When: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Any of the SGVN prep sports blogs.
Who: Westside authoritarian Big Bob, Alhambra QB Josh Mendoza and Chris Caraveo, and San Gabriel’s Alex Villalobos and Carlos Purser.
Joey Davis is taking the Whittier area by storm.
1. Charter Oak (7-1) — Offense may have field day against Damien defense.
2. West Covina (7-1) — Josh Best gives opponents yet another weapon to fret about.
3. Bishop Amat (6-3) — It’s circle the wagons time in La Puente.
4. Chino Hills (5-3) — Huge rally in La Verne helps Huskies force showdown with CO.
5. Covina (8-1) — Take the week off to manufacture a reason to get excited about N’view.
6. La Habra (5-3) — Even when teams appear to be a threat in Freeway, they’re really not.
7. Damien (6-2) — Have to shake off CH loss quickly to pull off much-needed CO upset.
8. St. Francis (6-2) — Win over Harvard-Westlake will loom large at playoff time.
9. St. Paul (6-2) — Need to beat St. Franks in order to force more clutter for playoff spot.
10. San Dimas (6-2) — Saints can’t get caught looking ahead to Pomona game.
11. Arcadia (6-2) — Burroughs loss was news to Apaches’ ears.
12. Whittier Christian (5-3) — Win over Valley would likely seal another league title.
13. Arroyo (7-1) — Hard to tell if Rivera is better on defense or offense.
14. La Puente (8-0) — Duarte is a nice way to tune up for Azusa … if you don’t lose.
15. Santa Fe (4-4) — Defense + Davis = Del Rio League champs.
16. Alhambra (7-1) — Moors deserve to be seeded if they finish 9-1.
17. Monrovia (5-3) — Confidence builds as RHL tests are aced.
18. La Serna (6-2) — No match for Santa Fe, so focus shifts to another postseason run.
19. Muir (5-3) — Win over Burroughs shows ‘Stangs are as dangerous as ever.
20. Diamond Ranch (4-4) — Technically still a threat for the Hacienda title.
21. Pomona (5-3) — Nothing Wilson would like better than to derail Devils.
22. Pasadena (5-3) — ‘Dogs are entertaining, but defense puts a ceiling on chances.
23. El Monte (6-3) — If things are truly different, Lions won’t slip up vs. SEM.
24. Azusa (5-3) — Aztecs may get easier playoff draw this year compared to last.
25. Bonita (4-4) — Dangerous Podley creeping back in at right time.
NOTE: This is dedicated to Aaron, who likes to bust my chops about not writing this thing every weekend.
If you’re not watching the PrepXtra Live Postgame Show on Friday nights, then you’re missing a lot. And if you don’t watch it live, then you need to catch the replays. Some interesting fallout from this week’s show that has really stuck with me was new San Marino coach Mike Hobbie openly questioning why Monrovia is in the same league as the Titans, according to PSN Preps Editor Miguel Melendez. To Hobbie’s credit, there has been a lot of recent talk about M-Town moving to the Pacific League. And in the sense that there are some HEAVILY CHANGING demographics that have taken or are taking place in CERTAIN (Temple City 0-8) geographical locations, then let’s just say it may not be a bad idea. But when you start talking about enrollments and using that as a reason why M-Town should be gone, well that’s just garbage. Monrovia has about 1,750 students. I believe that makes it right on par or smaller than other RHL schools. The thing about the RHL is that it’s been the same six teams for as long as anybody can remember. Yes, CIF overweights football performance when it re-leagues or re-divisions, but to break up something that’s been around that long is ridiculous. The ‘Cats are on another level right now, but there have been periods of time when you could say the same about Temple City and yes, even San Marino. You have to love that West Covina scored on Antonio “Noodles” Hull’s first play from under center. Of course, Noodles himself had little to do with it. He simply handed off. Bigger than Noodles’ varsity debut (if that’s possible) was the emergence of Bulldogs sophomore running back Josh Best. I had gotten a tip about Best a week prior while sitting with an in-the-know WestCo supporter at the San Dimas-Covina game. I’m not sure that Best being the stud that he is really changes WestCo’s stature this season. It’s not like the Bulldogs were hurting at RB. But when you look to next year and the year after, it’s starting to be pretty obvious that the Bulldogs are going to remain one of the area’s top teams, if not the top. Best, Salgado, Hornsby, Noodles, Sydney Jones, Henderson, Ojala, Najera, Franklin and whomever else the cat drags in will all be on the roster next season. Scary. Thought I might mention that while Noodles certainly qualifies as one of the best names around, it might not even be the best on the Bulldogs’ roster. That probably goes to 320-pound defensive lineman Funky Medina. Guess we all know who his parents’ favorite rapper is. Speaking of Tone Loc, did you know that our very own Tommy Kiss was one of the first to render aid to the famous rapper when he had a seizure recently in Atlanta. Es verdad. Something that is maybe no es verdad is that Arroyo QB Steven Rivera “flipped off” the Rosemead mascot after running out of bounds during last week’s game-winning drive. I was sitting right there and saw the whole thing. Rivera’s momentum took him past the Rosemead bench and onto the track where the Panthers’ cheerleaders and mascot stand. Yes, he gestured toward the mascot, but from my view it was not the finger. And it didn’t appear to be anything with malice intended. The Panthers’ mascot playfully kicked at Rivera as he ran back to the field. I have received emails from some Rosemead peeps lobbing some pretty nasty allegations toward my “new favorite player”. Wish I had the replay, but I truly did not see it as Rivera “flipping off” the mascot. Is it possible that he did? Of course. I’m trying to line up a 60 Minutes-style interview with the Panthers’ mascot. Speaking of Rosemead, Robledo is/was right, Maranatha losing on Friday truly hurts the Panthers’ chances of being an at-large team. It’s just another team that Rosemead has to get behind in line for one of the four at-large bids in the Mid-Valley Division. The Panthers also could have used a Duarte loss. By the way, Rosemead RB/LB Matt Eddy was absolutely amazing on Friday. The kid plays both ways and carried 35 times!!! for 185 yards and two scores. Who knew: South El Monte and El Monte in Week 9 has huge meaning. Speaking of the Mid-Valley playoffs, I will be writing an open letter to CIF on this blog the Saturday after the regular season ends (and the day before playoff brackets are announced). I will then text my contacts at CIF urging them to read it before making the brackets. The letter will basically share mine, Fred and Miguel’s opinions of who the four at-large teams should be. We will come to a consensus. Will they read it? PROBABLY. Do I expect it to have any impact? NO. Is there a slim chance it does? YES. I truly don’t think that in the 36 hours between when the regular season ends and the playoffs are announced that CIF hyper-analyzes who the Mid-Valley at-large teams SHOULD be. Not with the PAC-5 pairings to worry about. That’s where we can help each other. I know that without Nine at QB Amat will be hard-pressed to win a first-round PAC-5 playoff game (likely on the road). But I still want the Lancers to make it. A postseason without Amat would simply suck. Correction to Saturday’s print edition: Charter Oak is 7-1, not 7-2. As things stand now, Aram will be back on the Charter Oak beat full-time for the first time since summer. The plan is for me to cover the Chargers on Friday when they host Damien and again the following week when they visit Chino Hills. Things can change, but that’s the plan. Want to thank Chino Hills QB Andrew Chavez for reminding on Twitter that I picked against the Huskies vs. Damien. As I told him, he almost didn’t get to point that out. But to his credit, Chavez put the game-winning pass right on the cash. Congrats to him and the Huskies. Speaking Chino Hills’ win over Damien, there’s probably a good chance that Spartans coach Greg Gano’s visor and headset are probably still somewhere in orbit. Back to my “new favorite player” Steven Rivera: He set up the game-tying score with a beautiful strip of a Rosemead ball carrier. He then preserved the win with an interception at his own 15. Those are two outstandingly clutch DEFENSIVE plays made by the Valley’s leading passer. Think about that last sentence for a second. Did anybody else notice Muir’s win over Burroughs last week? Burroughs stud RB Zander Anding did not play. Cue up the “injuries are part of the game” people. The win did wonders for Muir’s playoff chances and it appears the Tussle with PHS is going to be for a playoff spot (or more). The Burroughs loss was great news for Arcadia. Which one of you Pacific League teams want to start the playoffs on the road vs. the Hacienda? There are three Pacific teams at 4-1 in league. There are two Pacific teams at 3-2 in league. Things aren’t quite as muddy in the Hacienda League, thanks to West Covina being alone in first and D-Ranch alone in second. But the league’s final two playoff spots are up for grabs between Bonita, Walnut, Los Altos and Diamond Bar. D-Bar and Bonita are in the best spots, but then again that will chane after this week. Still, a coin flip scenario appears likely. Hey Aaron, this is for you. Did you (not you Aaron, but everybody else) that Bonita actually trailed at halftime before winning 50-17 over Walnut. At least that’s what John “Nuttin Honey” Honell told me. I wonder what CIF will do with Santa Fe when they construct the Southeast Division brackets. The Chiefs are cruising toward the Del Rio League title, but doing so will only make them 6-4 overall. That’s what happens when you play a nonleague sked that featured Hamilton of Arizona (10-0 currently), Charter Oak, Esperanza and St. John Bosco. Combined record of the teams Santa Fe LOST to in its nonleague schedule: 29-7. And by the way, Charter Oak’s win over 6-3 Esperanza looks better and better. I think the Chiefs deserve a top-four seed (in a four-league division). About my Friday column on size mattering. I have seen both Monrovia and Covina, and Monrovia is not bigger. Are you people counting the size of receivers or something? I’m talking linemen. Yes, Ellis Mac-Cee is bigger than anything Covina has, but Nick Hynes is pretty big himself. I’m talking about across-the-board size on the LINES. C-Town is bigger. Anyway, the column was counting Tribune coverage-area teams only, so Monrovia is excluded.
As a sportswriter covering the local football scene, I know something’s wrong when Covina High School is the biggest team I’ve seen all season.
But that’s the current state of Valley football as the season progresses toward the most exciting time of year – the playoffs.
Why is this important? To borrow an overused phrase: Size matters. And this Valley is lacking it and that’s something that will put a ceiling on the postseason chances of some of our best teams, especially top-ranked Charter Oak and No. 2 Bishop Amat.
It’s really too bad. The Chargers and Lancers have the skill players good enough to produce deep postseason runs or even walk away with the hardware after Week 14 in their respective divisions. But when put up against teams that are bigger across the board along both lines, that skill talent gets somewhat nullified.
So, to borrow another oft-used phrase: Where’s the beef?
“They’re sitting at home on the couch playing video games and eating Doritos,” veteran Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said. “Big guys are big and fat and that’s all they want to do.”
Guilty as charged. Basically, what Farrar is saying is that our Valley’s precious few big kids are in training to be sportswriters and not NFL players. Although that’s the funny and somewhat true answer, there’s more to it than that.
In the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division, which is made up of five local leagues and one league of small Christian
private schools, size isn’t such a big issue. With its size, Covina will give its opponents fits. Just ask San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow, who after last week’s loss told me, “They’re better up front than we are, so they were throwing us around pretty good.”
But in the Inland Division and Pac-5 divisions, you need both skill and size. Amat and Charter Oak have one and not the other, hence the ceiling.
“Because we play the guys who show up for practice,” Farrar said when I asked him why Charter Oak isn’t bigger. “If you come out and you’re bigger than the guys we have, we’ll give you a damn-good shot to play here.
“If I could order them (big guys) from the Sears catalog, I would.
“There are a couple of girls I tried to recruit on campus. I’ve played a girl kicker before and I would play a girl tackle if she was big enough and mean enough.”
Do schools like Charter Oak have three or four would-be linemen walking around campus doing anything but playing football? Does Amat not appeal to 200-pound Catholic eighth-graders? Who knows.
The only way to find the answer is by going to where the big guys, the ones who play football, are attending school. Think of the biggest teams you’ve seen this year. Where were they from? For me, that answer is the Inland Empire. Therefore the best answer I can come up with to the “Where’s the beef” question is that size is essentially a numbers game.
All hail the Tribune genius for stating the obvious that if you have 4,000 students, then you’re more likely to find the handful of 6-foot-2, 250-pounders you need to build a good football team around. Trouble is, the Valley doesn’t have any schools of that size. But the Inland Empire and Orange County do.
The Valley’s ever-changing demographics also play a big role. Amat’s recruiting base, so to speak … or better yet, the areas Amat pools its talent from do not have the same number of big guys that the Mater Dei or Servite recruiting ground does. And Charter Oak is simply never going to be an Inland Division school enrollment-wise.
All of it leads to one thing: Six weeks from now, we’re going to be talking about the same teams as last year. Amat and Charter Oak, barring a miracle, will be out of the conversation.
Last season, West Covina rode the biggest line in the area to a CIF-SS championship. Although not as big this year, the Bulldogs won’t have anything mammoth to overcome in their division to do it again.
Covina, which arguably has the best across-the-board size around, also figures to be one of the area’s last teams standing and is very likely to be a CIF champ when the smoke clears.
Since early September, we’ve all seen what the top teams in the area can do when things are equal or they have the advantage at the line of scrimmage. But as the days grow shorter, the temperatures drop and the final chapters of this season are written, the reality is that certain teams have sizable problems that lay just around the corner. And the story this year is likely to have an all too familiar ending because of it.
Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT