MONROVIA – With police sirens blaring while riding a fire truck and school bus, the Monrovia High School football team was greeted with a boisterous reception at its championship rally Thursday night at Library Park.
It’s the second consecutive year the city of Monrovia honored the Wildcats football team for winning the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship for a second consecutive season.
Monrovia’s team and cheerleaders had a police escort driving down Myrtle Avenue as they waved to local merchants who greeted them with cheers, signs and camera flashes. When the procession arrived at Library Park, it was greeted by hundreds of fans and community members as the Monrovia band serenaded the players who strolled out of the truck and bus one by one wearing their home jerseys.
Monrovia beat San Gabriel, 53-14, in December’s divisional title game.
Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said this kind of celebration never gets old.
“Not at all,” he said. “This is the fun stuff. All the blood, sweat and tears that go into the season, this is the fun stuff you get to celebrate.”
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The championship rally had even more meaning to Monrovia standout De’Shawn Ramirez, who two years ago as a sophomore lost in the division final to San Dimas. He was not on the team his junior year when Monrovia beat Whittier Christian for the school’s first CIF football title in school history.
“I’m really excited, I’m not gonna lie,” Ramirez said. “I still have jitters and all right now.”
The best was yet to come. Moments after the parade ended the team walked across the street for the team’s annual banquet, where they also were measured for championship rings.
“That’s the best part,” Ramirez said. “It’s like if you’re getting married.”
Also absent from last year’s rally was Star-News Defensive Player of the Year Ellis McCarthy, who this time last year was taking part in the U.S. Army Combine in San Antonio, Texas. The five-star recruit took part in the U.S. All-American Bowl Game last week where he announced he would play at California next season.
“It was pretty fun,” he said. “We got to ride in the fire trucks. Me, (George Frazier V), Luke (Williams) and Lorenzo (Casas). I’m actually going to miss this whole experience a lot, but let’s see what college brings.”
The city of Monrovia was active in organizing the Wildcats’ rally last year when Monrovia won its first title on its 10th trip to the finals. The city was just as involved this time around as Monrovia Mayor Mary Ann Lutz proclaimed Thursday as “Wildcat Day.”
“You have back-to-back titles,” Monrovia principal Darvin Jackson said to the eager crowd that gathered before sundown, “which has all the makings of a dynasty for years to come.”
In just four years at the helm, Maddox has helped land the Wildcats back on the football map. He led Monrovia to the semifinals his first season and reached the finals his second season before winning two consecutive titles.
More than several dozen applied for the coaching position four years ago, and Maddox was one of eight candidates who earned interviews and one of three finalists. Of the three finalists, only one had head coaching experience, and that did not include Maddox ,who was a longtime assistant at West Covina.
Maddox however impressed the hiring committee at his interview with a power point presentation that included his academic philosophy and role as a coach and world history teacher.
Jackson, largely credited for picking Maddox, likened Maddox’s success to Alabama coach Nick Saban, who recently won his second BCS national championship in three years.
“Ryan Maddox is the high school version of Nick Saban,” Jackson said.
As an assistant at West Covina, even then Maddox knew how special it would be to coach at a place like Monrovia, which shows overwhelming support.
“Coaching against Monrovia at West Covina, one of the things I said is I was always amazed how packed the stadium was,” Maddox said. “It was always electric. It’s great to see the support here. I’ve been told about the small-town feel at Monrovia.
“You don’t understand how that works until you’re actually here, and then you know it’s a special place.”