About Steve Ramirez

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

Who wins the Star-News Heisman? Who wins the S-N coaching award?

Well, with just six games left in the season, I thought it would be a perfect time to see who you guys think should receive some of the postseason awards, mainly player of the year and coach of the year.
Below are the frontrunners, in no particular order


Tyler Gangi, St. Francis –
The senior has played big part in the Golden Knights enjoying their best season in nearly a decade. He has thrown for nearly 2,500 yards and has accounted for 33 TDs while leading St. Francis to a 9-2 record and spot in Friday’s quarterfinals
Kurt Scoby, Monrovia – Has lived up to the expectations, rushing for 1,796 yards and 29 TDs to top the area in rushing. He has keyed the Wildcats run to 10-1 and has them as favorite in the Mid-Valley Division.
Dejon Williams, Muir – He’s the glue of the Mustangs, accounting for nearly 300 yards a game. He’s helped Muir to a 10-1 season and a third consecutive trip to the quarterfinals. If Muir wins the Southeast Division, which is a possibility, his odds go up considerably
Nate Tayco, Rio Hondo Prep – The senior, who was offensive player of the year last season, has kicked it up a notch lately, rushing for 16 TDs in the past four games. His numbers are 1,231 and 25 scores. If Rio Hondo Prep 3-peats, you know Tayco had a heavy hand in the title.

Jim Bonds, St. Francis –
Annually one of the top coaches in the area, and you know he helped turn around last season’s disappointing 4-7 campaign. The Golden Knights have already doubled their win total from a year ago, and if they make the semifinals, it will be their first in nearly a decade.
John Hardy, Muir — The Mustangs are having another stellar year under Hardy, who has taken the program to another level in just his second year. They haven’t lost a league game since 2011, and are in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year under him. If Muir wins the Southeast, it will be hard to pick against him.
Ryan Maddox, Monrovia — For Maddox, it’s like when Pat Riley or Phil Jackson coached the Lakers, all the success he achieves is expected, so he gets bypassed for such awards. But make no mistake, Monrovia is where it is because the Wildcats are very well-coached. Yes, they have more talent than their opponents, but they get coached up as well. If Monrovia, which is 10-1 and the top seed in the Mid-Valley, runs the table, and wins its fourth in a row, and gets back to a regional bowl, how can you not look in this direction?
Ken Drain, Rio Hondo Prep – Talk about doing the most with a little? It’s Drain, who despite coaching at the smallest school in area, continues to win. This year, he scored another Prep League title and has the Kares riding an 8-game winning streak at 10-1 and a shot at another title.
Jude Oliva, Maranatha – One the factors in a coach of the year is his ability to change the culture somewhere, and make the biggest jump from one year to the next. Oliva fits the mold at Maranatha, which after missing the playoffs a yeat ago, won the Olympic League in his first season. The Minutemen also feature one of the area’s better passing attacks, which is usually the case for Oliva-coached teams.

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Star-News Pick’Em: Who survives, or should I say who doesn’t? I have four of six advancing, with San Marino and Duarte the odd teams out


Keith and I are matching our knowledge of the area and high school football by offering our picks on the area’s games. This week, and until the end of the season, we will pick the rest of the brackets in which we have local teams.

LAIR: 169-28 (8-3 last week)
RAMIREZ: 164-33 (7-4 last week)

Last week: A very tough week as Keith picked up another win. The difference was me missing on St. Genevieve over Pasadena Poly. We both missed on Pomona over Rosemead, Carpinteria over La Salle and Duarte over Maranatha.
This week: We are now down to final area teams left. The most intriguing game appears to be San Marino hosting San Dimas in the Mid-Valley Division. The visiting Saints appear to have to much for the Titans. I also like Monrovia over Montebello, also in the Mid-Valley; Muir over Los Altos in Southeast, Rio Hondo Prep over Excelsior in the Northeast and St. Francis over Camarillo in the Western.

This week’s schedule and predictions
Monrovia at Montebello –
Ramirez (Monrovia); Lair (Monrovia)
Paraclete at Pomona — Ramirez (Paraclete); Lair (Paraclete)
San Dimas at San Marino – Ramirez (San Dimas); Lair (San Dimas)
Arroyo at Schurr — Ramirez (Arroyo); Lair (Arroyo)
Dominguez at Norwalk — Ramirez (Norwalk); Lair (Norwalk)
Los Altos at Muir – Ramirez (Muir); Lair (Muir)
La Serna at Diamond Bar — Ramirez (La Serna); Lair (La Serna)
Burbank at Santa Fe — Ramirez (Burbank); Lair (Burbank)
Mission Prep at St. Genevieve — Ramirez (Mission Prep); Lair (Mission Prep)
Saddleback Valley Chrs at Desert — Ramirez (Desert); Lair (Desert)
Salesian at Boron — Ramirez (Salesian); Lair (Salesian)
Rio Hondo Prep vs. Excelsior at Victor Valley College – Ramirez (Rio); Lair (Rio Hondo Prep)
Oak Park at Valley Chrs — Ramirez (Oak Park); Lair (Oak Park)
El Segundo at Carpinteria — Ramirez (El Segundo); Lair (Carpinteria)
Bishop Diego at Duarte – Ramirez (Bishop Diego); Lair (Bishop Diego)
Nordhoff at Torrance — Ramirez (Nordhoff); Lair (Nordhoff)
Serra at Buena — Ramirez (Serra); Lair (Serra)
Camarillo at St. Francis – Ramirez (St. Francis); Lair (St. Francis)
Santa Monica at Lompoc — Ramirez (Lompoc); Lair (Lompoc)
Chaminade at Ventura — Ramirez (Chaminade); Lair (Chaminade)

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Friday Night Final: It’s down to the fantastic five as St. Francis, Muir, Monrovia, San Marino and Rio are only survivors

St. Francis, Muir, Monrovia, Rio Hondo Prep and San Marino were the area top five for most of the season, so it’s no surprise that those are the five remaining football teams in the area. St. Francis twice rallied from two touchdowns down to win its Western Division opener while Muir rallied past La Mirada in the Southeast to advance. Monrovia and Rio Hondo Prep had blow-out wins in the Mid-Valley and Northeast, while San Marino won a shootout against Bell Gardens in the Mid-Valley.


CULVER CITY — There are those who believe that St. Francis High School is at its worst the third-best football team in the CIF-Southern Section Western Division playoffs.
When it mattered most, the Golden Knights looked the part Friday.
Tyler Gangi accounted for 323 yards and four touchdowns and St. Francis shut out host Culver City in the second half to lead the Golden Knights to a 45-28 victory over the Centaurs in a first-round game at Culver City.
Gangi threw for 244 yards for St. Francis, which improved to 9-2 and will host Camarillo in the second round next week. The Golden Knights also received 117 yards rushing and a score from Joe Mudie.
Amani Rodgers threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns for Culver City, which finished 6-5.
St. Francis coach Jim Bonds: We were only down a touchdown and we hadn’t played Golden Knight football. We said to ourselves, just come out and play Golden Knight football, and we’ll be just fine. And we were. It was good to get back on the winning side. It did take about a half to realize that we did play teams this good. I was happy with the way we responded in the second half.”
St. Francis’ Ty Gangi: “It wasn’t St. Francis football in the first half. But I was proud of my team the way we just kept fighting. We came back, made adjustments and just picked up the energy.”
– Stephen Ramirez, @steverramirez on Twitter

The star power may have belonged to La Mirada High School, but Muir’s Dejon Williams stole the show Friday night.
Williams threw five touchdown passes and had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, as Muir pulled away late from La Mirada for a 53-35 win in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs.
The Mustangs improved to 10-1 and will host Los Altos in next week’s second round. La Mirada concluded a disappointing season with a 4-7 record.
Muir will host Los Altos next week.
Muir’s Dejon Williams: “I had a lot to prove. Me and my receiver Taeon Mason had a lot to prove tonight.”
– Aram Tolegian, @aramtolegian on Twitter


Monrovia 62, Sierra Canyon 10 – Still doubting the Wildcats as the dominant team in the Mid-Valley? A 52-point win says it all. Kurt Scoby rushed for 198 yards and scored five touchdowns in an easy win. Get used to it, it’s the first of four.
San Marino 51, Bell Gardens 34 – This one was closer than expected. In fact, if you’re San Marino if you have to be concerned giving up 34 points to Bell Gardens. If the Lancers can score that much against you, what’s scoring machine San Dimas going to do next week?
Pomona 45, Rosemead 14 – A tough loss for the Panthers, but all in all, a good season for the Marc Paramo clan.
San Dimas 48, Gabrielino 6 – The Eagles were no match for the Saint’s Blue and Gold machine, which led 48-3 by halftime. But its all about taking steps, and getting back to the postseason was a positive for Gabrielino.
Paraclete 54, La Canada 3 – This was a bad matchup for the Spartans. But for La Canada, making the playoffs was the goal, and you can say mission accomplished.
Rio Hondo Prep 62, St. Monica 28 – The Kares opened their title defense with an impressive win. They’ll likely get another next week before a much-anticipated meeting against Salesian in the semifinals. We’ll see.
St. Genevieve 28, Pasadena Poly – The Panthers end the season with three consecutive losses, but after missing the postseason last year, making this season was a positive.
Carpinteria 31, La Salle 23 – The Lancers again fall in the first round. But it’s hard for them to be disappointed after winning their second consecutive league crown. Russell Gordon has La Salle on the right track.
Duarte 27, Maranatha 17 – The Falcons found away to shutdown Maranatha’s high-powered offense. Duarte was the lone Montview League team to advance. The Minutemen’s season ends after a strong run to the Olympic League title.

Camarillo at St. Francis
Monrovia at Montebello
San Dimas at San Marino
Los Altos at Muir
Rio Hondo Prep vs. Excelsior at Victor Valley
All games are tentatively scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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Western Division Preview: Serra the favorite, but look out for St. Francis


Seeds: 1. Serra (10-0), 2. Chaminade (8-2), 3. Lompoc (9-1), 4. Camarillo (9-1).
Darkhorse: St. Francis
First round
Serra over Pacifica/Oxnard
Morro Bay over Buena
St. Francis over Culver City
Camarillo over Santa Ynez
Lompoc over Cathedral
Santa Monica over Channel Islands
Ventura over Nipomo
Chaminade over Morningside
Serra over Morro Bay
St. Francis over Camarillo
Lompoc over Santa Monica
Chaminade over Ventura
Serra over St. Francis
Chaminade over Lompoc
Serra over Chaminade
Comments: This is Serra’s division to lose. But be weary of the Knights, who can look Golden. They’ve scared Serra a few weeks ago before losing, 35-21. St. Francis should make it to the semifinals. Can they make another run on at the Cavs? I think they can, but not sure they have enough to get the job done, which means a final of Serra vs. Chaminade, and the Cavs have too much firepower.

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Mid-Valley Division Preview: 4-peat for ‘Cats? Count on it


1. Monrovia (9-1), 2. Arroyo (9-1), 3. San Dimas (6-4), 4. Paraclete (6-4).
Darkhorse: San Marino
First Round
Monrovia over Sierra Canyon
Northview over Montebello
Rosemead over Pomona
Paraclete over La Canada
San Dimas over Gabrielino
San Marino over Bell Gardens
Schurr over Viewpoint
Arroyo over Bell Gardens
Monrovia over Northview
Paraclete over Rosemead
San Dimas over San Marino
Arroyo over Schurr
Monrovia over Paraclete
San Dimas over Arroyo
Monrovia over San Dimas
Comments: There’s not bigger favorite in any other division than Monrovia in the Mid-Valley. While San Dimas, San Marino and Arroyo can be scoring machines, they has no answer for the ‘Cats’ Kurt Scoby. The question is not who will win the divison, but whether any team can give Monrovia a game.

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Southeast Division Preview: The bell tolls for La Serna…but expect a run by Muir


1. Norwalk (10-0), 2. Diamond Ranch (9-1), 3. La Serna (8-2), 4. Muir (9-1).
Darkhorse: La Mirada (4-6).
First Round
Norwalk over West Covina
Dominguez over El Rancho
Los Altos over Paramount
Muir over La Mirada
La Serna over Burroughs
Downey over Diamond Bar
Burbank over Mayfair
Diamond Ranch over Santa Fe
Norwalk over Dominguez
Muir over Los Altos
La Serna over Downey
Burbank over Diamond Ranch
Muir over Norwalk
La Serna over Burbank
La Serna over Muir
Comments: La Serna has been arguably the most consistent program in the division the past three years, getting to the semifinals in 2010 and the finals the past two seasons. This time it’s the Lancers year. Muir has the athletic advantage that no other team in the division can match. But the Mustangs play good, sound football as well. Their biggest challenge before the finals will be Friday against La Mirada, which is more than capable of a title run. But now it’s Frankie Palmer’s time to shine.

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Northwest Division Preview: All signs point to a Bishop Diego win


1. Oak Park (9-1), 2. Nordhoff (9-1), 3. Bishop Diego (8-2), 4. El Segundo (7-3).
Darkhorse: La Salle
First Round
Oak Park over Bishop Montgomery
Cerritos Valley Chr. over La Puente
La Salle over Carpinteria
El Segundo over Santa Paula
Bishop Diego over North Torrance
Maranatha over Duarte
Azusa over Torrance
Nordhoff over Verbum Dei
Oak Park over Cerritos Valley Chr.
El Segundo over La Salle
Bishop Diego over Maranatha
Nordhoff over Azusa
Oak Park over El Segundo
Bishop Diego over Nordhoff
Bishop Diego over Oak Park
Comments: This division should be re-named the Tri-Valley Division. The top three teams come from that league and maybe even the top five. Bishop Diego, from this view, looks to be the favorite, and although the Cardinals are an at-large team this year, they are capable of making a run for the title. La Salle has the best shot of the locals, which also includes Duarte and Maranatha, who meet in the first round, but I can’t see the Lancers getting past the second round.

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Northeast Division Preview: Get ready for Mission-Rio V…Can you say 3-peat?


1. Mission Prep (8-2), 2. Rio Hondo Prep (9-1), 3. Salesian (8-2), 4. Desert (8-2).
Darkhorse: St. Anthony
First Round
Mission Prep over Santa Clarita Chr.
Pasadena Poly over St. Genevieve
Saddleback Valley Chr. over Cal Military
St. Anthony over Desert
Salesian over Chadwick
Capistrano Valley Chr. over Boron
Hamilton over Excelsior
Rio Hondo Prep over St. Monica
Mission Prep over Poly
St. Anthony over Saddleback Chr.
Salesian over Capo Valley
Rio Hondo Prep over Hamilton
Mission Prep over St. Anthony
Rio Hondo Prep over Salesian
Rio Hondo Prep over Mission Prep
COMMENTS: This is a basically a three-team division, with St. Anthony, which routed Poly last week, as the X-Factor. Salesian is new to the division and will be competition for the two Prepsters, but Rio is starting to pick up steam, and again looks capable of a three-peat. The Kares showed it last year, and will do it again.

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