it was really impressive.”

The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder will be a left guard and move from the defensive line to middle linebacker, and the reason is simple.

“He’s mobile,” Yoder said. “That he can move is something he’s been working on. We repped him a little bit at middle linebacker but there were other guys who were better suited there. But at the same time we didn’t want to take him off the field so we put him on the defensive line.”

Vardanian is a third-year letterman who started a few games on varsity as a sophomore. The Spartans will need more players to go both ways with a lower than expected turnout for football this season, but Yoder is not overly concerned.

“They’re working really hard and picking up a lot of good reps,” he said. “The guys that have to slip into those open spots have done a really good job so far.”

La Caada, which practices the rest of this week from 6p.m.-9 p.m., has an intersquad scrimmage Saturday followed by a scrimmage against Schurr next week.

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Football: Muir’s Washington-bound Owens focused.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

The phone call came at lunch time in March.

Muir High School’s Tairen Owens was given orders to wait outside for a call from Demetrice Martin, the secondary and cornerbacks coach recruiting Owens to play college football at the University of Washington.

The conversation wasn’t long, but it left a lasting impression on Owens.

Martin extended a scholarship offer to Owens, a shifty and speedy tailback who racked up 822 yards and 10 touchdowns last season while splitting time in the backfield for the Mustangs.
Owens, surrounded by an overflowing crowd, stood motionless except for an obvious expression on his face.

“All I could do was smile,” he recalled.

Owens didn’t need to think it through. He accepted on the spot and ended the recruiting process. The only other school in the mix was Arizona State, where former teammate Karl Holmes Jr., is, but the Sun Devils weren’t ever really in the mix.

“I’m not a real fan of the heat,” Owens said. “I know it rains a lot in Washington, but I can deal with it.”

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Football: Busy summer worthwhile for Jonah Campbell.

By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer

PASADENA — Jonah Campbell had a busy summer, perhaps more so than others.

Because he’s a three-sport athlete at Pasadena Poly, Campbell evenly split his summer schedule so it included football, basketball and baseball.

He spent the first two days of the week working quarterback duties for the Panthers, followed by basketball the next two days. He spent the weekend working with the baseball team, for whom Campbell is a center fielder.

Campbell said his summer schedule was “strenuous” but it paid dividends.

“In the long run it helped me out because the workouts were working out different muscles,” he said. “As football approached, I felt a lot better with my running and my speed.”

Campbell enters his senior year knowing he’s the go-to guy. He was backup quarterback last season to Hunter Merryman, the Star-News Male Athlete of the Year who earned first-team All-CIF honors in three sports.

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