Star-News Rankings: Another flip-flop as St. Francis assumes the lead…for now

BACK ON TOP: St. Francis is back atop the Star-News football rankings.
(Staff photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

1. St. Francis (3-1) –The Golden Knights have been nearly perfect, with the only blemish beign a 28-21 loss to La Mirada, which is No. 1 in the CIF-SS Southeast Division. They test their mettle against No. 2 Monrovia on Friday.
2. Monrovia (2-2) – The Wildcats have looked both invincible and beatable during different times this season. What will we see Friday at No. 1 St. Francis?
3. San Marino (4-0) – The Titans have looked like a runaway train, outscoring the oppostion, 165-21, including 108-0 the past two weeks.
4. Rio Hondo Prep (3-1) – The Kares, up to No. 2 in the Northeast Division, are a favorite to make another title run. They get a big test at Big Bear, which is No. 4 in the Eastern Divison.
5. La Salle (5-0) – No team has had a bigger turnaround than the Lancers, who just keep piling up the wins. They take a respite before taking aim at the Del Rey League.
6. Gabrielino (5-0) — The Eagles have taken advantage of a soft schedule. They’ll take a week off before beginning a rugged road in the Mission Valley League.
7. South Pasadena (3-1) –The Tigers have looked impressive in three of the four games. But what happened against Hoover?
8. Muir (1-3) – The real Mustangs stepped up in a 36-0 victory over Crescenta Valley, who some viewed as the favorite in the Pacific League. The league title is Muir’s to lose.
9. Pasadena Poly (3-0) – The Panthers have been steady in going 3-0. This is a team that could challenge Rio Hondo Prep in the Prep League.
10. Pasadena (1-3) – The Bulldogs also welcomed the beginning of league play. They could challenge Muir for league supremacy, but first they must get by Crescenta Valley this week before standout Brandon Cox returns.
Others: 11. Arcadia (1-3), 12. Duarte (2-2), 13. Rosemead (2-2), 14. *San Gabriel (1-4), 15. Alhambra (2-3), 16. La Canada (1-3), 17. Temple City (1-3), 18. Maranatha (0-5), 19. Flintridge Prep (1-3), 20. Bosco Tech (1-4), 21. Marshall (2-3), 22. Keppel (0-5), 23. Blair (0-4).

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Star-News Pick’em: Who wins, Monrovia or St. Francis? I like the Knights

Staff photo By Sarah Reingewirtz

Keith Lair and I will go head-to-head in the Star-News Pick’em. Here is this week’s predictions along with how we did last week.

Last Week: Ramirez (13-4); Lair (13-4)
Season: Ramirez (58-25); Lair (58-25)

Last week: Another even battle. I correctly predicted South El Monte beating Maranatha and Bosco Tech defeating Verbum Dei. Keith got me back with Arcadia’s surprising win over Burroughs in the Pacific League and Eagle Rock beating La Canada
This Week: Big game week has arrived, with the area’s top two teams ready to tee it up when back-to-back CIF-SS Mid-Valley champion Monrovia calls on St. Francis, the area’s traditional power. Who wins? I like the Golden Knights in a close one. Also on tap this week is a key Montview League game between Duarte and Azusa. I like the visiting Aztecs, who are still the Montview League champs until someone takes it away from them.

this week’s schedule and predictions:
Note: Keith Lair will provide his picks later

Azusa at Duarte, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (Azusa); Lair (Azusa)
Monrovia at St. Francis, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (St. Francis); Lair (St. Francis)
Pasadena vs. Crescenta Valley at Glendale, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Pasadena); Lair (Pasadena)
San Marino at South El Monte, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (San Marino); Lair (San Marino)
Rosemead at Temple City, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Rosemead); Lair (Rosemead)
Hoover at Muir, 7 p.m. – Ramirez (Muir); Lair (Muir)
La Canada at Arroyo, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (Arroyo); Lair (Arroyo)
Arcadia vs. Burbank at Burroughs, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (Arcadia); Lair (Arcadia)
Bell-Jeff vs. Pasadena Poly at South Pas HS, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (Poly); Lair (Poly)
Angelou vs. Marshall at PHS, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (Marshall); Lair (Marshall)
South Pasadena at Beverly Hills, 7 p.m — Ramirez (SPas); Lair (SPas)
Blair at Eagle Rock, 7 p.m. — Ramirez (Eagle Rock); Lair (Eagle Rock)
Sage Hill vs. Flintridge Prep at Oxy, 1 p.m. — Ramirez (Flint Prep); Lair (Flint Prep)
Rio Hondo Prep vs. Big Bear at Big Bear Middle School, 1:30 p.m. — Ramirez (RHP); Lair (RHP)

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FRIDAY NIGHT FINAL: Muir routs CV; Pasadena does the same at Glendale and Arcadia shutouts Burroughs; Gabrielino, La Salle improve to 5-0

Photo by Larry Goren

Well, another Friday Night Lights is in the books and the area enjoyed a trifecta in the Pacific League, with routs by Muir and Pasadena and a shutout by Arcadia over Burroughs. Also, Gabrielino and La Salle continued their big turnarounds, improving to 5-0 with wins.

Here’s a brief look at Friday’s games:

No. 2 St. Francis 38, West Ranch 30 – The Knights rode the Golden arm of quarterback Jared Lebowitz, who threw for 308 yards and two touchdowns, St. Francis, which will move up to No. 1 in the area rankings, now preps for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 against Monrovia next week. Who do you like?
No. 3 San Marino 45, Beverly Hills 0 – The Titans continue to look like a boulder rolling down a hill, rushing for 318 yards in a rout. Ryan Wood had 179 and two TDs for San Marino, which improved to 4-0.
No. 5. La Salle 47, Westchester 30 – The Lancers just keep on winning, improving to 5-0 with an easy win. La Salle takes a respite before opening Del Rey League play, and you got to like their chances.
No. 6 Gabrielino 33, Roybal 0 – The Eagles, getting touchdown passes of 3 and 60 yards from Elijah Peters to Mark Winchell are 5-0 since going 8-3 nearly a decade ago. Next up, Mission Valley League play.
No. 7 South Pasadena 24, Alhambra 10 – David Madrid passed for 193 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, who look solid going into Rio Hondo League play.
No. 8 Muir 36, Crescenta Valley 0 – Muir was back in its comfort zone, getting 204 yards passing from Joshua Muema and 162 total yards from Andreece Brown, to show it’s ready to dominate the Pacific League. I liked Muir before Friday, and I love their chances to run the table in the league now.
Rosemead 16, No. 10 San Gabriel 6 – The Panthers, who started 0-2, are starting to pick up steam with a solid win over San Gabriel. You have to throw them into the ring of what should be a balanced Mission Valley League.
Pasadena 35, Glendale 0 – Who needs Brandon Cox? The Bulldogs, getting 125 yards rushing from Torus Stepney, they can get by without their start with an easy win on the road. Pasadena gets Crescenta Valley next week, likely without Cox, but after what Muir did to the Falcons, it might not matter. Are we headed to a possible Turkey Tussle showdown for the Pac crown?
Arcadia 18, Burroughs 8 — This might be the surprise of the night. The Apaches, who looked lost in losses to Rio Hondo Prep, St. Francis and Monrovia, are tied for first in the Pacific with an impressive win. I thought Burroughs might challenge Muir for the league title. Not anymore.
South El Monte 28, Maranatha 14 — A valiant effort by the Minutemen, who lost quarterback Andrew Elffers for the season last week.
Eagle Rock 25, La Canada 7 — Andy Paynter rushed for 109 yards for Sparta, which used several underclassmen against The Rock.
Malibu 40, Flintridge Prep 34, OT – The Rebels dropped another overtime setback. Stefan Smith scored four times for Flintridge Prep.
Paraclete 63, Marshall 7 — The Eagles were no match for Paraclete, which is a solid contender for the Mid-Valley title.

By Steve Ramirez, SGVN

PASADENA - Muir High School was in its comfort zone Friday night.
The Mustangs, after a brutal nonleague schedule that featured arguably three of the better football programs in the CIF-Southern Section, looked right at home in their Pacific League opener against visiting Crescenta Valley.
Joshua Muema threw for 204 yards and Andreece Brown had 154 yards in two scoring plays and Muir rolled to a 36-0 victory over the visiting Falcons.
The Mustangs, getting 105 yards rushing from Brown, improved to 1-3. Crescenta
Valley, which beat Muir last season, slipped to 2-2. Muir held the Falcons to 157 yards.
“Our team never lost confidence,” Muir coach John Hardy said. “We looked forward to this game. We had it circled all year – CV. They beat us last year, and we were looking forward to the rematch.”
It wasn’t much of a match. Muir, which traditionally is known for its big-play capabilities, used that trait for a 14-0 lead at the half before putting it away in the third quarter.
The Mustangs, who gained just 17 yards with an interception on their first three possessions, broke free on their fourth.
Brown made the most of his only reception of the half by turning a short swing pass from Muema into a 57-yard catch and run for a 7-0 lead with 11:27 left in the second quarter.
Tony Claxton then set up a second score with a 34-yard punt return to the Crescenta Valley 18. Taeon Mason ran it in from there to push the lead to 14-0 with 6:49 left in the half.
“We came into this game not really sure,” Muema said. “But now we got it. We’re going to keep moving on and we don’t plan on (losing a game in) league, going to the playoffs and keep working hard.”
Muema extended the lead to 22-0 in the third quarter on a 20-yard pass to Lamarr McDaniels before Brown followed a Crescenta Valley turnover with a 97-yard run up the middle for a 29-0 advantage early in the fourth quarter.
Tyshawn Goodman had a 19-yard run to make it 36-0 with just under three minutes to play.
Crescenta Valley, after an interception and a short punt, had two chances to take the lead during the first quarter. But Ben Rees was sacked at the Muir 37 to force a punt and Travis Palazzolo missed a 31-yard field goal.
“We’re going to live and die off our defense,” Hardy said. “That’s how it was last year, and that’s how we’ll roll this year.
“Our defense’s job is to keep us in every ballgame until our offense gets it together. We’re a little behind, offensively, still. But each week you will see the offense get better.”

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Thursday Night Final: Deja vu in reverse as Monrovia rally falls short in 30-27 setback to South Hills; Duarte beats Ganesha, 35-20

COMING UP SHORT: Monrovia’s Darione Jones runs for a first down in Thursday’s nonleague game at Covina District Field. Host South Hills held on for a 30-27 victory.
Staff photo by Sarah Reingewirtz

Deja vu in reverse?
It sure seemed that way for Monrovia, which fourth-quarter rally fell short in a 30-27 setback to host South Hills at Covina District Field.
The Wildcats (2-2), who held on for a 28-25 victory on the same field in 2010, nearly stole victory from defeat after scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter before a 14-yard pass from Blake Heyworth Anthony Craft to the Monrovia 29 was a yard short of a first down on fourth and 15..
South Hills, which had quarterback Adam Goss account for 180 yards and three touchdowns, then ran out the clock to improve to 3-1.
The Huskies, taking advantage of four Monrovia turnovers in the first half, led 30-7 with just over two minutes in the third quarter following a 15-yard run by Lawson Careny.
Monrovia, which had just four first downs during the first half, then woke up.
The Wildcats, getting 171 yards passing and two touchdowns from Heyworth, made it 30-20 following a 1-yard run by Heyworth and a 3-yard pass from Heyworth to George Frazier V during the middle of the quarter.
Heyworth then made it 30-27 with just over three minutes to play with a 36-yard pass to Mason Bryant.
Heyworth, after Monrovia stopped South Hills on three plays, threw three consecutive incomplete passes before his fourth-down toss to Craft was a yard short.
Denzel Talifero rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns as the Falcons opened Montoview League play with a win over the Giants.
Duarte, which improved to 2-2 overall, also got 130 yards and a touchdown from Marcus Lewis.

