When Carter High School was opened in 2004, the Lions were placed in the San Andreas League. After another year in the SAL, Carter was moved into the CBL, from where it qualified for the playoffs three times in four years. Now the Lions are back where they started, joining back up with their original league.
“We are looking forward to it,” Carter coach Alex Pierce said. “In looking around this league, the first thing you notice are the athletes. There are just so many athletic football players in this league that it’s going to be a fun challenge. It should be fun watching some of these games.”
Carter comes into the league after a positive second season under Pierce, improving from 2-8 in 2008 to 5-6 in 2009. With another year in his system, Pierce believes that Carter will continue to motor in the right direction.
Arroyo Valley got a huge addition to its team late last year, as standout quarterback Michael Yearwood rejoined the team after having transferred to Los Angeles University High School.
Yearwood, who threw for 2.306 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 1,127 yards and another 16 scores last year for the Hawks, had moved back to Los Angeles because of an illness to his grandmother, who eventually passed away. But he had a change of heart and rejoined the Hawks late last week.
“It’s big for us,” Hawks coach Marcus Soward said. “Michael went back to help out his family, but his grandmother wanted him to keep doing what he was doing and wanted him to live his life. We heard last week and we are just happy. Michael is a great kid and a great football player.”
Yearwood will be practicing with the Hawks this week and gives Arroyo Valley another weapon for a team that Soward thinks will be pretty good.
“I felt pretty good about what we had even without Michael,” Soward said. “Having Michael back makes us that much better.”
When you lose three players to Division I schools (Tyler Shreve, Andrew Hudson and David Peterson) like Redlands East Valley did, a dropoff is expected. Add first-team all-Sun running back A.J. Fernandez to the list of departures and one would think that Wildcat coach Kurt Bruich would be a little measured about his expectations for the coming season. But that’s not how the ninth-year coach feels at all.
“I really like this group of kids through all three classes,” Bruich said. “From seniors to sophomores, I think we have an extremely talented group and I think we can do some big things. This program is all about stepping in and keeping the success going and I think this group will do that.”
Leading the way for the Wildcats will be a defense that returns five starters. While REV has had its share of glamorous offensive stars in recent years such as Ronnie Fouch, Chris Polk, Shreve and Fernandez, its the defense which has allowed REV to win three CBL titles since 2005 and has it in position for a fourth this year.
On the surface, Kaiser suffered devastating losses from its CIF-SS Eastern Division semifinalist team of a year ago, with running back/defensive back and all-Sun Player of the Year Anthony Brown heading off to USC and All-CIF linebacker Josh Shirley now at Washington. But you don’t win nine straight Sunkist League titles, as the Cats have, without having the ability to reload.
“We lost two great football players, guys that really were big for us last year,” Kaiser coach Phil Zelaya said. “We don’t have those guys coming back, but two guys do not make a football team. We feel that we have a lot of guys coming back that can really help us, guys that were with us on the run to the semifinals last year and that have a lot to offer.”
Kaiser looks equipped for another long playoff run, as they have 13 starters returning from last year’s team and 29 seniors in all. There may not be the high-level recruits a la Brown and Shirley, but the Cats will have their typical hardnosed, physical, well-schooled unit ready to go.
The building process from an overmatched team of freshman and sophomores to a championship-level force has been a gradual one for Summit coach Tony Barile. But as Summit gets ready for its fifth season fresh off an upset of No. 1 seeded Citrus Hill in the first round of last year’s Eastern Division playoffs, Barile sees one thing that the SkyHawks need to do to reach the next level.
“We needed to get stronger,” Barile said. “The reason we have lot to Palm Springs the last two years in the playoffs was because we weren’t strong enough and we wore down in the fourth quarter. That’s the one thing we’ve been doing this summer – hitting the weight room and getting stronger. We want to be able to outlast our opponents.”
Strength is important to the SkyHawks because they have the speed and skill necessary to do damage with a little bit of open space. Athletes dot the Summit roster throughout, led by senior quarterback Devon Blackmon.
Two years ago, it was as good as it has ever been for Hesperia football. The Scorpions, under head coach Robert Kistner and running back Gavin Santos, rolled through the Mojave River League en route to a school-record 11-1 season. But those moments might as well have been decades ago as far as Hesperia is concerned.
All remnants from the 20 wins in 2007 and 2008, including Kistner, are gone. Left in their wake is a group of three returning starters that are coming back to a team that was 3-7 last year under brand-new coach Jeremy Topete. As Topete enters year two, he realizes that building Hesperia back up isn’t a small task.
“I guess you can say we are officially rebuilding right now,” Topete said. “We really do not have many kids coming back that have played at this level. It’s going to be a challenge but it is one that we are ready to face.”
It was a fast decline for the Sultana football team, as the Sultans went from being the 2005 Mojave River League champions and a 2006 playoff qualifier to having the longest losing streak in the county. The streak, which dates back to Nov. 2, 2007, is something that coach Blake Robbins never saw coming.
“I really don’t know why it’s happened,” Robbins said. “I don’t know if it’s a combination of a down cycle in talent and tough schedules, but we never anticipated something like this happening. There’s no question that we want to get a few wins and be back on the way up.”
That task is left for Robbins, who takes over for Zane Sweeney after serving as an assistant at Sultana for several years. Robbins’ familiarity with the program has allowed for a smooth transition and has even allowed for him to throw in a few schematic changes for the Sultans.
The past four seasons have seen the Serrano football team progress an additional step toward a CIF championship. The Diamondbacks have gone from losing in the first round in 2006 to the quarterfinals in 2007 to the semifinals in 2008 to the Eastern Division championship game last year. Serrano fell in that game, 24-14 to Palm Springs, but logical progression suggests that the Diamondbacks will win a CIF championship this year. Don’t expect Serrano coach Ray Maholchic to subscribe to that line of thinking though.
“We haven’t talked about the CIF title game since it happened,” Maholchic said. “That’s not something we are thinking about. It takes a lot of good fortune to get to that point once you get in the playoff. We talk about winning the league title first and then worry about the other stuff when it comes.”
Serrano lost two Division I athletes in defensive end Everett Beed (San Diego State) and running back Dionza Bradford (UNLV) from last year’s CIF runner-up, but the Diamondbacks won’t be hurting for experience, as they return four-fifths of their starting offensive line, their quarterback and their leading tackler.
Arroyo Valley athletic director Matt Howell announced a couple of coaching reshufflings during a phone conversation I had with him earlier this afternoon. Softball coach Tammy Shearer will also coach the girls volleyball team this fall, as previous girls volleyball coach Mike Lawler will step away to deal with a family matter, according to Howell. Howell is expecting that Lawler will return to coach the Hawks’ boys volleyball team in the spring.
Howell also announced that James Lasch would be heading up the girls golf team this fall.
San Bernardino High School sophomore quarterback/safety Khleem Perkins was named to MaxPreps’ Fresh Faces 2013 Top 100 watch list last week and was presented a certificate at practice yesterday according to Cardinals coach Nick Monica.
“It was a really cool thing,” Monica said. “They came by practice and let everybody know. It’s a big deal for Khleem because I really think he has a lot of potential and something like this could really put his name out there.”
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Perkins, who also plays basketball and was a key player for the Cardinals as a freshman in that sport, will play quarterback and safety for San Bernardino this season. You can read the write up on him and the rest of the Fresh Faces here.