Guerrero and Rivera ready to put on a show for the West in Hall of Fame All-Star Game …

The last time Arroyo High School’s Steven Rivera and San Gabriel’s Andy Guerrero were on the field at the same time, they put on a offensive display that won’t soon be forgotten.

It was Nov. 25, 2011 in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs. Rivera was trying to quarterback Arroyo to the semifinals and appeared on his way to doing just that, but Guerrero piloted his team to an improbable victory punctuated by a thrilling finish.

Just moments after Rivera had given Arroyo a 38-35 lead on a 56-yard touchdown pass to Hunter Duran with 1:40 left to play in the game, Guerrero connected with Joey Villalobos on a 21-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-7 with under a minute to play to give San Gabriel a 42-38 win.

The end-game heroics from both quarterbacks were just one big chapter in stellar seasons for each player. Guerrero went on to be named the Pasadena Star-News Player of the Year. Rivera earned the same honor for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

And on June 22, the two players will take the field for the final time in their high school careers as teammates on the West squad in the Hall of Fame All-Star Game at West Covina High.

“I just feel like it’s Bird and Magic over here,” Rivera said of being paired with Guerrero as the West’s quarterbacks. “We feel that we’re going to be able to turn things around (for the West). We don’t come out here to lose.”

Guerrero and Rivera combined to throw for 6,669 yards and 67 touchdowns last season.

In their epic showdown, Guerrero threw for 233 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 140 yards and two scores.

Rivera wasn’t too shabby, throwing for 214 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for two more.

Memories of their playoff game still burn bright even to this day. For Rivera, it was the final game in a career that saw him leave as the valley’s all-time leading passer in career yards and touchdowns.

For Guerrero, the game sent his team on to the semifinals where they rode the momentum and upset San Dimas to earn a shot at Monrovia in the championship game.

Although San Gabriel was no match for Monrovia, Guerrero’s amazing season earned him the honor of being named the top player in the area.

Just as they may do someday as old men, Guerrero and Rivera can easily reminisce about their playoff classic.

Guerrero’s game-winning pass was set up by a long kickoff return by Alex Villalobos, also a West All-Star. But the Matadors didn’t do much with the good field position Villalobos gave them and found themselves with fourth-and-7 from the Arroyo 21 with less than a minute to play. Guerrero used his legs to escape Arroyo’s rush and rolled to his right before firing a pass to the end zone where Joey Villalobos made the catch as Rivera and another Arroyo defender rocked him. Villalobos held on and it was bedlam from there.

“It was a big play,” Guerrero said. “It was fourth down and it was either we do or we die. If I didn’t get that play done, we would have been out of the playoffs and he would have moved on.”

Unfortunately for Rivera, he won’t be able to forget the play during preparations for the All-Star game because it’s one of the play calls in the West’s arsenal.

“When we ran the play in practice, it’s called `Gator,’ ” Guerrero said. “Alex Villalobos reminded him that this is the play we won on. “It was just laughs and good memories.”

As much as the San Gabriel loss stung, Rivera has turned it into a positive.

“They pulled it off, but I wouldn’t want to go out any other way because I knew we gave it all we had and they gave it all they had,” Rivera said.

“Game week, we knew it was going to be a battle. We said to ourselves that if we look at our team, it’s a duplicate of San Gabriel.

“We were not very athletic. We were just a bunch of 5-foot-10 Mexicans running around in helmets and shoulder pads.”

And that’s exactly what the West will be in several spots on June 22 against an East team that has dominated the series in recent years because of its combination of dominant line play and speedy defensive players.

To combat this, both Guerrero and Rivera may have to use their legs to buy time or turn broken plays into something big. Both quarterbacks said they’re willing to do just that no matter what the ramifications might be.

The game won’t be the last for either player. Rivera will play next season at Whittier College. Guerrero plans to play at East Los Angeles College.

Unlike their last time on a field together, when somebody had to win and somebody had to lose, both players are hoping to go out a winner this time around and give fans one last taste of two of the top signal callers in Valley history.

“With two good quarterbacks, it’s going to be a real good game,” Guerrero said. “I don’t know who exactly is playing on their team, but I know they’ve got some real good players. The West is always chosen to lose because the East has all the talent out there. But it’s going to be a real good game.”

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

ESPN.com drops high school sports coverage …

The rumors appear to be true. ESPN.com has thrown in the towel on its high school sports coverage, according to Sports Business Daily.

The move will cost an estimated 75 people their jobs.

