2011 Schedules: Northview Vikings …

Week 0: Franklin
Week 1: at El Rancho
Week 2: La Puente
Week 3: at Chino
Week 4: at Baldwin Park
Week 5: Pomona
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Wilson
Week 8: at Nogales
Week 9: San Dimas
Week 10: Covina

Aram’s take: Northview is one of those teams that if you wanted to sell me on them being a playoff contender, I’d listen. And if you wanted to say they’re an also-ran, I’d listen to that, too. Basically, what I’m saying is that I’m very interested in seeing the Vikes this summer to get a feel for how many athletes they have. Year 2 of the Marcel Perez Era should see improvement as is usually the case in Year 2 of any new regime. Perez scored when he picked up former Monrovia head coach and Damien assistant Steve Garrison as one of his assistants. I keep going back to last August when I merely drove by Northview on the way to the office and was pretty impressed by my look-through-the-fence view. Anyway, the Vikes went 3-7 last year with all the three wins coming in league. They only lost to Covina by a count of 14-11, but were blanked by San Dimas, 43-0. See what I’m saying about people being able to sell me either way with this team? Outside of Covina, and I guess Pomona, the Valle Vista League won’t be as strong this year. I cannot put Northview in the top two right now, which means in my mind’s eye they have to earn an at-large to be dancing in Noviembre. Opening league with BP and Pomona in back-to-back weeks will tell us all we need to know. If the Vikes can win both or manage a split, that should make the final two games against San Dimas and Covina very interesting. I will call for 5-5 … for now.

2011 Schedules: Nogales Nobles …

Week 1: at Rowland
Week 2: Jurupa Hills
Week 3: Ontario
Week 4: at South El Monte
Week 5: Wilson
Week 6: at San Dimas
Week 7: at Covina
Week 8: at Pomona
Week 9: Northview
Week 10: Baldwin Park

Aram’s takes: If you’re a Nobles fan, you have to hang your hat on that usually teams improve in Year 2 of a new coach. That, and the fact Nogales does have one of the better players around in Keith Bolden. The flipside is that Nogales went 1-9 last year and every one of the losses was in double figures. So even if you get mild improvement, will it be enough to close the gap in all those losses? The good news for the Nobles is that outside of Covina and maybe Pomona, the rest of the Valle Vista League isn’t likely to be as strong as it was last season. With Diamond Bar and Garey off the nonleague schedule, I will call for one more nonleague win than last season and one win in league for a semi-safe early record prediction of 3-7.

2011 Schedules: San Gabriel Matadors …

Week 0: Muir
Week 1: at South Pasadena
Week 2: San Dimas
Week 3: at Baldwin Park
Week 4: Rosemead
Week 5: BYE
Week 6: Montebello
Week 7: at Keppel
Week 8: at Bell Gardens
Week 9: Alhambra
Week 10: Schurr

Aram’s take: Excellent schedule. Love the Week 0 test against Muir. Last year’s game was supposedly close for a while before mistakes did in the Mats. Maybe things can get crazy this year. Then you get right into to some nice Mid-Valley Division matchups against San Dimas, South Pas, BP and Rosemead. It takes stones for any Mid-Valley team to play that many inter-division games given how that no league has more than two guaranteed berths into the postseason. Obviously, SG needs to handle business in those games in case they need one of the four at-large berths come Noviembre. The Almont League should be interesting this year with several teams, including league champ Schurr, losing LOTS of guys. There’s no good reason why SG shouldn’t be 3-0 heading into the final two games of the year, and those two games are HUGE and at HOME. San Gabriel is one of my sleeper teams this year after beating both Alhambra and Schurr to end last season and finish 5-5 (missed the playoffs). Alhambra was young last year and will be a year older/better this year. Schurr is always formidable, but unless there’s another Aaron Cantu around campus Sparty will be down a notch (sorry for any hurt feeling there). With experience back at QB and the second year of a new coach, I make SG my early favorite to win the Almont. I will call for 7-3 as an early record prediction.

2011 Schedules: Covina Colts …

Week 0: West Covina
Week 1: at Gladstone
Week 2: at El Monte
Week 3: Walnut
Week 4: at Pomona
Week 5: at Baldwin Park
Week 6: Nogales
Week 7: San Dimas
Week 8: at Wilson
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Northview

Aram’s take: Due to the Valle Vista League now having seven teams, Covina and its league brethren play just four nonleague games. In Covina’s case, two of them are strong and two of them leave a lot to be desired. Contrast Covina’s schedule with Monrovia’s. There’s no El Monte or Gladstone on Monrovia’s schedule and there shouldn’t be on Covina’s either. The West Covina game will go a long, long way toward letting us know just how far the Colts have come. The Walnut game is a big revenge spot. Covina cannot afford a slip up there. Folks I’ve spoken to who were at last year’s game said that Covina gave that one away. With Walnut replacing quite a few players, Covina looks like a good bet in that one. So where do the losses come from on this schedule? West Covina is the only potential loss and that game’s a toss-up (for now). Nobody in league is going to touch Covina. The Colts may get pressed by Pomona and possibly San Dimas, but let’s be honest — Covina has the league’s top QB, RB and WR. When you’ve got that big of an edge, only a fluke can derail you. For now, I will call the West Covina game a loss, the only one on the schedule, and Covina should be 9-1 with a lofty seeding heading into the Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

2011 Schedules: Monrovia Wildcats …

Week 1: Glendora
Week 2: at Arcadia
Week 3: San Dimas
Week 4: South Hills
Week 5: at Paramount
Week 6: at La Canada
Week 7: Blair
Week 8: at San Marino
Week 9: at Temple City
Week 10: South Pasadena

Aram’s take: Of all the schedules I’ve seen, this could be the best put together of the lot. I think Coach Maddox knows his team isn’t likely to get tested too hard over the final five weeks of the season, so he’s loaded up the nonleague with (HERE’S THE KEY) doable but formidable games. It’s a perfect balance. Can you say for sure that M-Town will beat Glendora or South Hills? No. But you wouldn’t be shocked if they did and those wins would do wonders for the Wildcats’ street cred. The games with San Dimas and Arcadia are also nice because if M-Town were to be upset in those games, nobody would be overly stunned. As for league, it’s getting obvious Monrovia needs to be bumped to the Pacific League. As somebody who’s been going to RHL games since the mid ’80s when I was a kid, it breaks my heart to say that. But the demographics have changed just about everywhere else beside Monrovia. And when I see talent like I saw a week ago when I visited practice, it’s very obvious that Monrovia ISN’T a Rio Hondo League team. In year’s past, one would salivate about back-to-back road games at San Marino and Temple City. And while those two games should give the Wildcats a decent workout, they aren’t going to lose. The nonleague is very tough for a team that does have some veteran talent to replace. I will call for one slip up on that notion alone and put M-Town at 9-1 as my early record prediction.

Sundays with Jason David …

In the video: Keith Smith is in blue top/black shorts. Darien Johnson (black top/maroon shorts), Herman Atkins (red top/blue shorts), Unknown (white top/black shorts) … he plays at JC and is friend of Devon Blackmon.

Former Charter Oak, Washington St. and NFL Super Bowl champion defensive back Jason David let me know he’s got some workouts taking place at Charter Oak High on Sundays, so I decided to roll over there and check it out. As usual, David’s workouts are pretty interesting stuff. To me, they’re cutting edge, but then again I’m not a coach. Anyway, out there was former Charter Oak linebacker and current freshman All-American Keith Smith of San Jose St., former Tribune Player of the Year at Charter Oak and current San Diego St. RB Adam Muema, top Oregon recruit Devon Blackmon of Summit High, New Mexico St. DB Darien Johnson of Bishop Amat and current Charter Oak players Chris Gilchrist and Herman Atkins. I know I wrote about Atkins in my “Under the radar” segment on CO’s spring practice, but wow, this guy is impressive. Clearly one of the top athletes in the area. Joining David for some instruction was former Los Altos and New Mexico WR Travis Brown, who is now an assistant at Damien under head coach Greg Gano.

Aram’s take: David was wearing a t-shirt that said “No deposit, no return”. I guess that’s kind of the point of what they were doing out there on a Sunday. I mean, you can see why these guys are at the top of their game or trying to get there, because most people aren’t out doing drills IN MAY ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON. That, and these guys are all football junkies. I am too, but in a fan kind of way. I don’t know what it’s like to be a football junkie as a player, but just think about this — David has won a Super Bowl and Smith is a frosh All-American and on a Sunday afternoon they’re out at CO. Impressive!

IMPORTANT: TWO football camps this weekend …

Damien High School is hosting a skills and agility camp for 6th-8th graders on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

Sign-ups will take place between 7:30-8 a.m. and the cost is $25 with each player getting a t-shirt.

THEN …

On Sunday, Covina High School will host a FREE football camp for players between the ages of 6-14.

There will be speed training, strength and conditioning, dynamic warm up, position-specific drills and fun compeition.

Every camper will receive a gift from the Colts football program. The camp runs between 9 a.m.-1 p.m. with registration on-site at 8:30 a.m.

For more info, visit Covina’s football website at Covinafootball.com

2011 Schedules: St. Paul Swordsmen …

Week 0: La Mirada
Week 1: BYE
Week 2: at Norwalk
Week 3: at Garfield
Week 4: Ayala
Week 5: at Schurr
Week 6: at Chaminade
Week 7: Cathedral
Week 8: Serra
Week 9: St. Francis
Week 10: at Harvard-Westlake

Aram’s take:
Last August, we were talking about the demise of St. Paul. This August, we’ll be talking about how if this, that, those and these go right, this team may last a round or two in the playoffs. No, I’m not enamored with the nonleague schedule. It’s the same one as last year and it’s somewhat weak, but it will probably get the job done in terms of getting the Swordsmen full of confidence before starting Mission League play. Last year, St. Paul went 2-3 in league and wasn’t close in losses to Serra and St. Francis. I expect that gap to narrow this year and the Swordsmen did take two out of three in games against Chaminade, Cathedral and Harvard-Westlake. With eight starters back on each side of the ball, I think it’s reasonable to expect improvement from last year’s 6-4 finish. As of now, I will call for St. Paul to sweep its nonleague and win three games in league for an 8-2 finish. But that could change to 9-1 or 7-3 with bounces of the ball.

Spring practice begins! Aram visits Monrovia …

Monrovia (12-2 in 2010)
Numbers: About 110
Aram’s impression: Well, all I have to say is good luck to the rest of the Rio Hondo League. But do you really care about that? Probably not and the ‘Cats, if we’re being honest, probably don’t either. After winning the Mid-Valley Division championship and being in the title game the past two years, we all know how M-Town is now judging success. Aram has now seen West Covina, Charter Oak and Monrovia. In terms of athletes, I would rank them exactly in that order, with not much separating CO and M-Town. Shocked? Don’t be. I’m gonna have to go see Covina soon because I have a hard time believing there’s another Mid-Valley Division team as talented as Monrovia. There were recruiters out on Monday from Miami and Utah, presumably to fawn over defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy. But he was busy prepping for this weekend’s CIF track finals where he’ll compete in the shot put. Same for running back Michael Harris, who is a sprinter on the school’s track team. The guy who really stood out was junior-to-be George Frazier, who I have video of (sorry about the sound). Frazier is the front runner to replace Nick Bueno at QB (my words, not head coach Ryan Maddox’s) and he also plays linebacker. This kid has a D-1 frame already and he’s still got two years of eligibility. Listen, spring practice, like passing tourneys, is pretty much a athlete-measuring contest. Based on what I saw, Monrovia may be overall more talented than last season. And the couple of coaches I put that notion by did not disagree.
Under the radar: WR/DB Luke Williams. The kid is 6-2, 180 and I didn’t catch just how fast he is because they weren’t running those kinds of drills. But if he is as fast as his frame suggests (and can catch) you’ve got what may be one of the top WRs in the area.