Duarte/Monrovia football fan fixture known as “Big Bob” passes away at age 52 …

Duarte/Monrovia area fixture “Big Bob” died in his sleep at home early Wednesday evening at age 52.

Big Bob, whose real name was Henry Clark, was best known in recent years for becoming one of Monrovia’s biggest football fans. He made appearances this past season on this website’s PrepXtra Live show as an outspoken Wildcats fan.

Here is Big Bob talking with us on PrepXtra Live in November. He joins us just after the 30-minute mark…

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Softball: San Marino stuns La Canada, 3-2.

By Nathan Cambridge, Correspondent

LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE – San Marino’s Michelle Floyd hit a two-run homer in the top of the seventh inning and then set down La Canada in order in the bottom of the inning to seize a 3-2 victory in a battle of Rio Hondo League softball rivals Friday night.

The result snapped a 29-game La Ca ada winning streak. The Spartans had also won 17 straight in league.

“Tonight was our night and tonight the girls played a great game,” San Marino coach Nick Schepperie said. “You can’t say enough about Michelle Floyd. She was fabulous. She commanded the strike zone. She dominated the strike zone.”

Going into the game, the host Spartans (6-1, 1-1), the reigning CIF-SS Division 5 champions, had not lost a Rio Hondo League game since the 2010 season. But that unbeaten streak was ended by San Marino on Friday night and the winning pitcher was once again Floyd, who had also defeated La Ca nada, 2-0, back on April 30, 2010 during her freshman year.

“We wanted this game so bad,” Floyd said, “Our whole week we have been preparing and pumping up for this game. I’m so proud of my team right now … This is really one of the best feelings ever.”

On Friday night, Floyd struck out 11 and earned her eighth win of the season.

“She is who she is. She is 6-foot-4. She is dominant,” said Schepperie, whose team is now the only squad without a loss in Rio Hondo League play.
San Marino (8-4, 3-0) trailed 2-1 after six innings, with the Spartans needing just three outs to seal the victory and continue their winning streak.

Taryn Converse drew the only walk of the game issued by Spartans pitcher Lauren Cox to lead off the seventh. Floyd followed and smashed the first pitch high into the air, but foul down the left-field side, with the ball landing far beyond the fence and bouncing away through the walkways of the campus buildings. On the next pitch the junior straightened it out and lined the ball over the temporary fence in center field for a home run, giving the Titans their first lead since the first inning.

“Honestly, all I could think of was I wanted to hit that ball so bad,” Floyd said of the Cox offering she hit out. “I just wanted that hit. I just wanted that run. Taryn was set up on first base. I saw it and all I could think of was I’ve got to hit this now.”

Floyd then returned to the circle and struck out the first Spartans batter of the seventh inning. She handled a comebacker off the bat of Brenna Gay for the second out and Jessica Ogden ended the game with a groundout.

“What a fabulous job and then to come out with the jitters of it all in the seventh inning knowing you are up one run and to shut down a great (team),” Schepperie said. “They are the defending champions. They are still the team to beat and we played a great game and we deserved to win today.”

Cox gave up a home run to Titans leadoff batter Alexis Watanabe, who hit the second pitch of the game over the center-field fence. After that the senior did not allow the next 17 Titan batters to reach base until Watanabe legged out an infield single with two out in the sixth inning. In that span between hits Cox struck out 13, including the side in the second inning.

She finished with 15 strikeouts, including two straight to end the seventh after she had yielded the Floyd home run.

“We knew we had two great pitchers going tonight and I thought both showed very well,” La Canada coach KC Mathews said.

Both teams wore special uniforms for the contest to honor the spirit of the American Cancer Society, for which the game also served as a fundraiser. The Titans were clad in white with pink stirrups and the Spartans donned pink with black numbers.

La Canada junior Jessica Ogden had the original idea to expand the evening beyond the sport on the field.

“The girls battled really hard. I know about the Burbank-Burroughs rivalry, the UCLA-USC games, but this was huge,” Schepperie said, “It’s all they talk about all week. I’m so proud of them.”

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Baseball: La Salle’s first win ever at Bishop Amat proves elusive in 6-2 loss; Bishop Amat’s Rio Ruiz not present after undergoing neck surgery to remove blood clot.

By Miguel A. Melendez, Staff Writer

LA PUENTE — There’s a sign in the Bishop Amat High School baseball team’s dugout that reads “Two-out rallies win championships.”

La Salle fell victim to Bishop Amat’s battle cry as Adam Alcantara drove in the first run on an RBI single andEvan Claproth connected for a three-run home run to give Bishop Amat all the runs it would need in a 6-2 Del Rey League victory Friday afternoon.

The victory was bittersweet for Bishop Amat (4-5, 3-0) which again played without standout pitcher/third baseman Rio Ruiz, who that morning underwent surgery on his neck to remove a blood clot on a nerve that stopped blood flow to his right bicep. He is in stable condition and will seek a specialist for further evaluation.

Ruiz, who is commited to USC, had complained of a bicep strain earlier in the week. The blood clot was discovered during a doctor’s exam Wednesday. Ruiz is considered a potential first-round draft pick, according to ESPN baseball analyst Keith Law.

“We just heard that he’s resting and recovering fine and in stable condition,” said Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto after the game. “I know talking to the La Salle family they all have their thoughts and prayer on Rio.”

Ruiz will remain in the hospital for at least two more days.

“He needs to get his health in order,” Nieto said. “It wasn’t an emergency surgery. It was more of a, ‘Hey, we found it, let’s fix it.’”

When asked if Ruiz is out for the season, Nieto was noncommital.

“That’s still hard to say,” he said. “You know what he means to us, but the priority is to get his health in order.”

La Salle coach Harry Agajanian wanted to see a Ruiz-Bowdien Derby battle on the mound, but was more concerned about his health when he found out about Ruiz’s surgery.

“Our prayers are with Rio Ruiz,” La Salle coach Harry Agajanian said. “We miss him out there. I miss talking to him over at third base.”

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Football: NFF to honor Scholar-Athletes on Tuesday.

Each year, the National Football Foundation Chapters throughout theUnited States, present Scholar-Athletes to high school seniors intheir respective areas who have exhibited outstanding footballperformance, outstanding academic achievement (min 3.0 GPA),citizenship and community service. I’m pleased to tell that each ofthese fine young men exemplify these qualities and are positive rolemodels for the school and community.

The Scholar-Athlete banquet will take place on March 27, 2012 at Brookside Golf Course.

The following is a list of the 25 Scholar- Athletes to be honored on Tuesday, March 27th:

Scholar-Athlete School Coach
Luke Anderson St. Francis Jim Bonds
Michael Bassette Temple City Mike McFarland
Saul Bustos South El Monte Ibis Aguilar
Chris Caballero West Covina Mike Maggiore
Lucas Darling San Dimas Bill Zernickow
Robert Flewelling Maranatha Pete Karavedas
Terry L. Ford II Rowland Craig Snyder
Davis Harrison Claremont Mike Collins
Jammel Hart South Hills Steve Bogan
Tony Huynh West Covina Mike Maggiore
Daniel Johnson Charter Oak Louis Farrar
George Katrib Diamond Bar Ryan Maine
Billy Livingston IV Covina Darryl Thomas
Justin Luu Alhambra Lou Torres
Luis Olvia Charter Oak Louis Farrar
Alejandro Orozco Bell Gardens David Ramos
Will Reeves Claremont Mike Collins
Steven Rivera Arroyo Jim Singiser
Kevin Romo St.Paul Marijon Ancich
Keishawn Rowe Salesian Roddy Hiatt
Kevon Seymour Muir John Hardy
Justin Sloan Gladstone Albert Sanchez
Nephi Tofiga Nogales Sebastian Hernandez
Joseph Villalobos SanGabriel Jude Oliva
Shane Virnala LosAltos Dale Ziola

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Pasadena’s Tim Tucker named Southern Section Coach of the Year by the California Coaches Association, finalist for State Coach of the Year.

It wasn’t on top of his to-do list, but with a little insistence Pasadena High School boys basketball coach Tim Tucker filled out the nomination form for an award.

It was Pasadena High principal Gilbert Barraza who handed Tucker the form, but it wasn’t until the final day it was due when Tucker finally sat down to fill it out.

Much to his surprise, Tucker was named boys basketball Southern Section Coach of the Year by the California Coaches Association.

Tucker, along with winners from soccer, water polo and wrestling, will be submitted as finalists for State Coach of the Year. The winner will be honored on June 9 at an awards ceremony at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego.

This award is separate from the All-CIF team selected by the Southern California Interscholastic Basketball Coaches Association, which named Tucker and Arroyo Grande’s Ryan Glanville co-coach of the year in Division 3AAA.

This season, Tucker led Pasadena to its 10th consecutive Pacific League and fifth CIF-SS title in school history, finishing with a 28-7 overall record and a No. 25 state-ranking.The Bulldogs also made an appearance in the regional semifinals of the CIF State Division III playoffs. He’s earned two CIF titles as a coach and two as a player, leading Pasadena to its first title in school history in 1977. That year, the Bulldogs also were named mythical national champions.

Tucker has been at the helm for 18 seasons and has compiled 363 career wins with a career-best 32-3 record in 2007.Orange Lutheran’s Chris Nordstrom, Calabasas’ Jonathan Palaraz and Mission Viejo’s Troy Roelen were the other finalists.

“Just to be mentioned is a shock to me,” said Tucker, whose received four Star-News Coach of the Year honors. “I’ve been CIF coach of the year in my division, but never the Southern Section coach of the year.”

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Who wants to be a Wendy’s High School Heisman?

For the 19th year, Wendy’s will select a High School Heisman, an award in conjunction with Heisman Memorial Trust. The award is for eligible seniors slated to graduate in 2013, and can apply at www.wendysheisman.com between now thorugh Oct. 2.

The program honors outstanding high school student-athletes for their commitment to academic achievement, community service involvement and athletic prowess.

The six female and six male national finalists will receive an all-expense paid trip to New York to attend the ceremony with their families in December and be highlighted during ESPN’s live national broadcast of the college Heisman Trophy ceremony. In addition, the one male and female national winner will earn $10,000 for their school and a $500 gift card.

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Baseball: St. Francis interim coach Aaron Milam in charge of moving the program forward, would like to remain as head coach for the Golden Knights.

After nine years as an assistant on the St. Francis High School baseball team, Aaron Milam finds himself in charge of steering the Golden Knights program back on track after Brian Esquival’s abrupt and mysterious resignation last week.

St. Francis school officials have been quiet about what led to Esquival’s resignation, and Esquival, who had been at the helm for four seasons, has not return phone calls seeking comment.

Milam’s job right now is to help the program move forward.

“There’s been some turmoil,” he said. “It hasn’t been easy, but the school has given us a lot of support and we have a good group of parents who are behind us the whole way.”

It’s been a roller coaster ride for St. Francis (4-6, 1-2) since reaching the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 finals where they lost in extra innings to Foothill at Anaheim Stadium.

The Mission League in particular hasn’t been kind to St. Francis, but a 6-2 win over Notre Dame earlier this week was an encouraging sign that the Golden Knights can still compete in one of the toughest leagues in Southern California. St. Francis will have its chance to go against local competition in the upcoming Apache Invitational at Arcadia High.

Milam’s appointment to interim head coach of the Golden Knights has provided a sense of continuity, and it’s apparent that his loyalty is to St. Francis. Milam started as an assistant under Mike Solar in 2003 and chose to stay at St. Francis despite Solar’s attempt to bring him on staff upon taking the same position at Alemany in 2008.

So it’s no secret that when the dust settles, Milam would like nothing more than see the interim tag removed.

“I am very proud and pleased to be part of their community,” said Milam, who works as an engineer by day. “I wen to La Salle in 1999 and I’m still attached to that place, but I’ve been a member of the St. Francis family for nine years. There’s a reason why I didn’t leave when (Solar) left for Alemany.

“I would like to continue as the full time head coach. I don’t expect the school to make a hire right now because there’s a lot of issues that need to be worked out. But I’ll stay at any capacity that they have me.”

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