Before prediciting this weekend’s games, here is my Top 10 that ran in The Sun Sunday.
1. Rancho Cucamonga
A CIF champion with a USC-bound tight end (Randal Telfer) and a Division I athlete at quarterback in Greg Watson seems like a good No. 1 to me. It’ll be interesting to see how the defense jells, but the offense will be scary good.
2. Redlands East Valley
This has almost become a default pick, as the Wildcats have it rolling to that extent. With third-year starting QB Tyler Shreve being a Division I level quarterback and a tenacious defense led by DE Andrew Hudson, REV is the favorite in the CBL.
The Yellowjackets struggled, at least in comparison to most Colton teams last year, going 6-4-1. But most of the team returns and there is speed to burn in RB/DB Derrick Malone, DB Jonathan Mack and junior QB Jordan Mixon.
If Jeff Steinberg was still coaching, the Rebels would be at least No. 2 and even have an argument (though not a great one) for No. 1. But with freshman coach Jeff Strycula being hired late, I’m taking a bit of a wait-and-see look right now.
The Diamondbacks are pretty darn tough even without Division I talent. But with RB Dionza Bradford and DE Everett Beed both committed to UNLV, Serrano has top-level personnel. That could make 2009 a special year in Phelan.
6. Chino Hills
This team pretty much made me look stupid last year and I refuse to underrate them this year. They came within a last-second touchdown of beating Los Osos in the Central quarters and have ball-hawking safety Ifo-Ekpre Olomu and QB Ryan Verdugo back.
The Aztecs almost pulled off the huge upset in the CIF title game, battling Citrus Hill to the wire in the 31-27 loss. Barstow will be experienced (32 lettermen returning) and physical in their double-wing offense and have all the makings of a title contender.
Dick Bruich may be gone, but the talent isn’t. USC-bound running back Anthony Brown will lead a physical, run-oriented offense while defensive end/linebacker Josh Shirley, a top 150 recruit, is an absolute matchup nightmare for opposing offenses.
The Eagles should fly this year behind do-everything dual-threat QB Angel Santiago and star WR Bobby Ratliff. With Los Osos and Upland dealing with major graduation losses, the door is open for Etiwanda to move up the Baseline pecking order.
The Cowboys lose several impact players from its 11-2, SAL championship team from a year ago, the biggest being RB Walter Kazee (San Diego State) and CB/WR Marlon Pollard (UCLA), but the Cowboys still should be an SAL factor.
Others receiving consideration: Summit, Ayala, Hesperia, Chaffey.