BREAKING NEWS: West Covina picks up a huge transfer in defensive end Justin Hornsby …

An already impressive offseason haul of talent just got better for the West Covina High School football program.

Justin Hornsby, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound defensive end, was cleared to attend the school by the county and is expected to start opposite standout Justen Meaders.

Hornsby attended Rancho Verde last year. He moved into the Covina Unified School District and was in South Hills’ area. But the junior-to-be wanted to play at West Covina. He had to protest to the county because Covina Unified would not release him.

After a five-hour wait at the county office on Tuesday, Hornsby got clearance. Coaches consider him to be on par with Meaders, which immediately ranks him as one of the top defensive players in the area.

So far this offseason the Bulldogs have gotten transfers in the form of former San Dimas quarterback Emilio Zertuche and Diamond Ranch receiver Sidney Jones. West Covina also landed Compton Pop Warner phenom Antonio “Noodles” Hull, who is expected to start the season with the freshman team.

Aram’s take: The rich get richer. I always thought it would be scary if West Covina simply kept its talent home. But now the Bulldogs are doing that, plus getting transfers. I have heard coaches rave about Hornsby, who is supposed to be a Meaders clone. That’s a scary, scary, scary thought. Good luck scoring on the Bulldogs this season.

Jason David is showing the next generation his blueprint …

Former Charter Oak High School football standout and Super Bowl champion Jason David is taking the term “giving back to the community” to a different level.

Following a five-year career in the NFL that was highlighted by being the starting cornerback for the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI in Miami, David has had little trouble keeping busy.

But whereas some former professional players turn their energy toward starting new business endeavors and rarely are seen again in their hometown, David has found a way to do both. The beneficiaries are local athletes who have a chance to learn under him.

“It’s not really like something’s happened in my life that’s forced me to do it,” David said about his desire to give back. “I’m just a really giving person. I don’t look at it like I’m supposed to, I have to, I’m obligated to.

“Maybe I’m just a people person. I just enjoy people. I like to make sure the people I’m around are happy.”

Now 29, the local star who overcame being told by many experts he was too small to succeed in college, let alone the pros, because of his 5-foot-9, 170-pound frame is a visible face in the area showing the next group of would-be stars his tricks of the trade.

Sure, David has dipped his toe in the business world by starting Sports Training and Rehabilitation Services (STARS) in Orange County. And when he’s not dedicating time to that, you usually can find him on a local field helping the next generation of would-be stars work toward their dreams.

Once a year, however, David hosts a youth football camp for players between the ages of 7-18. The first year he did it, about 50 youths participated. The following year the number was 325. Finally, David had to cap this year’s group at 250.

It doesn’t end there for David, though. Last August, he held workouts at Citrus College for high school players in their dead periods, and it wasn’t only about getting Charter Oak’s athletes better.

Players from Bishop Amat, Walnut, Chino Hills, Damien and Glendora also showed up to participate. This offseason, David helped USC’s Victor Blackwell, Oregon’s Devon Blackmon and UCLA’s Dietrich Riley.

“I’m always open to help individuals if they want to get better,” David said. “It’s not just about the Victor Blackwells and Devon Blackmons of the world. Those guys are already talented and they don’t really need me for too much.

“It’s more about the guys who need to get better. Those guys are more fun. I like to call them fringe players, because they’re on the cusp of being good but aren’t really there yet and they need a few other pieces to get them there. That’s what I have a passion for.”

Despite his willingness to help anyone and do it for free, it’s clear David’s heart still is with Charter Oak.

When the NFL was in a labor dispute, David lobbied for Charter Oak to be the host site of a workout for locked-out players staying in the Los Angeles area. He got it done, and on July 6 about 30 professional players worked out in front of fans at David’s alma mater.

“When we were talking about it and it was just an idea, I was pushing for Charter Oak,” David said. “It’s not Hollywood and it’s not the coast in Orange County, but to me it’s a beautiful place. I really wanted to bring it home.”

David made himself a visible and vocal spectator at Charter Oak passing games this summer. Then, along with his sister Joni, he took on the task of keeping the Chargers in shape during the dead period, during which coaches could not have any contact with players.

You might think with so many things going on in the Valley that David actually lives here. Not so. He and his wife Kristel Smith David, herself a Charter Oak graduate and sister of former Chargers standout Keith Smith, live in Costa Mesa. That means long journeys to the Valley and often at the wrong time of day from a traffic standpoint.

“It’s one of those things where you just kind of get used to it,” David said. “There’s a lot of time to just think.”

Nobody knows exactly what goes on in David’s mind while he’s thinking. But judging by his actions, it must be something along the lines of doing what he can to help the next undersized prospect find a way to realize all the achievements he did.

“I always joke with the kids and tell them that I’ve got the blueprint,” David said. “I’ve done it. I’ve lived it. They want to go to the NFL and Division 1 schools and do well. I tell them they can have the same success that I’ve had.”

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

MIDNIGHT MADNESS: Los Altos to hold first fall practice at MIDNIGHT on Sunday night/Monday morning …

Los Altos coach Dale Ziola will hold his team’s first practice of the season at MIDNIGHT Sunday evening/Monday morning.

Like most area teams, Los Altos is scheduled to begin fall practice on Aug. 15. However, most area teams are going to wait until early morning to hold their first session. Not Los Altos. The Conquerors will get the jump on everyone by starting right at midnight with a 90-minute workout under the lights in their stadium.

“We were 0-10 last year, so I want to do something to get them fired up,” said Ziola, who is in his first year as head coach of the Conquerors.

New Diamond Bar coach Ryan Maine has Brahmas feeling excited about EVERYTHING!!!

By Aram Tolegian
Staff Writer

There’s something contagious about new Diamond Bar High School football coach Ryan Maine. To spend a few minutes with him is to find yourself about ready to strap on pads and a helmet and hit someone in the name of Brahma football.

And that’s just if you’re a normal person. What about the Brahmas’ actual football team? Well, let’s just say they’re fired up beyond belief for the upcoming season and it’s got everything to do with Maine.

“Coach Maine brings such energy and enthusiasm that when you wake up in the morning you can’t wait to go work out for him,” Diamond Bar senior running back Jamaal Clayton said. “He’s probably going to be the best coach at this school in a long time.”

And that’s exactly what the Brahams’ struggling football program needs.

Diamond Bar has fallen from being one of the top teams in the area in the late 1990s to an afterthought on the current area scene.

If anybody remembers Diamond Bar’s glory days, it’s Maine. He won CIF championships at the school as a quarterback in 1998 and ’99. Maine was a sophomore back-up on the ’98 team, but was the starting quarterback in ’99.

“When I first came back, I noticed kids in our district were going to Chino Hills, Diamond Ranch, Damien and Bishop Amat,’ Maine said. “What I’ve noticed is that with schools like Diamond Ranch and Chino Hills coming in, the athletes here have diminished a little bit.

“When I played here, it was Diamond Bar getting Ganesha kids who didn’t want to go there or Ayala kids. My senior year, at spring practice we had 92 players on varsity. This year for spring practice we had 54.”

Winning is the cure-all and Maine knows it. But he’s taking baby steps for his team to get there. It can be something as minor as winning the SGV Shootout passing tournament in July, but Maine is using any bit of confidence-boosting news to the fullest.

“To the outside world, for the public and community, it’s about winning and getting publicity for it,” Maine said. “But personally, I’m trying to build these kids into being successful in life and have fun doing it.”

The team Maine inherits has a good chance to end Diamond Bar’s postseason drought. The Brahmas haven’t been to the playoffs since 2003, but that could change thanks to a loaded offense led by quarterback Henry Omana, receiver George Katrib and Clayton.

Although the Brahmas figure to have little trouble scoring, there are major concerns about a defense that allowed 31.8 points per game. Diamond Bar has had major trouble at the line of scrimmage in recent years, which is part of the reason why CIF dropped the school out of the Sierra League and into the Hacienda League and Southeast Division.

In terms of won-loss record, the move paid off as Diamond Bar went 6-4 overall last year. But because the Brahmas weren’t close in losses to West Covina, Bonita, Diamond Ranch and arch-rival Walnut, Diamond Bar was left out of the dance.

Maine, who played in college at Sacramento State and University of San Diego, came back to his alma mater to teach and coach baseball after a brief career in sales. He was offensive coordinator under previous head coach John Martin from 2007 until this past offseason when he was named head coach.

For Maine, turning around the program is as much about changing the psychology of the players as it is changing their physical attributes.

Maine has transformed the team room from the mess it was last year to something that resembles a college locker room.

Diamond Bar’s CIF championship banners hang in there to remind players what’s possible.

Nutrition has also become a part of the process. Maine has arranged for the players to be served protein drinks after workouts and has encouraged them to bring their own lunches from home during school days. Whether the strategy will pay off in the trenches is one thing, but it should be noted that last year Diamond Bar had four players run under a 5-second-flat, 40-yard sprint. This year that number is 25.

Clearly, the Brahmas are feeding off their enthusiastic 28-year-old coach. And that’s because Maine’s will to win has spread like wild fire and his players don’t want all the excitement and effort to be wasted on another ho-hum season.

“Last night, I fell asleep at 11p.m. and woke up at 4 a.m.,” Maine said. “I will call the players at 9 at night just to see how they’re doing. My mind just doesn’t stop thinking. I’ve always been competitive. It’s my passion.

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

Pomona coach Anthony Rice speaks!!! Says battle for QB spot is tight, but Tavea Cobb seems to be the frontrunner to be under center in the opener vs. Garey

Fred Robledo got a hold of Pomona coach Anthony Rice and what he found out may surprise some of you. Or, maybe not …

Coach Rice gave Fred the impression that he’s leaning toward senior Tavea Cobb at quarterback. It seems Cobb has some wheels to go with a nice arm. Looks like he’s got the slight edge over Wilson transfer Brandon Schrieman.

Rice is also high on running back Donald Morris, who he thinks may be one of the top-five backs in the area by season’s end.

Freddie also got San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow talking about the Saints, who Coach Z believes are flying under the radar … just the way he likes it. I never got the vibe SD was under the radar, but perception is everything.

Sounds like the Saints have some very good running backs and maybe my concerns about the SD skill spots being down from last year and two years ago are unfounded. We’ll see …

Aram’s take: I’m happy we finally got some accurate info on Pomona and we got it straight from Rice. Given what I’ve read on the blogs, I was a little surprised to read that there’s even a battle at QB … with Cobb is looking like the frontrunner. Just goes to show you that you can’t always trust what you read in the comments section of the blogs. About Morris, I’m very intrigued to see this kid. To say somebody will be top-five in this area — meaning he’s right up there with Solomon, Moore and Hart — is really something.

Montview League predictions … CAST YOUR VOTE!!!


QB Kevin Amezquita is hoping to lead Gladstone back to the playoffs.

NOTE: This is the sixth in a series of previews that look at local leagues that consist of local teams only.

1. Azusa — Other than Monrovia in the Rio Hondo League, there is probably no surer bet in the Valley than Azusa winning the Montview. The Aztecs have been on a major roll in the Montview and what impresses me most is their run is poised to last longer than the recent good runs of the past by teams like Duarte and Gladstone. Azusa impressed me this summer with its collection of athletes and overall tenacity. This is a tough football team at heart, which I like. QB Jake Martinez is looking like a good bet to be the league MVP. My only concern with the Aztecs is that they’re likely to drop a tad on defense when compared to last year. That will hurt in the nonleague against teams like San Dimas and Maranatha … and possibly the playoffs.
Predicted record: 8-2 overall, 7-0 in league.
Playoffs: Yes, likely top-four seed.

2. La Puente — I really like what head coach Brandon Rohrer and his staff have going on at LP. I caught the Warriors a couple times this summer and they’re not really world beaters, but they do have some speedy receivers and some decent-looking athletes. Combine that with the good scheme set in place by Rohrer and you’ve got the making of another solid ball club. The Warriors probably aren’t good enough to stay with Azusa, but they’re a good bet to handle the rest of the league.
Predicted record: 7-3 overall, 5-2 in league.
Playoffs: Yes.

t-3. Gladstone — There was some attrition last year which hurt the Gladiators, but coach Albert Sanchez got enough out of his team to finish third and reach the playoffs. With former Wilson coach Brian Zavala now joining the staff and calling the shots on defense, I think the Gladiators have a good shot equal last year’s bottom line. Gladstone has a lot to replace skill-wise, but I wasn’t disappointed by what I saw at the SGV Shootout. In typical years and when players actually stick with the program, Gladstone has one of the better talent pools in the league. I expect this year to be more of the same.
Predicted record: 5-5 overall, 4-3 in league.
Playoffs: Yes.

