Aram’s reaction to Monrovia, West Covina, Claremont, La Puente and Ganesha passing game on Tuesday …

First off, I would like to apologize to anybody who was expecting me at Charter Oak on Tuesday to see CO, Azusa, Covina and Bonita throw it around. I got a call from Claremont coach Mike Collins WHILE I WAS DRIVING TO CO and he told me they were at WestCo … and when I heard that M-Town was also there, I had to go. The reasoning is simple: I’ve seen CO, Azusa and Bonita already. The reason I was going to CO was to see Covina. But I have not seen WestCo, Monrovia (with all its guns), La Puente or Claremont yet. So I killed more birds with one stone at WestCo. OK enough …

But first some news …

Sydney Jones: This kid was Diamond Ranch’s freshman team’s star receiver last year. He has transferred to West Covina and will be a sophomore this season. Coach Mike Maggiore says he’s going to be up on varsity. Big blow for D-Ranch right there.

De’Shawn Ramirez: He was not there. I was very bummed. Very bummed. Anyway, CIF needs some clarification supposedly into Ramirez’s whole summer situation. Ramirez’s fall eligibility is not in question (from what I hear), so rest easy M-Town fans. His summer situation is in question.

Claremont: I was expecting Claremont to be in a bit of trouble this season after losing QB Kessler and WRs Dockery and Kuramata to graduation. So much for that. I would not go so far as to say that the ‘Pack has reloaded, because you can’t really reload after losing the guys I just mentioned. But this team, however, is VERY TALENTED. I mean VERY TALENTED. New QB Matt Simko is a big kid with a very nice arm. He’s going to be a junior and has all the tools. With some seasoning, watch out. I was also impressed with receiver DeAndre Mannis, who Coach Collins is headed toward a D-1 scholly. Then there’s sophomore running back Cecil Flemming. Wow. This kid averaged 3 TDs a game as a frosh. He’s got a nice frame already with good height. Claremont looks very good skill-wise. Defensively, I thought that the ‘Pack was a tad slow. Especially for what type of skill they will be up against in the Sierra League and Inland Division. This team is not going to be in as much trouble as I thought.

West Covina: What can you say? I wasn’t impressed at all by the passing game. But when am I ever when it comes to WestCo in the summer? Remember, this team didn’t stick around long last year in the SGV Shootout and all they did was win 13 games and a CIF title. So I’m not sweating it. Anyway, Chris Solomon remains a specimen. As does Justin Meaders. Let’s end the competition now, Chris Caballero will be the QB next season. It’s still technically a race, but it’s really not. Caballero throws a nice ball, but WestCo’s routes were nothing special and most of the throws were very short. Long-range accuracy was lacking. But again, that’s not WestCo’s thing … during the summer or fall.

This team is just ridiculously talented for being in the Mid-Valley Division. Super recruit Ellis McCarthy was out there and he’s simply the kind of talent you NEVER see around these parts. He’s an SEC defensive lineman in the SGV. It’s just unreal. And G5 (George Frazier) is also a D-1 body. He will very likely be playing LB on Saturdays. Anyway, enough fawning about M-Town’s looks. As far as the offense, it needs a lot of work. G5 was the QB and he throws a nice ball, but accuracy is an issue. He truly is an LB playing QB. And a D-1 LB at that. The receivers, led by Luke Williams, look fantastic. If you put M-Town in the Southeast Division, I would call them one of the top-three teams on talent. If you like to do a look test at passing games, which is all they are, then M-Town is a sight to behold.

Monrovia and West Covina: I was pretty disappointed in the fact that despite the amazing collection of athletes I did not see ONE play that made me say WOW. But, that really doesn’t mean anything. Both teams have two of the best staffs around and both staffs have rings. So I’m just not going to worry about the fact that I wasn’t wowed. I’m just simply saying that if you go to a Charter Oak passing game, you are pretty much assured of seeing two to three plays that make you say WOW.

