Star Picks: Five big games this week, where to begin?

Well, let’s start with the Almont League where Alhambra and San Gabriel are each 3-0, and as I had written in my Week 0 football column, this game would decide the Almont League championship. San Gabriel has really turned things around in league, and Andy Guerrero has a lot to do with that. It’s also the reason why I’m picking San Gabriel to win Friday, and here’s why. Guerrero is a threat passing and on the ground. He torched Bell Gardens last week with 350 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 146 yards on 22 carries. He helped the Matadors beat Montebello 48-17 with 312 yards passing and three touchdowns against zero interceptions. He also rushed for 138 yards on 14 carries. Keppel and Montebello are the common opponents, but I’m comparing just the Oilers for this instance. Alhambra last week had a hard time beating Montebello, 7-6. … St. Francis-St. Paul is always a huge rivalry, and both have identical records (6-2, 1-2) coming into this must-win game. St. Paul on paper looked great starting the season but its 5-0 nonleague record was deceiving given that the teams it played right now have a combined 15-26 record, and if I’m correct at one point it was 5-22. To be fair, St. Francis’ opponents have a combined record of 22-17. …. Maranatha is falling and falling hard. The Minutemen are in a dangerous spot at 0-2 in the Olympic League with two games left, both must-wins. I think Maranatha no longer is considered a title contender in the Mid-Valley Division. A darkhorse, perhaps. But right now neither of the two roles come into play if they don’t finish .500 in league, and it starts with Village Christian (4-4, 1-1) on Friday, a team that got SMOKED by Rio Hondo Prep 31-13, all 31 points coming in the second half, 23 of which came in the fourth quarter after an 8-7 lead after the third quarter. It’s time to buckle down and get some. In my opinon the biggest game of the week is Pasadena-Arcadia. Burroughs, Arcadia and Pasadena are tied for first in the Pacific League at 4-1. Arcadia lost to Burroughs 41-29, and no doubt the Apaches were going into that game too confident after beating Muir in the league opener. Both teams are talented with stellar quarterbacks. Arcadia’s Myles Carr and Pasadena’s Brandon Cox are two explosive players who can burn you with the pass, but it’s Cox who adds another element with speed and vision when running. Arcadia’s Jake Medel has given the Apaches another solid running back to balance the passing threat that also features WR Taylor Lagace. Pasadena’s Cleo Bates is an incredible athlete who needs some traction to get his game going, and if he does watch out. Last and certainly not least is the San Marino-South Pasadena game, AKA The Crowley Cup. I saw San Marino last week, but certainly won’t base my prediction based on their play against Monrovia, although the Titans did initiate some solid drives even if the scoreboard doesn’t indicate that. Kwame Do will be a tough assignment, but I see South Pasadena finding a way with the size up front. The Tigers utilize the line well to open lanes which gives way for them to pound and pound and pound. The long drives could wear down the Titans, but I don’t see it happening. Joey Harmon and Matt Wofford will be a nice battle to watch. A San Marino win all but gives it a second-place finish in the Rio Hondo League. South Pasadena would still need to play Monrovia.

*If this schedule is not accurate please leave a comment
WEEK 9 SCHEDULE WITH PREDICTIONS
Friday’s games
Alhambra at San Gabriel, 7 p.m. — San Gabriel
Keppel at Bell Gardens, 7 p.m. — Bell Gardens
Marshall vs. Montclair Prep at Pierce College, 7 p.m. — Montclair Prep
Bishop Montgomery at La Salle, 7 p.m. — La Salle
St. Francis at St. Paul, 7:30 p.m. — St. Francis
Gabrielino at Arroyo, 7 p.m. — Arroyo
Mountain View at Rosemead, 7 p.m. — Rosemead
La Puente at Duarte, 7 p.m. — La Puente
Village Christian at Maranatha, 7 p.m. — Maranatha
Pasadena at Arcadia, 7 p.m. — Arcadia
Burbank at Muir, 7 p.m. — Muir
Flintridge Prep vs. Pasadena Poly at Occidental College, 7 p.m. — Poly
Chadwick at Rio Hondo Prep, 7:30 p.m. — Rio Hondo Prep
Blair at La Canada, 7 p.m. — La Canada
Monrovia at Temple City, 7 p.m. — Monrovia
San Marino at South Pasadena, 7 p.m. — South Pasadena

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Friday Night Aftermath: La Salle snaps 17-game losing streak with big win; Monrovia blows past San Marino; Muir beats Burroughs; Alhambra, San Gabriel remain unbeaten in league; Maranatha, St. Francis lose again.



