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.
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.
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.
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.
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