All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 going into Week 9 …

West Covina at No. 2? Mikey likes it!

1. Bishop Amat (9-0) — Nice job, Lancers. Now take the week off.
2. West Covina (7-1) — Hangover effect vs. D-Ranch? We’ll see …
3. Claremont (7-1) — 9-1 and league champs would be nice resume for Inland playoffs
4. La Habra (5-3) — Highlanders don’t have a signature win, but rings will still be sweet
5. Chino Hills (6-2) — Huge game vs. CO will go a long way in the seeding dept.
6. Cantwell (7-1) — Still need help to pull off share of Del Rey title
7. Azusa (8-0) — Technically, Gladstone could ruin Aztecs’ dream season. Technically.
8. Whittier Christian (7-1) — Very much in the running to be Mid-Valley’s top seed
9. La Serna (7-1) – So, just how good is the Del Rio this year? Find out in mid-Nov.
10. Bonita (7-1) — As bad as WestCo loss, all hope isn’t lost for a league title
11. Covina (8-1) — Can Colts finish the job in the Valle Vista?
12. Monrovia (6-2) — Showed everyone exactly who the class of the RHL is
13. St. Francis (4-4) — Knights catapult into rankings with rout of St. Paul
14. Diamond Ranch (5-3) — Roddy has to love catching WestCo off of Bonita win
15. Glendora (5-3) — Shorthanded Tartans still way too much for Alta Loma
16. Charter Oak (5-3) — Chargers can get much-needed signature win vs. Chino Hills
17. St. Paul (5-3) — Swordsmen fighting for playoff lives after St. Francis loss
18. La Mirada (5-3) — Beat Mayfair by more than Lakewood, Chino Hills or Los Al did
19. Arroyo (7-1) — Is El Monte really good enough to dethrone Knights?
20. San Dimas (5-3) — Sneaky Saints can cause chaos in the VVL standings
21. Schurr (5-3) — No signature win yet, but that could come in playoffs
22. Arcadia (5-3) — Apaches are one of several mysteries in the Southeast Div.
23. Maranatha (6-3) — It would be shame if Minutemen didn’t get at-large bid
24. Muir (4-4) — Speaking of Southeast mysteries, Mustangs fit the bill perfectly
25. Damien (4-4) — Spartans can likely forget playoffs … unless they stun Claremont

Who is this guy?

I know he’s West Covina’s defensive coordinator, but I don’t know his name. Anyway, he’s a blast to watch on the sideline and he had a helluva game plan in place to stop Bonita the way West Covina did.

This could have been the year …

Here’s my column from Friday, in case you missed it.

It’s almost November and tonight the eyes of the Valley will be on … wait for it … not Charter Oak, not South Hills but West Covina High School.

That’s where the Bulldogs will take on Bonita in what will be the biggest regular-season game of the year between two Valley teams.

It sounds kind of funny to say it. Bonita. West Covina. But that’s the shape of things.

Seems like it was just last year that Charter Oak and South Hills were two of the most relevant teams around.

That’s because it was just last year at this time that the Chargers were a one-loss team speeding toward another perfect season in the now-defunct Miramonte League.

The Huskies were 5-2 and had just followed their rout of West Covina with a rout of Nogales. Another San Antonio League title was theirs. All the optimism of a banner postseason danced in their heads.

My, how times change. Now it’s Bonita and West Covina’s Valley. Charter Oak is 4-3 and simply trying to make the playoffs where most of us know what type of fate awaits them.

Meanwhile, South Hills is 2-5 and bracing for games against Chino Hills, Claremont and the Chargers.

That’s how most of you wanted it, right? The two powerhouse programs of recent memory rocketed up several divisions and put in a new league so strong that the playoffs no longer are a given.

Well, you got your way. And the rest of us got Bonita-West Covina for all the marbles.