Above: Told ya!

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Friday’s results
Monrovia 43, San Marino 7 — De’Shawn Ramirez and Marquise Bias each scored two touchdowns and Blake Heyworth threw for two scores, connecting with Ramirez and Anthony Craft. Mason Bryant scored on an interception return as the Wildcats overwhelmed the Titans with their speed and size. San Marino scored midway through the fourth quarter on a Kwame Do 28-yard run for the Titans’ lone touchdown.

La Salle 49, Mary Star 20 — Josh Hall had two touchdowns and Israel Lacy, Austin Wallis, Mark Tappan, Bryce Harvey and Stephen Wright each scored a touchdown to help the Lancers snap a 17-game losing streak. Not gonna say that I called it …

Muir 28, Burroughs 0 — Mustangs totally dominated, giving up 6 rushing in the second half, 88 for the entire game. Zander Anding, however, did not play due to a collar bone injury he sustained last week, so that obviously was a huge difference. Freshman Darick Holmes Jr. came off the bench at quarterback and led the Mustangs to a nice 50-yard drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kevon Seymour. Muir rushed for 170 yards on the ground.

La Canada 44, Temple City 27 — Franklin Cervenka had six carries for 52 yards and two receptions for 99 yards, the longest a 60-yard touchdown pass from Matt Jones, who finished 7 of 11 passing for 166 yards and a throwing touchdown. Jones finished with 74 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Temple City’s Anthony Valencia was 3 of 7 for 42 yards and struggled for most of the game. He rushed for a touchdown. Roger Tsung had 20 carries for 128 yards and a touchdown for the Rams.

Alhambra 7, Montebello 6 — The Moors scored with less than 30 seconds lef tin the game in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Oilers on the road. Alhambra’s win gives it a 3-0 record heading into next week’s game at San Gabriel, which also is 3-0 after a gritty win over Bell Gardens.

Arcadia 44, Glendale 0 — The Apaches record their first shutout of the season. Alex McElwee and Joe Wong each recorded an interception and Clarence Irvin helped Arcadia record a safety. Myles Carr was 7 of 9 for 120 yards and two touchdowns. He had 34 yards on the ground with a touchdown. Jake Medel had 143 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. Rodney Arnett had 85 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. The win sets up a huge game against Pasadena, which is also 4-1 in the Pacific League.

OTHER SCORES
Arroyo 28, Rosemead 21
Rio Hondo Prep 49, Flintridge Prep 0
Schurr 27, Keppel 7
Pasadena Poly 26, Webb 21
El Monte 48, El Monte 28
Duarte 17, Gladstone 14
Valley Christian 26, Maranatha 18
San Gabriel 37, Bell Gardens 31
Chaminade 31, St. Francis 13

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Thursday Night Aftermath: Pasadena looks sloppy in 49-19 win vs. Hoover; South Pasadena beats Blair, 29-3.

Pasadena 49, Hoover 19: The final score indicates a blowout from the Pasadena High School football team, but the game within the game is where the Bulldogs came up on the wrong end. Brandon Cox threw for three touchdowns, Cleo Bates ran for two and Emmanuel Harris and CJ Collins each scored on special teams, leading Pasadena to a 49-19 win over Hoover in Pacific League play Thursday night. The biggest challenge Pasadena (5-3, 4-1) coach Randy Horton faced heading into this week’s game was for the Bulldogs to overlook the Tornadoes (0-8, 0-5). But that’s exactly what Pasadena did in a sloppy game that yielded three fumbles (one lost), defensive breakdowns and drive-extending penalties. Certainly this wasn’t the impression the Bulldogs wanted to give with Arcadia looming ahead next week before finishing the season against Muir at the Rose Bowl.

South Pasadena 29, Blair 3: One rolling punt is all it took. Blair High School’s Sheddrick Walker wisely let the South Pasadena kick roll to what he hoped would be into the end zone. But the Tigers made a diving grab to down the ball at the 1. It was all the difference in the world. South Pasadena, holding a 7-3 lead, took advantage of the field position to score two quick touchdowns en route to a 29-3 Rio Hondo League victory on a cold Thursday night at Muir. “We got the ball down there in their territory and punched it in,” South Pasadena coach Martin Konrad said. “It kind of got the momentum going.” Both teams moved the ball on their opening drives, but the Tigers went three-and-out on their second series. The punt was downed at the 1, much to the chagrin of the Blair coaching staff, who thought the defender had rolled with the ball into the end zone.

