Chew on this …

Nothing says summer football like sunglasses, shorts and mohawks.

A couple of days ago, my Stepdad hit me with this riddle, “I drove by Gladstone High School the other day and guess what I saw on the field.”
“Uh, I don’t know,” I replied, knowing full well what was coming next.
“Football players.”
I just said stared blankly at him because, again, I knew what was coming next.
“They’re starting earlier and earlier these days,” he said with an almost semi-disgusted tone before walking away.
You see, you have to understand that the Stepdad is old school. Part of me thinks he and Rowland coach Craig Snyder would make for great friends. Football to the Stepdad means the running game and leather helmets. It also means fall and winter, not the dead of summer.
How could I tell him that later that week I would be out at the very same field he drove by watching a passing tournament all the while fighting the same urges that led me to pronounce four summers ago that South Hills would win two or three CIF titles and reach a state bowl game all because of what I saw during a passing game?
I couldn’t.
So Saturday arrived and there I was — at Gladstone at the sportswriter equivalent to the crack of dawn — a little after 9 a.m.
And there they were, the new boys of summer. Across several fields were the skill players that will make the SGV football circuit go this coming season and the coaches who lead them into battle.
I’m not used to seeing them during the day. They usually play their games at night. And I’m certainly not used to seeing them in the football player’s equivalent to naked — t-shirts and shorts.
But here it was, the early part of July, and we had some very spirited competition taking place between the grid lines. There was Rosemead and Mid-Valley Division champion San Dimas squaring off right before my eyes.
I strolled up to Panthers coach Matt Koffler during his team’s close loss to the Saints and asked if they had no shot to win the division due to this outcome.
“Yeah, no way,” Koffler said.
Koffler’s sarcasm wasn’t the first of the day, nor was it the last. Sarcasm, especially when something went wrong, permeated every field all day long.
“That’s a sack!” a La Puente player yelled from the sideline just as Arroyo QB Steven Rivera burnt the Warriors deep for a touchdown.
Now, I don’t know what type of line Jim Singiser’s bunch has this year, but the kid was right. In a real game, Rivera would not have had all that time to let his receiver get all the way behind the defense before unleashing perfect pass to him in the back of the end zone.
Desperate to learn something, I turned to the one man who always tells it like it is — Covina coach Darryl Thomas.
“Is this the day you guys stamp yourselves contenders?” I asked Thomas, who fired a stunned look back at me before replying “Today?”
Thomas later pointed out his team had a lot of work to do. One of his assistants also pointed out that the Colts didn’t have starting quarterback Billy Livingston at the event.
“See you at 5,” I barked to Thomas in reference to what time the championship was scheduled for. To which he asked “You gonna be in Upland?”
Maybe there was another passing tournament in Upland that night or maybe that’s where Thomas makes his home.
At any rate, the Colts didn’t reach the finals. But Azusa and Monrovia did. And minus the marching band, cheerleaders and 50/50, they put on quite a show.
Azusa’s running game did little. But neither did Monrovia’s. I think that really hurt the ‘Cats. There were a couple times both teams were in field-goal range, but decided to gamble and go for it. What stones.
Azusa came away with the win and I couldn’t help but fight the urge to fly home and put on the blog that the Aztecs were now the favorites in the Mid-Valley Division. Monrovia should really try to run the ball more.
Just prior to the championship game I told Singiser, the event’s organizer, I had a wild a hair up my wheel route to write a sarcastic piece about passing league. For the first time ever he was speechless to something I said. After careful discussion, he relented and gave me permission. And yes, it was permission.
You see, Singiser is the new, old school. He isn’t one to extol the virtues of passing games at the expense of real football. But when it comes to either, he attacks the task at hand with the type of vigor that makes him one of the best around.
… Singiser also isn’t one to stand in the way of a sports writer making a jackass out of himself.
There’s no question, the benefits are obvious to having a day like this. Skill players get a chance to make reads. Defenders get a chance to make reads. Plus, they do it in Orange County, so we might as well, too.
I’m not so sure I buy the whole “timing” argument. Things might be a little different when there’s defensive ends bearing down on the quarterbacks or when the running game is stuck in the mud and the blitzes are coming from everywhere.
But when in doubt, check with the parking lot. It was full. And that’s where I rolled up on Baldwin Park defensive coordinator Wardell Crutchfield Jr. and his linebacker son WC3 at the end of a long day.
WC3 just glared at me like he was ready to rupture my spleen with one hit. Crutch Jr., half-sour after a loss to Wilson, told me he was going to blitz the hell out of everyone (something he couldn’t do on Saturday).
OK, it finally felt like real football.

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  • K

    Way to put things in perspective AT.

