Burning Questions for Week 1 …

It’s showtime for South Hills! … Finally.

Can La Mirada avoid embarrassment?

The word on the street was that the Matadores were going to be 1-0 heading into this week’s showdown with La Habra. St. Paul didn’t get that word, and the Mats are 0-1 and those who feel who they had a shot vs. La Habra just a month ago have suddenly gone silent. While an outright win is looking like a long shot, La Mirada needs to avoid being blown out to salvage any sort of respect it still has in the “we’re a big-time program” debate.

Can Bonita keep it going?

It’s one thing to beat San Dimas, which let’s face it, may not be as good as advertised, and it’s another thing entirely to beat Claremont. If running back Taj Teague plays, the ‘Pack is going to be double tough for Bonita. If he doesn’t, then Bonita has a chance to build on what could be a dream season. Word from area coaches is that Claremont is a tad over-hyped along both lines, but does have legit skill guys. We’ll know more on Friday.

Can Monrovia hang with the really big boys?

Monrovia has the QB and complimentary skill guys to be labeled the Mid-Valley Division favorite, but there aren’t too many people out there who believe the ‘Cats can hang along the interior with upper-division foes. Perhaps the title game loss vs. San Dimas still lingers in the minds of many. Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox has scheduled up for a reason and this is a major statement game for his team. Glendora isn’t overly big and won’t bully the ‘Cats the way many think, but that’s not really the question. The question is: Can Monrovia deal with another team’s weapons when interior play is basically equal? We’ll find out …

Is Bishop Amat’s offense really in trouble?

The Lancers took some heat for a 23-point win last week over Garfield. You’ve got to love it. Now they hit the road to face a Dominguez team that held Crespi to 11 points last Friday. Amat’s offense didn’t light the world on fire and will have to be better this week to pull out another road win. Amat isn’t operating at full capacity, with WR Wallace Gonzalez still awaiting his eligibility. So where will the points come from on Friday? They may only need 14 anyway to pull out the win if the defense comes up big again.

Is Gabrielino for real?

Titans coach Mike Mooney may get more than he bargained for when his Titans open up this week against Gabrielino. The Eagles won big last week against Cerritos and had little trouble finding the end zone. San Marino replaces a lot of key players, but has a strong enough coaching staff to make a smooth transition. Mooney inherited a strong freshman team from last year and we’ll see just how far San Marino has dropped … or not … and how far Gabrielino has come on Friday.

Is Diamond Ranch in trouble?

The Panthers were waxed last week, 56-0, by Santa Margarita. Now the debate is whether D-Ranch is that bad or Santa Margarita that good. Friday’s home opener against Damien is the only way to find out. Diamond Ranch’s offense has some new faces in key spots, but so does Damien. This is one of the most intense coaching battles of the young season, so expect some sort of trickeration from both sides. If D-Ranch struggles on both sides of the ball again, then the Southeast Division may really be thrown for a loop … then again, it’s not November yet.

Is South Hills ready to put the distractions aside and play some football?

The Huskies have had a tumultuous offseason as high school programs go. They rarely had top weapons Jamel Hart and Jamie Canada healthy at the same time, and Canada’s status for the season is up in the air after knee surgery. Then came Transfergate, which dominated the talk during August. Finally, it’s time to play football! But a difficult test against a Baldwin Park team that proved itself good enough to hang with Rowland awaits. If South Hills is able to run right through the Braves, then all will be well Huskieville. If the Huskies struggle or are upset, then look out below.

Will Schurr miss a beat?

The expectations are still high at Schurr, but are they warranted? QB Aaron Cantu is back after putting up some of the best numbers around last season, but he won’t have his top two targets or top running back when he steps on the field Friday against Cantwell. The Spartans are confident they have the skill guys to ensure the offense keeps rolling, but others (right here) remain skeptical. Friday night should go a long way in figuring it out.

All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 going into Week 1

Many of the teams have played, so we’ve got lots of movement going into Week 1.

How does Aram rank Glendora ahead of CO last week, but end up picking CO? Odd.

