Skill-position threats buoy Aquinas

Things were going swimmingly for Aquinas heading into the playoffs a year ago, as a fourth consecutive league title and a 9-1 record had the Falcons ranked No. 2 in the East Valley Division going into the playoffs. But maybe they were going a bit too well.

“I’m not going to say that we overlooked Yucca Valley, but I think we got a little too proud of ourselves,” Aquinas coach Nick Matheny said. “Yucca came and knocked us in the mouth and shocked us a bit.”

The Trojans scored 21 unanswered points in the first half and pulled off the 21-14 upset, as the Falcons ended their season before Thanksgiving for the first time since 2003, when they didn’t make the playoffs at all. That’s disappointment has served as fuel for Aquinas in the offseason.

Aquinas will also get fuel from its array of skill-position players it has returning, namely senior running back Burrell Handy (5-8, 165). Handy led the county in scoring as a junior, rushing for 1,377 yards and 22 touchdowns while serving as the workhorse of the offense.
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Carter to rely on suffocating defense

Carter’s run to its first winning season since 2006 and its second straight playoff berth last year was predicating on a stifling defense that held opponents to a scant 11.9 points per game. So the Lions’ opponents should be a little worried about Carter coach Alex Pierce’s thoughts on that unit heading into his fourth season at the helm.

“We were one of the best defenses in the division last year, if not the best,” Pierce said. “And we’re going to be better this year.”

The reason for that confidence is eight returning starters to a swarming, relentless unit that almost held Arroyo Valley to negative yards in a win-or-go-home regular-season finale last year. Leading the way is junior defensive tackle Kenny Clark (6-2, 278), a national-champion heavyweight wrestler and a starter on the offensive line as well.

“If there’s a better defensive tackle in the county than Kenny, I really hope we don’t have to face them,” Pierce said. “Kenny is quick, strong, relentless, never gets tired. He’s got very good grades and is going to be a big-time recruit.”
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Harper commits to Washington

Colony athlete Bryan Harper committed to the University of Washington Tuesday according to a Rivals.com article. Harper, a 6-foot, 180-pound athlete who transferred to Colony after playing quarterback at Carter the last two seasons, chose the Huskies after a recent trip to the school with teammate Robert Wagner. The three-star prospect also had offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Colorado State, Montana and New Mexico State.

Harper is the second county player to pledge to the Huskies this month, joining Cajon defensive back Damontae Kazee. Kazee, a first-team all-Sun selection last year, formally introduced his commitment to Washington June 13 after being a silent commitment for a while according to Scout.com.

CIF-State to add regional football round

I meant to comment on this last week, but the CIF-State offices have added a regional round of playoffs to be played between the CIF-SS championship round and the state championship bowls. And as far as I’m concerned, this should have happened years ago.

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the BCS-type selection process for the championship bowls. It’s a bit too political for my blood and it excluded quite a few teams – read San Bernardino County teams – that could have had a shot for greater things. How cool would it have been last year to see Colton attempt to continue its Cinderella run against a team like La Habra, which won the Southwest Division? I bet the Colony teams of 2006 and 2007 would have loved to have march on against another section champion, along with 2006 Big Bear, 2008 Rancho Cucamonga and 2009 Upland teams. More football is always fine by me and the term “state champion” means more when there are more teams given the opportunity to play for these championships.

As far as the new format of the state playoffs is concerned, there will be five regional title games that feed into the five state championship bowls (Division 1-4 and open). The bowls will be played December 14-15, meaning that the regionals will take place Dec. 7-8 and the CIF championships will take place Nov. 30-Dec. 1. That’ll bump the start of the regular season up a week, so Week 0 will take place the last weekend of August instead of the first weekend of September.

Bray reconsiders, will reapply for position

Colton football coach Rick Bray will reapply for his position as Colton football coach after an upwelling of support on his behalf from the community according to a text I received from Bray and the Colton football Facebook page.

The Facebook entry, written by “Colton Football Coaching Staff” says the following:

Coach Bray would like to thank the community for the endless support he’s received since he made his decision friday afternoon. It’s because of this support that he has decided, he will not let one mans ego decide the fate of a program he’s… help build over these last 25 plus years.

That being said, Coach Bray will be reapplying for the Head Coaching position, as the Colton Joint Unified School District Board of Education is requiring him to do.

Coach Bray has never walked away from a challenge, and will not be labeled a quitter. This was evident last year, when he was not named Head Coach until June 1st, after having to apply 3 times, but ran the program as his own from December to that time.

Coach Bray, and his staff, will continue to work with thier Student Athletes best interests in mind, in preparation for the 2011 Football Season.

We will still need every community members support.

The Colton Joint Unified School District will be accepting applications for the job until Friday and from there they’ll make the decision. And quite frankly, if they decide on anyone but Bray, it will be one of the most stupefying decisions that I’ve encountered in my years as a sports journalist.

National Signing Day List

County football players that will signing National Letters of Intent with Division I schools today as part of National Signing Day. Let me know if I’ve missed anyone.

