All systems appear to be a go for the Blair High School football team.
First-year coach Johnny Lopez, who was hired in July, said Monday the Vikings’ season opener against Hoover, slated for Muir at 7 p.m. on Friday, will go on as scheduled.
There had been recent reports that Blair didn’t have enough players or sufficient practice days to field a team by Friday’s first game. But Lopez disputed those reports.
“We’re ready to go,” said Lopez, who was hired in July. “We’re getting ready for Hoover and looking forward to it.”
Friday is the opening of the 2012 high school football season. As an added attraction, staff writer Keith Lair and myself will offer up our picks for each game. This week we have 10 games, led by the battle for Arcadia between Arcadia and Rio Hondo Prep. I like the Apaches, but the Kares will give them a battle.
Here’s this week’s picks:
Friday, Aug. 24
Rio Hondo Prep at Arcadia, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Arcadia); Lair (Arcadia)
Alemany at Pasadena, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Alemany); Lair (Alemany)
Alhambra at Mountain View, 7 p.m.- Ramirez (Alhambra); Lair (Alhambra)
Antelope Valley at Maranatha, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Maranatha); Lair (Maranatha)
Bassett at Keppel, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Bassett); Lair (Bassett)
Duarte (CA) at Marshall, 4 p.m. – Ramirez (Duarte); Lair (Duarte)
Hoover vs. Blair at Muir, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Hoover); Lair (Hoover)
Muir at Upland, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Upland); Lair (Upland)
Bosco Tech at Wilson, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Bosco Tech); Lair (Wilson)
Temple City at La Salle, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (La Salle); Lair (La Salle)
Sherman Oaks CES at Gabrielino, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Gabrielino); Lair (Gabrielino)
It’s game week for the 2012 season and there’s some notable matchups in week one. The most intriguing is Rio Hondo Prep at nearby Arcadia. Prep is arguably the area’s most-successful program, with near-annual runs to CIF-SS title games. The Kares, are an area Boise State or TCU, with Arcadia one of the big boys. But there is also intrigue with Pasadena hosting Alemany and Muir calling on Upland.
Here’s this week’s schedule:
Friday, Aug. 24
Rio Hondo Prep at Arcadia, 7 p.m.
Alemany at Pasadena, 7 p.m.
Alhambra at Mountain View, 7 p.m.
Antelope Valley at Maranatha, 7 p.m.
Bassett at Keppel, 7 p.m.
Duarte (CA) at Marshall, 4 p.m.
Hoover vs. Blair at Muir, 7 p.m.
Muir at Upland, 7 p.m.
Bosco Tech at Wilson, 7 p.m.
Temple City at La Salle, 7 p.m.
By Aram Tolegian, SGVN twitter.com/ChemicalAT
By now, most high school football teams have their key position battle figured out. Not San Gabriel.
The Matadors will be using tonight’s three-way scrimmage against Mountain View and Los Altos to decide who will be the starting quarterback and running back next week when the season begins with a home game against Animo South Los Angeles.
Tonight’s scrimmage will be a scripted contest and is at Los Altos High in Hacienda Heights, with kickoff at 5 p.m.
Battling it out for the quarterback job is Temple City transfer Mikal Quintanilla and Marqus Valenzuela. The Matadors also have last year’s original starter Eric Alvarez, but he has switched positions and is third string in case of injury.
“We’ve got a pretty interesting competition that’s been going on since spring,” San Gabriel coach Jude Oliva said. “Both those kids are looking real good right now. I feel pretty blessed with having both these kids back there. And then having a No. 3 like Eric always helps.”
Whoever wins the job will have some big shoes to fill. Last year’s starter, Andy Guerrero, was one of the best in school history and was the Star-News Player of the Year after throwing for more than 3,000 yards and rushing for more than 1,000.
Typically when teams are still undecided between two players at quarterback this late in camp, it means that both aren’t very good. Oliva said the opposite is actually true at San Gabriel and that’s why naming a starter is taking so long.
And the same goes for running back, where Joseph Mayorga and Steven Garcia are still vying for the starting job.
“I think it’s definitely a plus for us because at both those positions those guys are that good and they’re pushing each other every day and they’re competing,” Oliva said. “It’s great to see. It makes our team better and makes them better. It just makes us strong at both positions.
“We’re looking to see where those guys are going to be at, especially going against someone else. Seeing that different opponent and competing against somebody else, we’re going to get into some adverse situations there.”
Having such an obscure opponent in Week 0 won’t be easy on the Matadors.
Not much is known about Animo South Los Angeles other than that they’re from South Los Angeles and have speed.
“They have quite a few athletes and they were real young last year,” Oliva said. “I know they were a game above .500 and went to the semis in the small division that they were in. It should be fun to see some speed.”
San Gabriel opened last season against Muir and wanted to do so again this season, but the Mustangs opted to take on Inland Division power Upland instead.
The Monrovia High School football team’s embarrassment of riches continues.
Running back was supposed to be an area of concern for the Wildcats this season after graduating leading rusher Marquise Bias in June. That worry didn’t even last until spring ball thanks to the transfer of Covina leading rusher Gevontray Ainsworth, who figured to be in a battle with only Jacob Bueno for the starting job this fall.
