Mater Dei does it again: The Southland is abuzz with talk of ANOTHER huge pick up for the Monarchs …

The Orange County Register is reporting that Mater Dei has landed its THIRD IMPACT TRANSFER of the offseason in former Orange Lutheran tight end Kyle Penniston, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound SOPHOMORE tight end.

(Before any of you say “big whoop, a sophomore with no varsity experience”, just know this, he played for the frosh team last year at O-Lu and already has an offer from Florida State!!!).

Penniston joins former Corona Santiago receiver Nik Little and former Newport Harbor lineman Sam Bush in jumping ship to Mater Dei this offseason.

Aram’s take: Yet more proof of why the SGV(N) cannot get somebody, anybody to bang heads at the absolute highest level. Sorry Amat fans, I’m talking semifinals, finals, bowls and so on. Thus far this offseason I’ve heard of ZERO impact transfers showing up at Amat or Charter Oak or Damien. Chino Hills got Matty Ice, and that’s nice. Monrovia got Gevontray Ainsworth, and that’s also nice. But the biggest name out there, Darick Holmes Jr., formerly of Muir, who EVERYONE and their mother KNEW wasn’t gonna be a Mustang past his frosh year, SOMEHOW ends up at Oaks Christian!!!! Sorry nobody told you, Darick, but Amat has plenty of skill players to replace from last year. Charter Oak lost its leading rusher, and you also may have gotten a look there at QB. And Damien, well, Sparty coulda used you ANYWHERE. I’m sorry nobody told you about all that. But, the problem with the SGV(N) is that anytime a program starts getting big-time transfers, that program gets crucified. Example: St. Paul. Why is Mater Dei getting all these guys? Joe Amat and Fred Robledo would have you believe that Mater Dei is no great shakes. They’ll claim Mater Dei and Amat have had the same recent playoff futility (not true) and that Amat beat Mater Dei last time they met in the postseason. Blah, blah, blah. THEN WHY, IF MATER DEI SUCKS SO BAD, DID THESE THREE PLAYERS END UP THERE? The reason is quite simply because Mater Dei is obviously HUSTLING. Mater Dei isn’t sitting there waiting for some dream freshmen class to show up at the doorstep. It’s smelling blood in the water with top-notch freshmen or sophomores and getting them to come to Mater Dei when they decide to transfer. Mater Dei isn’t gonna sit around and watch Servite and Santa Margarita steal the OC spotlight. Why doesn’t that happen in the SGV(N)? Think about that.

HALL OF FAME GAME: Monrovia’s De’Shawn Ramirez turns second chance into all-star season …

For De’Shawn Ramirez, playing in the Hall of Fame All-Star Game for the West team on Friday has more meaning than it would to most.

You see, the Monrovia High School all-purpose standout’s prep career is light by 14 games. The reason for that is simple. Like many teenagers before him and many to come, Ramirez made a mistake. A bad mistake.

The exact infraction, which occurred toward the end of Ramirez’s sophomore year, was not made public by the school because he was a minor at the time. But it was bad enough to cost the then-rising football star his entire junior season after he was expelled from school.

It would be the first time since age 4 that Ramirez didn’t have some form of football in his life. As Ramirez sat out and wondered if he’d ever play at Monrovia again, the Wildcats won the first of back-to-back CIF Mid-Valley Division championships.

“Football, to me, is a really big part of life,” Ramirez said. “I always looked at football as the thing that could keep me out of everything. I was getting ready for my junior season at Monrovia and I got kicked out. That fast.”

Ramirez had tipped his hand as a sophomore as to what type of talent he possessed by rushing for 851 yards and 10 touchdowns. But as the close of that school year approached and offseason preparations for what promised to be a banner junior season beckoned, it all came crashing down.

What exactly Ramirez did isn’t as important anymore as how he dealt with it and took the steps needed to return just in time to salvage his athletic career both at Monrovia and in the future.

“You can let your mind slip up for a split second and anything can get taken away,” Ramirez said. “The biggest thing this all taught me is how fast you can get something you love taken away from you.”

But unlike so many others who screw up at Ramirez’s age, he wasn’t about to let a big mistake derail his football dreams. He was determined to do what it took to be back in uniform for his senior season, whether it was at Monrovia or somewhere else.

As preparations began for a new season last spring/summer, Ramirez often watched his former teammates get ready to defend the CIF title he never got a chance to help them win. Almost a senior, Ramirez did everything asked of him as a student at Canyon Oaks, an alternative high school in the Monrovia district, to earn a chance to return to the team.

And as the summer passing circuit approached, he needed to get clearance from Monrovia principal Darvin Jackson and coach Ryan Maddox. With time running out, Ramirez began practicing at neighboring Arcadia as part of a back-up plan nobody could blame him for seeking out.

“He had to get himself back on track,” Maddox said. “He would have had a senior year, we just didn’t know if that senior year was going to be at Monrovia. He had gotten himself eligible. He could have gone somewhere else to play. He started the summer at Arcadia because things were unsure over at Monrovia.

“We knew De’Shawn, we liked De’Shawn and we wanted to see him succeed. We felt the best thing for De’Shawn was staying at our place. I’m not speaking from a football aspect, but as a young man. I have always believed that when kids screw up, they deserve that second chance.”

Ramirez was given that second chance by Jackson and he didn’t disappoint. Used sometimes as a receiver and other times as a running back, Ramirez rushed for 491 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also caught 32 balls for 562 yards and nine scores. He even threw two touchdown passes.

On defense, Ramirez shined some more. He recorded 33 tackles, had three interceptions and recovered two fumbles. But most importantly, Ramirez got the CIF championship ring that he didn’t get a chance to win as a junior when Monrovia beat San Gabriel in the Mid-Valley championship last December.

“It was really an exciting year all around,” Ramirez said. “There was a good chance I wasn’t going to be able to play this year. For me to play, win a CIF ring and now make it to the all-star game is really an achievement.”

Ramirez isn’t the first teenager to make a mistake and put his athletic career in peril, and he surely won’t be the last. His hope now is that future generations learn from his example and don’t repeat the same mistakes. And to them, he offers this warning.

“Any kids who break the law or are knuckleheads, I would just let them know to take nothing for granted,” Ramirez said. “If you’re a good player and you think you are going to do this or that and get away with it just because everybody knows you and you’re the star football player or basketball player, it doesn’t work like that. You can only do so much with your talents. Don’t take anything for granted.”

Ramirez won’t be taking anything for granted on Friday night. The game is just another chance for him to showcase his talents and make up for lost time. If a college coach or scout sees him and wants to talk, he’s open to it. In the meantime, he’s planning on continuing his football career at College of the Canyons this fall.

But before that he hopes to put on one last show for the local fans and get the West back some respect against the East. And don’t put it past him as Ramirez has already shown he’s very resilient when the chips are down.

“I’ve got a good feeling about this game,” Ramirez said. “I’ve watched this game for a long time growing up, so it’s really cool finally to play in it. Last year was a really close game, but the West slipped up a little bit. I think we’re going to come home with it this year.”

Follow me on Twitter @ChemicalAT


Aug. 31

Bishop Amat at Chino Hills
Orange Lutheran at Damien
Loyola at West Covina
Mater Dei at St. Paul

Aram’s take: You’d better get yourself a smart phone and a Twitter account so you can follow along with Mike “The Cousin” Robledo and all the tweets from the various games. Because wherever you are, you may have one eye on the field and one eye on the updates. Wow! We’re going to learn A LOT that night. … also, Michigan vs. Alabama in Arlington, TX. is the next day.

Maranatha QB Andrew Elffers receives offers from Idaho and Eastern Washington … more coming?

Maranatha QB Andrew Elffers has recently received his first two offers from Idaho and Eastern Washington. Offers from Colorado St. and Fresno St. are thought to be forthcoming.

Elffers, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior, threw for 2,029 yards and 22 touchdowns last season. Entering last season, L.A. Times preps maestro Eric Sondheimer ranked Elffers the top QB in the Southland.

Elffers is currently on the recruiting trail and making the rounds.

Aram’s take: I have a strong feeling that both Elffers and Maranatha are going to bounce back this year. I know that it’s strange to use the term “bounce back” for a team that went 8-3 last season, but I don’t think either the team or Elffers were happy with that performance, and of course, more was expected. Maranatha is back in the SGV Shootout coming this July, so it will be interesting to see him perform there.

Billy “The Kid” Livingston IN, Vincent Hernandez OUT of All-Star Game

Covina High School quarterback Billy Livingston has been added to the East roster for the upcoming Hall of Fame All-Star Game on June 22 at West Covina HS.

Livingston replaces South Hills quarterback Vincent Hernandez, who has opted not to play in the game. The other East quarterback is Shane Virnala of Los Altos.

Aram’s take: I thought Livingston should have been on the roster the entire time, so all’s well that ends well.