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BREAKING NEWS: La Caada’s Barry Ritson, a two-time Star-News Coach of the Year, resigns as soccer coach.

La Caada’s Barry Ritson has resigned as the Spartans boys soccer coach. More details to come later, but in just two seasons Ritson led the Spartans to two undefeated seasons in the Rio Hondo League and compiled a 43-3-1 record. Ritson twice was named Star-News Coach of the Year and led La Caada to the second round and quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Division V playoffs. Ritson is a very well known coach in the La Caada community. He’s the director of coaching for L.A. Premiere FC, one of the most elite soccer clubs in the nation. Ritson, who played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, brought a wealth of experience having played for Sunderland FC’s youth level as well as with the Burnley FC youth and reserve teams. La Caada athletic director Craig Franzen said Ritson was an outstanding coach and that “he still wants to be involved in the program depending on the coach who gets hired.” Franzen added: “I just don’t think he can do the day-to-day stuff anymore.” The search for a third coach in three seasons is under way. Jordan Jones resigned after his first season in 2008 to further his education.

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Volleyball: Rosemead ends Gabrielino’s 77-game Mission Valley League winning streak with five-set victory.

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

SAN GABRIEL – Rosemead High School’s girls volleyball team rushed the Gabrielino court after the fifth game and jumped up and down in one big group hug. They cried in joy.

Gabrielino, meanwhile, cried in disappointment.

The Panthers may have scored their biggest volleyball victory Wednesday afternoon, ending the Eagles’ 77-match Mission Valley League undefeated streak.

“We just put our hearts out there,” Panthers junior outside hitter Priscilla Franco said. “I knew we could do it. It was all in ourselves.”

Trailing 12-5 in the fifth game, the Panthers rallied for an 18-16 victory.

“Definitely, definitely not the best I’ve seen my team play, but the willpower and the heart shined through on this game,” Rosemead coach Emily Hausler said. “That was something I had not seen in a long time come out of this team.”

Gabrielino had not lost a league match since 2004, when the Eagles fell to Arroyo in four games.

“We leave it out on the court,” Gabrielino coach Silvia Apodaca said. “They played hard, they just made mistakes they shouldn’t have made. They knew (Rosemead) was going to bring it.”

Rosemead, which is solidly in third place in league at 5-4, scored a 21-25, 25-16, 8-25, 25-23, 18-16 win. It was Gabrielino’s fourth five-game match in league play this season, second in a row. The Eagles defeated the Panthers in five games in the first round of league play.

“Gab is our worst rival,” Hausler said. “They’re the best team in our league. In the past I’ve seen girls come through this program and they’re terrified of them. It’s been very intimidating for our girls.

“So this is a big turnaround.”

The Eagles can still win the league title if they defeat visiting El Monte on Friday afternoon. The teams are tied for the lead at 8-1. The Lions defeated Arroyo in four games on Wednesday.

“It was disappointing, but they put up a big fight,” Gabrielino setter Joann Chac said. “We just have to move on. We’re going to use this loss to get ready for the Friday game.”

Lizzy Lemus came off the bench to serve back-to-back aces and Priscilla Franco had two kills to help close Rosemead’s 12-5 deficit to a 13-11 gap. Rosemead touched the net to give Gabrielino three match points, but Gabrielino touched the net and had a hitting error and then another Franco spike tied it at 14.

It was tied again at 15 and 16 with Gabrielino having match point each time.

Rosemead then got its first match point when Gabrielino’s Jessica La hit a kill attempt long. Rosemead libero Sydney Hua made three huge digs during the extended rally.

“I was really nervous, but we had pushed through in the game before,” Hua said of the 25-23 fourth game, in which the Eagles had led, 23-20.

A kill attempt by Gabrielino went into the net to end the match.

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Our condolences go out to Star-News correspondent Mike Botticello, whose father died today.

You probably know the byline by now. Mike Botticello is one of our best correspondents. He’s been with us for about four years covering some of the best games in the area. This season alone, Botticello was excited about covering Muir and Pasadena, coming into the office after every Bulldogs game raving about QB Brandon Cox and WR Riian Simpson. He’s such a big HS football fan he attended the Monrovia-Glendora game just to watch Ellis McCarthy in action. He’ll be in Connecticut over the next few weeks tending to his family. We express our condolences to him and his family.

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Top 10 Rankings: Pasadena gets its due credit at No. 10

STAR-NEWS RANKINGS
1. St. Francis (6-1)

Meat of schedule up next

2. Arcadia (5-2)
Way to bounce back strong

3. Maranatha (6-1)
Relying on big plays

4. Monrovia (4-3)
Win over Blair proved little

5. South Pasadena (5-2)
Most improved team so far

6. Muir (4-3)
Big test coming up Friday

7. Rio Hondo Prep (6-1)
Big second half fuels Kares

8. Rosemead (4-3)
Bounced back vs. Gabrielino

9. Alhambra (6-1)
Team to beat in Almont?

10. Pasadena (4-3)
Impressed with offense, wins

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Baseball: Alhambra’s Acuna commits to San Jose St.

Alhambra pitcher Gary Acuna, a left-hander who was instrumental in helping the Moors win 22 of their final 23 games heading into the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, has verbally committed to San Jose State. Acuna went 7-2 with a 1.52 ERA and 49 strikeouts as a junior. He combined with Frankie Wright for four no-hitters last season.

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Football: South Pasadena, San Marino ready to end playoff drought? The time has come, hasn’t it?

Despite a slow start to the season, many still consider Monrovia (4-3, 2-0) the team to beat in the Rio Hondo League, leaving others to dub any kind of league race as “the race for second place.”

South Pasadena (5-2, 2-0) and San Marino (5-2, 2-0) clearly are the two teams vying for the second guaranteed playoff spot into the Mid-Valley Division playoffs. That there’s a race at all goes to show the giant strides made at both San Marino and South Pasadena. The last time the Titans made the playoffs was under D.R. Moreland in 2009 when they reached the second round.

It’s been much longer for the Tigers. They lost to Serra of Gardena in 2003, so when South Pasadena got off to a strong start this season, some wondered if the Tigers finally were ready to compete for a playoff spot, and so far they’ve shown they’re definitely in the hunt.

“We put the pressure on ourselves,” said South Pasadena coach Martin Konrad earlier this season. “That’s the one thing these guys have to adjust to, expectations. You win games and people start expecting things about you and you have to be able to handle the pressure.”

The Titans host Monrovia this week, a tall task in itself, while the Tigers take on Blair on Thursday. Regardless of the outcome, next week no doubt will have great significance because not only are South Pasadena and San Marino rivals, but the game could have playoff implications on the line.

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Football: Will Zander Anding torch Muir on Friday night?


Above: Muir has some talent, too.

Now that the fun and games are over, it’s time for Muir to get down to some serious business.

The last two weeks have been light for the Mustangs (4-3, 2-2) after facing Hoover (0-7, 0-4) and Glendale (1-6, 0-4). Muir won those football games by a combined 91-10. It’s usually in those games the Mustangs experiment and iron out offensive sets while players rack up yardage.

This week will prove to be much more difficult when Burroughs (4-3, 4-0) comes to town Friday. The visiting Indians have arguably the most explosive weapon around in running back Zander Anding, who has amassed 1,800 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Arcadia (5-2, 3-1) and Pasadena (4-3, 3-1) each had trouble stopping Anding. Against the Bulldogs, he rushed for 312 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. He also hurt Pasadena on special teams with a 99-yard kickoff return for a score. Against the Apaches, Anding rushed for 303 yards and five touchdowns on 33 carries. He scored three touchdowns in a span of 2:35 in the second half, so it’s no surprise why Burroughs is unbeaten in league.

Muir hasn’t faced a team with a run-first mentality, although the Mustangs did shut down San Gabriel in the season opener. Against Rancho Cucamonga, Muir had trouble stopping the pass and it wasn’t until the second half that Rancho pounded the ball on the ground after wearing down Muir.

As it stands, it’s still too early to tell which team will vie for the fourth and final playoff spot out of the Pacific League, but Muir sits there now with tough games coming up that also includes Burbank and of course Pasadena in the 58th Turkey Tussle at the Rose Bowl.

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