La Serna is a big step closer to an outright Del Rio League title after routing Santa Fe in a battle of two teams that were unbeaten in league on Thursday night.
The Lancers can win with the title outright next week by beating California, which can earn a share of the league title with a win this week and next.
La Serna can finish the season at 9-1 with a win next week, but likely will be the No. 2 seed in the Southeast Division playoffs with La Mirada also likely to be 9-1.
Being the No. 1 or No. 2 seed, at this point, is really splitting hairs. The two teams appear to be on a collision course unless Bonita or Muir can prove otherwise.
Aram’s take: By the way, La Serna victim Westlake is 6-3 and headed to the PAC-5 playoffs. Westlake only lost to St. Bonaveture (7-1) by eight points. The Bonnies are thought to be on the short list of top teams in the Southland this season with their only loss coming to Santa Margarita.
All questions about the legitimacy of the San Marino High School football team figure to be answered tonight when the undefeated Titans visit Monrovia for control of first place in the Rio Hondo League.
San Marino enters tonight’s game at 8-0 overall and 3-0 in league play. But, questions still exist about just how good the Titans actually are because only one of their wins have come against an opponent with a winning record and the combined record of the teams they’ve played is 19-45.
Just don’t tell any of that to Titans second-year head coach Mike Hobbie, who didn’t take to kindly to hearing that for some area pundits the jury’s still out on his team.
“Are you kidding me?” Hobbie said when asked about his team’s schedule to date. “We played a school with 3,000 kids in Crescenta Valley and you’re questioning a school with 1,000 (students)? Give me a break here.
“I could care less what people think, to be honest with you. Our schedule is what it is and most people don’t understand. We’ve played several schools that are two to three times our size, so those people don’t know a whole lot if they’re questioning that. Our players have played hard and they’ve played well and they deserve what they’ve got.”
With a win tonight, the Titans would not only put themselves on the doorstep of the league championship with one week to go in the regular season, they’d also likely cement a top-four seed in the upcoming Mid-Valley Division playoffs with a win over arch-rival South Pasadena next week.
The same is true for Monrovia (6-2 overall, 3-0 in league) which has won or shared the last five Rio Hondo League championships, winning the last four outright with undefeated league seasons each time.
The Wildcats were projected to win a sixth straight Rio Hondo title with ease this season, but San Marino has thrown some doubt into that thought with its sparkling record. But 8-0 hasn’t been enough to get many people outside of the 91108 zip code on the Titans’ bandwagon.
As of Thursday afternoon, poll of readers on one of this newspapers prep sports blogs had 61 percent of people saying Monrovia will win tonight’s game. In this newspaper’s area rankings, the Titans are ranked No. 2 behind Monrovia, which has two losses.
In the latest CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division poll, the Titans are No. 5, behind three teams with worse records. Sierra Canyon (8-0) is the only other undefeated team in the division and is ranked No. 1.
“I don’t buy into that ‘you have to play great competition to get prepped for great competition’” Hobbie said. “I’m sorry, that’s somebody else’s philosophy, not mine.
“Even to question our schedule shows a real lack of knowledge from people. Take a look at how many kids we have in this school and take a look at some of the schools we’ve played and beaten. I don’t know how people qualify what’s a good program and what’s not. You’ve got to look at who you play. Records are meaningless.”
One person who isn’t taking San Marino lightly is Monrovia head coach Ryan Maddox. Although the Wildcats won last year’s meeting 43-7, Maddox feels confident his team will be in for a much tougher battle tonight.
The Wildcats remain one of the fastest teams in the area, whether it’s the big-play ability of their receivers or the breakaway speed of their running backs. The Wildcats’ defense can also move pretty well and is allowing just 14.5 points per game this season.
“I don’t know how much of a speed edge, but I think we have a little bit of an edge speed-wise,” Maddox said. “We saw them play live against Temple City and have seen them on film. You can’t say that til you actually play, but based on what we’ve seen, I would say there’s a slight edge to us speed-wise.”
San Marino, which plays a very methodical style and prefers to pound teams with its running game, has to hope that the speed gap has closed in the last calendar year. If not, it could be a long night for the Titans.
San Marino’s defense is allowing just 7.3 points per game this season. Meanwhile, the Titans offense is putting up an average of 47.7 points per game led by quarterback Matt Wofford and running backs Nick Gott and Ryan Wood.
“It’s an opportunity to play an undefeated team, which you get pumped up for, and it’s for a league a title,” Maddox said. “Obviously, when you’re playing for something, the game has a lot more meaning.”
Monrovia may not have lived up to expectations during part of its beefed up nonleague schedule, but it did post wins over Arcadia, San Dimas and St. Francis. Both Arcadia and San Dimas are bidding for championships in their respective leagues.
The Wildcats’ losses came by a combined four points to Ayala (5-3) and South Hills (5-3), which play tonight across town for the final playoff spot in the rugged Sierra League.
Monrovia is led offensively by quarterback Blake Heyworth and speedy receivers Mason Bryant and Anthony Craft. When the Wildcats want to pound the ball, they turn to running backs Gevontray Ainsworth and Darione Jones. Junior all-purpose threat Deshawn Potts has turned into a major weapon, as well.
