L.A. Times: Covina-West Covina possibly televised by FSN on Aug. 24 …

It’s looking like Covina at vs. West Covina (at District Field) on Aug. 24 stands a good chance to be televised by FSN, according to a blog post by L.A. Times preps maven Eric Sondheimer.

The Colts and Bulldogs played two thrillers in 2010 and ’11, with each team getting a win. Both teams have some rebuilding to do this season, especially Covina under new coach Joe Brown.

Aram’s take:
The suggestion in Sondheimer’s post was that the Southern Section was urging FSN to be more diversified this season in choosing what games it covers EARLY this season. At least that’s how I interpreted it. Seems like it would be easy for FSN to fall in love with the 10-15 “name teams” in SoCal while putting together its broadcast plans. So it would be good for WestCo and Covina to get some exposure and very exciting for the players involved … if this happens.

Chew on this …

Claremont plays Damien, Chino Hills and Charter Oak in consecutive weeks for the second consecutive season.

Aram’s take: By the way, I’m predicting the Sierra League champ this season will have one loss.

Logan McClain, an honorable mention all-Rio Hondo League defensive end at Blair last season, plans to play at Maranatha this season …

Logan McClain, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound defensive end who earned all-Rio Hondo League honorable mention last season at Blair, plans to play at Maranatha this season.

McClain was one of few players in limbo at Blair after the school couldn’t find a head coach until last Friday when it gave Johnny Lopez the job.

Several of Blair’s top returners had already transferred to other schools. McClain, however, was waiting to see what became of the coaching and player situation at Blair before deciding what to do.

“He’s started the application process,” Maranatha coach Pete Karavedas confirmed late Thursday. “We would love to have him, but we need to see the application process through.”

McClain has interest from several colleges, according to his father Carl. He would bolster a Maranatha roster that could use a talent of his caliber along the defensive line and possibly on offense.

If Blair is unable to field a varsity team, McClain would be eligible right away under current CIF rules. If Blair does have a varsity team, McClain would likely have to sit out until Oct. 1.

Lopez is adamant Blair will have enough players to a field a varsity roster. The 50-year-old coach would not disclose how many players he has on his roster, but video shot of Blair’s practice on Wednesday showed just eight players in attendance. The Vikings finished last season with 12.

Aram’s take: Nice get for Maranatha. More on that in a bit. It’s time for Blair to drop the blind optimism act and start being realistic. There are 10 opponents on the schedule who would like the opportunity to start making other plans if the Vikings aren’t going to have a varsity team. Not to mention, there are probably a handful of players like McClain who don’t want to be in limbo. I don’t know where or how 20-30 players will suddenly show up on the practice field at Blair, but even if they do, with no spring ball, no summer passing games or practices (until reently) and no weight room sessions, having a varsity team is now a SAFETY ISSUE. It’s simply not fair to put kids who would run through walls in search of Friday Night glory in harm’s way. They need to be protected from themselves … OK, about Maranatha. You never know how a talent like McClain is going to blossom at a school like Maranatha. He could turn into one of the better defensive players in the area now that’s he got a supporting cast and consistent practice time under the guidance of high-quality coaches. If McClain thrives, an already talented Maranatha gets that much scarier.

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UPDATE: Eight players at Blair practice on Wednesday morning …

UPDATED: I was having trouble with a file transfer, so I had to run home and get my camera. When I returned to Blair, there was eight players at practice (by my count). Up from seven earlier this a.m. I also spoke with coach Johnny Lopez, who told me they have more players than what I saw there, but they were at UCLA(?) and some other places. I was skeptical and told Coach Lopez as much. Listen, Coach Lopez seems like a good guy in a tough spot. He’s definitely trying to do the right thing. But Blair is so far behind the rest of the area in terms of preparation, that you wonder about safety. Think about the things this team has missed — spring ball, summer passing, weight room. Not good. And now they can’t even field a starting 11 to give the air a look. It just seems more practical and safe to have a JV team instead of varsity. Of course if 10 more guys show up, things may be all right, but still there’s a ton of preparation time to make up for and football is a contact sport. The less prepared you are, the more likely you are to get hurt.

I decided to drive by Blair this morning and take a look for myself after hearing from player parents on Tuesday that only six kids attended practice that morning.

I counted seven eight players on Wednesday morning. Three linemen-types and four skill players (at least that was the type of drill they were running).

As reported yesterday, new head coach Johnny Lopez has stated that he does have a roster big enough to field a varsity team. But Lopez would not give a specific number or even an estimate as to how many players are in the program.

From what I saw Wednesday, Blair is not even close. Granted, there’s a slight chance that other players were in the weight room or doing film study. But what was on the field on Wednesday is not enough.

Aram’s take: This situation really needs to be escalated. It’s time Blair and Pasadena Unified school officials start getting real about the prospects of not having a varsity team this season. The Vikings’ first game is Aug. 24 against Hoover. If the school officials are holding out hope of having a varsity team despite the reality that the current numbers present, then they are doing a disservice to any players who want to transfer (especially seniors) and play somewhere this season.

UPDATED: Johnny Lopez says he’s still the coach at Blair and has conducted three practices … won’t disclose a number for how many players are in the program …

Blair High School named Johnny Lopez as its new varsity football head coach last Friday.

Lopez, 50, was most recently head coach at Eagle Rock for one season in 2008. He graduated from Rosemead in 1979.

Blair has had three practices since his hiring, Lopez said. However, Lopez would not say how many players are currently on the roster and only that “players are trickling in.”

When asked if there were currently enough players to field a varsity team, Lopez said “Definitely”.

Reports from Blair parents, however, were that only six players participated in practice on Tuesday morning. Then later in the day, parents said they were told on Tuesday afternoon that Lopez did not pass his background check and was no longer head coach. Lopez said those claims were untrue.

Aram’s take: This story would be aided greatly if school officials would simply return phone calls. Why Lopez would not give an exact number of players currently in the program, or even an estimate, is a bit concerning. But I’ll take him at his word that there are enough for a team. For the time being, it looks like Blair will have a varsity team. There have been several defections from last year’s team. What their eligibility will be at their new schools is unclear. Any current players who were hoping for immediate eligibility at a new school if Blair does not field a varsity team may have just had their hopes crushed.


It’s obviously time for the “Wild-Cam Formation” … Amat’s Anthony Camargo frosh highlight reel

Aram’s take: This kid is gonna be scary good. Whether that’s at QB or LB, yo no se. But either way, or both, he’s got a very bright future. When I saw Amat earlier summer, Camargo was playing LB and looked a little raw while learning the ropes. But he’s already got a varsity body. My favorite part of the reel is at 0:56 when he puts that kid on an island, then beats him to the corner. Looked like it was against Crespi, but hard to tell.

Source: Blair has its man, now waiting on screening process …

Blair has found its next varsity football head coach, but is waiting for him to clear the screening process before an announcement is made, according to a source.

The program has been without a coach since Gary Parks resigned after the 2011 season, after spending four years at the school.

The school’s initial hiring process turned out poorly with its final three choices not ending up with the job for reasons varying from a failed background check to lack of a teaching a job to poor equipment and facilities.

Blair opens the season on Aug. 24 against Hoover. The Vikings have not had an organized practice since June, according to defensive end Logan McClain.

Even when a new head coach is named, the school may not be out of the woods because there may not be enough players to a field a varsity team.

Aram’s take: At least the process is moving along. We’ll have to see what kind of player turnout there is once a new coach is named. I’m speculating, but perhaps the school will only field a frosh team this season. Safety is becoming an issue with each passing day. Granted, CIF rules state a team needs only 14 practices before it can play its first game and players need only 10, but if the rest of your competition has been holding workouts and practices and conditioning and passing games ALL SUMMER LONG and you haven’t, then they’re gonna be way ahead of you timing-wise and that can create problems.

Monrovia LB Brett Walsh commits to Northwestern …

Monrovia standout linebacker Brett Walsh committed to Northwestern on Tuesday.

Walsh led Monrovia in tackles last season with 192 and forms the area’s top linebacker tandem with George “G5″ Frazier, who is headed to Colorado.

Walsh also had offers from Nevada and South Dakota.

Aram’s take: Great choice! You got BigTen football and great academics … and Chicago nearby. Congrats to Walsh!

All-encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 post-passing circuit

Andy Sherwood (left), Josh Savage (middle) and Jonathan Lyles (right) are three reasons why Damien was almost No. 1.

This is the second-to-last preseason ranking. There will be a final preseason ranking after the teams are in pads (probably right around a week before the season).

1. Charter Oak — Physically the most impressive team around. Offense progressing well, too.
2. Damien — My No. 1 team if Alex Hernandez doesn’t transfer.
3. Chino Hills — Huskies drop a tad because I’m worried about the run game.
4. St. Paul — Threw against top-flight competition and held their own.
5. West Covina — Don’t know what SGV Shootout title portends, but man that’s scary.
6. Monrovia — Didn’t light it up this summer as I had hoped, but that’s being nitpicky.
7. Bishop Amat — Uninspiring summer is cause for concern for some, but not others.
8. La Habra – Not as flashy as previous summers, but then again, things go in cycles.
9. St. Francis — I’d rather have QB solved and worry about everything else than the opposite.
10. La Mirada — Offers are rolling in for the talent, so let’s hope for no repeat of ’10.
11. La Serna — Scary thought: QB Palmer looks like he’s gotten even better.
12. San Dimas — Valle Vista has gone from Saints cakewalk to “Watch out for Northview”.
13. Ayala — Jordan Robinson hailed as best skill player in league by Sierra coaches.
14. South Hills — The size is there as we all now know, but depth and QB are worries.
15. Claremont — Yet another Sierra team having a solid summer. What a league.
16. Diamond Ranch — Quiet summer, but talent is looking better and better to me.
17. Maranatha — Skill talent is there, but cohesion just isn’t quite there yet.
18. Cantwell — As good as shot as anybody in the Northwest.
19. Arcadia — Although not to last year’s level, passed my eyeball test at SGV Shootout.
20. Northview — By far the most impressive turnaround compared to last year.
21. San Gabriel — You’d think the Mats would thrive at passing games, but not so.
22. El Monte — Love how the Lions have tested themselves against top competition.
23. Arroyo — After seeing QB Nathan Coto, fears about Knights have subsided.
24. Pasadena — Supporting cast for QB Cox is developing … slowly.
25. Duarte — Absolutely scary size. This team is poised to make a major leap this season.

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Charter Oak beats Claremont to win Claremont Tournament … Amat falters in pool play …

Charter Oak beat Claremont in an all-Sierra League final to win the Claremont Tournament on Saturday afternoon.

The Chargers have lost just one tournament game this summer, against Hart in the Under Armor Tournament.

“Our goal was to get better and compete,” Charter Oak offensive coordinator Dominic Farrar said. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, what we used this opportunity for was competition and evaluation.

“No one remembers what you did in July and ultimately for us it doesn’t matter what we’ve done in July as long as we continue to develop our identity.”

Farrar singled out big performances by receivers Aaren Vaughns, Brice Bobo and Brian McIntyre, and defensive back Donavin Washington. Coaches also praised the linebacker corps.

Quarterbacks Kory Brown and Ross Barrera split time on Saturday and remain locked in a battle that’s still too close to call.

The Chargers beat La Serna to reach the finals. Claremont beat Crescenta Valley.

Bishop Amat, which also participated in the tournament, did not advance out of pool play and was in the consolation bracket.

Aram’s take:
Pretty scary sign for the Chargers to get a tournament championship under their belts. It’s well known how good Charter Oak’s defense is going to be. But if this team has an offense, too, WOW! Good showing from Claremont, too. Don’t forget, the ‘Pack have some solid experience back on offense. About Amat, I know it’s only passing league, but this wasn’t the strongest field from top to bottom and for the Lancers to not advance to the championship bracket is very disappointing.