Believe me, I’m not complaining. You put any two Valley teams with a combined record of 13-1 on the same football field in late October, and I’m there with all the excitement my overweight frame can handle.

But I have to be honest. I’m feeling a little gypped right now and you should, too. This could have been the year that power shift happened on the field.

This should have been the year I stuck a recorder in Bonita coach Eric Podley’s face after his team beat Charter Oak for the league title and asked, “How good does it feel?”

This should have been the year West Covina waxed South Hills with first place on the line, not bragging rights in mid-September. And also the year in which West Covina returned the favor in the postseason and sent Charter Oak packing for a change.

This was the year, people! The evidence is out there right in front of your faces. The Valley didn’t need CIF to displace Charter Oak and South Hills to knock them from their perch. Bonita and West Covina could have done it on the field.

Don’t believe me?

Bonita 42, Claremont 20. Claremont 35, Charter Oak 32.

West Covina 33, Glendora 28. Glendora 28, Charter Oak 21.

And finally, West Covina 42, South Hills 27.

I know, I know, comparative scoring is dangerous. But if the glove does fit then you must submit.

Charter Oak is no Inland Division team. Anybody in this area with half a brain can see that. The Chargers have had three step-up games this season against Glendora, Rancho Cucamonga and Claremont. They’ve lost all three.

South Hills is no Sierra League team. The Huskies don’t have the depth to withstand injuries and it’s showing. But they shouldn’t have to.

Charter Oak and South Hills fit better in the Southeast Division than they do the Inland. Charter Oak and South Hills are temporary victims of their own success. CIF gave them a timeout for the bad behavior of winning.

They won too much for too long and the other schools in the area just couldn’t handle it. You know who you are, and so do I. And to you, I say enjoy it. Enjoy watching the Huskies struggle. Enjoy watching Charter Oak fight just to make the postseason where it likely will be waxed two hours away from home.

And while you’re enjoying it, just know two things: 1) In two years, the Chargers and Huskies may be back in a division near you, and 2) It would’ve been much sweeter if it was Bonita and West Covina delivering the death blow.

What if South Hills was still in the San Antonio League?

… would the Huskies be a playoff team?

We already know they wouldn’t beat West Covina, but what about Walnut or Rowland?

Would this just look like a down year rather than a disaster year? Would the Huskies make the playoffs if they were in the old San Antonio and still in the Southeast?

Would their line actually be living up to the hype?

Pendleton (and Freddie) confident about Bonita’s chances against West Covina …

As senior seasons go, Garrett Pendleton’s couldn’t have started any worse.

The 6-foot-5 Bonita High School quarterback was poised to have a big year for one of the area’s most-improved teams before everything changed during practice a week before the Bearcats’ first game.

Pendleton, while carrying out a fake, tripped and landed wrong. The freak mishap resulted in a hairline fracture of the radius bone in his arm.

“When it first happened, I thought I might be done for the year,” Pendleton said. “But it was a good spot to break. They said it would only take me four weeks to get back.

“It was real hard because I never got to play in the San Dimas game. But it made me focus on playing every play like it’s your last because it can be.”

Without Pendleton, the Bearcats rallied around senior backup Greg Spathias.

And despite another costly injury to star receiver/linebacker Casey Horine, Bonita persevered without its star quarterback and best position player to produce a 7-0 record.

Bonita puts its perfect season on the line Friday when it visits West Covina (6-1) in a game that will go a long way in determining the Hacienda League championship and top seed in the Southeast Division playoffs.

Fortunately for the Bearcats, though, Pendleton is back and looking like he hasn’t missed a beat. But it wasn’t easy or fun.

Pendleton attended every Bonita practice as a spectator, then would head to physical therapy. Right on time, he was cleared to play, but with Spathias and the team rolling, Bonita coach Eric Podley was in no rush to get Pendleton game action while he might be rusty.

“It was exciting to see the team doing so well, but also depressing because I know what I can do out there,” Pendleton said. “I’m just glad we survived.

“Our team worked their butts off. Greg stepped in real well. He could start at any other high school.”

Pendleton saw his first action on Oct. 8 against Diamond Bar. He fired three touchdown passes and racked up 225 yards on 12 completions.

“I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous,” Pendleton said. “It was a big deal for me; first game of the year.

“It came back real quick. I think my first throw was for like 40 yards. I thought it would at least take me a game or two to get back in the flow of game situations, but I guess not.”

Pendleton was right back at it the next week, throwing for 198 yards and three more touchdowns against Los Altos.

Last week against Walnut, Pendleton threw for 209 yards and four touchdowns.

So, that’s 10 touchdowns in three weeks. But none was against a team of West Covina’s caliber. Nor was there as much on the line as there will be this week.

Bonita went 3-8 last season. The Bearcats need victories over West Covina, Rowland and Diamond Ranch to go 10-0.

“West Covina is a really good team,” Pendleton said. “They’re really athletic. Their running backs are all studs. They’re going to be a real good test, but we’ll be ready, though.

“I think we can wear them out with our spread. I’m real confident. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be the starting quarterback for a 7-0 team.”

Glendora QB Chad Jeffries to miss three weeks with shoulder injury …

Glendora QB Chad Jeffries just texted me to say he has a separated ac ligament in his shoulder and will miss the next three weeks.

With just three games left and the Tartans battling for their playoff lives, that means Jeffries’ senior season could be over.

Aram’s take: Would be very sad if we’ve seen Jeffries play his last game in a Glendora uniform.

All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 going into Week 8 …

Claremont, Claremont, Claremont

1. Bishop Amat (8-0) — Lancers figure out how to win on the road in the Serra
2. Bonita (7-0) — Bearcats have been continually flattered by Claremont
3. West Covina (6-1) — Bulldogs host biggest game in Valley vs. Bearcats
4. Claremont (6-1) — You try beating Chino Hills and Charter Oak in back-to-back weeks
5. La Habra (4-3) — Played bad-guy role and brought Buena Park back to earth
6. Chino Hills (5-2) – Got some mojo back by waxing Damien
7. St. Paul (5-2) — Can’t fault Swordsmen too much after Serra rout
8. Azusa (7-0) — Aztecs continue to grind out style points while the rest of us wait
9. Cantwell (6-1) — Nice bounce-back win over Mary Star
10. Whittier Christian (6-1) — Rested Heralds set for showdown with weary Valley Chr.
11. La Serna (6-1) — Have to savor it when you blank Santa Fe
12. Covina (7-1) — OK, we get it. Vinny Venegas
13. Monrovia (5-2) — Wildcats caught San Marino at the right time … not that it matters
14. Diamond Ranch (4-3) — Can’t wait to see Panthers against WestCo and Bo-Hi
15. Arroyo (6-1) — What seeds would Knights get if they finished 9-1?
16. Glendora (4-3) — Defense has allowed 39 and 38 points in two Baseline games
17. Charter Oak (4-3) — Could be staring at road playoff game vs. Centennial
18. Damien (4-3) — You could’ve picked every Sparty game in Aug. and been right
19. El Rancho (5-2) — Got key Del Rio win over upstart Pioneer
20. La Mirada (4-3) — For all the nonleague damage, Mats could wind up OK
21. San Dimas (5-3) – Saints got what they wanted from Covina-BP game
22. Schurr (4-3) — Don’t forget about Spartans in the Mid-Valley
23. Arcadia (4-3) — Huge win over Burbank has Apaches thinking league title
24. Maranatha (5-3) — 0-2 in Olympic despite two excellent efforts … at-large?
25. Muir (3-4) – Remember this guys? ‘Stangs on the creep tip in the Pacific

Koffler and Singiser: Two of the best around …

Here’s my column from Friday, in case you missed it.

Death, taxes and Arroyo and Rosemead being good in football.

You can thank God, Uncle Sam, Jim Singiser and Matt Koffler for that.

Are there two better coaches in the Valley than Singiser and Koffler? Equal to? Absolutely. But I’m talking truly better coaches, the kind who get the same type of talent every year, never get impact transfers yet post winning seasons on a seemingly annual basis.

The short answer is there aren’t, and that’s saying something because I’m not sure there’s a region anywhere in the Southland that crams so many good coaches into one area like our cozy little Valley does.

At the end of the day, the Farrars, Bogans, Ganos, Zernickows and Maggiores of our Valley will dominate the headlines. They’ve won CIF titles, league titles and put their respective programs on the map.

You won’t hear enough about Koffler and Singiser, though. But when Arroyo and Rosemead meet tonight, it will mark the umpteenth time in forever that their programs have met for the Mission Valley League title. Both teams still have three games after this but let’s be honest with each other, this is for the title.

It seems not enough credit is given these days for consistent success. But consistent success eludes just as many programs as CIF titles do. Just not at Arroyo and Rosemead, however, where winning seasons are the norm.

Weak competition, you say? Not exactly. Since 2000, Rosemead has wins over Diamond Ranch, Monrovia, San Dimas and South Hills, to name a few. The Panthers have been to the semifinals and a championship game in that span, too.

In that same period, Arroyo has won five league titles, including not losing a league game for three consecutive seasons, and has been to the semifinals once. The Knights have made the playoffs every year since 1984.

“When we play teams that look like us, we do well,” Koffler said. “We have gained our opponents’ respect over the past 10 years. We can’t sneak up on anybody anymore.”

But the true proof of success of Koffler and Singiser’s success isn’t all about wins and losses. Both coaches have successfully implemented schemes their teams run with precision year in and out no matter whose name is on the back of the jersey. And those systems couldn’t be more opposite.

At Rosemead, Koffler came to the realization he isn’t going to out-athlete anybody with his homegrown talent. So, the obvious move was to tailor a brand of football around the tough and gritty kids who attend Rosemead.

That meant a power running game, a defense that loves to leave marks and strong special teams. Barring injury, Rosemead running back Matt Fregoso will become the 12th Panthers tailback in a row to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.

Singiser takes a different approach. It’s a stubborn one because polished quarterbacks don’t exactly grow on trees in El Monte. But that hasn’t stopped Arroyo from annually having one of the better passing attacks around and it doesn’t matter who’s playing quarterback.

This year, it’s Steven Rivera. A few years ago it was Brian Partida. Before that it was Dominic Salmon. Again, the names change but the numbers and explosiveness do not. It takes a certain degree of coaching acumen to annually run a successful spread with the type of talent Arroyo starts with.

“If you look at our two programs, we both take paths we believe are suited to the kids we have,” Singiser said. “If Matt (Koffler) didn’t have good running backs and good-sized linemen every year, he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing.

“And for us, we’re fortunate to have had some quarterbacks come through who happen to be the smartest guys in the program. It’s probably a lot easier to find a hard-nosed running back in El Monte than it is to find a legit, quality quarterback. But I firmly believe Steven (Rivera) would start at just about any school in the Valley.”

Nobody throws more during the summer than Arroyo and nobody probably spends more time lifting weights in the offseason than Rosemead. When the schools meet tonight, it will be a battle of similar-size talent using two different styles with the same hopes of winning the league title.

Some years back I wrote a column questioning Koffler’s coaching ability. I was wrong about that. What he’s done isn’t easy. Same with Singiser. Most programs don’t win. Others wait several years between winning spurts, then go back into mediocrity. It’s not like that at Arroyo and Rosemead, where winning is a constant and mediocrity doesn’t exist.

CIF titles are nice, but they aren’t always the only indicators of who the best coaches are. Winning consistently might be a measuring stick. Get to Arroyo High tonight and see two guys who do it as good as anybody.

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