Thoughts on wild CIF-SS Central Division football title for Kaiser

Kaiser’s crazy 28-21 win over Moreno Valley Rancho Verde to capture the CIF-SS Central Division championship was an incredible game that came down to the wire.
There was so much going on in that game, I would say I don’t know where to start. But rather, I know where to start, but I just don’t want to miss anything.
Of course, you start with the winning touchdown.

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CIF-SS semifinal football results; Finals set

Friday’s CIF-SS semifinal results, with San Bernardino County teams in bold.

Perhaps the most surprising was the margin of the Rim victory. I predicted the Scots would win, but not by 49 points. By the way, our staff writer Ed Castro had Rim’s Jacob Taylor with 355 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, which would put him at 3,750 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns for the season in 13 games, although the official stats aren’t into yet. Regardless, he is more than likely the No. 2 rusher in the nation according to maxpreps. That was his spot entering Friday’s games.

I am impressed by the quiet run Kaiser has made. The Cats were nearly forgotten after getting blown out by Summit to open league, but have come up clutch in the last few weeks in winning 7 in a row. Interesting stat: In its last 9 games (during which the Cats are 8-1), Kaiser has scored 14 points or less five times (going 4-1, including all 3 playoff games) and scored over 40 points in each of the other four games (going 4-0).

Vista Murrieta 34, Rancho Cucamonga 0
Corona Centennial 46, Upland 36
Final: Corona Centennial at Vista Murrieta, Friday
Moreno Valley Rancho Verde 35, Menifee Paloma Valley 28
Kaiser 13, Romoland Heritage 7
Final: Kaiser at Rancho Verde, Saturday
Perris Citrus Hill 37, Hemet Tahquitz 0
Serrano 21, Carter 14
Final: Serrano at Citrus Hill, Friday
Ontario Christian 34, Jurupa Hills 33 (OT)
Rim of the World 69, Banning 20
Final: Ontario Christian at Rim of the World, Friday

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Kaiser depending on youngsters to continue tradition

Being as good as Kaiser was last year, as the Cats won 12 games in a row by at least 12 points before being upset by Wildomar Elsinore in the CIF-SS Eastern semifinals, allowed the Cats to play a lot of backups and young players late in games. With 18 of his 22 starters from last year having graduated, Kaiser coach Phil Zelaya hopes that the “garbage time” playing time of last year pays off this year.

“The good thing is that we have guys that have gotten some time at the varsity level,” Zelaya said. “The bad thing is that most of those guys don’t have the experience of playing four quarters. That what we hope they’ll be able to adapt to.”

Where Kaiser was decimated more than anywhere was along their defensive line and defensive backfield. The Cats lost Division I talents in defensive backs Desman Carter and Davonte Manning, defensive linemen Walter Earnest and linebacker Dennis Taylor. In their stead are players that Zelaya is curious to see how they’ll pan out.

“I know they are going to play hard and play physical, I just don’t know if they are as talented as the guys we had,” Zelaya said. “I hope playing last year as a bit of a shock to the system and that it’ll help this year.”
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Week 9 top 10

A little bit of reshuffling at the bottom, as Summit wins its way back into the rankings.

Sun Top 10

1. Kaiser (8-0)
Previous ranking: 1. Last week: def. Riverside Norte Vista, 44-8. Up next: Friday vs. No. 10 Summit (6-1-1).

2. Chino Hills (6-2)
Previous ranking: 2. Last week: def. South Hills, 51-14. Up next: Friday at Covina Charter Oak (5-6).

3. Redlands East Valley (6-2)
Previous ranking: 3. Last week: def. Fontana, 56-0. Up next: Friday vs. Yucaipa (5-3).

4. Redlands (6-1-1)
Previous ranking: 4. Last week: def. Eisenhower, 35-7. Up next: Friday vs. Miller (4-4).

5. Rancho Cucamonga (7-1)
Previous ranking: 5. Last week: def. Upland, 35-31. Up next: Thursday at Etiwanda (4-4).

6. Serrano (7-1)
Previous ranking: 6. Last week: def. Oak Hills, 31-9. Up next: Friday at Barstow (1-7).

7. Chino (8-0)
Previous ranking: 8. Last week: def. Montclair, 37-0. Up next: Friday at Ontario (4-4).

8. Cajon (6-2)
Previous ranking: 9. Last week: def. Arroyo Valley, 30-14. Up next: Friday vs. Carter (5-2-1).

9. Colton (6-2)
Previous ranking: 10. Last week: def. Pacific, 73-12. Up next: Friday at San Gorgonio (4-4).

10. Summit (6-1-1)
Previous ranking: NR. Last week: def. Jurupa Valley, 63-0. Up next: Friday at No. 1 Kaiser (8-0).

Just missed the cut: Upland (5-3), Yucaipa (5-3), Aquinas (7-1).

Dropped out: No. 7 Upland (5-3).

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And Shirley picks…UCLA

If football doesn’t work out for Josh Shirley, poker should be his call. After rampant speculation of a final four of USC, Miami (Fla), Arizona and Washington, Shirley threw a curveball and picked UCLA – a school he didn’t take an official visit to.

“There were ups and downs, I’m not going to lie, but in the end, UCLA was where I wanted to be,” Shirley said. “It was between UCLA and Washington and I felt most comfortable in blue and gold.”

This flies in the face of the conventional wisdom of every recruiting service, my article in the Sun this morning and my blog entry from just over an hour ago. Even Shirley was a litte bit surprised.

“Two days ago I wasn’t even thinking about UCLA,” Shirley said. “I probably surprised a lot of people with that decision. I was looking for reasons to not go to every school on my list and UCLA had the least amount of reasons.”

While I was shocked at the announcement, a couple of things, in retrospect, should have tipped me off. When I saw Shirley in the lobby of the building where the studio was located, he had a UCLA letter of intent on top of a stack of papers. And a UCLA hat was surprisingly in the stack of caps brought into the studio, not to mention the fact that Shirley insisted on another UCLA hat after the original Bruin hat the station brought out didn’t fit.

After over an hour of pacing around and being nervous, Shirley was relaxed after the annoucement, signing his letter of intent in the Prime Ticket break room with a smile on his face. And afterwards, he somewhat marveled at his decision.

“That was a surprise,” Shirley said right before his contingent of family and friends left for a hearty meal at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.

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Shirley kicking it into high gear

Kaiser linebacker Josh Shirley – a top 150 recruit by both and – has kept his poker face pretty well throughout the recruiting process, as it has been tough to get a read on the 6-foot-3, 225-pound linebacker’s intentions.

“I have a lot of schools I’m looking at right now,” Shirley said. “I wouldn’t say that there’s one school that’s my favorite right now.”

Shirley has been frugal with his official visits, taking one to Washington in October and another to Arizona in November to go along with several unofficial visits to USC and UCLA. But the next two weekends will see Shirley on the road, as he heads to USC this weekend and out to Miami (Fla.) in the last weekend before National Signing Day on February 2.
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Eastern Division predictions

Got three out of four here last week, as only Apple Valley couldn’t get the job done for me. Still have my pre-playoff champ alive in this division, which is more than I can say for my performance in the Central Division.

Palm Springs at Kaiser
This is a matchup familiar to Kaiser fans, as the Cats and Cardinals faced off in this round in 2005. Palm Springs won that matchup 28-21 and present problems with their multi-faceted spread-option offense. However, Kaiser has some upper-level talent in LB Josh Shirley and RB Anthony Brown that the Cardinals haven’t really dealt with. Brown, in particular, is on a roll and Kaiser will ride him to the final.
Kaiser 24, Palm Springs 19

Serrano at Norte Vista
The Braves do their thing, as Norte Vista was able to wear down Apple Valley in the second half last week. Doing that to Serrano, however, is a completly different matter. The last time the Braves faced a team with Serrano’s defensive talent level, they were beat 31-8 by Kaiser. I’m not saying the Diamondbacks will rout Norte Vista, but I picked them to win the Eastern title for a reason.
Serrano 27, Norte Vista 14

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Week 7 top 10

Not much change here. Serrano whipped Rim of the World, so the Diamondbacks rejoin the rankings while the Scots fall out after a one-week appearance. And I must say, I’m getting very tempted to jump REV over Rancho.

Sun Top 10

1. Rancho Cucamonga (6-0)
Previous ranking: 1. Last week: def. Claremont, 52-24. Up next: Friday at Los Osos (2-4)

2. Redlands East Valley (6-0)
Previous ranking: 2. Last week: def. Fontana, 48-0. Up next: Friday at Rialto (0-6)

3. Upland (6-0)
Previous ranking: 3. Last week: def. Los Osos, 17-0. Up next: Friday vs. Alta Loma (0-6).

4. Colton (5-1)
Previous ranking: 4. Last week: def. Arroyo Valley, 31-14. Up next: Friday at San Bernardino (1-5).

5. Colony (5-1)
Previous ranking: 5. Last week: def. Ontario, 55-10. Up next: Friday vs. Garey (3-3).

6. Chino Hills (5-1)
Previous ranking: 6. Last week: def. Damien, 38-6. Up next: Friday at Chino (0-6).

7. Barstow (5-1)
Previous ranking: 7. Last week: def. Ridgecrest Burroughs, 28-21. Up next: Friday vs. Silverado (5-2).

8. Redlands (5-1)
Previous ranking: 8. Last week: def. Eisenhower, 49-7. Up next: Friday vs. Yucaipa (3-3).

9. Etiwanda (4-2)
Previous ranking: 10. Last week: def. Alta Loma, 61-17. Up next: Friday at Claremont (4-2).

10. Serrano (4-2)
Previous ranking: NR. Last week: def. Rim of the World, 35-7. Up next: Friday at Apple Valley (3-3).

Just missed the cut: Ayala (5-1), Kaiser (3-3), Rim of the World (6-1), Silverado (5-2)

Dropped out: No. 9. Rim of the World (6-1).

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Final regular season high school rankings

Here we go going into the playoffs. The same 10 teams make up the poll for the third straight week.

1. Miller (10-0)
After a pseudo-scare against Eisenhower last week, the Rebels got back to dominating by whupping Fontana this week. I wasn’t surprised by it, as the Rebel players I saw at the REV-Redlands game last week guaranteed a better effort this week. It will be interesting to see where they are slated tomorrow.

2. Rancho Cucamonga (9-0-1)
Wind gusts at Los Osos High School really changed the dynamic of their game against Upland, but Rancho, as has been the case all season, stepped it up. Winning a loaded Baseline this year is extremely impressive.

3. Hesperia (10-0)
The Scorpions are straight ballin’ right now, just destroying everyone in the High Desert at this point. I’m expecting Hesperia to be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Division when brackets are released tomorrow.

4. Redlands East Valley (9-1)
The Wildcats showed no emotional hangover from the Redlands win, disposing of a decent Eisenhower team pretty easily. It will be interesting to see how REV’s bend-but-don’t-break defense plays in the postseason.

5. Los Osos (8-2)
Arby Fields celebrated his commitment to Northwestern by running wild against Etiwanda, assuring the Grizzlies of a high seed in the Central Bracket tomorrow. This team is probably the most complete one that Osos has seen.

6. Cajon (9-1)
The Cowboys laid waste to the San Andreas League, breaking the Colton strangehold on that lead. How their game will translate against teams from the Baseline and Sierra Leagues remains to be seen.

7. Chino Hills (9-1)
The Huskies avoid the late-season swoon that has happened the past couple of years by beating Diamond Bar. They are definitely a team no one wants to face in the Central Division.

8. Upland (8-2)
This seems a little harsh, but your offense needs to be able to score points no matter what the conditions are. But, barring another onslaught of gale-force winds, Upland is a No. 3 seed that is going to anger whoever is unlucky to face them this week.

9. Ayala (8-2)
Losing to Glendora isn’t the best way to celebrate the Chino Hills victory, but it was ultimately harmless in the grand scheme of things, as Ayala won the coin flip and the No. 1 seed anyway.

10. Kaiser (6-3-1)
The Cats are rolling and will be a tough team to beat in the Eastern playoffs. Sure, Patriot was overrated a bit, but it doesn’t detract from the impressive nature of Friday’s victory.

Just missed the cut: Chaffey (8-2), Serrano (7-3), Aquinas (9-1).

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Week 9 top 10

Lots of topsy-turviness this week, as last week’s poll was turned upside down.

1. Miller (8-0)
Congratulations to the Rebels, who shut down previous No. 1 Redlands East Valley, giving the Wildcats their first regular-season loss since September 2006. Miller now can see a Citrus Belt League title staring it in its face.

2. Rancho Cucamonga (7-0-1)
I’m a man of my word if nothing else. I said should Rancho defeat Los Osos, it would make a huge jump. The Cougars did that and now have the pole position in the chase for a Baseline League title. Just a great story, especially given the star power of Osos and Upland.

3. Hesperia (8-0)
The Scorpions took a huge step toward that elusive Mojave River League title, beating a Serrano team that has traditionally been a thorn in its side. A tricky road game at Rim of the World is next, but Hesperia is looking pretty darn good right now.

4. Upland (7-1)
The Highlanders were impressive, showing no hangover from the loss to Los Osos. I felt kind of funny putting Upland past the Grizzlies, but I feel that Los Osos’ two losses give me justification for such a move.

5. Redlands East Valley (7-1)
The Wildcats tumble to here, as their inconsistent offensive play finally caught up with them against Miller. It doesn’t get much easier for REV, as a tricky crosstown showdown with Redlands next on the docket.

6. Chino Hills (8-0)
Big win for the Huskies at Glendora, as Chino Hills continues to march on. I contemplated moving the Huskies even higher than this, but like with Rancho, they’ll eventually get there if they take care of business.

7. Los Osos (6-2)
This was the toughest team to rank, as I almost dropped the Grizzlies to 8th after their loss to Rancho. However, their quality wins are quality, and I couldn’t possibly justify putting Los Osos behind a Cajon team that it beat on the road.

8. Cajon (7-1)
The Cowboys actually moved down despite rolling Pacific, but that was more due to big wins by Rancho and Chino Hills than anything the Cowboys did or didn’t do. Either way, Cajon stayed on track for a San Andreas League title.

9. Ayala (7-1)
The Bulldogs took care of business against Damien, setting up a huge crosstown showdown with Chino Hills as the Sierra League title hangs in the balance. Should be a great one at Chino Hills High on Friday.

10. Kaiser (4-3-1)
This last spot was tough, as there were 4 or 5 other teams that could have conceivably been in this spot. However, I like the way Kaiser has played of late and would put their three losses (Riverside North, Cajon and Los Osos) against anyone else’s. So the Cats get the nod for now.

Just missed the cut: Chaffey (6-2), Etiwanda (5-3), Serrano (5-3).
Dropped out: No. 9 Serrano (5-3).

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