1. Bishop Amat (1-0) — Lots of skeptics even after 23-0 shutout of Garfield.
2. Chino Hills (1-0) — Opened 20-0 lead on Mayfair before winning 28-14.
3. La Habra (0-1) — Can’t drop LH too far after loss to O-Lu … but many did pick them to win.
4. Glendora (1-0) — Were they lucky or good? Probably a bit of both. Monrovia comes calling.
5. Claremont (1-0) — Waxed Cajon … now ‘Pack gets sky-high Bonita.
6. St. Francis (0-0) — Need big showing on Friday vs. Arcadia.
7. Monrovia (0-0) — Several ‘Cats at Citrus last Friday got to see what’s in store this week.
8. Muir (1-0) — Not sure I get why so many ‘Stangs missed SG game, but they won big anyway.
9. South Hills (0-0) — Huskies open up with good test against BP on Friday.
10. Ayala (1-0) — Did anybody see 35-point outburst coming vs. Lugo?
11. Charter Oak (0-1) — Sloppy Chargers should learn lots from Glendora fiasco.
12. Rowland (1-0) — Once offense got going, Raiders showed why they’re scary.
13. La Mirada (0-1) — Better shake off disappointment in time for Thursday vs. La Habra.
14. Whittier Christian (1-0) — Offense carried the day against Ontario Christian.
15. Schurr (0-0) — Let’s see how QB Cantu does with new skill guys vs. Cantwell.
16. Damien (0-0) — Sparty bracing for test against Roddy’s angry cats.
17. Covina (1-0) — Unranked to 17. Are Colts now Valle Vista favorites?
18. Bonita (1-0) — Note to self: Never doubt Dangerous Podley. Claremont comes calling …
19. Diamond Ranch (0-1) — Is it November yet?
20. Arroyo (1-0) — Knights looking for 2-0 start against annual rival Temple City.
21. Santa Fe (0-0) — Warren should be good test in opener.
22. West Covina (0-1) — ‘Dogs fall from No. 5 to here after epic collapse.
23. San Dimas (0-1) — Did anybody ever think to ask Coach Z about RB situation. My bad.
24. Azusa (0-0) — Quality test comes Friday against BG.
25. Baldwin Park — Braves get shot at redemption against South Hills.

Quotables …

Here are some notable quotes from around the area after Friday night.

Rowland QB Michael Ball: “I think it was the papers that got in my head (in the first half).”
Aram’s response: Hey man, it’s our job to tell everyone how great you are.

Bonita’s Cody McKenzie: “There are so many emotions. They’ve had it for three years and this is my senior year. I really wanted it back. So did all of us that are seniors and had not won it.”
Aram’s response: You can really feel how much this means to the Bo-Hi players.

Diamond Bar coach John Martin on QBs Andrew Cameron and Henry Omana: “I thought they both did very well. Both of them can throw it, and we’re just happy with both of them.”
Aram’s response: That’s what I’ve been saying all along.

D-Ranch coach Roddy Layton after 56-0 loss to Santa Margarita: “We’ve got to get better.”
Aram’s response: Well said.

Muir coach Kenny Howard: “Because of last week, guys got nervous trying to be physical.”
Aram’s response: No need to get nervous.

Keppel coach Bobby Madrid after shutout loss to Bassett: “I told my kids at halftime that it’s a big difference playing at 7 o’clock than 3:15.”
Aram’s response: Madrid is a quote machine.

Alhambra coach Lou Torres after close loss to Roosevelt: “We came into this game young and youth was served.”
Aram’s response: But still, a heckuva effort by the Moors.

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Week 0: Talk your smack or cry me a river …

You’ve seen the scoreboard by now and know what’s happened. I’ll quickly give my take on some of the most interesting results. Also, enjoy a couple videos we did breaking down the action.

Biggest surprises:
Baldwin Park’s offense, Bishop Amat’s defense, Covina’s heart, Diamond Ranch getting smoked, San Dimas’ defense (hey Saints, Garrett Pendleton didn’t play).

Biggest disappointment:
There’s plenty to go around … Charter Oak’s sloppiness, Baldwin Park’s defense, West Covina’s finishing ability, Bishop Amat’s offense, La Mirada everything.

Southeast Division: You guys took a hit in a big, bad way. West Covina falls to Covina. La Mirada and its five or six D-1 kids can’t beat crumbling St. Paul and Diamond Ranch is never in the game vs. Santa Margarita. So who’s favored now, Muir? Burbank? Bonita?

Mid-Valley Division: Well, San Dimas goes to the back of the line for a bit. Is Covina now the team to beat, or is it that much more clear that Schurr and Monrovia are the head of the class? I have a feeling we’re going to see nothing but chaos for the next three months in this division.

Bishop Amat: I’m withholding panic until Wallace G. is back … because everybody who was texting me from ELAC made it sound bad for the Lancers.

Inland Division: Glendora absolutely deserves to be ranked now.

The Ageless One ready to take on Glendora and a whole new set of challenges …

Allow me to riddle you this: What does a man who’s won five CIF championship rings need more than anything? Answer: A win over Glendora High School in the Mayor’s Trophy tonight at Citrus College.

For somebody such as Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar, who’s been around long enough to win a ring for each finger on one of his hands, the harsh reality that the slate is wiped clean every fall probably goes a long way toward bringing the Valley legend back every year.

That’s why, with his program at an all-time high, Farrar needs a win over the Tartans in the worst way. Sure, if Charter Oak falls tonight, Farrar’s body of work will hardly suffer, but take a second to ponder what’s at stake for Big Lou’s program at the dawn of a new season in a new decade.

Charter Oak has been assigned to a new league and higher playoff division, and it enters play with a roster chock full of new faces. To put it simply, Farrar, for the umpteenth time in his career, is ushering in a new era.

The Chris Allen era ended two years ago. The Adam Muema and Keith Smith eras ended last year.

It will only take seconds for everyone in attendance at Citrus to realize that there’s no Muema to hand the ball to when times get rough against Glendora. And there will be no Smith to stop Tartans quarterback Chad Jeffries in his tracks.

Oh sure, there’s talent for Farrar and company to work with, but it’s got plenty of on-the-job training to go through before anybody sees its full potential.

When last seen, Farrar was walking off the field the victor of his second consecutive CIF Southeast Division title.

Could his retirement announcement have been better scripted? No, but it didn’t happen.

The Chargers are on a two-year run so impressive that even the most hardened Bishop Amat fan has to feel a tad uncomfortable. Time to ride off into the sunset, right?

“You’d think that would be it,” Farrar said. “To me, that’s not quite the way I wanted to finish. I don’t know, I’ve just never known what life is without football, and I guess that’s the scary part for me.

“I can’t imagine life without football. I love the challenge.”

With Charter Oak the best its ever been, the program surprisingly needs Farrar more than ever. To duplicate the bottom-line results of the past two years, the Chargers will have to prove they can be successful against a much-higher level of competition.

The task is so daunting, some are doubting the program will hold its seemingly annual Thanksgiving Day practice, which is significant because it means the Chargers reached the second round of the playoffs.

Who better to make sure Charter Oak doesn’t skip a beat than Farrar? And what better time to get the message across that everything will be fine than during tonight’s showdown with Glendora?

A win over Glendora, which has the best quarterback in the area in Jeffries and a coach who’s no slouch himself in Mark Pasquarella, would go a long way in keeping Charter Oak aloft for at least another week.

And who else besides Big Lou would the Chargers turn to in hopes of getting it done?

“I’ve worked harder this offseason than I ever have,” Farrar said, “just because I want to make sure we always present a good program and product on the field.

“When August comes and it’s 5:30 in the morning and they just cut the grass and I’m not out there watching practice, then you know something’s wrong with me.”


SGVN stringers who don’t show up at office after their game
Aram’s bet: Over … happens every year. Anyone can watch a game, but writing about it is deceptively difficult … especially when your name is attached to it.

Amat QB Nine rushing yards

Aram’s bet: Over … trust me, it’s his wheels that makes Rio scary.

Total points for Garfield vs. Amat defense

Aram’s bet: Under … please stop talking about Garfield’s OL.

Amat margin of victory
OVER/UNDER: 21.5 points
Aram’s bet: Funniest thing I’ve heard all week is all the talk about how Garfield can hang.

Arroyo total points vs. Ontario

Aram’s bet: Under … I’m looking for 34-6, something like that.

Arroyo QB Steven Rivera passing yds. vs. Ontario

Aram’s bet: Over

Arroyo RB Mikey Vasqeuz rushing yds. vs. Ontario
Aram’s bet: Over … he sits the fourth quarter, too.

Glendora QB Chad Jeffries passing yds. vs. Charter Oak
Aram’s bet: Under … I’m still not convinced Pasqy will ever air it out.

Glendora QB Chad Jeffries rushing yds. vs. Charter Oak
Aram’s bet: Over … write it down, Jeffries leads Tarty in rushing on Friday.

Charter Oak QB Travis Santiago passing yds. vs. Glendora
Aram’s bet: Under … this is going to be a defensive struggle.

Charter Oak’s Dennis Rufus touchdowns vs. Glendora

Aram’s bet: Wow. Tight.

Muir total points vs. San Gabriel
Aram’s bet: Over … you don’t understand how good this ‘Stangs offense will be.

La Habra total points vs. Orange Lutheran

Aram’s bet: Under … Highlanders win 17-10

Bonita total points vs. San Dimas

Aram’s bet: Under … one dimensional ‘Cats will rely on D in Smudge.

San Dimas total points vs. Bonita
Aram’s bet: Under … Bonita D comes up big. Where will Saints points come from?

San Dimas QB Codee Watts total yds. rushing + passing vs. Bonita

Aram’s bet: I’ll let Aaron tell you …

Rowland QB Michael Ball’s total yds. rushing + passing vs. Baldwin Park
Aram’s bet: Under … Only because Robledo has jinxed this kid in the office ALL WEEK LONG.

Baldwin Park’s Demetrius Jackson touchdowns vs. Rowland
Aram’s bet: No play … great number here.

El Rancho RB Art Franco rushing yds. vs. Los Altos
Aram’s bet: Over … and he’s not the only ER back to get over a buck.

Number of times Whittier Christian DC Pete Karavedas wishes he had Jeff Worthy vs. Ont. Chr.
Aram’s bet: Over … but five of those come during pregame warmups.

RB De’Shawn Ramirez no longer attending Monrovia …

Running back De’Shawn Ramirez is no longer attending Monrovia High School, making it a near certainty that the junior will not return to the Wildcats football team.

Ramirez was suspended from the team earlier this summer, but at the time was reportedly working to do what it took to return to the team at some point this season. In June, Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox wouldn’t rule out Ramirez being cleared to play after missing a portion of the season.

Ramirez, who dazzled fans at times last year as a sophomore, would have been one of the backs in the Valley. It’s unclear what school he is attending. The Wildcats are one of the preseason favorites in the Mid-Valley Division after going 13-1 last season.