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Volleyball: St. Lucy’s gets the best of La Salle, wins rematch in five games

ST. LUCY’S REPEAT: La Salle’s Renasssiance Forster (11) scores against St. Lucy’s Veronica LaPierre (11) during Wednesday’s nonleague match. The visiting Regents won in five games.
Staff photo by Keith Birmingham

By Keith Lair, SGVN

GLENDORA – It is nearly two months before the CIF-Southern Section volleyball playoffs begin.
But La Salle and St. Lucy’s Priory high schools did not act as if it was that far off on Wednesday evening. The teams acted as if the nonleague match was the CIF-SS Division 1A finals.
Heck, it could have been. The teams met for the Division 2AA title last year. Wednesday, the Regents managed to survive a five-game, 2-hour, 15-minute marathon.
“These are matches that get you ready for CIF,” St. Lucy’s coach Sean Douglas said. “What a great match it was.”
St. Lucy’s, which has not lost to La Salle the last four times they have met in the last three years, including two playoff matches, prevailed 28-30, 25-20, 25-18, 22-25, 15-12.
“That was mentally and physically exhausting,” Regents senior Vanessa Caustrita said. “I knew we could do it. It’s La Salle. Mentally we knew it would be a tough game and it was. They are very scrappy.”
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Pacific League coaches to speak at Pasadena QBs Club on Friday

By Steve Ramirez, SGVN

It’s Pacific League day at this week’s Pasadena Quarterbacks Club.
The non-profit organization, which helps support local high school and college football programs, welcomes six of the league’s eight coaches, including Muir’s John Harvey, Pasadena’s Randy Horton and Arcadia’s Chris Long, to speak Friday. The weekly luncheon is scheduled for the Courtyard by Marriott, located at 180 North Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena.
Lunch, which is $23 for members and $30 for non-member guests, begins at 11:50 a.m. Doors open at 11:30, with $5 valet parking available at the hotel.
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FOOTBALL: Monrovia’s George Frazier V busy going sideline to sideline

DOUBLE TROUBLE: Monrovia High School’s George Frazier V, who’s ability on offense and defense oft has opponents seeing double. Staff photo by Keith Birmingham

By Keith Lair, SGVN

MONROVIA - Monrovia High School football opponents must think they are seeing double when they see No. 5 on the field.
It’s likely that either the Wildcats have a lot of duplicate numbers or that George Frazier V is seemingly everywhere, driving opponents batty.
There are obviously no duplicates. There’s definitely only one No. 5 and there is no question it is Frazier.
This year he has been playing outside linebacker. If a team’s best player lines up at wide receiver, the senior often shadows him. Defensive line? Frazier can do that, too.
Offensively? Frazier is currently playing tight end, so he blocks and catches the ball. Quarterback? He started several games at the position last year.
“I love playing football,” Frazier said. “Where ever you need me, that’s where I’m going to play.”
So is there anything that the 6-foot-2, 230-pounder cannot do?
“He’s versatile, absolutely he can do anything,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said. “He can play defensive line, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, he can run the ball, he can play quarterback. We can can move him around to play any position.”
How about kicker?
“I don’t know if we have really tried,” Maddox said.
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Notebook: Pasadena Poly’s McGrail fits the Bill

MEETING OF THE MINDS: Pasadena Poly football coach Brendan McGrail, right, has had some interesting experiences, including a relationship with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Staff file photo by Keith Birmingham

By Steve Ramirez, SGVN

Brendan McGrail, who is in his ninth season at Pasadena Poly, has had some unusual experiences coaching football.
They include coaching former NFL All-Pro running back Brian Westbrook while McGrail was an assistant at DeMatha Catholic High School near Washington, D.C., and an association he developed with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick as an assistant at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.
He recalled his story about Belichick during last week’s Pasadena Quarterbacks Luncheon. McGrail, a young assistant at the time, also was in charge of putting together a Phillips Academy recruiting brochure. Learning that Belichick was an alumnus of the school, McGrail attempted to get a quote from the then New York Jets’ defensive coordinator.
“I told the principal that I would really like to get a Bill Belichick quote for the brochure,” McGrail recalled. “I, being a high school football coach myself, thought really highly of him and thought it would be neat.”
He attempted to call Belichick and, expecting to get the coach’s secretary on the line, instead heard a male voice saying `Yeah.’
“It was a real deep voice (saying), `Yeah,’ ” McGrail said. “I said, `Can I speak to coach Belicheck?’ The voice said, `Speaking.’
“He sounded exactly like the intimidating person I’ve known as a football fan, so I decided to get my question out as quickly as possible. He said, `Whoa! Slow down, tell me what you need.’ ”
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