Moore of Jalen running wild is something to expect this fall
NOTE: It’s hard to do much more than gauge physical appearance, speed, quicks and ability to catch from the running backs during the passing circuit. Running backs are just kinda out there during passing games … and most of them get more action on defense rather than offense. So, there aren’t too many changes, maybe just some shuffling around, to this Top 10.
1. Chris Solomon, West Covina — After being named Tribune Player of the Year, Solomon vowed he would use the offseason to get even better by working hard in the weight room and other various forms of training. Well, it’s obvious he’s done just that. He’s bulked up, stayed fast and took home MVP honors at Nike Camp up north. During passing games, though, he became the favorite target of West Covina QBs, who loved throwing to him … but only for about 5 yards. See why I’m worried about WestCo’s pass game? Anyway, Solomon looked on great on defense, too. What separates him from the rest, for me, is that he’s the truest home run hitter we have in the Valley at running back.
2. Jalen Moore, Bishop Amat — Talk about offseason strides in terms of physique. Can’t say it enough, Moore has become a specimen. Good thing, too. Amat is gonna rely on him more than ever with the QB situation in question for a few games. Moore can do it all and looks ready for another huge year. The D-1 offers have to be forthcoming.
3. De’Shawn Ramirez, Monrovia — Disclaimer: I’m not a De’Shawn Ramirez homer. I love all my backs equally. I’ve only met the kid once. This guy may be the surest bet in the ENTIRE Valley to put up a monster season. Any doubts about whether Ramirez will transfer his sophomore year form + his physical maturation in that time to his senior year were somewhat quelled when he dominated at the Ultimate 100 combine this summer and was named MVP of the event. Ramirez scored 10 of his 7-on-7 team’s 11 touchdowns at the event. Scary.
4. Jamel Hart, South Hills — I won’t lie to to you, when Hart came in to the office to take his preview issue shot, our collective jaws dropped. Yet another local back who has made great strides, Robledo wanted to put him on the postseason All-Area team right then and there. Yes, I said postseason. I like what I saw of Hart in passing games. He’s a legit threat to catch balls and can make things happen when he does. Hopefully, South Hills’ rebuilt o-line can be adequate enough to give him holes.
5. Tairen Owens, Muir — It was kind of rough to see the Washington-bound Owens at some passing games this summer, because you don’t really get to see what he can … while the Muir pass attack languishes. Anyway, Muir’s inconsistency in the passing game this summer can actually be looked at as a good thing for Owens, who will surely see even more carries until the pass attack sorts itself out. This kid has exceptional speed and was clearly one of the best athletes on the field the two times I saw him this summer.
6. Michael Ortega, St. Paul — Ortega was slowed a bit by a hamstring pull this summer, but he’ll be more than ready to go when camp opens for the Swordsmen in a few weeks. St. Paul isn’t much for the passing circuit, because the run is their thing. But coaches say Ortega has gotten even quicker in the offseason and should put on another show (1,100 yards last year) once the games begin.
7. Corey Victoria, Glendora — I really liked what I saw of Victoria this summer. He’s a firebrand, literally. Glendora needs more kids like that to survive in the Baseline. And if you don’t know what I’m referring to, then ask around … and yes, Aram KNOWS EVERYTHING. Anyway, Victoria showed a propensity to catch the deep ball this summer, which is nice, but means little because he’s not gonna be in many routes 40 yards down field, but it’s nice to know he’s got that kinda range. Physique-wise, he took another step forward as kids will often do. He and Jalen remain the best short-yardage guys in the area.
8. Kurt Scoby, Charter Oak — Well, we now know Scoby can catch the rock out of the backfield, too. But despite that, Scoby’s physique was the talk of summer and has to be the root of Chino Hills coach Derek Bub’s P90X comment. But what do you expect from a kid between his frosh and soph seasons? Anyway, Scoby put on display improved speed compared to last year and looks poised to at least double last year’s numbers.
9. Tony Botello, Pioneer — From what I hear, Pioneer has passed the eye test this summer. Botello is part of that, although he’s tiny. Nearly 1,200 yards when everybody knows you’re getting the ball is no east feat. I like this team as a mild surprise this year and Botello is a major reason why.
10. O.J. Medina, La Serna — With the show all his and everybody knowing who to focus on, Medina’s got some pressure on himself this year. I still like La Serna to be able to pound the rock and they’ve got the right back to roll up yards. The Del Rio rushing title race between Botello and Medina should be something to see … that’s assuming nobody else joins the fray.
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