Photog Keith Birmingham’s AWESOME PHOTO GALLERY from HOF game.
Photog Keith Birmingham’s AWESOME PHOTO GALLERY from HOF game.
What: San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame Game
Who: East vs. West
Where: West Covina, High School
When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m.
There’s absolutely no secret what the West team is going to try to do in Friday’s Hall of Fame All-Star Game in order to get some respect back for its side of the Valley. And, of course, it’s also no secret what the East will try to do to keep its recent string of series dominance in tact.
The top recently graduated high school football seniors will renew the East vs. West rivalry tonight at West Covina High. Introductions are 7 p.m. and kickoff is 7:30 p.m.
When rosters for the game were announced earlier this month, the huge advantage the West had at quarterback was glaring. Tribune Player of the Year Steven Rivera of Arroyo and Star-News Player of the Year Andy Guerrero of San Gabriel combined to throw for 6,669 yards and 67 touchdowns last season.
Now teammates, both quarterback have been very vocal about getting the West back some respect after the East increased its series lead to 20-10-2 with a 7-6 win last season. It’s a sentiment that has obviously trickled down to the rest of the roster.
“I definitely think we have the right approach and attitude about the game,” said West coach Jude Oliva, who led San Gabriel to a 9-5 record last season. “A lot of the kids have a great understanding of the history of this game and know the West hasn’t been successful the last couple years. They’ve come in here and have been talking about trying to end the streak.”
Wisely, Oliva is making no bones about his team’s desire to air it out tonight and ride the arms of Guerrero and Rivera as far as they can. That means a host of West weapons should see plenty of chances to make big plays.
Muir running back Tairen Owens and Monrovia’s Marquise Bias headline the backfield. Monrovia all-purpose threat De’Shawn Ramirez and San Gabriel speedster Alex Villalobos could have huge nights if Guerrero and Rivera have their way.
Trouble is, East coach Dale Ziola said his team is well aware of the firepower the West has stockpiled and will look to counteract it with a talented secondary and fierce pass rush. Ziola led Los Altos to a remarkable turnaround in his first season, taking the program from 0-10 in 2010 to 8-4 last season.
“One of the parents had mentioned that they’re (the West) going to be going no huddle and how we better get in shape,” Ziola said. “The way you stop the no huddle is to force incomplete passes. I think we have the defensive backs to stop routes, get in people’s faces and disrupt timing so much that we can afford to put our linebackers on their quarterbacks.
“Our plan is to keep their receivers where they’re supposed to be.”
It’s easy to see why Ziola is confident in his secondary. Charter Oak’s Herman Akins is a hybrid who can run with receivers or play near the line. Bonita’s Garrett Horine has East coaches thinking he might be the best player on the field. Rowland’s Terry Ford and West Covina’s Lonzel Barnett are so fast and quick that it’s hard to imagine anyone finding room on them.
And when the East has the ball, it will be using its run game to also play defense by eating the clock and keeping Guerrero and Rivera off the field.
“We expect to play very physical,” Ziola said. “They’re talking about speed on the West side, but I’ve seen the size of their defense on their roster and I’ve seen the size of the guys we have and the running backs we have, so we’re going to be a ground and pound football team. The boys we have on this side give us a big advantage to go out and do that.”
The East’s backfield is downright frightening. There’s speed and quickness in West Covina’s Jimmy Frazier and Azusa’s Desmond Reed. There’s a bruiser in Los Altos’ Justin Fa’aola. There’s a combo of speed and physicality in Glendora’s Corey Victoria and Bonita’s Cameron Griffin.
“All the running backs expect to have a good night,” Ziola said of his running backs. “There’s nobody out there expecting to relinquish what the East has done in the past. They’re all expecting to get their fair share of carries and do great things with it.”
If the West is to win, it may have to force a faster tempo than the East wants to play. And there’s no better way of doing just that than by getting Guerrero and Rivera off early and possibly a lead a on the scoreboard.
“They’re both great at passing the ball and using their feet,” Oliva said of his QB tandem “We kind of have a little mixture of run and pass stuff for them depending on what the East is doing defensively. It’s not a surprise, we’ll throw the ball. We definitely have got some guys who can play.”
Star-News All-Area Boys Tennis
Player of the year: James Wade, San Marino, Junior
Coach of the year: Melwin Pereira, San Marino
Robert Carter, San Marino, Sophomore
Danny Gealer, San Marino, Freshman
Travis Tu, Arcadia, Senior
Lester Yeh, Temple City, Senior
Andy You, Arcadia, Senior
Garrett Mak La Salle
Henry LaSoya, Pasadena Poly
Sachin Puri, Pasadena Poly
Matt Johnson, Pasadena Poly
Brendan Ma, Alhambra
2012 STAR-NEWS ALL-AREA SOFTBALL TEAM
Player of the Year: Lauren Cox, La Canada, Senior
Coach of the Year: Dave Guzman, Monrovia
Pitcher: Michelle Floyd, San Marino, Junior
Pitcher: Adrienne Guerra, Monrovia, Sophomore
Catcher: Catherine Horner, La Canada, Senior
Infielder: Kelsey Drange, La Canada, Junior
Infielder: Annie Monroe, La Canada, Junior
Infielder: Alexis Watanabe, San Marino, Senior
Infielder: Vanessa Mendez, Keppel, Senior
Outfielder: Selina Mohr, La Canada, Junior
Outfielder: Elise McCarthy, Monrovia, Sophomore
Outfielder: Colleen McWilliams, La Salle, Senior
Utility: Alashanee Medina, Keppel, Senior
Pitcher: Kaysie Gatlin, Duarte, Senior
Pitcher: Denise Gonzales, Alhambra, Senior
Catcher: Karah Kirby, Rio Hondo Prep, Senior
Infielder: Amy Zeronian, Marshall, Junior
Infielder: Anjelica Amezquita, Maranatha, Sophomore
Infielder: Mary Rose Magnolia, Duarte, Junior
Infielder: Nikki Guzman, Monrovia, Senior
Infielder: Jessica Parada, Mayfield, Junior
Outfielder: Sami Jakeway, Temple City, Senior
Outfielder: Kelly Jacobs, Flintridge Sacred Heart, Junior
Outfielder: Jessica Ogden, La Canada, Junior
Utility: Julia Tsai, Pasadena Poly, Senior
Lavelle Peterson is still the best high school running back from my days in Pasadena. He graduated in 2006 at La Canada and was our player of the year. But I lost track of him after he walked onto to Utah where it apparently didn’t work out. But he has surfaced in Las Vegas and is playing college football for the University of New Mexico Highlands in Division II.
This is an unbelievable feel-good story. I remember covering Dominic Breazeale at Alhambra, a big 6-foot-6 QB with a lot of potential who went to Mt. SAC then earned a scholarship to Northern Colorado. He graduated from Alhambra in 2002. We’re working on a story that we’ll post in the coming days, but he qualified in the Super Heavyweight Division after only taking up boxing a little more than three years ago.
STAR-NEWS ALL-AREA BASEBALL
Player of the Year: Corey Copping, Temple City, Senior
Coach of the Year: Steve Gewecke, Alhambra, 16th year
Pitcher: Joseph Mata, Monrovia, Junior
Pitcher: Marco Briones, Alhambra, Sophomore
Catcher: Jonah Jarrard, Temple City, Senior
Infielder: Bowdien Derby, La Salle, Senior
Infielder: Chris Ward, Pasadena Poly, Senior
Infielder: Chris Williams, La Salle, Senior
Infielder: Garret Glazier, San Marino, Senior
Outfielder: Juan Crespo, Alhambra, Senior
Outfielder: Calvin Copping, Temple City, Senior
Outfielder: Justin Jones, Monrovia, Junior
Utility: Angel Acosta, Gabrielino, Senior
Pitcher: Chris Burkholder, Monrovia, Junior
Pitcher: Erik Trask, Arcadia, Senior
Catcher: Francisco Gonzalez, Gabrielino, Junior
Infielder: Kyle Starling, Temple City, Senior
Infielder: David Olmedo-Barrera, St. Francis, Senior
Infielder: Jeremy Duran, Alhambra, Junior
Infielder: Anthony Mizrahi, La Canada, Junior
Outfielder: Josh Marrs, Maranatha, Senior
Outfielder: Jeffrey Bain, San Marino, So., Sophomore
Outfielder: Ayman Nureldeen, Duarte, Senior
Utility: Gary Huang, Arcadia, Senior
Initially it was reported on Monrovia Patch that the Family of Ellis McCarthy would like to give him a world class send off this coming Saturday June 23rd at Eisenhower Park from 11am to 4pm. There will be a dinner/desert plate fundraiser in which proceeds will go to Ellis to ensure his great beginning at UCLA. Please come by and give Ellis your well wishes.
Since then, the patch story has been removed and there is a new one that reads .. On June 23,2012 please come and join us as we celebrate Ellis McCarthy’s 18th Birthday/Going away to College bash. Held @ Eisenhower Park in Arcadia @ 11:00 – till 5:00 pm, Please come and help us celebrate our young man.
SINCE THEN, the evolving story on the going-away bash was removed on Patch again, so there appears to be no party for McCarthy. My hunch is that since the initial story claimed to be a fundraising event, something that would probably be an NCAA violation, the party was cancelled entirely. Smart move, no way you want anything stopping Ellis from wearing his Blue and Gold.
For De’Shawn Ramirez, playing in the Hall of Fame All-Star Game for the West team on Friday has more meaning than it would to most.
You see, the Monrovia High School all-purpose standout’s prep career is light by 14 games. The reason for that is simple. Like many teenagers before him and many to come, Ramirez made a mistake. A bad mistake.
The exact infraction, which occurred toward the end of Ramirez’s sophomore year, was not made public by the school because he was a minor at the time. But it was bad enough to cost the then-rising football star his entire junior season after he was expelled from school.
It would be the first time since age 4 that Ramirez didn’t have some form of football in his life. As Ramirez sat out and wondered if he’d ever play at Monrovia again, the Wildcats won the first of back-to-back CIF Mid-Valley Division championships.
“Football, to me, is a really big part of life,” Ramirez said. “I always looked at football as the thing that could keep me out of everything. I was getting ready for my junior season at Monrovia and I got kicked out. That fast.”
Ramirez had tipped his hand as a sophomore as to what type of talent he possessed by rushing for 851 yards and 10 touchdowns. But as the close of that school year approached and offseason preparations for what promised to be a banner junior season beckoned, it all came crashing down.
What exactly Ramirez did isn’t as important anymore as how he dealt with it and took the steps needed to return just in time to salvage his athletic career both at Monrovia and in the future.
“You can let your mind slip up for a split second and anything can get taken away,” Ramirez said. “The biggest thing this all taught me is how fast you can get something you love taken away from you.”
But unlike so many others who screw up at Ramirez’s age, he wasn’t about to let a big mistake derail his football dreams. He was determined to do what it took to be back in uniform for his senior season, whether it was at Monrovia or somewhere else.
As preparations began for a new season last spring/summer, Ramirez often watched his former teammates get ready to defend the CIF title he never got a chance to help them win. Almost a senior, Ramirez did everything asked of him as a student at Canyon Oaks, an alternative high school in the Monrovia district, to earn a chance to return to the team.
And as the summer passing circuit approached, he needed to get clearance from Monrovia principal Darvin Jackson and coach Ryan Maddox. With time running out, Ramirez began practicing at neighboring Arcadia as part of a back-up plan nobody could blame him for seeking out.
“He had to get himself back on track,” Maddox said. “He would have had a senior year, we just didn’t know if that senior year was going to be at Monrovia. He had gotten himself eligible. He could have gone somewhere else to play. He started the summer at Arcadia because things were unsure over at Monrovia.
“We knew De’Shawn, we liked De’Shawn and we wanted to see him succeed. We felt the best thing for De’Shawn was staying at our place. I’m not speaking from a football aspect, but as a young man. I have always believed that when kids screw up, they deserve that second chance.”
Ramirez was given that second chance by Jackson and he didn’t disappoint. Used sometimes as a receiver and other times as a running back, Ramirez rushed for 491 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 32 balls for 562 yards and nine scores. He even threw two touchdown passes.
On defense, Ramirez shined some more. He recorded 33 tackles, had three interceptions and recovered two fumbles. But most importantly, Ramirez got the CIF championship ring that he didn’t get a chance to win as a junior when Monrovia beat San Gabriel in the Mid-Valley championship last December.
“It was really an exciting year all around,” Ramirez said. “There was a good chance I wasn’t going to be able to play this year. For me to play, win a CIF ring and now make it to the all-star game is really an achievement.”
Ramirez isn’t the first teenager to make a mistake and put his athletic career in peril, and he surely won’t be the last. His hope now is that future generations learn from his example and don’t repeat the same mistakes. And to them, he offers this warning.
“Any kids who break the law or are knuckleheads, I would just let them know to take nothing for granted,” Ramirez said. “If you’re a good player and you think you are going to do this or that and get away with it just because everybody knows you and you’re the star football player or basketball player, it doesn’t work like that. You can only do so much with your talents. Don’t take anything for granted.”
Ramirez won’t be taking anything for granted on Friday night. The game is just another chance for him to showcase his talents and make up for lost time. If a college coach or scout sees him and wants to talk, he’s open to it. In the meantime, he’s planning on continuing his football career at College of the Canyons this fall.
But before that he hopes to put on one last show for the local fans and get the West back some respect against the East. And don’t put it past him as Ramirez has already shown he’s very resilient when the chips are down.
“I’ve got a good feeling about this game,” Ramirez said. “I’ve watched this game for a long time growing up, so it’s really cool finally to play in it. Last year was a really close game, but the West slipped up a little bit. I think we’re going to come home with it this year.”
Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT