Coach Jude Oliva
QB Andy Guerrero
WR Alex Villalobos
DT Ellis McCarthy
Offensive Player of the Year: Alex Villalobos, San Gabriel, Sr.
Defensive Player of the Year: Ellis McCarthy, Monrovia, Sr.
Coach of the Year: Jude Oliva, San Gabriel, 2nd Season
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB: Myles Carr, Arcadia, Sr.
RB: Marquise Bias, Monrovia, Sr.
RB: Tairen Owens, Muir, Sr.
AP: Kevon Seymour, Muir, Sr.
WR: Alex Villalobos, San Gabriel, Sr.
WR: Luke Williams, Monrovia, Sr.
WR: Taylor Lagace, Arcadia, Sr.
OL: Kristion Grbavac, St. Francis, Sr.
OL: Kevin Spencer, Monrovia, Sr.
OL: Dave Drain, Rio Hondo Prep, Sr.
OL: Gabriel Rousset, Arcadia, Sr.
OL: Michael Bassette, Temple City, Sr.
PK: Mason Bryant, Monrovia, Jr.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL: Ellis McCarthy, Monrovia, Sr.
DL: Robby Haines, Arcadia, Sr.
DL: Carlos Purser, San Gabriel, Sr.
LB: Brett Walsh, Monrovia, Jr.
LB: Ryan McAleenan, St. Francis, Sr.
LB: George Frazier V, Monrovia, Jr.
LB: Denzel Talifero, Muir, Jr.
DB: De’Shawn Ramirez, Monrovia, Sr.
DB: Travis Talianko, St. Francis, Sr.
DB: Alex McElwee, Arcadia, Sr.
SS: Joey Villalobos, San Gabriel, Sr.
P: Franklyn Cervenka, La Caada, Sr.
STAR-NEWS FINAL TOP 10
1. Monrovia (11-3)
2. St. Francis (9-3)
3. Muir (8-5)
4. San Gabriel (9-5)
5. Arcadia (9-3)
6. Rio Hondo Prep (13-1)
7. Pasadena (6-6)
8. Alhambra (9-3)
9. Maranatha (8-3)
10. San Marino (7-4)
CLICK FOR SECOND TEAM, STORIES, CAPSULES AND HONORABLE MENTION
ALL-AREA SECOND TEAM
QB: Brandon Cox, Pasadena, Jr.
RB: Omar Younger, Maranatha, Jr.
RB: Kwame Do, San Marino, Sr.
AP: Darien McGee, Maranatha, Sr.
WR: Riian Simpson, Pasadena, Sr.
WR: Marcus Green, Pasadena, Sr.
WR: Darick Holmes Jr., Muir, Fr.
OL: Rico Perez, Rio Hondo Prep, Jr.
OL: Ryan Campbell, Arcadia, Sr.
OL: Chris Caraveo, Alhambra, Sr.
OL: Henry Crane, Monrovia, Sr.
OL: Freddy Barnes, Pasadena, Jr.
PK: Billy McCreary, St. Francis, Sr.
DL: Clarence Irvin, Arcadia, Sr.
DL: Hunter Garcia, San Gabriel, Sr.
DL: Lorenzo Casas, Monrovia, Sr.
LB: Luke Anderson, St. Francis, Sr.
LB: Nate Quionez, Alhambra, Sr.
LB: Colby Rivera, Rio Hondo Prep, Jr.
LB: Nathan Hamming, Pasadena Poly, Sr.
DB: Anthony Craft, Monrovia, Jr.
DB: Jake Holguin, Rio Hondo Prep, Jr.
DB: Miguel Lagunas, South Pasadena, Sr.
SS: Ezra Broadus, Alhambra, Jr.
P: Jose Esparza, Rosemead, Sr.
Alhambra: Joshua Mendoza, Oscar Gaytan, Javier Covarrubias.
Arcadia: Jake Medel, Nick Pulciano, Brian Ponce, Joe Wong, Maher Domouni, Zan Williams, Kevin Giamalva, Austin Ford.
Blair: Sheddrick Walker.
Bosco Tech: Johnathan Silvas, Dillon Welsh, Adam Uballez, CJ Alvarez, William Yoshida.
La Salle: Israel Lacy, Shane Tierney.
La Caada: Marty Vardanian, Kyle Herron, Brendan Daly, Grant Owen.
Monrovia: Blake Heyworth, Alec Fox, Marquise Harrison, Cade Shultz.
Maranatha: Andrew Elffers, Matt Hall, Sterling Sanchez, Robert Flewelling, Daniel Rasmussen, Matt Payton, Darin Smith.
Muir: Addison Farmer, Lamar McDaniels, Tony Claxton, Jorge Castro, Joshua Muema-Washington, Mark Samuels.
Pasadena: Aaron Easley, Steve Jernagin, Keith Law, Alejandro Gutierrez, Kahri Bailey.
Pasadena Poly: Harrison Hodgkins.
Rio Hondo Prep: Sebastian Rosales, KJ Moore, Alex Tayco, Javier Rodriguez.
San Gabriel: Isa Fernandez, Brian Lopez, Andrew Jimenez, Omar Gonzalez, Joseph Mayorga, Eric Alvarez, Omero Eriza.
San Marino: Matt Wofford, Nick Gott, Garrett Glazier, Ryan Hill.
South Pasadena: Justin Cornford, Ryan Stone, Sean Magill, Nathan Lee.
St. Francis: Jared Lebowitz, Christian Hess, Tyler Marona, Joey Dowling, Joe Marrone, Austin De Los Santos, Raul Castillo.
Temple City: Kevin Cummings, Jared Mendez.
FIRST TEAM CAPSULES
Notable: One the most efficient passers in the valley, Carr finished the season completing 63 percent of his passes for 2,484 yards and 30 touchdowns against just six interceptions. Carr, who led the Apaches to a second consecutive Pacific League title and a quarterfinal appearance in the CIF-SS Southeast Division playoffs, is considering Stony Brook, Montana State and Nevada.
Notable: Emerging as one of the most improved players in the valley, Bias became one of the most prominent running backs after rushing for 1,584 yards and 21 touchdowns to lead the Wildcats’ balanced attack. The Rio Hondo League’s offensive back of the year rushed for 259 yards and scored four touchdowns in leading Monrovia to its second consecutive CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division championship.
Notable: Owens, who is Washington-bound, rushed for 16 touchdowns and earned first-team All-Pacific League honors after helping the Mustangs reach the semifinals of the CIF-SS Southeast Division playoffs. Owens was a threat at every position, from defensive back, running back, slot receiver and returning punts and kickoffs.
Notable: Seymour, a four-star recruit with over 30 Division I offers, had 2,000 all-purpose yards and scored 16 touchdowns. He recorded four interceptions, returned four punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns and forced two fumbles as a defensive back. Seymour, utilizing elusive speed, was a threat on special teams, but it was his versatility, like running the offense out of the Wildcat formation, that made the Mustangs one of the strongest teams in the area.
Notable: Villalobos broke the state record for receptions with 125 and recorded 2001 yards and 22 touchdowns. His speed and physical style of play was nearly unparalleled. Villalobos was selected the Almont League’s most valuable player and helped the Matadors finish unbeaten in league play and reach the finals of the Mid-Valley Division finals. It was San Gabriel’s second finals appearance in school history. Villalobos is considering Northern Arizona and Division II Western State in Colorado.
Notable: Williams, a three-year letterman, caught 44 passes for 850 yards and scored seven touchdowns on the season. He was a prime target on deep passes. Williams, who earned first-team All-Rio Hondo League honors, is considering UC Davis, SAn Diego and Northern Arizona.
Notable: Area fans will continue to have the opportunity to watch Lagace as the three-time All-Area selection earlier this week switched his commitment from Washington to UCLA. Lagace, one of the most versatile players in the valley, caught 61 passes for 856 yards and five touchdowns. He returned one kickoff and one punt return for touchdowns while also rushing for one. He recorded an interception, batted down three passes and had 55 tackles as a safety.
Notable: Grbavac earned first-team All-Mission League honors and was the anchor on the Golden Knights’ offensive line. Grbavac’s protection up front allowed for first-year St. Francis quarterback Jared Leibowitz to find open receivers. Grbavac, who is headed to San Diego, led St. Francis to an unbeaten nonleague start and an appearance in the quarterfinals of the Western Division playoffs.
Notable: Monrovia’s offensive line made the biggest stride as the season progressed and the reason why the Wildcats continued to improve. Spencer helped anchor the offensive line that opened holes for running backs and provided plenty of protection for Monrovia first-year quarterback Blake Heyworth.
Rio Hondo Prep
Notable: Drain, a three-year letterman, helped the Kares to a CIF-SS Northeast Division championship. Drain earned first-team All-Prep League honors and was one of several big presences up front for the Kares, who once again relied on a strong ground attack thanks to Drain’s relentless effort up front.
Notable: Roussett is a three-year letterman who also was captain this season. He earned first-team All-Pacific League honors and was instrumental in the Apaches’ balanced attack that proved tough stopping.
Notable: Bassette was long regarded as one of the most intimidating linemen in all of the San Gabriel Valley. His tough frame made it tough for defenders to penetrate the pocket. Bassette earned offensive lineman of the year honors in the Rio Hondo League.
Notable: Bryant is a two-time All-Area selection. He recorded six field goals, but his presence was noted throughout. The three-year letterman, who boasts a 4.1 GPA, amassed 500 yards receiving and 28 catches with eight touchdowns. He made 48 tackles, recorded five interceptions, blocked a field goal and six blocked PATs.
Notable: For the second consecutive season, McCarthy is the Star-News Defensive Player of the Year. The five-star recruit — with offers from Florida, USC, Tennessee among others — was a handful up front. McCarthy seamlessly switched from nose guard, to tackle and defensive end. He recorded 55 tackles and nine sacks despite being double- and triple-teamed and missing three games because of injury. McCarthy’s prsence commanded the attention, allowing for others to make plays, be it making the pocket collapse, tackling for short gains and easy interceptions.
Notable: Haines, the Pacific League defensive player of the year, recorded a team-high 15.5 sacks and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Haines also had 28 receptions for 385 yards and eight touchdowns.
Notable: Purser led the relentless push up front, earning Almont League lineman of the year honors. Purser finished the season with 102 tackles and six sacks, leading the Matadors to a trip to the Mid-Valley Division finals.
Notable: Walsh shared linebacker of the year honors in the Rio Hondo League after a spectacular season. Walsh, a two-year leterman with a 4.3 GPA, was the second-leading tackler in the state with 192 tackles (132 solo). He also had eight sacks and four fourced fumbles.
Notable: McAleenan was the Mission League offensive lineman of the year at tight end, but his impact also was felt as a stout linebacker. McAleenan finished with 86 tackles (52 solo) and one sack. He is considering UC Davis, San Diego and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.
George Frazier V
Notable: Frazier, the co-linebacker of the year in the Rio Hondo League, finished with 84 tackles. His best game came in the semifinals against Whittier Christian when he recorded two sacks and two interceptions.
Notable: Talifero was a brusing linebacker whose physical style complemented well on offense, too. Talifero finished with 132 tackles with five forced fumbles and one interception to lead the Mustangs.
Notable: Ramirez finished with 1,610 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns (eight rushing, eight receiving, two punt returns, two passing and two interceptions). Ramirez finishe with three interceptions and 33 tackles, earning all-purpose player of the year honors in the Rio Hondo League.
Notable: The San Jose State-bound finished with 687 yards receiving and three touchdowns, most of the time with several players defending. The three-time All-Area first-team selection also was an All-Mission League first-team selection on defense after 56 tackles and one interception.
Notable: McElwee, who is considering Montana State, Idaho State and Stony Brook in New York, earned All-Pacific League first-team honors as a wide receiver with 22 catches and 534 yards and six touchdowns. As a cornerback, McElwee finished with 53 tackles, four intereptions and three pass deflections.
Notable: Villalobos earned first-team All-Almont League honors as a wide receiver with 637 yards and five touchdowns on 33 catches. But it was his hard-nose defense that kept the secondary intact with 152 tackles (96 solo) and two interceptions.
Notable: Cervenka, who will continue playing football at Division 1AA Wagner College, earned first-team All-Rio Hondo League honors as a punter. As a kicker, Cervenka averaged 66 yards on kickoffs and had 90 percent of kickoffs as touchbacks.
PLAYERS OF THE YEAR STORY
By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer
Andy Guerrero’s rise as arguably the best duel-threat quarterback for San Gabriel High School had a humbling beginning.
Guerrero admits not taking football seriously since summer, through fall camp and leading up to the season opener against Muir. It showed when Guerrero, a senior, was benched shortly after throwing three first-half interceptions in the Matadors’ season opener against Muir.
It wasn’t long before Guerrero would learn during a meeting with San Gabriel coach Jude Oliva that he was no longer the starter. It was then when a conversation Oliva had with Guerrero back in summer practice resonated on Guerrero, and soon he went to work.
“I wasn’t taking football seriously all the time,” Guerrero recalled. “After the first game it really was a reality check. When coach told me Eric (Alvarez) got the job everything hit me. Here I was not being serious about football and Eric was practicing hard all the time.
“I was the backup for two games and I was getting reps behind Eric. It really hit me and that’s when I started working hard to get it back.”
The conversation is one Oliva, also the team’s offensive coordinator, has had with his previous quarterbacks.
“He said, ‘You work hard with me and I’m going to make you one of the best quarterbacks around,'” Guerrero said. “That I just needed to follow his lead, but I just needed to work hard.”
A two-quarterback system gave way to Guerrero’s return as starter, and despite losses to Baldwin Park and Rosemead, San Gabriel began showing promise with Guerrero at quarterback. San Gabriel not only weathered a rocky 1-4 start to the season, but the Matadors found exactly who they needed to lead them when it mattered most, in the Almont League. Guerrero had his best game against Alhambra, completing 79 percent of his passes for 444 yards and seven touchdowns against a Moors team touted with the league’s best defense. Guerrero showed otherwise as he shredded the secondary en route to a 69-14 win against their rivals and one win away from dethroning Schurr to finish unbeaten in league.
Guerrero was arguably the most feared player in San Gabriel’s lineup, and a survey among CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division coaches came to that consensus. His numbers proved that argument: Guerrero completed 65 percent of his passes for 3,261 yards and 29 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,428 yards and 14 touchdowns.
San Gabriel superceeded expectations like no other team in the San Gabriel Valley, beating traditional powers like Arroyo and San Dimas. The Matadors reached the Mid-Valley Division finals for the second time in school history. In 2003 the Matadors relied on their quarterback to lead them there, and this spectacular run was no different, which is why Guerrero is the 2011 Star-News Player of the Year.
Guerrero’s change in attitude off the field contributed to his success on the field. That he lost the starting job in one half didn’t mean he lost hope. Oliva said Guerrero is ambitious, if nothing else. But losing focus in other aspects also affected how he handled his football duties.
“We gave him an opportunity,” Oliva said. “And watching him grow and mature and develop character, that was the best part about watching him every week getting better, from taking command of the offense to stepping up and being vocal.”
For Guerrero, it goes back to Oliva sitting down with him and getting it in his head that talent alone doesn’t get it done. Guerrero also learned a lot from watching from the sidelines.
“Watching Eric helped me out,” Guerrero said. “His thing was at reading defenses really good, some of the stuff I didn’t do well. He was a really good teammate, actually a really smart kid, too.”
Soon Guerrero earned the respect of his teammates and coaches alike watching his work ethic develop before their eyes. Oliva said he knew Guerrero had the potential, but it was up to Guerrero to meet him halfway.
“When he emerged as our guy we had a conversation,” Oliva said. “We told him, ‘Don’t just be one of the best on our team. Be one of the best in the area and in Southern California.'”
Guerrero, clearly, got the message.
“You want to instill a strong work ethic in kids because that will work for them not just in football but in life,” Oliva said. “It’s all about preparation. The other thing I told him was that attitude is contagious, and I ask him if his was worth catching. I know he took a hold of that later and here he is leading us to the final, and now, player of the year.”
Guerrero wasn’t San Gabrie’s lone offensive punch. His prime target was senior Alex Villalobos. The 5-foot-10 standout is a two-time All-Area selection, and he now adds 2011 Star-News Offensive Player of the Year honors to along with his impressive resume.
Villalobos, one of the most grounded and likeable athletes in the area, broke the state record for receptions with 125 and led the state in yards with 2001 and 22 touchdowns. Villalobos, the Almont League Most Valuable Player, could soon be playing Division I football. He’s drawn strong interest from Norther Arizona, though Division II Western Sate in Colorado also is in the picture.
For the second consecutive season, Monrovia’s Ellis McCarthy is the 2011 Star-News Defensive Player of the Year.
McCarthy, a five-star recruit with offers from Florida, USC, Tennessee among others, was too much to handle for just one player. He often drew double- and triple-coverage, leaving teammates to reap the benefits. McCarthy, a U.S. Army All-American who also is a national finalist for the Anthony Munoz Lineman of the Year, seamlessly switched from nose guard, to tackle and defensive end. He recorded 55 tackles and nine sacks despite missing three games because of injury.
COACH OF THE YEAR STORY
By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer
In just his second season as San Gabriel High School’s head football coach, Jude Oliva accomplished what many considered seemingly impossible — certainly improbable — after a 1-4 start: reach the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division finals.
Oliva disregarded the notion that San Gabriel was all but done. He wouldn’t concede because, like any good coach, he saw the opportunity to help develop a team with tremendous upside. While nobody else saw it, Oliva knew exactly where he had to get to work if he was to turn doubters into believers.
“We knew we had some good returners and a solid nucleus,” he said, “but we still had some question marks and definitely some growth issues that we were fearful of early on.”
To get his team to realize they needed to grow, Oliva made a pre-emptive strike by schedueling tough, and it showed with lopsided defeats to Muir (44-20) and San Dimas (59-6). With each defeat came Oliva’s opportunity to teach and earn his player’s trust that this was for the better.
“We kept telling the kids, yes we want to win them all but it’s an opportunity to get better every week,” he said. “Our inexperience and immaturity was not allowing us to do some of the things we started doing later on like winning down the stretch.”
During its 1-4 stretch to start the season, San Gabriel lost two games at the end of the game despite holding a lead. And while the rest of the area hit the panic button for San Gabriel, Oliva showed otherwise maintaining poise throughout. His coaches and players followed suit.
“If we looked panicked and confused the kids will as well,” Oliva said. “Kids aren’t dumb. They have a sense of what’s real and what’s not. If you take the right approach every day then you’re going to get better, and they saw that in us in our preparation. They saw that in the way we were practicing and our tempo. They took a hold of it.”
For getting his players to believe, maximizing their potential and for leading San Gabriel back to the finals for the second time in school history, Oliva is the 2011 Star-News Coach of the Year.
Oliva’s first season as offensive coordinator was in 2003 when San Gabriel won its first playoff game in school history, riding the wave of momentum all the way to the finals. Even back then, Oliva knew the importance of schedueling tough.
“You can’t build character and success in a soft environment,” Oliva said. “You get a false sense of who you are. We definitely found a ton of things that needed to be fixed. Part of it was inexperience. We grew up so much in that preseason.”
San Gabriel wasn’t supposed to keep pace with Maranatha’s explosive offense, but it did with a 9-0 win. The Matadors needed a heroic play in the waning minutes to beat Arroyo, and they got it to secure a 40-38 win.
The big question in the semifinals against San Dimas was would San Gabriel find a way to return the favor after a 56-point blowout earlier in the season? The Matadors answerd with an emphatic stop at the goal line to prevent the Saints from running in a two-point conversion as San Gabriel prevailed, 29-28.
The Matadors believed.
And it wasn’t just players who Oliva got to believe in his philosophy. His coaches followed suit, from quarterbacks coach Saile Ramirez, defensive backs coach Alex Fernandez, linebackers coach Daniel Bernard to receivers coach Matt Lopez, running backs coach Albert Fernandez and offensive line coach Brian Ramirez.
“He got all of us to believe,” San Gabriel defensive coordinator Don Bernard said. “We all bought into that and what he was trying to accomplish.”
Oliva learned the values of coaching from his friend and mentor, Keith Jones.
“He really paid a lot of attention to what coach Jones did,” Bernard said. “He was learning how to prepare a program and help it become successful.”