The pass attack is the only big concern for West Covina in ’11.
NOTE: This is the third in a series of previews that look at local leagues that consist of local teams only.
1. West Covina — The Bulldogs have the best defense in the league and one of the best defenses in the area. The offense will feature another powerful rush attack led by Chris Solomon, Aaron Salgado and Jimmy Frazier. The QB position is a major issue and I would expect many teams to challenge WestCo in that department by loading the box. If you’re a West Covina opponent, you want the game close going into the 4th when you hope they HAVE TO pass. The run game, defense and sick collection of athletes make the Bulldogs the clear favorite to win the league and repeat as Southeast Division champs.
Predicted record: 9-1 overall, 6-0 in league.
Playoffs: Yes, top-four seed.
2. Diamond Bar — As we near the time when pads come on, I get more and more nervous about my confidence in D-Bar. I put this team in my Top 25 back in spring and took a lot of flack for it. So far, so good. The Brahmas had a strong summer and the program has caught fire under new coach Ryan Maine. But some serious questions remain: Can D-Bar stop class teams and can they be physical enough on offense to stay on the field? There aren’t many teams around with such a nice collection of skill talent, so the onus is on the defense. In terms of the Hacienda, it’s hard to split D-Bar, D-Ranch and Bonita right now.
Predicted record: 8-2 overall, 4-2 in league.
t-3. Diamond Ranch — My concerns about the Panthers were somewhat calmed when I finally saw them at a passing game at Charter Oak. They still have athletes, although not as many as before. More specifically, in year’s past D-Ranch had more than one home-run hitter on offense. That isn’t the case this year. Beside WR Andrew Fischer, I don’t see any other playmakers. And that’s why I think D-Ranch comes back to the pack. The front seven should be very strong and give a better account of itself against WestCo and Bonita. Unless I’m missing something, this is a good, not great D-Ranch team.
Predicted record: 4-6 overall, 3-3 in league.
t-3. Bonita — I think we’re going to find out just how good last year’s senior class was. This will be a transition year for the Bearcats. There is still some top-shelf talent around, which means Bo-Hi won’t fall too hard. But the offense won’t be able to stretch the field until new QB Tanner Diebold takes his lumps. The running game may take some pressure off because the running backs are a team strength. However, I don’t see this as a smash-mouth team. I’m also not quite sure what to expect from the defense in terms of overall toughness … when compared to last year. Coaching and some savvy veterans will keep Bonita solid, but nothing near last year.
Predicted record: 5-5 overall, 3-3 in league.
5. Walnut — Yet another Hacienda team that lost a strong senior class. I would like to think that Walnut’s program is still at a place where it can simply reload without missing a beat after losing a good class of players, but I don’t see it. All the skill positions are a big question mark, as is Walnut’s ability to break as many big plays as last year. While spread offenses are nice for schools lacking linemen, you also need to have some serious threats to keep drives moving. If not, the defense is on the field way too much and that’s what I see happening to the Mustangs this year. Walnut may wear out much the same way Rowland did last season.
Predicted record: 3-7 overall, 2-4 in league.
6. Rowland — The Raiders faltered badly on defense last year. Fortunately, they had QB Michael Ball and a few other nice skill players to stay competitive and trade points. I don’t see how the defense gets much better this season and I’m certain the offense will suffer a serious drop off. The good news for Rowland is that the rest of the league is not nearly as explosive as it was last year. But while everyone else takes a step back, so do the Raiders.
Predicted record: 1-9 overall, 1-5 in league.
7. Los Altos — While I believe that new Los Altos coach Dale Ziola has done a solid job of keeping what’s left of the program intact, I still don’t think there’s enough to produce better bottom-line results than last year. Truth be told, the Conqs could use some league relief. Valle Vista, possibly (not that there’s any room)? Los Altos is hoping that a switch to a 40 defense will slow opposing offenses a bit. The Conquerors’ own offense figures to ride running back Scott Tibbs for all he’s worth. Maybe LA will be slightly better this year, but they have a large gap to close.
Predicted record: 0-10 overall, 0-6 in league.
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