  • Don

    Multi-team passing or lineman events can surely be a disappointment to both professional reporters or even fans who typically describe their team as blue collar or like to tell you their boys play smashmouth football. I too miss the crash of pads and frankly, all of those skinny armed boys dressed up in underarmour does take a bit away from the ‘real game’, but these events can also be a swell way to spend a couple hours outside in the sun and smog.

    Remember to keep your expectations modest and try to have a little fun, there are things almost anyone can take away from these contests:

    You can learn whether a team is really fast or sloooowww. (This applies to big and little too).
    You can speak to more H C’s and assistants in one day than you could anywhere else in a week.
    You can learn from coach’s body language and syntactic nuance whether he likes you or not.
    You might discover a D1 line prospect nobody has heard of yet.
    You could meet people who may help you with your work. And then, maybe not.

    The ‘modest expectation’ thing has to do with stuff like :

    You can’t divine who’ll be in the Mid-Valley finals in December by watching passing tourneys in July.
    You’ll never uncover a skill position talent that had been under the radar before you found him.
    You probably won’t convince a local coach you have suddenly become a fan.
    You won’t meet the girl of your dreams, (just wanted to see if you were staying alert there).
    If a writer, you probably won’t generate anything there to add to your career portfolio.

    Also worth considering may be approaching coaches only between rounds since some might maintain they’re actually working during their team’s contests. I think this applies to both professional attendees as well as the casual fan or parent. I’m also thinking a later arrival might benefit many folks from both a circadian and day planning perspective, (think of it like taking kids to a theme park). But then, I might be mistaken.

    Last, always plan some type of dining adventure to coincide with an event like this. For those attending the Claremont High School Tourney next week, I recommend picking up a sandwich at Wolfe’s on Foothill, although those coming from the IE may want to stop at the Buckboard BBQ a little further east, (this may be where Coach Thomas was planning to be at 5). Either way, it makes for a pleasant way to break during the day and seems to lessen ones irascible urges. At least it usually works for me.

  • Covina Blvd

    And some of you guys were asking why Charter Oak was not going to be in this tournment, please Azusa and Monrovia. HAHAHAHAH what a joke, last Thursday we were with at Los Alamitos.


    you’re a do#che bag.

  • Goldenarm


    That is one excellent post.

    Passing league success can say many things about a team…but it may be the most unreliable of all yardsticks in predicting the eventual outcome of a team’s “real” season.

    I learned this more than 30 years ago, when as a Alhambra Moor, we won the Watts Summer Games Passing League, no doubt one of the gnarliest, speed infested passing tourneys that ever existed. Most all of the top City teams participated, and it was amazing to come out on top.
    As the season began, we won our first two games and were CIF ranked 3rd, I believe behind St Paul and Servite. Game 4 we met Servite and were annilated 27-0. Afterward, and at half, a couple coaches had singled out two or three players and verbally raped and insulted them in front of the whole team. Everything unraveled from there after, as bas blood and mutiny were the order of the day. We finished 3-6, a horrible season.
    It may be an extreme example, but chemistry is just one of the bolts needed to assemble a truly great team, and one that when missing can shoot it all down the toilet.

  • Interesting Post

    Goldenarm, who was your Head Coach at the time Ruedaflores?


    Hey ARAM, did you go and eat at Ray’s Teypac for lunch accross the street from Gladstone?Because they make some killer Burrittos there! Aram thanks for the play by play action.


  • WTF

    Azteca Pride,

    Ray’s Tepayac is chorrro central.

  • Aram has plenty of experience with the various tepeyacs around the Southland. I will have to add this one to the list.

  • Just Sayin!

    Aztec Pride

    The best Burrittos are at Boca Del Rio on Arrow Highway!!


    Just wait until the Amat vs Garfield game and get over to best of the best Tepeyacs in Manuels on Evergreen just off Cesar Chavez Bl. Order the Manuels Special and have at it . My personal favorite is the machaca dinner but from reading your blog I would think a special is right up your alley.

  • SANTANA’S are pretty good.

    Best Burritos are at SANTANA’s on Foothill and Garey . New place and it’s open 24hrs.

    Boca’s are good but the cheese never melts!!!

  • my favorite place

    I know a restaurant called “Are You Guys Seriously Talking About Burritos on this Blog Restaurant”. On the corner of Seriously Burritos?! Ave. and Are You Freakin’ Kidding Me?! Blvd. In the city of Enough With The Burritos Already! right next to the City of Industry.

  • D-Mo

    Aram, what time does the 4-way start at South Hills Thursday??

  • D-Mo,

    5 p.m. at South Hills

  • WTF?

    End summer football. Spring Football in Pads. Scrimmage someeone at the end. This would tell you way more about your team.