Well, you can add another name to the fray and he could be the best of all three. Darrione Jones, a junior who didn’t play last season but was the leading rusher on the Wildcats’ freshmen team two years ago, has been turning heads thus far in practice and may play his way into a big role in this year’s offense.
“It’s possible,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said when asked if Jones could end up being the starter. “It’s just a matter of if we’ve got multiple players who are good we will find some sets and formations where we can get those kids on the field.”
Calling the running game an area of concern is true nitpicking. Yes, the leading rusher has to be replaced, but Ainsworth ran for over 1,000 yards last season for semifinalist Covina. But given how loaded Monrovia is everywhere else on offense, sweating the running game happens by default.
Maddox said that senior quarterback Blake Heyworth is considerably better than what he was at this point last season, which is scary considering Heyworth threw for 2,377 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2011.
“With Blake returning, more can be put on his plate,” Maddox said. “He’s world better than last year and we thought he was pretty dang good last year. With his experience and ability to get the ball out of his hands, it’s pretty incredible.”
The Wildcats open the season on Aug. 31 against upper-division Ayala, which plays in the Sierra League and Inland Division. The game is part of Maddox’s attempt to beef up Monrovia’s nonleague schedule. The Wildcats will play four upper-division teams in the nonleague, culminating with arguably the game of the year in the Star-News area on Sept. 28 at St. Francis.
“I would say it’s a better start than last year,” Maddox said of his team’s attitude in practice. “It’s just because of the senior leadership. They’re just such a phenomenal group. I’ve never had a group of kids like this. They’re high character and leaders. They’re out there working when we’re not.
“So far, there’s been no motivational issues. They’re out there busting their butts and working hard.”
Some teams may have trouble finding the motivation to get through the dog days of August practice, but that isn’t the case at Pasadena High School.
The Bulldogs open the season at home against PAC-5 Division power Alemany on Aug. 24.
With such a high-profile opponent right out of the blocks, the Bulldogs have been on their best behavior so far in practice.
“The energy has been there,” Pasadena coach Randy Horton said. “The kids know what’s at stake. Guys are excited because it’s Alemany.
“We’ll see, though. You never can tell until you play somebody.”
The Bulldogs weren’t close in last season’s game, a 55-0 loss.
Much of that, Horton feels, was because of a bad first half that cannot be repeated in this year’s renewal.
“I showed them film again from last year,” Horton said. “The first possession, we were dropping balls. The game could have easily been 14-7 or 14-0 us in the first quarter. I really want to see how we play without all the mistakes and giving them the ball.”
Pasadena has its work cut out. Yes, the Bulldogs return standout quarterback Brandon Cox, but the rest of the skill players are very light on experience. In fact, the Bulldogs are replacing their six top receivers from last year and top running back.
Despite that, Horton said the offense had been showing signs of promise throughout spring and summer until last Saturday’s intra-squad scrimmage.
“The offense had been beating up on the defense so far,” Horton said. “But Saturday, the defense dominated the offense. It was very promising.”
Injuries have been a bit of an issue for the Bulldogs. The most notable is starting corner back Ronald Baker, who sprained his knee on the school’s field-turf surface last week and won’t be back until the end of this week at the earliest.
Tight end/defensive end Alex Baer also has a sprained knee, but his is considered less severe.
Not everything settled at Arcadia
Arcadia running back Jake Medel made quite a splash when pressed into action last season. The then-junior ran for more than 800 yards and 11 touchdowns, thus causing many to assume he will be the starter this season.
First-year Apaches coach Chris Long said Monday that Medel will line up at receiver and senior Sheldon McKinley will start at running back. Both players will see carries, though, Long said.
“I’m looking forward to having them both on the field at the same time,” he said. “McKinley is the starter and Jake is starting at receiver.”
McKinley was the team’s original starter at running back last season and was playing well before getting injured.
Quarterback still is a soer spot for the Apaches. South Pasadena transfer Joey Harmon has been given full eligibility by CIF-SS, Long said, and still is battling with Zach Yee for the job.
Long said Friday’s scrimmage against Silverado will go a long way in determining who wins the job.
TOP CAT: Steve Goldstein, longtime La Salle boys basketball
coach, is the new man at Monrovia.
(Staff file photo by Keith Birmingham)
Steve Goldstein, who set records at La Salle, didn’t stay out of the coaching game long, agreeing to become Monrovia’s boys basketball coach. Monrovia A.D. made the announcement Tuesday.
Goldstein was the winningest coach in La Salle history, scoring 357 wins before he resigned this past March. His Lancers qualified for the CIF-Southern Section playoffs 20 out his 22 seasons at La Salle, winning seven league titles.
The Lancers were 13-14 this past season, finishing fourth in the Del Rey League.
He replaces Jarrod Mix.
Coach Steve Goldstein: “When I left La Salle, Monrovia wasn’t open. But there was interest there because they have good kids, with a nice location and a great facility. I thought that would be a good place to land, if it opened up. It did. I got lucky.”
Our astute football writer Aram Tolegian reports that Monrovia receiver/defensive Anthony Craft back has picked up an offer from New Mexico State. The Aggies, coached by former UCLA defensive coordinator and Arcadia resident DeWayne Walker, are the fourth school to offer the senior. New Mexico State is joined by Nevada Las Vegas, South Dakota and San Jose State.
Craft had 562 yards receiving and nine touchdowns for the Wildcats last season. He also had 48 tackles and two interceptions.