About Steve Ramirez

Steve Ramirez has covered prep sports for San Gabriel Valley Newspapers since 1989.

Girls Soccer: Maranatha wraps up Olympic League with 1-0 win over Whittier Christian

 Maranatha's Morgan Howe (C) (12) with the header past Whittier Christian's Tania Amaya (4) in the first half of a prep soccer match at Maranatha High School in Pasadena, Calif., on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Maranatha’s Morgan Howe (C) (12) with the header past Whittier Christian’s Tania Amaya (4) in the first half of a prep soccer match at Maranatha High School in Pasadena, Calif., on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

By Stephen Ramirez

PASADENA – Maranatha High School wasted an opportunity to win the Olympic League girls soccer title last season. The Minutemen made sure Tuesday it wouldn’t happen again.
Alexis Phillips scored in the 52nd minute and Maranatha secured the league championship with a 1-0 victory over visiting Whittier Christian.
The Minutemen, ranked No. 3 in CIF-Southern Section Division 6, held a 20-5 advantage in shots to improve to 16-5-2 overall and 6-0-1 in the Olympic League. They close the regular season with a home game vs. Heritage Christian on Thursday.
Shiloh Moore stopped eight shots for Whittier Christian, which slipped to 10-9-2 and 4-2-1 in league play. The Heralds host Valley Christian on Thursday.

Maranatha’s Alexis Phillips: “The big thing for us was that we wanted to secure league. We didn’t last year and we had it taken away from us. Our coach wanted us to possess and switch and in the second half and we did it.”

Whittier Christian’s Shiloh Moore: “(Maranatha) had speed on us. I thought we played well together as a team. I’m really proud of my team. We’ve come a long way from last year.”

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Wrestling: Northview, San Marino receive top seeds for dual championships

By Stephen Ramirez
Northview and San Marino, arguably the top two wrestling teams in the area, received top seeds in their respective divisions when the CIF-Southern Section released pairings Thursday for Saturday’s the dual championships.
The Vikings, who won a dual title last season, are No. 1 in the Central Division, with San Marino taking the top spot in the Western Division.
The 16-team tournaments will be Saturday at selected sites. Preliminary rounds begin at 11 a.m., with the finals slated for 7:15 p.m. The six host sites are Alta Loma High School (Central), Marina (Coastal), Carter (Eastern), Dos Pueblos (Northern), Redondo (Southern) and Millikan (Western).

Northview has a bye in the first round and will face the winner of Colton and Norte Vista in the quarterfinals. Other area first-round matchups are Bonita vs. Walnut, San Dimas vs. No. 3 Ayala; Hillcrest vs. Charter Oak and Diamond Bar vs. No. 2 Bloomington.
San Marino faces Lakewood in the first round of the Western Division. Other area first-round matchups are Arroyo vs. California; Montebello vs. Millikan; La Canada vs. Gabrielino and Santa Fe vs. No. 2 Downey.
Bishop Amat is No. 2 in the Northern Division and faces Channel Islands in the first round.
Bassett, which won its first league title in nine seasons with a Miramonte League championship, is no. 3 in the Southern Division. The Olympians face Fillmore in the first round. The other area first-round matchup is Montview League champion Duarte vs. La Puente,
Sonora, which won the Freeway League, faces San Clemente in Coastal first-round matchup.
Northview will host the CIF-SS Eastern Region girls wrestling championships on Saturday.
The event features some of the top competitors in the area. Preliminary rounds are slated to begin at 10 a.m., with the finals scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Other regionals are slated for Tustin, Pioneer Valley and Upland high schools. The CIF-SS finals are scheduled for next weekend at Roosevelt High School, with the state finals slated for Visalia Convention Center on Feb. 27-28.
Regional host Northview, which won the CIF-SS meet last season, is led by seniors Izzy Valles (137 pounds) and Daisy Velasquez (143) and sophomore Deidra Valles (150).
Other key area athletes competing are El Monte’s Brianne Penunuri (101) and krissiana Fregoso (11); San Dimas’ Haley Valez (116), Daishea Jaime (121) and Monique Barajas (126); Walnut’s Alyssa Barredo (101), Lauren Cuellar (111) and Sarah Arellano (131); Sierra Vista’s Angelica Ochoa (160) and West Covina’s Jennifer Lopez (116).

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Friday Night Final: Pasadena Poly is the last team standing; St. Francis, Monrovia, Maranatha, San Marino eliminated

Charter Oak surrounded San Marino on Friday.  (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

Charter Oak surrounded San Marino on Friday.
(Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

SAN MARINO — Charter Oak High School’s football team found itself in the shootout most expected on Friday night against San Marino. And in the end, the Chargers were the ones who didn’t run out of ammo.
Zion Echols rushed for 302 yards and five touchdowns as the Chargers withstood two rallies by host San Marino to post a 49-31 win and punch their ticket into next week’s CIF-Southern Section Central Division semifinals.
“Tonight, the team that throws the ball a lot ran for 302 yards from one running back,” Charter Oak head coach Lou Farrar said. “We’ve got a lot of gutsy kids who are playing their hearts out right now and our coaching staff are doing a great job.”
Charter Oak improved to 8-4 and will host Colony in next week’s semifinals. San Marino finished 9-3.

– Aram Tolegian

WHITTIER — La Serna High School may have finished second in the Del Rio League and wasn’t considered one of the favorites for the CIF-SS Southeast Division football championship, but the Lancers, who won it last season, believe the title is theirs until someone takes it away from them.
They continued to live by that motto on Friday.
Enrique Pacheco threw for 112 yards and two scores, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, and La Serna advanced to the division semifinals for the fifth consecutive season with a 38-35 victory over top seed St. Francis at California High School.
Anthony Garcia rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown and Ruben Rios had 77 and a score for the Lancers, who improved to 10-2 and will travel to Crescenta Valley for next week’s semifinals.
Miles Bryant, in place of injured Jeremiah Martin, threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns, and Dylan Crawford had five receptions for 136 yards for St. Francis, which finished 11-1.

– Stephen Ramirez
HACIENDA HEIGHTS — Redemption or revenge, whatever you want to call it, it was sweet for Los Altos on Friday night.
The Conquerors avenged a last-second loss to Monrovia (10-2) earlier in the season with a resounding 45-35 victory, ending the Wildcats’ season and propelling themselves into the CIF-SS Central Division semifinals.
Los Altos (7-5) dominated the game on the ground, behind a great night in the young career of sophomore running back Tyler Nevens, who rushed for 290 yards and five touchdowns.
“Tyler (Nevens) has had the greatest sophomore season this school has ever seen,” said Los Altos head coach Dale Ziola. “With the likes of Jimmy Jastrab, Sean Forge, Binky Benton, all of those guys.”

– Richard Hernandez
SOUTH PASADENA — The Pasadena Poly Panthers are one step closer to reaching their goal of playing in the Northwest Division championship game. They advanced to the semifinals Friday night by defeating visiting Linfield Christian 20-11 at South Pasadena High.
After a scoreless first quarter, Pasadena Poly (12-0) got on the scoreboard just before the end of the first half.

– Guillermo Tovar
REDLANDS — Bradley Mowbray usually does a lot of his damage for Arrowhead Christian Academy on offense.
On Friday night, he added defense to the equation.
The senior quarter back threw for one touchdown, ran for one more and had three interceptions in the end zone to squash Maranatha drives as the Eagles advanced the CIF-Southern Section Northwest Division semifinals with a 43-28 victory over the Minutemen at Citrus Valley High School.

– Bill Norris, Daily Bulletin
There is no two-minute warning in high school, but Sierra Canyon High School took that time element to heart in its CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley quarterfinal matchup against Rosemead at Granada Hills High on Friday night.
The Trailblazers took the lead for the first time with just less than two minutes to play in the first half, and rolled to a 33-12 victory over the Panthers.
The Mission Valley League champion Panthers (7-5) built a 12-0 lead through the first 14 minutes of the game. The second-seeded ‘Blazers scored less than a minute after Jesus Renteria kicked a 42-yard field goal to make 12-6 and then went up 13-12 just before the half.

– Staff Report

Pasadena Poly at Nipomo, 7:30 p.m.

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Saturday Rewind: St. Francis, Maranatha continue perfect seasons; Monrovia rallies; Poly holds on; Muir ousted

Mission Prep's Joseph Miller (5) tries to catch Maranatha's Caleb Devine (7) as he heads for their first touchdown during Friday night's game at Maranatha High School in Pasadena on November 14, 2014. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

Mission Prep’s Joseph Miller (5) tries to catch Maranatha’s Caleb Devine (7) as he heads for their first touchdown during Friday night’s game at Maranatha High School in Pasadena on November 14, 2014. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

St. Francis and Maranatha, two of the area’s three undefeated teams, rolled to easy playoff wins, while the other, Pasadena Poly, held on for a 7-0 victory over Morro Bay. The big news might be bad for the Golden Knights as player of the year candidate Jeremiah Martin was hurt in the third quarter and may miss next week’s quarterfinals. Reports say it may be a possible broken collar bone. Rio Hondo League foes Monrovia and San Marino advanced, as did Rosemead. Muir, La Canada were eliminated.


PASADENA >> Maranatha High School looked every bit Friday like the top seed in the Northwest Division and a team capable of winning a CIF-Southern Section title.
Eli Snyder threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns and Caleb Devine rushed for 197 yards and three scores as the host Minutemen rolled to a 47-21 victory over Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo in their playoff opener.
Dmitri Mata also had 113 yards receiving and a touchdown for Maranatha, which improved to 11-0. The Minutemen, who scored on eight of their first nine drives, will travel to Arrowhead Christian, which beat Cantwell, in next week’s quarterfinals.
Bryce Fiedderman threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns for the Royals, who finished 4-7.

– Stephen Ramirez
LA CANADA FLINTRIDGE >> It has been a successful year of firsts for the St. Francis football program, which opened the postseason hosting Mayfair at Friedman Field in its first playoff contest in the CIF-SS Southeast Division after moving up from the Western Division last year.
On Friday night, top-seeded St. Francis took care of business against the Monsoons with a 49-14 victory behind five touchdowns from Areg Nazarian.
“I thought we came out hitting on all cylinders in the first half. I’m just proud of our guys,” said St. Francis coach Jim Bonds, who in last week’s regular-season finale won his first league title in his tenure at the school.
The Golden Knights (11-0) were led by running back Nazarian. The junior returned the opening kickoff 89 yards up the middle for the Golden Knights’ first score. Nazarian struck again on St. Francis’ third possession, finishing it with an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jeremiah Martin. Nazarian caught the ball on the run and plowed through two Mayfair defenders to get into the corner of the end zone for a 22-0 lead.

– Nathan Cambridge
ROSEMEAD >> Luis Luna’s interception with 34 seconds left put a halt to Covina’s bid to upset Rosemead in the first round of the CIF Mid-Valley Division playoffs Friday night and gave the Panters a 31-27 victory.
Luna added 138 receiving yards as well.
A wild fourth quarter resulted in zero points for either team. The Colts (6-5) stopped the Panthers (7-4) and got the ball at their own 15-yard line with 1:57 left in the game. Two big plays by Colts’ quarterback Joe Benavidez, including a 43-yard bomb to Greg Hennes with 59 seconds left, got his team to the Panthers’ 20 with 39 seconds left. That was when Luna came up with the interception to end Covina’s season.

– Robert Schmitt

Lawrence Spicer scored from the 12-yard line in overtime to lead Monrovia High School to a 26-20 overtime victory over visiting Don Lugo in the first round of the CIF-SS Central Division playoffs on Friday night.
The second seeded Wildcats (10-1) drove 43 yards in the game’s final 3:48 to set up Blake Cusick’s game-tying 42-yard field-goal with 3.3 seconds to play and force the overtime.

Carson Glazier passed for 405 yards and seven touchdowns to lead the fourth-seeded Titans in the Central Division opener. He completed 22 of 27 passes and had three TD throws of 52 yards or more.
Griffin Carter scored the game’s lone touchdown after the Pirates muffed a punt in the first quarter of the Northwest Division game played at South Pasadena High.

St. Francis 49, Mayfair 14
Cathedral 36, Muir 22
Monrovia 26, Don Lugo 20, OT
San Marino 49, Claremont 28
Colony 48, La Canada 0
Rosemead 31, Covina 27
Maranatha 47, Mission Prep 21
Pasadena Poly 7, Morro Bay 0
Rio Hondo Prep vs. Big Bear at Big Bear Middle School, 1:30 p.m.

St. Francis vs. La Serna at Cal HS, 7:30 p.m.
Charter Oak at San Marino, 7:30 p.m.
Monrovia at Los Altos, 7:30 p.m.
Rosemead at Sierra Canyon, 7:30 p.m.
Maranatha at Arrowhead Chr., 7:30 p.m.
Linfield at Pasadena Poly, 7:30 p.m.
Templeton at Rio Hondo Prep (if it wins today), 7:30 p.m.

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Football Pairings: St. Francis, Maranatha get top seeds; Monrovia, San Marino seeded in Central


By Aram Tolegian
@AramTolegian on Twitter

The local high school football teams who were fortunate to make the CIF-Southern Section playoffs were handed their postseason assignments on Sunday. And judging by the matchups, it could be another banner year for the area.
High expectations abound across a myriad of divisions and things will get under beginning Thursday and Friday.
For Bishop Amat, the area’s consensus top team playing in Southern California’s top division, the good news came in the form of a first-round home game on Friday against Lakewood.
The Lancers finished in a three-way tie for the Mission League championship, but were made the league’s No. 2 entrant after tie-breaking coin flips. Amat enters the game at 7-3 and riding a five-game win streak. Lakewood is 6-4 and finished second in the Moore League.
“The order of happiness is: we’re in the playoffs and we have a home game,” Lancers head coach Steve Hagerty said. “Those are both good things. I don’t know anything about Lakewood, but we’re anxious to see what they look like (on film) and how we match up.
“Usually, my experience has been that the later (in the season) you play the Moore League teams, the better they executed with each passing week.”
St. Francis finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record. The Knights were rewarded by being given the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Division. They will host Mayfair (5-5) in Friday’s first round.
“It is nice,” St. Francis head coach Jim Bonds said of being made the top seed. “We were preseason No. 1 in the division and to be able to carry that through 10 games is pretty nice.
“I give our guys a lot of credit for being able to stay focused. Mayfair isn’t what I had on my bracket. I don’t know a lot about Mayfair, but at this time of the year, it’s all or nothing. Win or go home.”
Muir (6-4) will get a chance to avenge an early season loss to Cathedral (9-1) when the two teams meet in Friday’s first round at Cathedral High.
The Central Division is chalk full of local hopefuls with championship aspirations. Leading the way is Monrovia (9-1), which was made the No. 2 seed and will host Don Lugo.
San Marino (8-2), which finished second behind Monrovia in the Rio Hondo League, also got a home game and will host Claremont (6-4) on Friday.
Charter Oak (6-4) needed to win its last two regular season games to win the Hacienda League. The Chargers did just that and will host Colton elsewhere in the Central Division.
Glendora (8-2) was the No. 1-ranked team in the Central Division going into last week’s loss to South Hills. The Tartans did get a home game, though, and will host Summit. South Hills (6-4) will host Los Altos (5-5) on Friday at Walnut High.
Elsewhere in the Central, La Canada (6-4) visits No. 1 seed Colony. Bonita (6-4), which was awarded an at-large berth, plays at Kaiser. West Covina (7-3) hosts Chaffey.
The Valley has had a hammer lock on the Mid-Valley Division in recent years, but that may not be the case this season if seedings hold up.
Paraclete and Sierra Canyon, respectively, were made the top-two seeds. Pomona (6-4) won the Miramonte League and was made the No. 3 seed. The Red Devils host McAuliffe on Friday.
San Dimas (7-3), the division’s defending champion, will host Baldwin Park (6-4) in the first round. Northview (9-1) won the Valle Vista League and was given the No. 4 seed. The Vikings host at-large Brentwood.
Also in the Mid-Valley, Azusa (7-3) hosts El Monte (6-4) on Thursday. Rosemead (6-4) hosts Covina (6-4). La Puente (7-3) visits Montebello (6-4). Bassett (5-5) got an at-large berth and play at Paraclete.
Arroyo (4-6), which had a streak of 30 consecutive years in the playoffs, filed for an at-large bid after finishing third in the Mission Valley League and was denied.
If seedings hold up in the Northwest Division, then locals Maranatha (10-0) and Pasadena Poly (10-0) are on a championship game collision course.
Maranatha was made the top seed in the division and will host Mission Prep on Friday. Pasadena Poly is the No. 2 seed and gets a home game against Morro Bay.
Rio Hondo Prep (4-5) hasn’t had its typical successful season, but the Kares made the dance and will visit Big Bear on Friday.

Mayfair at St. Francis
Muir at Cathedral
La Canada at Colony
Claremont at San Marino
Don Lugo at Monrovia
Covina at Rosemead
Mission Prep at Maranatha
Rio Hondo Pep at Big Bear
Morro Bay at Pasadena Poly

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Saturday Rewind: Muir wins Tussle with PHS; South Pas beats La Canada, then voted out of playoffs; Maranatha improves to 10-0

Muir quarterback Chase Keough (3) celebrates as he rings the bell as they defeat Pasadena 24-17 during the 68th annual Turkey Tussle prep football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

Muir quarterback Chase Keough (3) celebrates as he rings the bell as they defeat Pasadena 24-17 during the 68th annual Turkey Tussle prep football game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

What a night! First Muir continued its dominance in the Turkey Tussle with a 24-17 win over Pasadena, but the real news was that South Pasadena, after beating La Canada, was voted out of the playoffs by the Rio Hondo League for a possible rule violation. Not to be overshadowed, Maranatha scored a big win over Whittier Christian to finish 10-0 in the regular season.
Below is this week’s run down:

PASADENA — Sixteen and counting.
The Muir High School football team got all it could handle from rival Pasadena in the 68th Turkey Tussle, but in the end the Mustangs were back in their customary spot ringing the victory bell at one end of the Rose Bowl following a 24-17 win on Friday night.
Freshman running back Jonathan Stephens plowed into the end zone from 5 yards out to break a 17-17 tie with 1:37 to play. Muir’s defense then stopped Pasadena on downs to end the game.
“I just told my coaches that this is one of the greatest feelings in the world,” Stephens said. “To come out here and play on a field that not many people get the opportunity to play on and win a big game for the team, it just feels great.”

– Aram Tolegian
LA CANADA — The match up of South Pasadena High School and La Cañada in both schools’ final regular-season Rio Hondo League football game saw two teams whose seasons had run in parallel lines.
But Friday’s league finale that would determine third place saw the Tigers and the host Spartans part ways as South Pasadena came out on top 21-3, which in theory earned the Tigers the league’s final guaranteed ticket to the CIF-SS Central Division playoffs … until it didn’t.
The Tigers (7-4, 3-2) were forced to play the game without head coach Martin Konrad due to an unspecified administrative issue, but in spite of that, when the final whistle blew, it appeared they were going to the postseason for the first time since 2003.
However, soon after the game, La Cañada first-year coach Ramsey Lambert announced to his team that because of unspecified CIF issues, the league had voted to ban South Pasadena from the postseason, which meant that, despite the loss, it would be La Cañada advancing to the postseason.
“I’m not exactly sure what it was, but we get a second chance,” Lambert said. “I’m not sure who reported what, but the league made a decision and we’ll find out more details sometime over the weekend, I’m sure.”

– Nathan Cambridge
WHITTIER — For the first time in 31 years the Maranatha High School football team completed a perfect 10-0 regular season and will head into the CIF Southern Section Northwest Division.
The Minutemen easily defeated host Whittier Christian 69-34 at Whittier College to head into the playoffs next Friday as the top seed in the division.
Leading the way for the Minutemen was senior running back Caleb Devine with three touchdowns and 182 yards on 12 carries. He scored on runs of 65, 30 and 1 yard.
Whittier Christian freshman quarterback Quinn Commons threw for a game-high 227 yards on 31 attempts, completing 20 passes, while senior tight end Noah Evans caught nine passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

– John Sherrard

Pasadena Poly completed an undefeated season with a 56-14 victory over rival Flintridge Prep on Friday night at South Pasadena High.
The Panthers (10-0, 3-0) wasted no time, scoring 21 points in the first half. Running back Griffin Carter had three of his four touchdowns before halftime.

1. St. Francis (10-0) def. Salesian, 46-15 (Thursday)
2. Monrovia (9-1) def. Blair, 55-0
3. Muir (6-4) def. Pasadena, 24-17
4. Maranatha (10-0) def. Whittier Christian, 69-34
5. San Marino (8-2) def. Temple City, 74-20
6. Pasadena Poly (10-0) def. Flintridge Prep, 56-14
7. La Canada (6-4) lost to South Pasadena, 21-3
8. Pasadena (4-6) lost to Muir, 24-17
9. South Pasadena (7-3) def. La Canada, 21-3
10. Rio Hondo Prep (4-5), idle
El Monte 40, Gabrielino 23
Rosemead 52, Mountain View 14
Sierra Vista 41, Duarte 40
Montebello 28, Alhambra 21
Schurr 56, Keppel 0
Crescenta Valley 61, Arcadia 30
St. Genevieve 53, Bosco Tech 0
Cathedral 71, La Salle 28

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Thursday Final: The Knight is Golden as St. Francis finishes off first undefeated regular season with rout of Salesian

St. Francis head coach Jim Bonds gets the water bucket after beating Salesian 46-15 to finish the regular season 10-0. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/Los Angeles Daily News)

St. Francis head coach Jim Bonds gets the water bucket after beating Salesian 46-15 to finish the regular season 10-0. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker/Los Angeles Daily News)

LA CANADA — There was a certainty sense of pageantry and excitement in the air Thursday night at St. Francis High as the Golden Knights finally had their chance to take its shot for its first unbeaten football season in 50 years.
St. Francis took care of business, breaking away for a 46-15 Angelus League victory over Salesian to wrap an unbeaten league title in forceful fashion and accomplish a feat that was 50 years in the making.
Head coach Jim Bonds was doused in a celebratory shower as the players rang the victory bell loud enough to wake up the La Canada community.
Perfection never tasted so sweet.
“This meant a whole bunch to us. We’re going to be the team talked about around the block instead of that team from 1964,” said St. Francis receiver John Carroll, who had two touchdown catches. “ Being 10-0, that’s a special feeling. We haven’t done that year in a long, long time.”
– Tony Ciniglio

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