Promise Amadi, WR, Chino — Hawaii
Josh Armstrong, DB, Redlands East Valley — Sacramento State (FCS)
Devon Blackmon, WR, Summit — Oregon
Desman Carter, DB, Kaiser — Nevada
Joseph Carter, DE, Chaffey College — Nebraska
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, DB, Chino Hills — Oregon
Walter Earnest, DE, Kaiser — UC Davis (FCS)
Tyler Ervin, RB/DB, Colton — San Jose State
Johntel Franklin, DB, Victor Valley College — Texas A&M
Rodney Hardrick, LB, Colton — Oregon
Nate Harris, DB, Chino Hills — Montana (FCS)
Dallas Kelley, LB, Chaffey College — USC
Marcus Mason, RB, Etiwanda — Washington State
Justin Nunes, QB, Upland — UC Davis (FCS)
Quentin Pedroza, WR, Chino — Arizona State
Paul Pitts, WR, Los Osos — San Diego State
Jamal Prater, OL, Etiwanda — Oregon
Paul Rodriguez, OL, San Gorgonio — San Diego State
Jordan Smith, OL, Redlands — San Diego State
Daimion Stafford, DB, Chaffey College — Nebraska
Dennis Taylor, LB, Kaiser — Portland State (FCS)
John Taylor, OL/DL, Colton — Sacramento State (FCS)
Jake Van Ginkel, K, Upland — Boise State

All-CIF Eastern football team

Offensive Player of the Year – Seth Middlemas, Elsinore
Defensive Player of the Year – Nolan Peralta, Elsinore
Coach of the Year – Tony Peralta, Elsinore

Offense
Seth Middlemas, RB, Sr., Elsinore
Scott Benson, RB, Sr., Heritage
Jimmy Awolesi, RB, Sr., Kaiser
Taylor Ruize, RB, Sr., Serrano
Davien Payne, RB, Jr., Citrus Hill
Antawaun Jones, RB, Sr., Granite Hills
Montigo Alford, RB, Sr., Summit

Zeek Julien, QB, Sr., Victor Valley
Vance Passamquindici, OL, Jr., Victor Valley
Anthony Gordon, OL, Sr., Beaumont
Joey Nicholas, OL, Sr., Serrano
Gary Dixon, OL, Sr., Summit
Nick Letay, OL, Sr., Kaiser
Corbitt Kestly, OL, Sr., Elsinore
David Kogan, OL, Sr., Heritage
Cavion Flournoy, WR, Sr., Apple Valley
Devon Blackman, WR, Sr., Summit
Dewayne Brown, WR, Sr., Kaiser
Issaiah Kepley, WR, Sr., Victor Valley
Ron Douglas, WR, Sr., Ridgecrest Burroughs
Derrick Dison, UTL, Sr., Ridgecrest Burroughs
Leo Farias, K, Jr. Serrano

Defense
Donte Deayon, DB, Jr., Summit
Kindrick Haynes, DB, Sr., Kaiser
Davonte Manning, DB, Sr., Kaiser
Donovan Adams, DB, Sr., Heritage
Allan Stubbs, DB, So., Elsinore
Daniel Rodriguez, DB, Jr., Elsinore
Jay Fisher-James, DL, Sr., Granite Hills
Hecter Sotelo DL, Sr., Serrano
Matthew Ceja DL, Sr., Summit
Walter Earnest DL, Sr., Kaiser
Xavier Evans DL, Sr., Kaiser
David Irving DL, Sr., San Jacinto
Zachary Dembrowski DL, Sr., Elsinore
Nolan Peralta, LB, Jr., Elsinore
Dennis Taylor, LB, Sr., Kaiser
Jimmy Musgrave, LB, Sr., Silverado
Ethan Hillyer, LB, Sr., Serrano
Tony Hifo, LB, Jr., Heritage
Aaron Woodard, LB, Sr., Oak Hills
Victor Iosefa, LB, Jr., Granite Hills
Damione Backus, UTL, So., West Valley
Juan Soto, P, Sr., Elsinore

All-CIF Inland football team

INLAND DIVISION
Offensive Player of the Year – Michael Eubank, Corona Centennial
Defensive Player of the Year – Chris Gonzalez, Corona Centennial
Coach of the Year – Matt Logan, Corona Centennial

Offense
Barrinton Collins, RB, Corona Centennial
Sateki Finau, RB, Rancho Cucamonga
Kelsey Young, RB, Norco
Marcus Mason, RB, Etiwanda
Darius Guillory, RB, Chaparral
Nate Harris, RB, Chino Hills

Michael Eubank, QB, Corona Centennial
Derrick Brown, QB, Vista Murrieta
Daniel Kessler, QB, Claremont
Jacob Olsson, OL, Corona Centennial
Brent Walker, OL, Norco
Corey Whitaker, OL, Vista Murrieta
Cameron Turner, OL, Rancho Cucamonga
Lio Lafaele, OL, Corona Centennial
Jordan Smith, OL, Redlands
Nick Enriquez, OL, Chino Hills
Larry Scott, WR, Corona Centennial
Donavan Harden, WR, Rancho Cucamonga
Michael Mazur, WR, Vista Murrieta
Dennis Rufus, WR, Charter Oak
Sam Boyd, WR, Roosevelt
Jake Van Ginkel, K, Upland

Defense
Chris Gonzalez, DB, Corona Centennial
Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, DB, Chino Hills
Josh Armstrong, DB, Redlands East Valley
Darion Williams, DB, Vista Murrieta
Greg Henderson, DB, Norco
Dylan Valentine, DB, Chaparral
Randy Perez Vista, DB, Murrieta
Ryan Jack, LB, Corona Centennial
Tevita Kauvaka, LB, Rancho Cucamonga
Josh Peterson, LB, Redlands East Valley
Nick Alexander, LB, Charter Oak
Adam Pulsipher, LB, Temecula Valley
Nick Gonzalez, LB, Chino Hills
Rudy Arguelles, LB, Norco
Milo Jordan, DL, Corona Centennial
Auston Johnson, DL, Chino Hills
Jon Sanchez, DL, Vista Murrieta
Devon Lewis, DL, Redlands East Valley
Cody Duffy, DL, Rancho Cucamonga
John Siliga, DL, Redlands
Daniel Fusi, DL, Corona
Christian Powell, DL, Upland