t-3. Sierra Vista
— Head coach Don LeGro’s offense did its thing last year and the numbers (if you believe them) piled up. The Dons suffered a big blow in the offseason when it was revealed that 2,300-yard rusher Giovanni Rivera would not be with the team this fall. But LeGro feels like his offense is a plug-and-play system, so expect the featured back to put up good numbers. Although the Dons garnered a lot of attention because of the offense, the defense actually put up a strong year, allowing just 15 points per game, which put them second in the league behind Azusa. Trouble is, the top-five tacklers from last year must be replaced.
Predicted record: 6-4 overall, 4-3 in league.
Playoffs: No.

5. Ganesha — The Giants got some league relief last offseason by being placed in the Montview, but it wasn’t enough to get them into the big dance … or even close. I saw the Giants throw this summer and they’re just fine talent-wise in terms of skill players at this level. But I think overall toughness and confidence, as in knowing how to win, are what will hold them back again this season. The talent is there to spring an upset and make things interesting, so contenders beware.
Predicted record: 4-6 overall, 3-4 in league.
Playoffs: No.

6. Workman — Year 2 of the Scott Morrison era at Workman should see some overall improvements. The Lobos simply did not have enough firepower on offense last season and put up only 16.5 points per game. That number may improve, but it will have to do so with some new faces in key skill spots. The defense, which gave up over 30 points per game last year, also has to get better.
Predicted record: 4-6 overall, 2-5 in league.
Playoffs: No.

7. Bassett — The Olympians played some decent defense last year, i.e. holding Sierra Vista to three points in a 3-0 loss to end the season. And that’s the problem. Bassett cannot score consistently enough to take advantage of its stop unit. The Olympians averaged just 9 points per game for the season, but perhaps that number improves in Year 2 under Aubrey Duncan. Remember, there was a time last season when we weren’t 100-percent sure Bassett would even field a team. Not bad considering …
Predicted record: 3-7 overall, 1-6 in league.
Playoffs: No.

8. Duarte — I’ve heard from some pretty reliable people that the talent level is up considerably at Duarte. One person even told me not to be surprised if the Falcs win 5 games! It’s hard to see that, though, because that would require tremendous improvement after last year’s team finished with an average losing margin of just over 42 points per game. But if anybody is capable of turning around a program, it’s Lavell Sanders. Will we see any green shoots this year?
Predicted record: 2-8 overall, 0-7 in league.
Playoffs: No.

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

Former San Dimas QB prospect Emilio Zertuche now at West Covina …

Former San Dimas quarterback Emilio Zertuche, who played on the varsity as a team a freshman in 2009, has transferred to West Covina where he’s expected to join the mix for the open Bulldogs starting quarterback position.

Zertuche, a junior, was not on San Dimas’ varsity roster last season and may have played junior varsity (I’m trying to figure that out still), but I can recall blogging about him last offseason when Saints coach Bill Zernickow told me he was going to be a very good player.

Zertuche was listed on San Dimas’ varsity roster in 2009 as a 6-foot, 135-pound freshman quarterback. He is the nephew of former Bishop Amat quarterback, who played in the early-mid 1990s.

Aram’s take: San Dimas and West Covina run somewhat similar offenses, so this shouldn’t be a huge transition for Zertuche, who reportedly arrived at West Covina at the start of summer. Obviously, something went awry at San Dimas for him to leave. But this could be a potentially huge pickup for the Bulldogs. And for those of you sweating it, Zertuche was lived in West Covina all along.

Jonathan Cornell: From Amat to Ole Miss to the Titans!

Former Bishop Amat linebacker Jonathan Cornell, an All-Area selection in 2005, is on the roster of the Tennessee Titans.

Cornell, who is from Azusa, was signed as an undrafted free-agent rookie after a strong career at Ole Miss where last year he led the team in tackles and was an All-SEC honorable mention selection.

Aram’s take:
This gives me a reason to watch Tennessee preseason games. Hopefully, Jonathan makes the roster. He was a local stud and probably the best middle linebacker I’ve ever covered.

By the way: If you feel I’ve had a glaring omission on the poll below, please let me know and if I agree I will add the name to the ballot.