Aram’s take: As many of you probably know, several former prep sports writers (and some very good young talent) and various former sports writers from around the Southland latched on at ESPN.com after losing their gigs in the newspaper world. I don’t know how many of them will be affected by this announcement. I hope none. It’s never good to see people in this industry lose their jobs, which is an all too common occurrence, unfortunately. I have long viewed prep sports coverage as a major growth area in the world of sports media. The popularity is surely there. And although I don’t know whether FOX Sports Preps Zone is making any money, it does show that a major media company is trying to grab a share of the market. ESPN’s involvement up until now also showed that. The problem is that it’s very difficult to cover prep sports without the writers being EXTREMELY local. Readers will more often than not turn to their local coverage rather than a semi-national or regional source like ESPN or FOX because if the the prep sports guys are doing their jobs, there’s simply no beating them to the punch on stories, scores and maybe even analysis. I’ve maintained for a while that the biggest thing threatening the Tribune’s (or other newspapers) foothold in prep sports is the money and resources that a FOX or ESPN can spray at any endeavor. So yeah, losing a potential competitor like ESPN is a win on some level for the Tribune or OC Register, but it’s nothing worth celebrating because it appears several good men have either lost their gigs or had their financial outlook altered.

All-Encompassing post-spring practice SGV(N) Top 25


Hey Chino Hills, when you think you’re tough, people wanna see how tough.

As promised, here is the second SGV(N) Top 25. Another will come after the passing circuit is completed.

1. Chino Hills — QB Simko takes Huskies to another level, as evidenced so far.
2. Monrovia — ‘Cats drop from top spot because Chino Hills is that impressive.
3. St. Paul — Amazing offseason haul brought in by new coach Asante.
4. Charter Oak — Big questions on offense, but defense looks like area’s best.
5. West Covina — Bulldogs lack star power of past two seasons, but still ultra quick.
6. Damien — Sparty looks very loaded, but line play remains a big question.
7. Bishop Amat — Passing games may not be Amat’s thing, but talent level looks down.
8. La Habra — Division got much, much tougher but Highlanders should be in hunt.
9. St. Francis — Gonna need some skill guys to compliment QB Leibowitz.
10. La Mirada — Returning skill experience should thrive with more seasoning this summer.
11. La Serna — Like that Lancers have been on field w/good competition in passing games.
12. San Dimas — Hearing rumblings about more ability to throw this season. Interesting.
13. Ayala — This team never stays healthy and I may be overreacting to collection of skills.
14. South Hills — In the proper division (Southeast) this is a semi-finals contender.
15. Maranatha — Year 2 of new coaching staff typically produces better results.
16. Cantwell — In the Northwest, this team can make a deep run.
17. San Gabriel — I will know for sure at SGV Shootout if talk of reload is legit.
18. Bonita — QB play is still a question mark, which prohibits higher ranking at present.
19. Pasadena — How far can QB Cox take this team if defense doesn’t improve?
20. Arcadia — My suggestion is that Apaches hand it off 70 percent of the time.
21. Diamond Ranch — Roddy’s got some linemen, but are the skill players there?
22. Rio Hondo Prep — Would love to see some mid-majors take on the Kares.
23. Azusa — Scoby leaving Duarte puts Aztecs back in Montview driver’s seat.
24. Diamond Bar — We all know about the skill players. Need to see the line.
25. El Monte — With Arroyo vulnerable, I’m calling the Lions MVL favorites for now.

Wound up in a roadside ditch: Arroyo, Duarte, Claremont, Muir.

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT

UPDATE: Muir’s numbers not as bad as reported …

Got a call from Muir head coach John Hardy, who wanted to set the record straight about a previous report that the Mustangs contested a passing game with only seven players and that roster numbers are dangerously low.

Hardy said the Mustangs have 40 players on the varsity roster and that they have not contested a passing game this season with less than 25.

He also reported that the Mustangs went 6-1 in the L.A. Pierce Tournament and narrowly missed a chance to play Alemany in the finals.

“We’ll be fine, trust me,” Hardy told me.

Aram’s take: Sources be damned.

Sources: Muir super soph Darick Holmes Jr. transfers to Oaks Christian …

Muir super sophomore Darick Holmes Jr., who played a big role as an all-purpose threat for the Mustangs as a frosh, has transferred to Oaks Christian, sources say.

Holmes’ defection is the latest blow in what’s been a treacherous offseason for the Mustangs and has led to dangerously low numbers as far as the roster is concerned.

According to one source, Muir had only seven players for a recent passing game. That was obviously enough to compete in a 7-on-7 situation, but not a good sign.

Aram’s take: If you couldn’t see Holmes leaving from a mile away, then you’re probably legally blind. My question is where the hell was Charter Oak? Bishop Amat? Monrovia? Damien? in all of this? He goes to Oaks Christian? How do they get the jump on all our Valley programs? Think about it, he was a freshman last year. The coaching situation has been a worry ever since Ken Howard was placed on leave. This is a salmon swimming down stream and we’ve got NO SGV bears at the shoreline waiting to grab? This is what I’m talking about when I say SGV programs either get with the time or we’re NEVER gonna hit the very big time. As for Muir’s numbers problems, well, this is something that’s been building in recent years. The roster during the season has been around 30 and that’s not good. And nobdoy give me any of that “You only need 11″ CRAP!!!

UPDATED: Rosters announced for Hall of Fame All-Star Game …

What: Hall of Fame All-Star Game
Where: West Covina HS
When: June 22
Series: East lead 20-10-2
Last year: East 7, West 6

Head coach: Dale Ziola, Los Altos

Daniel Abernathy (Whittier Christian, WR/LB), Anthony Adamo (Chino, SS), Ray Amaya (West Covina, OL), Joshua Andrade (Rowland, OL), Alex Arevalo (Damien, TE/LB), Herman Akins (Charter Oak, SS), Lonzel Barnett (West Covina, CB), Keith Bolden (Nogales, RB/LB), John Bouz (Webb, RB/SS), Jaime Canada (South Hills, WR/DB), George Castro (West Covina, OL/DL), Justin Fa’aola (Los Altos, RB/LB), Terry Ford (Rowland, RB/DB), Jimmy Frazier (West Covina, RB/DB), Cameron Griffin (Bonita, RB/LB), Jerry Gutierrez (Gladstone, OL/LB), Davis Harrison (Claremont, OL/DL), Mike Hartnell (Whittier, OL/DL), Andrez Herandnez (Ganesha, OL/DL), Vincent Hernandez (South Hills, QB), Lance Hludzik (California, OL/DL), Garrett Horine (Bonita, WR/DB), George Katrib (Diamond Bar, WR/DB), OJ Medina (La Serna, RB/DB), Chris Miller (Diamond Ranch, RB/SS), Will Mitchell (Northview, WR/FS), Moises Morales (Los Altos, OL), Cesar Murillo (Covina, OL/DL), Luis Oliva (Charter Oak, OL/DL), Michael Panossian (Western Christian, OL/DL), Eric Perez (Azusa, FB/LB), Desmond Reed (Azusa, RB/DB), Will Reeves (Claremont, RB/DB), Brandon Rios (La Puente, TE/DE), Phil Romano (Covina, OL/DL), Adam Sanchez (Bishop Amat, WR), Scott Tibbs (Los Altos, WR), Logan Tracey (Damien, OL/DE), Vinny Venegas (Covina, WR/DB), Corey Victoria (Glendora, RB/DB), Shane Virnala (Los Altos, QB), Ryan Wallace (Whittier Christian, OL), James Wernli (Claremont, OL/LB), Alec Zenner (San Dimas, OL/DL).

West

Head coach: Jude Oliva, San Gabriel

Andy Guerrero (QB, San Gabriel), Steven Rivera (QB, Arroyo), Marquise Bias (RB, Monrovia), Kwame Do (RB, San Marino), Tairen Owens (RB, Muir), Hunter Duran (WR, Arroyo), Riian Simpson (WR, Pasadena), Jorge Romo (WR, Montebello), Memo Silva (WR, El Monte), Richard Bradford (WR, Duarte), Jimmy Martinez (WR, South El Monte), Robby Haines (TE, Arcadia), Kevin Spencer (OL, Monrovia), Jesse Gaytan (OL, El Monte), Raul Martinez (OL, Burroughs), Carlos Hernandez (OL, Cathedral), Brian Lopez (OL, Gabrielino), Daniel Herrera (OL, Bell Gardens), Phillip Goody (OL, Roosevelt), Omar Partida (OL, Arroyo), Jose Montes (DL, Garfield), Carlos Purser (DL, San Gabriel), Jesse Hernandez (DL, Lincoln), Craig Settles (DL, Hoover), Miguel Garcia (DL, Cantwell), Hunter Garcia (DL, Franklin), Cade Shultz (OL/DL, Monrovia), Chris Aguilar (LB, Schurr), Eric Magos (LB, Schurr), Francisco Gutierrez (LB, Cantwell), Eddie Cisneros (LB, Franklin), Armon Easley (DB, Pasadena), Marcus Green (DB, Pasadena), Corey Collins (DB, Cantwell), Tyquwan Glass (DB, Muir), Kendall Phillips (DB, Pasadena), Joseph Villalobos (DB, San Gabriel), Oscar Cibrian (DB, Roosevelt), Andony Flores (DB, Roosevelt), Dominic Frescura (K, South Pasadena).

Aram’s take: The Tribune and Star-News Players of the Year on the same roster. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that. Wow, gotta love that QB combo of Rivera and Guerrero. The West has gone to the East L.A. well to get some beef after being pushed around badly in recent years. Given the East’s line talent this year, there was a chance that was going to happen again. Although, I don’t know many of the guys from Garfield and Roosevelt and so on, I’ve heard the West won’t be at such a physical disadvantage this year. So then the game should come down to skill. But then again, Rivera and Guerrero are gonna be banking on their WRs getting some separation on a East secondary that has guys like Lonzel Barnett and Herman Akins. Tairen Owens playing is a steal for the West. This is going to be another very good game.

Air Assault at Bonita field announced … MONROVIA vs. CHINO HILLS kicks things off on June 22 …

June 22-23 at Bonita HS

Pool A

Upland, Kaiser, Valencia, Mountain View, Jurupa Hills, Burroughs.

Pool B

Monrovia, Villa Park, Chino Hills, Citrus Valley, Glendora, Walnut.

Pool C

Rancho Cucamonga, Loyola, Crescenta Valley, Duarte, South Hills, Baldwin Park.

Pool D

Hart, JW North, South El Monte, Don Lugo, Burbank, Northview.

Pool E

Summit, Bonita, Arroyo, Los Osos, Santa Fe, Ayala.

Aram’s take: Wowza! What a field. Rancho and Upland have already won tournaments earlier this spring/summer. Chino Hills had a great showing at Rancho. M-Town is the No. 1 team in SGV(N)land. Loyola is Loyola. JW North, I’ve heard things. This is going to be one heckuva show. Gotta love Monrovia and Chino Hills in the first game of the first day in their pool. That would be 3 p.m. on June 22. I suggest those of you who don’t believe me about M-Town get out there and watch that game. Unfortunately, as soon as that bad boy is over, I’m probably out to go cover the Hall of Fame All-Star Game at WestCo. WELCOME TO FOOTBALL SEASON!!!

CIF (and BCS/NCAA) should listen to Barry Alvarez … it’s time to seek the MEDIA’S help …

I found this tidbit from former Wisconsin football coach Barry Alvarez to be very interesting. In discussing the new possibilities of a college football playoff, Alvarez had this to say …

Barry Alvarez has joined the general-ish consensus among Big Ten athletic directors who want to see a four-team playoff field comprised of the Top 3 conference champions and best at-large team. He also reiterated his respect for Kirk Herbstreit, saying he would like teams to be selected by a savvy panel of media experts. Andy Staples applied the model to the last 14 years of college football, and the results were refreshingly non-catastrophic.

After reading this and thinking about it, I want to reiterate something I’ve said in the past about CIF. I think it’s time for the organization to start considering media opinion as it pertains to new division and league groupings, AND playoff seeding/brackets.

Please don’t take this as me saying that I think CIF is doing a bad job. I’m not saying that at all. I’m simply saying that things could be better and that CIF cannot effectively know the pulse better than the writers. Not even coaches. I know coaches think they do, and while they’re very knowledgeable, many of them are justifiably in enveloped in their own programs (as they should be). The media is more spread and less biased.

Whereas CIF relies purely on the numbers to support its actions, the media could offer a perspective that goes beyond that. A “word on the street” type of thing. The general mood. The overall vibe. I know that may seem vague, but believe me those things encompass a lot.

As it pertains to the Mid-Valley Division, I’m pretty certain the local media would have advised CIF to “leave it alone”. And I’m pretty certain that’s what everyone in these parts would have wanted.

As it pertains to the Southeast Division, I’m pretty sure we would have agreed with how CIF played it, or offered a similar tweak.

But as it pertains to leagues, I’m very certain we could league this area in a way that would make fans and coaches quite happy. And when fans are happy, the bottom line $$$ is much, much better.

Imagine Orange County. It’s a safe bet that Steve Fryer and the boys at the OC Register could handle their realm. Eric Sondheimer could clock the SFV. And so on …

If Alvarez thinks something like a media panel is good for something a college football playoff, then why not have the same thing in prep football?

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT