Football: You can’t fault Andrew Quintero for trying.


Above: Rio Hondo Prep’s Charles Quintero was a running machine. His brother, Andrew, won’t get a chance to showcase his talent in Saturday’s title game.

Andrew Quintero is sneaky.

The Rio Hondo Prep starting senior linebacker, who has been out with a broken collar bone suffered Oct. 14 against Viewpoint, went to the doctor last week.

But it wasn’t a routine checkup for the season-ending injury.

Quintero scheduled the appointment the week leading up to the Kares’ semifinal game against Boron in an attempt to convince his doctor he could play football again.

Quintero, a 5-foot-9, 160-pounder who suffered the injury late in the second quarter while starting in place of injured running back Alex Tayco, was far from returning to any kind of physical activity.

The short answer was “no.” Quintero was still two months away before he could play football. With no luck there, Quintero went to Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain with a proposition.

“He asked me what if he could get a note from his mother to let him play,” Drain said. “He really wants to play, but I told him that was not going to work for me.”

Quintero will sit out Saturday when Rio Hondo Prep (12-1) hosts Desert Christian (11-2) of Lancaster in the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division title game. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Quintero is a three-year starter and among the select group that reached the Northeast Division finals in 2008 where the Kares lost to Linfield Christian.

Offensive linemen Dave Drain (6-3, 235) and Javier Rodriguez (6-3, 275) are three-year letterman. Drain is a three-year starter and Rodriguez is a two-year starter.

Tayco also is a two-year starter on defense and KJ Moore is a three-year starter at linebacker.

Football: San Gabriel’s Carlos Purser has dealt with share of life’s challenges, but the senior DT pushes on.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

SAN GABRIEL – No first grader should have to wake up at 3 a.m. to get ready for school, but Carlos Purser had no choice.

The daily trips from Palmdale to Van Nuys for school took their toll on Purser, but it was just the beginning.

The standout defensive tackle at San Gabriel High School soon spent the early part of his summer after first grade living in a one-bedroom hotel with his mother, Margo Garcia, stepfather and four siblings. From there, it was a two-month stint at a shelter in Glendale.

“It was just different from anything I’ve ever known before,” Purser recalls. “We had a schedule of when to eat and when to shower. We couldn’t be at the shelter during the day, but it was OK because I would be at school.”

The weekend was another story.

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Football: Monrovia prospered from quarterback duel.


Above: Monrovia QB Blake Heyworth commands the offense brilliantly.

It only seemed that out of nowhere came a quarterback battle for the starting spot at Monrovia High School.

It almost was a given that upon Nick Bueno’s graduation George Frazier V would take over. There was no question the highly touted junior had the skills and, most important, leadership.

Over the summer Blake Heyworth transferred from St. Francis. The junior quarterback’s arrival didn’t immediately turn the position situation into a battle, at least not yet.

Heyworth, for one, was recovering from surgery on his throwing shoulder. He not only still was learning the offense but he was not cleared for a hardship waiver from the CIF-Southern Section.

It was quite the conundrum for Maddox – give Frazier all the first-team snaps over the summer and into fall camp until Heyworth was cleared, or prepare Heyworth just in case.

Maddox, leading Monrovia to its third consecutive trip to the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division finals on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against San Gabriel, took the latter route. Frazier shared reps with Heyworth over the summer, but it was clear Frazier still was expected to start.

“Until Blake got cleared he understood that George was going to get most of the reps with the first team,” Maddox said. “If he wasn’t cleared George would have been our quarterback. It was one of those things where we didn’t know what was going to happen so we had to wait.”

Heyworth wasn’t fazed and gradually began taking hold of the offense, but the season was fast approaching and Heyworth still wasn’t cleared by CIF. It was becoming clear Frazier would start in the season opener against Glendora. That week, just days before breaking ground on the 2011 season, Heyworth was cleared.

The quarterback battle now was official.

Heyworth’s hardship waiver paved the way for an daily battle at practice. Heyworth, a 6-foot-2, 185-pounder, did not play against Glendora and saw limited time in a loss to Arcadia. Then, in Week 3, Heyworth got the nod against San Dimas and passed for 202 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-14 loss.

The following week wasn’t kind either, a 34-30 loss to South Hills. Heyworth then engineered an impressive comeback against Paramount the following week by passing for 396 yards and six touchdowns in a 40-36 win.

Monrovia is 7-0 since, and Heyworth clearly has taken command of a unit that has dismantled defenses in the playoffs. Whittier Christian, for example, gave up 67 points. Heyworth has passed for 2,276 yards and 24 touchdowns against just four interceptions.

Maddox’s “just in case” approach paid off.

“Their strength coming out was their leadership ability,” he said. “Heyworth’s got it. Whatever it is. He has an amazing touch and is a great student of the game. He sees the field very well usually putting the ball in the right spot.

“You can see the improvements, and as a coach you like to see the progress. We’re gonna be very fortunate to have him back next year.”

Football: Monrovia to welcome San Gabriel fans with plenty of seating Saturday, can install more if needed.

There was a lot of fuzz last last year when Monrovia was supposed to host the Mid-Valley Division championship at its brand new home field against Whittier Christian. Those plans were scrapped because Whittier Christian was concerned the Wildcats didn’t have enough seating available on the visitin side, coupled by low-standing bleachers that provided an obstructed view. The game subsequently was moved to Arcadia where the game drew a standing-room only crowd. Monrovia again is the designated home team against San Gabriel in the Mid-Valley Division championship on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., only this time the Wildcats will actually host the title game. Monrovia officials said the stadium’s seating issue from last year is just that, so last year. Monrovia athletic director Randy Bell said seating capacity on the visiting side is 1,000 (2,500-3,000 on the home side) and that the visiting bleachers were raised over the summer, eliminating the obstructive view. Bell added that “if we need to go higher we might do that. We’ll see.” Monrovia learned its lesson from last year of not fixing its visiting bleachers. It was too bad the Wildcats couldn’t play their title game at home at their new stadium, and you can bet Monrovia will not let it happen again. So if Monrovia says it will add more seats if needed, you can bet they’ll do exactly that. I like that championship football games are played at the school’s home stadiums. The Pac-5 Division can have Angel Stadium, I’ll take the neighborhood field any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. The atmosphere at Arcadia last year for the Mid-Valley Division final was electric, but it looked a bit off with Arcadia logos all over the place as Monrovia routed Whittier Christian. I can already imagine the mile-long of cars lining up at or near Monrovia High firing up the BBQ grill (chicken for me) and fans from both sides arriving there early to start the party as the anticipation builds. I can’t wait.

Sports Illustrated: Ellis McCarthy a rushing monster.

Wish I had seen this when it ran, but here it is, nonetheless. Stephen Boyle over at Sports Illustrated wrote a very good piece on Monrovia’s Ellis McCarthy complemented by a very good video which I’ve embetted below. We’ve known for some time that McCarthy would like to stay close to home when it comes to playing college football, and he reveals as much in the piece when he’s quoted saying “I haven’t had a game that my parents haven’t seen me play since ever, really”. You have to wonder if San Gabriel can even block a player of McCarthy’s caliber even if you throw three (that’s right, THREE) guys at him. At the end of the day, San Gabriel’s offensive linemen will say they played against a future NFL defensive tackle.

Football: Muir deserved better after its remarkable run.


Above: Muir fans immediately after the game ends.

Twelve fans.

That’s how many I counted in the stands after Muir broke from its final huddle after its remarkable run ended in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs.

Muir deserved better.

By contrast, the other side was packed after La Serna’s impressive 28-3 win over the Mustangs, a game many considered an upset.

Say what you want, that the Mustangs underpeformed, but there should have been a throng of fans waiting patiently in the stands cheering Muir off the field one last time in 2011. Fans owed Muir their appreciation after reaching its first semifinals trip since 1999. The cheerleaders stuck around. Everyone else should have, too.

I guess I’ll never understand Muir’s fan base: dismal home crowds and a small traveling contingent to away games. If you’re a parent who made a conserted effort to attend home and away games this season, I applaud you for making the drive and braving the traffic and cold weather. But for those who only seem to care about the Turkey Tussle and only show up to that game to catch up with old friends I question where your loyalty truly lies. Just as much as I question to the nut fan who had the audacity to shout his displeasure of the Mustangs’ performance with 7:27 left in the fourth quarter, that the Muir coaches gave up coaching, calling it “Pee Wee football”.

Ridiculous.

I know one “fan” doesn’t speak on behalf of all true Mustang fans, but it certainly doesn’t bode well. The mood on the Muir sidelilnes was somber, to say the least. I saw frustration — even anger — from players who felt the outcome would have been the complete opposite after destroying Santa Fe in the first round and Diamond Ranch in the quarterfinals.

Say what you want, that Muir was outcoached, but you weren’t on the Muir sideline watching coaches console players, padding them on the back and on the helmet for making this a memorable season, and that’s really what it was:

Memorable.

Below: La Serna fans stick around.

Football: San Gabriel’s Jude Oliva enjoying the moment.


Above: San Gabriel well-represented at Monday’s CIF-SS football press conference. From left are head coach Jude Oliva, assistant coach Matt Lopez, Carlos Purser, Alex Villalobos, Brian Lopez and principal Jim Schofield.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

LONG BEACH – It was business as usual for Monrovia High School football coach Ryan Maddox and Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain, but there stood San Gabriel coach Jude Oliva soaking in the experience of taking part in his first CIF-Southern Section press conference and luncheon Monday at The Grand.
Maddox made his third consecutive trip to the luncheon in four seasons at the helm for the Wildcats (10-3) while Drain has become a staple at these events in just over a decade as Kares (12-1) head coach.

Meanwhile, Oliva could only go off word of mouth from what it was like when the Matadors (9-4) were here in 2003 after making a surprising – yet inspiring – run to the then-Division VII title game against South Hills. Oliva, then an offensive coordinator, now has first-hand experience.

“It was great,” Oliva said. “It was a fun atmosphere. You can see all the great teams and all the great coaches. I was kind of in awe of the whole experience because everyone was nice and had generous things to say to me. I didn’t get a chance to come in 2003. Coach (Keith Jones) told us a little bit about it.”

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Star Picks: Live from The Grand in Long Beach for the 36th annual CIF-Southern Section press conference and luncehon.

Three teams left from the West San Gabriel Valley, and you all know them by now: Monrovia and San Gabriel will battle for the Mid-Valley Division championship and, of course, Rio Hondo Prep in the Northeast Division finals for the 13th time in its storied history. I’m writing this from The Grand in Long Beach, sitting at San Gabriel’s table. The Matadors were here in 2003 when they reached the finals back in 2003. Monrovia is making its third straight appearance. Rio Hondo Prep was here two years ago. I will go wait until our Tuesday show to make my predictions. Some might think they will be easy to make, but believe me, this won’t be. The Mid-Valley final will be Saturday at Monrovia High at 7 p.m. Rio Hondo Prep will host the final at 7 p.m. as well. The plan is to give both games extensie coverage. I will write features on all three teams that will appear in the paper this week. We will have a game preview in the paper on Saturday. I will be at the Mid-Valley final where Mike “The Cousin” will join the Star-News contingent for Coveritlive. Our Keith Lair will be at Rio Hondo Prep. My question to you right now is, who do you want to see featured in the paper this week from each team? Let me know and stick around.

Saturday Night Aftermath: San Gabriel shocks San Dimas with last-minute drive to punch ticket to the finals with 29-28 win, will meet Monrovia next Saturday!!!!!

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer

SAN GABRIEL — There was no time for San Gabriel High Schlool defensive lineman Hunter Garcia to think.

Twenty-five seconds after San Dimas’ Devante Brown scored on a 4-yard sweep, the Saints were lined up and going for the two-point conversion and the go-ahead score.

But Garcia stepped into the hole that the Saints offensive line had created on the touchdown run and Garcia stopped the exact same running play to lead the Matadors to a 29-28 victory in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley semifinals on a very cold, but not windy, Saturday night.

“I read the block and I knew it was going to be a game changer,” Garcia said. “On the play before I got my bell rung and I knew I had to do something. I did and I knew we had the gamer locked after that,.”

Brown fell about 9 inches short of giving the Saints the lead.

San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow said the Saints had decided to go for two points nine minutes before Brown scored, with 2:23 to play.

“We weren’t stopping them and we’re on their home field,” he said. “There was no question we hade to go for two to win the game.

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