The Wildcats have arguably the best linebacker duo in the Valley led by Northwestern-bound Brett Walsh and George Frazier V, who will play next season at Colorado. As good as those two are, David Gallegos has been a big surprise and leads the team in tackles with 71.
“Do I think we can beat a team like Monrovia?” Hobbie said. “It’s going to take a great effort on our part. Whether or not my schedule has anything to do with it, I don’t believe it has anything to do with it.
“Again, I could care less what people think. I don’t answer to them. I answer to my players. What we have done up until now is beat the teams that we have played. Okay? That’s as good as we are.”
Yeah, I said it. I said it. I said it. I said it.
When West Covina returns from its bye week on Friday noche, the Bulldogs will be solely a Wing-T offense again. And when Northview plays San Dimas in a week for the VVL hardware (as predicted by yours truly BEFORE league play started), the Vikings will break out the forward pass again.
Let’s start with West Covina. When I covered the Bonita game a couple weeks ago, West Covina’s best drive of the night came when it went BACK to the Wing-T with the Noodler running the point at QB. I think the Bulldogs ran it nine straight plays and went right down field on Bonita, but the drive ended on a fumble inside the Bonita 20. So be it.
Conversely, West Covina made its fans vomit their nachos and Skittles when it was trying the spread on the Bearcats. First drive of the night vs. Bonita resembled something you’d see the first day of practice … spring practice. Not happening anymore. It was cute. It was forward-thinking. It was progressive. It’s just not who the Bulldogs are.
So adios! With the season on the line and the playoffs not a certainty for the two-time defending Southeast Division champs, I predict they go back to what they’re built for — The Wing-T.
Now then, on to Northview. For the past four games, the Vikings have been pounding running back Javon Taylor to no avail. If you think, like me, that Sierra Vista’s statisticians are like Mitt Romney’s fiscal policy (pie in the sky, just make up the numbers, say it til it’s true), then you recognize Taylor as the leading rusher in the Valley with 1,317 yards. No knock on Sierra Vista’s Lee Jones, but I’ve been burned too many times before by Sierra Vista’s stats.
Anyway, pounding Taylor all noche long against San Dimas is a surefire ticket for the Vikes to get blown out in next week’s league title game. Sure. Fire. They’re gonna have to pass and that means QB Victor Garcia will get stupid thru the air.
Here’s my worry about this particular prediction, Vikings head coach Marcel Perez strikes me as the kinda coach who believes in the philosophy of “not changing what we do … ‘who we are’ …”. But he also strikes me as surprisingly shrewd despite his persona.
My tipoff to this prediction came when I interviewed Taylor for a feature I wrote him a couple weeks ago. He referenced the Ontario game (Week 0) and said the following:
“I saw it happen in our first game against Ontario. We were passing the ball all over the place and running the ball whenever we needed to. We just showed we had good players all over the place.”
“PASSING THE BALL OVER” (gotcha) ((wink))
Putting dos y dos together, you get that Northview is gonna try and stun the Saints by spraying it. Yeah, I said it. I said it. I said it.
And if these teams don’t do it, eee pobrecito.
Aram’s take: In my next career, I hope to be the fat guy who stands behind the fence with sunglasses on while your team practices. And just about the time Coach Silverado turns to Coach F-150 and says “Say, is that Jimmy’s dad?” POOF! I’ll be gone. Off to Taco Lita with full knowledge of what you’re doing. And by the way, I just want to reiterate, if the Bulldogs and Vikings don’t do what I’m predicting then things won’t end nicely for them on the field. But hey, you can ALWAYS stand or sit next to me at the big game when your season’s over.
Despite Loyola’s uninspiring 0-2 start in the Serra League, Bishop Amat coach Steve Hagerty is expecting the Cubs’ best shot on Friday night at L.A. Valley College in a crucial game for both teams.
Amat (6-1-1 overall, 1-1 in league) must win to set up a Week 10 showdown with Notre Dame for the Serra’s second and final PAC-5 playoff spot. Meanwhile, Loyola (6-2 overall), still has faint playoff hopes, but can have the door closed on the postseason with a loss to Amat.
“They’ve been beaten by Crespi and Notre Dame and those are both good teams,” Hagerty said. “I’m sure they feel like they’re still capable and I expect we’re going to somebody who is ready to play on Friday night.
“You know, they fumbled like five times at Crespi. I’m sure their best football might be ahead of them and that’s what we’re preparing for; that team we know they’re capable of being.”
Amat bounced back from its league-opening loss to Alemany by beating Crespi last Friday night. The Lancers’ special teams were a big reason why. Adrian Ortega blocked a Crespi punt and Jorge Cortez recovered it for Amat’s only score of the second half.
Hagerty knows there’s little margin for error in the next two weeks and big plays, no matter whether they’re from the offensive, defense or special teams will be needed to get his team into the postseason.
“We know it doesn’t matter how you win, it just matters that you win,” Hagerty said. “I think this year the difference is there’s only two playoff spots instead of three. So that’s probably turned up the heat on all of us.”