Singiser says controversial penalty at end of San Dimas-Arroyo game was “correct call” after seeing the video …

Arroyo coach Jim Singiser has reviewed the tapes following his team’s controversial 21-14 loss to San Dimas in the first round of the CIF Mid-Valley Division playoffs and says the referee’s call of an illegal forward pass on the game’s final play was “fair”.

Trailing 21-14 with four seconds left and the ball at the Saints’ 26, Arroyo quarterback Steven Rivera took the final snap of the game and fired a pass to Andre Kerkhoff, who threw the ball back to Rivera, who took the ball about 15 yards for what might have been the game-tying score.

Soon after Rivera caught the ball and was making his way to the end zone, the referee threw a flag and called an illegal forward pass, which ended the game and the Knights’ season.

“It was the correct call,” Singiser said Saturday morning. “… by one foot. We had to watch the tape twice to see the second pass was thrown about a foot forward. I just don’t know if you make that call unless you’re 100-positive it was forward. It was a very close call.”

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Some predictions for the postseason …

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

League titles are nice, but the only people who actually remember them years from now are players, their families and coaches.

Maybe I should, but I don’t know the last time Bonita won league. Nor do I really care. But I do know the last time the Bearcats won CIF – 1999.

See what I mean? I don’t remember anything else about 1999 but that.

That’s the difference. League titles are fodder for class reunions. CIF titles are unforgettable.

Tonight is the night legends begin being built. It’s the first round of the CIF playoffs.

Our season-long quest for the truth gets a little closer to completion tonight.

We’ve spent the past 11 weeks cutting through all the bull.

Most of the contestants didn’t make it to the 11th game. They prepared valiantly and fought hard but got the cold, hard truth on the field.

The rest have moved on to the high-stakes tables. Nothing can be more raw than win or go home.

With that in mind, I simply can’t wait for the next month to play out. And anyway, after watching 11 weeks of action I feel I have a pretty good base of knowledge to make the predictions I’m about to make.

So, without further delay, here’s one sportswriter’s forecast of some of what will take place in the next four weeks.

Amat will get past the second round

This is a big deal because before any Amat fan can get too excited about the program’s surge under coach Steve Hagerty, they first must watch their team make it past the second round.

It’s been a while since that’s happened, but it’s going to happen this year. Unfortunately, after that Amat is in big trouble because big, bad Mission Viejo likely will be awaiting them in the semifinals.

Getting past the second round should not be considered a successful season at Amat. But doing so will be further proof Hagerty has this program heading north.

West Covina will win the Southeast Division

Teams that can run the ball this well, this late in the season, simply do not get beat. West Covina’s ground game isn’t going to be stopped by anybody in the Southeast Division.

Then you throw in that the opposition simply cannot kick the ball off to the Bulldogs without avoiding the likelihood that B.J. Lee is going to take it back for a touchdown, and there’s nothing really anybody can do to get in West Covina’s way.

West Covina’s opponent in the Southeast finals will be Bonita

Bonita, at 9-1, is the second-best team in the division. They played in the best league, they beat the best nonleague schedule and there’s nobody in the lower bracket of the Southeast pairings that’s going to stop quarterback Garrett Pendleton.

Azusa will reach the Mid-Valley Division final

Considering all the talk I’ve heard this week about how Village Christian is going to upset the Mid-Valley’s top seed, this prediction looks daring.

It’s not.

I don’t care what the schedule was. If holding 10 opponents to a combined 30 points in a season was so easy to do, then everybody would be doing it.

Azusa has been money the entire offseason and regular season. Please remember the Aztecs won the San Gabriel Valley Shootout passing tournament this summer over Monrovia. They also fared well in linemen competitions. The regular season has been a continuation of that.

I actually feel bad for Village Christian because I’m not sure it knows what awaits tonight at Citrus College.

San Dimas will advance farther than any other Valle Vista League team

The Saints may have finished behind Covina and Baldwin Park in the league standings, but they will be the last team standing of the Valle Vista trio. Where exactly that is, I’m not sure.

I firmly believe San Dimas’ first-round game tonight against Arroyo will be more difficult than its potential second-round game with Maranatha or La Puente.

San Dimas has proven it’s still good enough to beat a team like Monrovia. The Saints just haven’t put four good quarters together. But reports from Saints practices this week have made it very clear this team is ready to put it all together and that means a long-lasting stay in the postseason.

If I’m wrong about any of what I just predicted, I will be the first to remind you this is high school football and anything can and will happen. That’s why this final prediction never will be wrong.

If you get to your local football stadium tonight, I promise you there will be no better way to spend your Friday night than to show your support to the hometown team. Remember, it’s your civic duty.

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10-0, 30 points allowed all season and the only place Azusa gets respect is at the local Taco Bell …

By Aram Tolegian

AZUSA – The Azusa High School football team knows that despite its 10-0 record and No. 1 seed in the Mid-Valley Division playoffs, there are still plenty of doubters around the Valley when it comes to the Aztecs’ validity.

“They haven’t played anyone,” the skeptics say. Others argue that Azusa comes from the weak Montview League.

After allowing just 30 total points this season, there’s one group of Aztecs that’s anxiously awaiting its chance to show the Valley just how real Azusa is, and that would be the defensive line.

“I think it’s the past years, the bad teams, that have people thinking we’re all luck,” defensive tackle Nick Valverde said when asked to explain why Azusa still has its share of doubters.

The Aztecs will get a chance to start proving the naysayers wrong at Citrus College on Friday night, when they host Village Christian in the first round.

Winning is nothing for Azusa. The Aztecs won 21 games the previous two seasons, including an unbeaten run in the Montview that they extended to three years this season.

Last year’s team reached the semifinals of the playoffs before bowing out to eventual champion San Dimas, but until this year’s undefeated run, Azusa had been viewed like the flu – something that could cause a lot of damage but eventually will pass.

That hasn’t happened, though. By being 10-0 and technically the favorites to win the division, area fans are having to view Azusa in a whole new light that some folks don’t seem eager to do.

“I agree with that,” defensive end Luis Nunez said, referring to the argument that Azusa hasn’t played anybody, “but it doesn’t matter; we’ll still show them what we’ve got in CIF.”

Added defensive end Edwin Garcia: “If we had a choice, we’d want to take on a tougher nonleague, too, but we don’t have control over that. All we could do was play who we got and play hard every game.”

Garcia, Nunez and Valverde join forces with interior tackle Alex Tapia to form what coaches consider to be the main reason Azusa’s defense is allowing just three points per game and has six shutouts.

Weight-wise, Tapia is the largest of the group at 250 pounds. The entire quartet doesn’t have a player over 6 feet tall, but nobody weighs less than 190 pounds either. So what you get is an athletic group that can use quickness and strength to subdue bigger offensive lines.

“I think everyone plays a role on this defense,” Tapia said while trying to deflect credit for Azusa’s gaudy numbers. “So it’s basically the whole defense that makes us good.”

It’s true that Azusa boasts two of the best linebackers around in Jose Nunez (101 tackles) and Eric Perez (94 tackles), but without the front four making their job easier, the stats wouldn’t follow.

“If you have a good d-line, it’s easier for the corners and the linebackers to get tackles,” Garcia said. “Since we’re smaller than other linemen, we just have to outwork everybody we see. We play each play like it’s our last one.”

Although the outside world is taking a wait-and-see approach with the Aztecs, Garcia’s noticed in several places he goes that the city is firmly behind the team.

“It’s kind of funny, because I go sometimes to our closest Taco Bell, and there are some past alumni who used to play football at Azusa there and they recognize who I am and they say `What’s up?’ to me and they know who I am,” Garcia said.

“They say we’re doing something great for the city. It feels like every Friday our community comes together and watches our games. It’s not like we’re playing for each other, but the city, too.”

As the Village Christian game nears, the players know that what they do Friday and hopefully over the next four weeks offers them a shot at local infamy.

With their city behind them and most of the outside world waiting for the fall, Nunez, Valverde, Tapia and Garcia are more than happy to make sure anything trying to get in Azusa’s way gets dealt with in the exact same way as the Aztecs’ previous 10 victims.

“Anything less than a CIF championship would be a disappointment,” Garcia said. “We want to earn respect because we know we’re lacking that respect.

“We want to prove people wrong and prove to the Valley that we are legit.

“We believe if we win CIF, there’s no possible regrets that we can have.

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Sources: Koffler likely out as Rosemead coach after playoffs …

Rosemead High School football coach Matt Koffler is likely to resign after the Panthers season finishes in the Mid-Valley Division playoffs, according to sources.

Rosemead plays Temple City this Friday in the first round. Should the Panthers lose, Koffler is expected to tell his team that he’s coached his final game at the school, sources say.

Koffler had no comment when asked about the situation. Sources say the veteran coach would remain a teacher at the school, so it’s not a disciplinary problem.

Koffler was a standout quarterback at Rosemead before graduating in 1992 and playing in college at USC. As a coach, he led Rosemead to the semifinals in 2001 and the finals in 2008.

Aram’s take: I don’t have all the details yet, but what I’m hearing is there’s an issue with Koffler’s schedule and the school isn’t willing to budge. It sounds like yet another administration that doesn’t get it when it comes to football coaches and how much time and effort they put into their programs. Koffler leaving would be an absolute death blow to the Panthers’ program. We saw how well the Hatley era went before Koffler’s return. And we’ve also seen several examples recently of how quickly a football program can disintegrate when it’s not in the right hands. I truly believe that guys like Koffler and Arroyo’s Jim Singiser literally hold their programs together. There are a couple of other cases out there like that, too, like James Heggins and BP or Bill Zernickow at San Dimas.

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