CIF asst. commissioner Glenn Martinez explains why he thinks Monrovia and West Covina should stay put. Meanwhile, the Montview League plans to appeal …

After watching the Monrovia and West Covina high school football teams run roughshod over their respective playoff divisions the past two years, most Valley fans anticipated there were some serious changes coming both schools way this spring when the CIF-Southern Section office announced its new playoff grouping proposals for the next two seasons.

The proposals were released last week and Assistant Commissioner Glenn Martinez has decided to keep Monrovia and West Covina in their respective divisions while making things a bit harder on them with the insertion of some beefed-up competition.

According to Martinez’s proposals, Monrovia and the Rio Hondo League will remain in the Mid-Valley Division. Meanwhile, the Montview and Olympic leagues will be leaving the division and heading to the Northwest. Entering the division will be the Alpha League, which features Sierra Canyon, who went 15-0 last season, and Paraclete, which won the Mid-Valley Division in 2008.

Monrovia has won the last two division titles, and the combined score of the past two championship games has been 91-22.

In the Southeast, West Covina’s back-to-back titles could have given Martinez reason enough to move the Bulldogs and the Hacienda League to a different division. Instead, the Hacienda is staying put, as is the rest of the division, and the San Gabriel Valley League will be joining. The San Gabriel Valley League features teams like Compton Dominguez, Paramount and Downey. It would be getting relief after having played in the Western Division last season.

“I hate to move a league,” Martinez said. “I almost feel like I’m punishing five or six schools because of one team’s tremendous success. It’s not to downgrade or say anything bad about a successful program like West Covina or Monrovia, but I don’t think it’s fair for those other five or six schools.

“When you move a league up just because of one particular school, it’s just kind of hurting everyone and I don’t think that’s fair.”

Leagues are allowed to appeal Martinez’s proposals and on Mar. 27 an appeals panel will convene to consider their arguments. If an appeal is denied on Mar. 27, the league can appeal again, this time to the Southern Section council at its meeting on Apr. 25, at which time the new groupings will be ratified. Playoff groupings are set in place for two-year periods.

One area league that has already stated its interest to formulate an appeal is the Montview League. Gladstsone head coach Albert Sanchez, who is entering 14th year at the school and is the longest-tenured coach in the league, said Monday that he’s already had discussions with other disgruntled coaches in the league and that an appeal would be forthcoming.

“We’ve been going back and forth, myself and a few other coaches, trying to figure out what CIF was even thinking,” Sanchez said. “Honestly, on Friday, I felt like we’re basically doomed once again. We’ll be playing for a league a championship then seeing how far we’re going to have to travel to lose.”

Under Martinez’s proposal, the Montview and Olympic leagues would be leaving the Mid-Valley for the Northwest Division. The Olympic, which features a local school in Maranatha, is comprised of all private schools. So is the Del Rey League, which already calls the Northwest home. Also in the Northwest is the Pioneer and Tri-Valley leagues, which feature schools from as far away as Carpinteri and Ojai.

“I was trying to do three things,” Martinez said of his Mid-Valley proposal. “One, create a Mid-Valley that had five leagues. Two, bring some competitive equity to that division with the Rio Hondo League holding Monrovia. And finally, I think Montview is a better fit in the Northwest; one playoff win in two years and their enrollment is right in line with the other Northwest schools.”

As for the rest of the area, there was some hope from unhappy schools two years ago when the Sierra League was overhauled and put into the Inland Division that the league would be given relief as soon as the two-year period was over. That didn’t happen, and in fact, Martinez reported the Sierra League did not request a change of placement. So, that means another two years of banging heads with the best teams from the Inland Empire for Valley schools like Charter Oak and South Hills.

“They didn’t request a change, but I kind of played around with it and asked ‘Do they really fit?’ because that’s a pretty tough division,” Martinez said. “But Charter Oak was pretty successful and Chino Hills lost that one game that they shouldn’t have, so they’ve been pretty competitive. Damien, I keep thinking that Greg (Gano) is going to turn the corner. South Hills, they’re struggling, but I’m not sure where they go if you drop them down.

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CIF playoff grouping proposals: Monrovia and West Covina staying put, but CIF tries to make it harder on them to remain dominant … Montivew gets bad news … La Habra’s run looks to be over …

2012-14 Football Playoff Division Proposals

Mid-Valley: Almont, Alpha, Mission Valley, Rio Hondo, Valle Vista
Inland: Baseline, Sierra, Big VIII, Citrus Belt, Southwestern
Southeast: Hacienda, Del Rio, Pacific, San Gabriel Valley, Suburban
Pac-5: Marmonte, Moore, Serra, South Coast, Trinity
Northwest: Montview, Del Rey, Olympic,Pioneer, Tri Valley

IN: Marmonte (Westlake, Oaks Christian, St. Bonaventure, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Moorpark, Royal, Newbury Park, Agoura, Calabasas)
OUT: Sunset (Edison, Huntington Beach, Newport Harbor, Los Alamitos, Fountain Valley, Marina)
Synopsis: CIF is gunning to make the PAC-5 a super division and now it truly is. Although losing teams like Los Al, Edison and Newport Harbor is hard to swallow, adding teams like Westlake, Oaks Christian and St. Bonnies is pretty epic.
Aram’s take: Overall, the division got much tougher. And that means things got much tougher on Bishop Amat.

OUT: Montview, Olympic
IN: Alpha (Sierra Canyon, Paraclete, Brentwood, Campbell Hall, Calvary Chapel, Kilpatrick, Marshall).
Synopsis: In my original write up I failed to mention that the Olympic would get out along with the Montview. OK, that changes things. CIF obviously felt that the Montview was the weakest league. What they felt about the Olympic is anybody’s guess.
Aram’s take: The Olympic was one of the better leagues in the division. So replacing it with the Alpha isn’t that much of a boost. I would have rather seen the Olympic stay with the Alpha added. With five leagues, the playoff situation will be a little less dire. All the third-place teams could get in and one at-large? In the end, I thought this division was a good fit for the Montview. Sad to see it go, if it happens.

OUT: None
IN: San Gabriel Valley (Compton Dominguez, Paramount, Downey, Gahr, Lynwood, Warren).
Synopsis: Nobody leaves, the San Gabriel Valley League is added. Well, there’s nothing SGV about the San Gabriel Valley League, but the this does add some VERY ATHLETIC teams to the equation. Paramount, last year, was considered by Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox to be one of the toughest teams his team played.
Aram’s take: This division truly needed another league and it got it. West Covina just saw its competition increased heavily. There was talk that West Covina and the Hacienda League would be heading out, to possibly the Central or the Southwest. Instead, CIF decided to leave them be and make things tougher. Compton Dominguez’s nonleague schedule last year included Crespi and Redlands East Valley. Compton Dominguez is still a program that moonlights (and probably think its belongs) with the really big boys.

OUT: None
IN: None
Synopsis: Uh yeah, I guess CIF sees it as not broken, so why fix it?
Aram’s take: I kinda side with CIF. You can say that the Sierra League doesn’t belong, but that wasn’t really proven last year.

OUT: None
IN: Sunset
Synopsis: Things just go WAY, WAY, WAY more difficult for La Habra, which has dominated this division. The Sunset League joining means the Highlanders just saw the competition cranked way up.
Aram’s take: Well La Habra, if any of you wanted to be considered and Orange County school, you got your wish in spades. However, the Sunset League figure to dominate here. We all know La Habra is more a Whittier-area school than it is an OC school. That’s the bottom line. The Sunset got MAJOR RELIEF and it can now FEAST on this division. That could mean a return to prominence for Los Al and Edison.


