Josh Henderson took over the Aquinas program as an ambitious 25-year old. When he left this spring, he had led the Falcons to two CIF titles, several Christian League titles and had established Aquinas as arguably one of the most consistent forces in the county since Henderson’s alma mater – Fontana High School – was in the middle of its run under legendary coach Dick Bruich.
Henderson is now at Los Angeles Baptist and Aquinas is going back to the 25-year old Fohi well, as assistant coach Nick Matheny assumed the reigns shortly after Henderson left. And with a Falcon team that has won two Christian League titles at his disposal, expectations are high.
While Barstow got a lot of hype for making it to the CIF-SS Eastern final, Twentynine Palms was doing the exact same thing in the East Valley Division. The Wildcats marched to the CIF finals for the first time in a generation, finally falling to Small School state champion San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret’s in the championship game.
Twentynine Palms surged to the final thanks to a loaded roster featuring seven all-CIF players, most notably wide receiver Montreal Harris, running back Jared Demoss and defensive tackle Rusty Tausaga. As the Wildcats try to finish the job, the number of those all-CIF players is reduced to do.
Yucaipa has made the Inland Division playoffs the last three seasons, the second-longest streak in the Citrus Belt League behind Redlands East Valley. But despite that, the Thunderbirds have yet to make any real in-roads toward a CBL title or a playoff run.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the Thunderbirds finished fourth in 2006, third in 2007 and fourth again last year, forcing them to go head-to-head with Vista Murrieta twice and Corona Centennial last year. As you would think, there isn’t much upside to playing teams of that quality in the first round.