La Puente:
I’ve got to say, LP’s coaching staff does a fantastic job. You can just tell by watching that these guys are schemed very well. The players are coached up pretty well and they’re running good schemes. Get it? Schemes. Is LP as talented as Azusa? No way. But they do a lot of things right in terms of schemes. Get it? Schemes. I was impressed that by what I saw of LP against Claremont. The Warriors had a nice, deep pass for a touchdown. The defense had a nice pick inside its own 10 because the player was in the right spot in the right defensive call. What was funny, though, was a sequence in which an LP defender leveled a Claremont receiver on a play. The very next play, Claremont threw deep for a 40-yard (that’s all they play in passing games) for a TD. That was a good example of an upper-division team cutting a lower-division team back down to size. But still, I really liked what I saw from the Warriors.

Walter Thurmond III:
WT3? OK, maybe not. Anyway, one of my favorite SGV athletes of all time, Walter Thurmond III, is back in town. He’s going to bid for a starting a cornerback role for the Seahawks when the NFL gets back to work, but for now, he was helping the WestCo DBs during Tuesday’s throw. Great to see Walter. Please watch the video above for a very entertaining video with Walter with some GREAT MEMORIES of his local playing days.

Dan: WestCo fan/blogger was out there. Always great to see Dan. He’s O.G. blogger and great fan of the Dawgs. I urged Dan to blog his takes on Tuesday’s games in this thread. Hopefully, he obliges.

DENIED: CIF denies Ben Kane eligibility at South Hills after transfer from Amat …

So much for that.

CIF has denied Ben Kane eligibility at South Hills after he transferred recently from Bishop Amat. Kane, a junior defensive end, who transferred to South Hills from Amat under a hardship, stood a good chance to be a starter on defense and possibly offense for the Huskies.

According to CIF’s website, Kane has limited eligibility (meaning he cannot play on a varsity team) in both football and basketball until 4-28-12. The reason for the denial is because Kane opted to go to South Hills rather than his home school, which would be Northview.

Kane very likely would have had his hardship approved if he had chose to attend the school in his home district, which is Northview, a CIF official said. He can still appeal the decision, but given the circumstances it looks like a longshot that he’ll win.

This is all very interesting considering that last season South Hills lost three players to Amat — QB/TE Brock Booth, LB Randall Varela and DB Ajee Montes — and all three played last season despite South Hills protesting their transfers to CIF.

Aram’s take: On the surface, it looks like South Hills cannot win with CIF. When they lose guys like Booth, Varela, Montes, Vaughns and Gilchrist, they end up playing right away at their new schools. When they gain guys like the Canadas or in this case Kane, they end up being denied. I’m sure that’s how they’re feeling today, but Kane can and will appeal (from what I hear) and maybe he’ll get his eligibility restored.

IMPORTANT DATES: Feel free to add to these by commenting …

June 24-25: Bonita Air Assault (Charter Oak WINS)

June 24: Hall of Fame All-Star Game at West Covina HS (East WINS)

June 25: West Covina Linemen Competition (Villa Park WINS)

July 9: SGV Shootout (@Arroyo) Passing Tournament

July 9: Tournament of Champions @Santa Fe and Linemen Tournament (38 teams)

July 15-16: Claremont Passing Tournament

July 16: Ayala Passing Tournament

July 16: Los Osos Linemen compeition

July 16: Arroyo Linemen Competition (Azusa, Covina, Gladstone, West Covina (3 teams), Villa Park, Los Altos (2 teams), Monrovia, Baldwin Park, La Salle, Temple City … I probably missed a few.

July 23: Ayala Linemen competition

Former Santa Fe stud LB and current JV coach Freddie Estrada passes away …

Former Santa Fe High School standout linebacker Freddie Estrada died of a heart attack on Sunday. He was 32 and is survived by his wife, son and daughter.

Estrada, an all-Del Rio League linebacker at Santa Fe, was going to be defensive coordinator of the Chiefs’ junior varsity team this season.

“It’s really a great loss for Santa Fe football,” longtime Chiefs head coach Jack Mahlstede said. “He was a very intense, hard worker. He was a very big asset because he was such a good a motivator.”

Estrada served as defensive line and linebackers coach for the past two seasons at Wilson under former Wildcats coach Brian Zavala.

“I’m at a loss for words,” Zavala said. “I just feel so bad for his wife, kids and family. He was a good man and touched a lot of kids. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for his family and friends.

“With coaches, we go to each other’s homes and celebrate each other’s birthdays and kids’ birthdays. When something like this happens, it really hits home.”

Estrada worked for Otis Elevator Company and coached in his spare time. He had suffered a minor heart attack, according to Mahlstede, about a month before his death.