Above: Rio Hondo Prep celebrates a 12th CIF championship back in 2008. Photo courtesy of Rio Hondo Prep
To my knowledge, the City of Arcadia has not officially congratulated Rio Hondo Prep for winning its 13th CIF football championship in December, and maybe not in 12 previous times. For all we know not in 2008, 2005, 2001, 1998, 1997, 1996, 1990, 1982, 1979, 1977 or 1973. In case anyone at the City of Arcadia isn’t aware, Rio Hondo Prep, in 44 years of playing high school football as a member of the CIF-Southern Section, has made 34 playoff appearances, won 23 league championships, made 20 CIF championship game appearances, been named California small school team of the year six times, is the second-winningest program behind Long Beach Poly, and is the smallest school in California that plays 11-man football with a high school enrollment of 99 students.
And yet, no word of congratulations to one of two high schools in the City of Arcadia.
I bring this up because on Thursday the City of Monrovia, for the second straight year, hosted a championship parade for Monrovia High. It was a nice celebration for the Wildcats, a celebration that was spearheaded by the City. The team and cheerleaders rode a bus and fire truck from Monrovia High and made a procession down Myrtle Avenue with police escort before arriving at Library Park where they were greeted by hundreds of fans. It was evident that the city truly cares and is honored to have a CIF football champion in its city. Monrovia Mayor Mary Ann Lutz was just as gitty as she was last year when Monrovia won its first-ever football title last year. The entire Monrovia school board was on hand, save for one member who currently serving overseas in the Armed Forces.
As I prepared for what the Star-News would cover on Thursday I began to wonder if maybe Rio Hondo Prep, too, would get some kind of recognition from the city, maybe it already had done so or was preparing for something down the road.
When I asked that question to Rio Hondo Prep coach Ken Drain he was not malcontent, much less disappointed. If you know Drain, also the school’s athletic director, basketball and baseball coach, he’s not one to make a big fuss, merely honored and proud that Rio Hondo Prep made another deep playoff run to bring home the school’s 13th CIF plaque. But I wondered why the City of Arcadia didn’t make some kind of effort. I put in a call Wednesday afternoon to the city and an operator suggested I call the city manager’s office. I was warned the office currently was in a meeting but that I could leave a message with the city manager’s assistant, Connie. She, as it turned out, was out on break so I left a message with a man who was filling in for her. My message was: Is there any kind of plan from the City of Arcadia to honor Rio Hondo Prep’s football team after winning its 13th CIF championship? I left my name, media affiliation and contact number, and I was told they’d get back to me.
They never did.
Look, if you know anybody from Rio Hondo Prep you’ll know that this isn’t something they’ve even thought about, much less get sour and call asking why they’ve yet to be honored over the years. But if you look at what Rio Hondo Prep has accomplished — mind you, with limited sources — you have to be taken back by the fashion in which they’ve accomplished such amazing feats. For Rio Hondo Prep to not, at the very least, receive a phone call from the mayor or a city councilman is beyond belief.
You almost have to wonder if it’s because Rio Hondo Prep is a private school, where as Arcadia High is a public school. Surely if the Apaches won a CIF football title someone from the city would have the decensy to congratulate Arcadia for its accomplishment.
Or maybe it’s because Rio Hondo Prep is tucked in a cuul-de-sac on the border of Arcadia and Temple City, going about its business under the radar, making it easy to ignore them. Heck, we here at the Star-News can share the blame on that, too.
I’m not saying throw a huge parade with police escort and sirens blaring down Restaurant Row. I’m not even saying give Rio Hondo Prep’s football team a proclomation, although how hard can that really be, because that could go a long way.
A phone call?
An in-person appearance to say congrats?
Anything, really, would have sufficed.