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Maranatha QB Andrew Elffers’ junior season highlight reel … Chris Rix weighs in via Twitter …

Aram’s take: As a sophomore, Elffers lit the world on fire. As a junior, well, not so much. What will we see in 2012? I have a hard time pinpointing where Elffers will enter next season in the quarterback rankings. You’ve got Heyworth back at M-Town. You’ve got Cox back at PHS. Do you put him above either? Most of the teams in the East will be breaking in new starters. So, I don’t know what you do. I watch this reel and see all the great tools Elffers has. Quick release. Good runner. I saw him last year at the SGV Shootout and thought he had great arm strength. To me, he’s a legit college prospect and the scholly he desires will likely be there at the end of the day. But for now, a lot of peeps are haunted by what happened last season, the San Gabriel game especially. Some people have quietly questioned a tweak in the Minutemen offense and used that as the culprit. As a junior, Elffers threw for 1,300 yards and 15 TDs LESS than he did in his sophomore campaign. My vibe is that this will be one hungry kid eager to go out with a bang. After Monrovia, the Mid-Valley is anybody’s for the taking. I’ll be very interested to see what kind of summer Elffers has.

Chris Rix (@CoachRix) had this to say about Elffers on Twitter
: @ChemicalAT Good writeup Aram! Character + Intellegence + Work Ethic = Andrew Elffers. HE WILL LIGHT IT UP THIS SEASON! #PREPTEBOW

Muir promotes defensive coordinator and former standout player John Hardy to head coach …

Muir High School has named former standout player and last year’s defensive coordinator John Hardy its new head varsity football head coach, replacing Ken Howard, who was placed on leave during the 2011 season after an alleged incident on campus with a student.

Hardy, a 1986 graduate of Muir, played under the late great Jim Brownfield and was a key memeber of the Mustangs 1985 CIF championship team. Hardy later played in college at Cal and then in the pros with the Chicago Bears.

“I’m excited about it and up to the challenge,” said Hardy, who will be a walk-on coach. “We have to get started because we’re a little behind right now. My priority right now is to get on this campus and make sure our kids are doing what they’ve got to do on the student part of the athlete side.

“We need to make sure we’re in the classroom and doing what we’ve got to do, because we can’t get them on the field unless they’re eligible. That’s my first task.”

It’s been a disastrous year for Muir’s athletic department. It started with Howard being placed on leave. Then, boys basketball coach Gamal Smalley resigned last week after being placed on leave due to a situation that revolved around the Mustangs basketball team forfeiting 20 games and missing the playoffs because of ineligible player.

School athletic director Ruben Galvan has also been temporarily relieved of his duties pending an investigation by the school district. And just last week it was announced that Principal Sheryl Orange would be ousted at the end of the school year.

“I think the repair job starts with results,” Hardy said. “Being from the community and having been involved in the community, I need to get our kids to understand they need to become role models for the younger kids. We need to reach out to the community and let them know what John Muir should be and will become.

“It’s not going to be an easy road because some trust factor has been lost with the school. Our players and coaches need to get back out in the community and earn their trust back.”

Hardy said several members of last year’s staff, including interim head coach Dave Mitchell, will be retained. As will Darick Holmes, the father of standout freshman quarterback Darick Holmes Jr.

Bringing back Muir to where Browfield had it when the Mustangs program was thriving is a major goal for Hardy. The new coach will use plenty of what he learned from the old coach to do just that.

“I understand that kids have changed compared to how they were in the past, but I will be bringing a lot of Brownfield’s traditions back to the program and bringing the integrity back to the way he had it,” Hardy said. “That’s a big goal of mine.”

Aram’s take: Hardy sounds like just what the Mustangs need. Having played under Brownfield (and Mike Ditka) it’s a good bet the man knows the sport and knows how to build a winning product. It’s good hear guys like Mitchell and Holmes will be back on the staff. If Hardy can draw on some of the Brownfield magic, then perhaps the Stangs can get back some of that Brownfield winning.

Alhambra—>Lou Torres—>Joe Kanach
Baldwin Park—>James Heggins—>OPEN
Bassett—>Aubrey Duncan—>Hector Spathias
Bonita—>Eric Podley—>Adrian Medrano
Covina—>Darryl Thomas—->Joe Brown
Duarte—>Tip Sanders—>Jason Martin
El Rancho—>Rick Zepeda—>Venencio Lopez
Glendora—>Todd Quinsey—>Jerry Lewallen
Keppel—>Bobby Madrid—>OPEN
La Canada—>Dan Yoder—>OPEN
Mountain View—>James Wilson—>OPEN
Muir—>Ken Howard—>John Hardy
Pomona—>Anthony Rice—>***OPEN
Rosemead—>Matt Koffler—>Marc Paramo
Santa Fe—>Jack Mahlstede—>Dave Pierson
Schurr—>Ben Negrete—>Marco Ramirez
South Hills—>Steve Bogan—>Albert Rodriguez
St. Paul—>Marijon Ancich—>Elijah Asante
Whittier—>Walter Scott—>Visko Ancich
Wilson—>Bob Burt—>Nick Christos

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To Alberto’s or to Alfredo’s? That is the pregunta …

This is the No. 2 at Alberto’s on Colorado Blvd. in the ‘Dena (relli, help me out).

As soon as I walked in and saw four college-aged girls eating, I knew I was in trouble. Nonetheless, I pressed forward.

The dilemma Tuesday afternoon was that I wanted beef tacos, but I didn’t want to drive all the way from “where I stay at” (relli is that good?) in Pasadena to El Monte where I know Alfredo’s on Santa Anita will take care of me just like it has 10,589 times before.

On Tuesday, I was a victim of the current gas crisis. After having driven by Alberto’s on Colorado (a new locale) hundreds of times now, I thought to myself “Maybe I don’t have to go all the way to Alfredo’s in El Monte”. Big mistake. Stupid thinking.

You see, if there’s anybody out there who knows there’s a HUGE difference between Alberto’s and Alfredo’s, it’s me. The menus look the same. The vibe is sort of the same. But the food is not the same. The hot sauce ISN’T CLOSE TO THE SAME.

Alfredo’s is the kind of Mexican food that your Trendy Green co-worker in the cubicle next to you, you know the one with the banana chips, Fiji water and pics of he and his dog, WILL NEVER TOUCH!

So, I strolled in and knew I was in trouble right away because none of the peeps in there looked like they knew what good Mexican food is. You see, college-aged girls aren’t down with legit, take-a-few-days-off-your-life Mexican food like they have at Alfredo’s. But Alberto’s is different, obviously.

I got my standard No. 2 — two beef tacos w/rice and beans. I loaded up on the red-colored hot sauce. From top to bottom, it was all garbage. Very little lettuce in the tacos. The cheese was a mix and not straight cheddar. No grease dripped out after each bite. The hot sauce was ranchera sauce, not the runny acidic kind I like. The beans had very little melted cheese on them. The rice was the only thing comparable to Alfredo’s. Big deal.

Down in El Monte, there both Alfredo’s and Alberto’s locations. Back in the day, the now Santa Anita Ave. location of Alfredo’s was an Alberto’s. The name changed, the food didn’t. Alfredo’s is legit. If anybody tells you they’re the same, give them a breathalyzer.

Painful lesson learned for me. Now I’m stuffed and I don’t like how I got there. There’s a difference between being stuffed on good stuff like Petrillo’s or The Oinkster or Portillo’s or Alfredo’s and being stuffed on garbage like Alberto’s.

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

M-Town’s Mason Bryant has a stellar junior season highlight reel … minus the soundtrack …

Aram’s take: If Mason Bryant isn’t the best all-purpose player in the Valley, then somebody better start talking. Just another major reason why M-Town has got the juice right now. About the soundtrack, The Fat Man is still waiting for the day when one of these football players puts his reel to “Think About It” by Special Ed.

La Puente retires former QB Anthony Calvillo’s No. 13 during Monday lunchtime ceremony …

For a photo gallery of the ceremony go HERE

Anthony Calvillo gave La Puente High School plenty of reasons to break its long-standing tradition of not retiring former athlete’s numbers. Over 70,000, in fact.

On Monday afternoon before a packed gymnasium, the school did just that by retiring Calvillo’s No. 13 jersey while he was surrounded by family and old friends.

Calvillo, a 1990 graduate of La Puente, became professional football’s all-time leader in passing yards this past season as a member of the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes. He currently leads the way with 73,412 career passing yards.

“I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know they were going to retire my number until yesterday (Sunday),” Calvillo said. “Then you find out it’s the first number to be retired here at the school and it’s very heartwarming to see where you came from and that people are still very aware of what you’re doing.

“To come back and not only have me here, but have my family experience this, it’s spectacular.”

Calvillo, 39, grew up in La Puente and was a two-sport standout in football and basketball. As a varsity quarterback, Calvillo led the Warriors to a 7-3 record his senior year, but due to an ineligible player, the team forfeited its wins and missed the playoffs.

After high school, Calvillo landed at Mount San Antonio College where he became the starting quarterback by the middle of his freshman season. Success at Mt. SAC led to a scholarship to play at Utah St., but that’s where Calvillo assumed his football career would end.

“I was planning on coming back to La Puente where I planned to teach and coach,” Calvillo said.

Instead, the Canadian Football League came calling. By 1994, Calvillo was an established quarterback in the CFL and signed a free-agent deal with the Alouettes. Calvillo has piled up the numbers in Montreal and also has won three Grey Cups, the Canadian equivalent to the Super Bowl, and three Most Outstanding Player awards.

Cancer threatened to derail Calvillo’s bid for the history books after the 2010 season when he had to have neck and throat surgery due to thyroid cancer. But by summer of 2011, Calvillo was back at it. The records soon started to fall.

This past season, Calvillo joined Dan Marino, Warren Moon and Brett Favre as the only professional quarterbacks to throw for more than 400 career touchdowns. In addition to holding the mark for most career passing yards by a professional football, Calvillo is also the CFL’s all-time leading passer.

“I think it just really started to sink in once my football season ended,” Calvillo said. “I didn’t really have time to celebrate any of my records this past season, but just the recognition I’ve been getting not only Canada but in the states has been great.

“It’s kind of mind boggling because I think about where I came from, and of course, that’s right here in La Puente. I never thought in a million years that I would be in any position to set any all-time records whatsoever.”

Calvillo’s family has moved east toward Riverside. He currently lives in Montreal with his wife Alexia and their two children, and has no plans of returning to the U.S. after his playing days are over. When that is exactly, nobody really knows.

“There’s always been some thought of that because I know it’s going to happen,” Calvillo said of retirement. “Basically, I’ve told the organization that I’m year-to-year. They give me the leeway to evaluate whether I want to come back or not.”

At least for Monday, though, Calvillo was a La Puente Warrior once again.

“Not only has he made it as a professional athlete, he’s also overcome battles,” La Puente football coach Brandon Rohrer said of Calvillo. “The best part about him is that he’s a great man. He’s a husband and a father of two. We tell our kids all the time that when you leave here, we want you to be productive citizens. He’s an example of that.”

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El Monte head coach Joel Sanchez wins U.S. Marine Corps Semper Fidelis award …

I really like this quote from Coach Sanchez: “You need to know where you’re at. I’m at El Monte High School. I don’t know when was the last we won a CIF championship, if we even did. We want to win, of course, but the reality is that I’m not here to win. I’m not at Orange Lutheran or Santa Margarita where if you have a 5-5 season, you’re fired. I’m here to get these kids better; keep them in school, get their grades up, teach them responsibility, show them there’s other things they can do after high school other than getting a job to get by. There’s college and they can do things with their life … become someone in life.”

El Monte High School football coach Joel Sanchez was presented with the United State Marine Corps Semper Fidelis during last Friday’s Glazier Football Coaching Clinic in Costa Mesa.

Sanchez, who is entering his 10th season at El Monte, still isn’t clear about who even nominated for the award. But the honor of being presented by two Marines is something he’s quite proud of.

“I don’t know exactly who nominated me, but when I found out about it I wanted to know why and how it works,” Sanchez said. “It’s not necessarily for a coach who is winning CIF championships and league titles, but somebody who makes a difference in the kids’ lives and represents some of the same qualities that the Marines represent.

“I was surprised in the beginning because I didn’t know what the award was. To have the two Marines that were there give it to me, it was an honor to get something like that from them.”

Sanchez graduated from El Monte in 1997 and played football and baseball at Azusa Pacific University. He was a linebacker on APU’s 1998 NAIA national championship team.

Sanchez has breathed life into El Monte’s football program since returning to his alma mater as head coach. The Lions have seen a gradual rise in wins, including last year’s 7-4 record. El Monte was alive for the Mission Valley League heading into the final week of the season before losing to Arroyo.

The Lions made the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs, but were hamstrung in a loss to Whittier Christian with standout quarterback Brandon Martinez, who was nursing a sprained ankle.

Off the field, El Monte’s program has sparked excitement from the community and alumni. Much of that is due to Sanchez’s fundraisers and frequent barbecues. The result has been excellent attendance at El Monte games and increased involvement from the community.

“You need to know where you’re at,” Sanchez said. “I’m at El Monte High School. I don’t know when was the last we won a CIF championship, if we even did. We want to win, of course, but the reality is that I’m not here to win. I’m not at Orange Lutheran or Santa Margarita where if you have a 5-5 season, you’re fired.

“I’m here to get these kids better; keep them in school, get their grades up, teach them responsibility, show them there’s other things they can do after high school other than getting a job to get by. There’s college and they can do things with their life … become someone in life.”

Aram’s take: We have a bunch of coaches in our area (less than last year, but still …) who are tasked with more than just figuring out ways to win a game. Sanchez is one of them. He has done an amazing job at his alma mater because he understands his alma mater. Much like how James Heggins was at Baldwin Park. Sanchez has put in ample time trying to get the community and student body to take pride in the Lions football program. And it’s now starting to really show. The Lions were pretty darn good last year, and this coming season they should give another good account with QB Martinez and quite a few others back. Without Sanchez, it’s scary to think what El Monte’s program would be.

Coaching comings and goings since 2011 season ended … PLEASE HELP ME OUT IF I FORGOT ANY …

By popular demand, I have put together a list of this offseason’s wild comings and goings on the SGV football scene. If any of you find that I have missed a school or a situation, please let me know by posting a comment. Thank you!

School—>Old coach—>New coach

Alhambra—>Lou Torres—>Joe Kanach
Baldwin Park—>James Heggins—>OPEN
Bassett—>Aubrey Duncan—>Hector Spathias
Bonita—>Eric Podley—>Adrian Medrano
Covina—>Darryl Thomas—->Joe Brown
Duarte—>Tip Sanders—>Jason Martin
El Rancho—>Rick Zepeda—>Venencio Lopez
Glendora—>Todd Quinsey—>Jerry Lewallen
Keppel—>Bobby Madrid—>OPEN
La Canada—>Dan Yoder—>OPEN
Mountain View—>James Wilson—>OPEN
Muir—>**Ken Howard—>**OPEN
Pomona—>Anthony Rice—>***OPEN
Rosemead—>Matt Koffler—>Marc Paramo
Santa Fe—>Jack Mahlstede—>Dave Pierson
Schurr—>Ben Negrete—>Marco Ramirez
South Hills—>Steve Bogan—>Albert Rodriguez
St. Paul—>Marijon Anchich—>Elijah Asante
Whittier—>Walter Scott—>Visko Ancich
Wilson—>Bob Burt—>Nick Christos

**On administrative leave. Haven’t heard if job is officially open.
***Don’t know if a replacement has been named for Coach Rice.

Aram’s take: Again, if I’ve left anybody out, please post a comment. If I’ve gotten anything incorrect, please post a comment. Pretty crazy list. I posted it not only because it’s interesting to sit in awe and stare at, but also because coaches from around the area have asked so that they can start putting together the upcoming passing tournaments. So it’s very important that if anybody knows of anything in error on this list, or something is left off, please let us all know by posting a comment.