By Aram Tolegian
Jordan Robinson is flying under the radar … for now.
The Ayala High School running back/defensive back is well known to coaches in the Sierra League as one of the most dangerous players their teams will face this season.
But outside of that coaching circle, not many other coaches or fans have heard his name as often as they should. That could start changing in a big way on Friday when Robinson and the Bulldogs host two-time defending CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division champion Monrovia. Kickoff is 7 p.m.
“We’ve been watching film all week,” Robinson said of Monrovia. “They have athletes, but they’re not unbeatable. I want to just go out there and show our team can compete with these guys.
“They’re ranked No. 1 or No. 2 in your poll and if we go out there and beat them then we’re definitely making a statement that we can compete.”
Even with Monrovia coming to town, the spotlight will also be shining on the Bulldogs, who have gotten plenty of hype this offseason and are ranked No. 8 in the Tribune’s latest area rankings. Monrovia is the No. 1 team in the Pasadena Star-News rankings.
For Monrovia, the expectations are nothing new. But for Ayala, so many expecting such big things is a change from the norm.
“I think it’s right,” Robinson said of the rankings. “We have a nice team. We have athletes. We just didn’t put it together as well as we should have last year. This year, we’re a year older and we’ve been through it. I’m pretty sure we can turn it around.”
Ahh, last year. That’s probably the reason why Robinson isn’t yet on the radar of college recruiters like he should be. There’s no doubt he’s one of the best athletes around, but Ayala’s struggles in the won-loss column may be why so many folks just don’t know it.
Robinson is bent on using his senior season to make up for that. He started last week by rushing for 207 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-17 win over Diamond Bar. For Robinson, it was just a continuation of 2011, in which he ran for over 1,500 yards and 13 touchdowns.
But now, stats are just as important as wins, because the more Ayala puts itself on the map, the more eyes will be opened to Robinson’s talents.
Beating Monrovia would be a great way to super charge the process.
When Robinson is on offense, he’ll be trying to plow through a Monrovia defense led by the linebacker duo of Colorado-bound George Frazier V and Northwestern-bound Brett Walsh.
When Robinson is playing corner back on defense, he will be trying to cover either Mason Bryant or Anthony Craft, both of whom already have multiple Division I college offers.
“Honestly, I can’t tell you why I don’t have any offers yet,” Robinson said. “I’m not a college coach, so I don’t know exactly why.”
Robinson and his senior classmates went undefeated as freshmen in 2009.
Their success hasn’t translated to the varsity level yet. As sophomores, only a handful of that class was pulled up to varsity, including Robinson, who broke his leg after four games. The team won just four games and was blanked in the Sierra League.
Last year, the Bulldogs won just three games, but at least one of them came in league. This is the ballyhooed class’ final attempt to deliver under the lights on all the promise they showed four years ago.
“It definitely motivates us,” Robinson said. “We’re all together now again and we’re clicking. It can only get better from here.”
“We definitley can compete with the Sierra League. It’s a tough league, but we have the athletes and the skill players to do it. It’s just about putting it all together.”
Damien wide receiver Josh Savage will miss Friday’s season opener against Orange Lutheran due to an undisclosed rules violation, Spartans head coach Greg Gano confirmed late Monday.
Savage projects as one of the top receivers in the area and without him Damien’s chances of upsetting the Lancers took a hit.
Gano said the suspension will be only for one week and Savage will play in Week 2 when the Spartans visit Palm Desert.
Aram’s take: Well, that hurts. The rules violation was of the school variety and not the team variety, if you catch my drift. Although I guess you could consider one in the same. This is really bad timing because it would have been nice to see the Spartans offense at full strength vs. O-Lu.