Latest salvo in OC recruiting/attracting war: Former St. Paul head coach Elijah Asante joins Harry Welch’s staff at Santa Margarita …

Former St. Paul head coach Elijah Asante has joined Harry Welch’s staff at Santa Margarita as an assistant coach.

“Harry Welch offered me to come two years ago,” Asante said. “He told me if that if I ever had the opportunity, he wanted me to coach with him. And of course, this opportunity came up because I was out of a job. He offered for me to come in.

“It’s just such a great program, I went on and took advantage of it.”

Asante was let go by St. Paul in the middle of last season, his first at the school. He closed the season as an assistant coach at Lakewood. Asante previously had a successful run at Carson, where he beat Mater Dei twice, a fact that may prove useful at Santa Margarita.

Asante does not know for sure what his role on Welch’s staff will be. According to him, there are no titles on the Santa Margarita staff like there would be at a typical high school.

“He doesn’t give titles,” Asante said of Welch. “If you look at this program book, everybody is an assistant coach. It’s kind of a smart thing to do because he’s got like four head coaches on his staff.”

Asante remains a teacher at St. Paul, but is unsure if he’ll continue in that role next school year.

Aram’s take: Well, in the ever-growing recruiting/attracting wars taking place in The OC, this is a big coup for Santa Margarita. The way Mater Dei has been “attracting” talent recently, the stakes had gone up and Santa Margarita will need to keep up. And then there’s Servite and Mission Viejo. Yep, it’s a rat race for talent. Asante will certainly help in that department and don’t be surprised if Santa Margarita gets some high-impact kids in this spring/summer.

Former Damien standout receiver Travis Eschardies dead at 24 …

Former Damien standout wide receiver Travis Eschardies, who was a Tribune All-Area selection in 2006, died early Sunday morning following a car accident on the 10 Freeway in Montclair. He was 24.

Eschardies’ Honda Accord overturned and was hit by a Chevy pick up during the accident. Eschardies, who lived in Pomona, was ejected. He later died on the operating room table at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Eschardies was a three-varsity player for Damien from 2004-06. He had 64 receptions for 1,115 yards and seven touchdowns in ’06 when Damien went 9-3 and swept the Sierra League. He teamed with All-Area QB Mark Mendrun to form the top pass-catch combo in the area that season.

Eschardies was also a reserve on the Damien basketball team.

Aram’s take: Tragic news. Eschardies still attended Damien games … I recall seeing him on the sidelines either this season or last in his varsity jacket. I will never forget showing up for the Damien-Los Altos game in ’06 and having him say “hey, what’s up, big dog?” during warm ups while I was walking the sidelines. He had swag, as former Time Warner personality Reg Miller put it. I really enjoyed that Damien team and they were the last legit good team the Spartans football program has had. Eschardies won’t be forgotten.

Former San Gabriel coach Jude Oliva named offensive coordinator at Maranatha …

Former San Gabriel head coach Jude Oliva, who resigned last December after three seasons at the school, has joined head coach Pete Karavedas’ staff at Maranatha as offensive coordinator.

Oliva was 17-17 in three seasons at San Gabriel and led the Matadors to the Almont League title in 2011 and a berth in the Mid-Valley Division championship game.

Oliva was named Star-News Coach of the Year after the 2011 season. He was angling for a teaching position at San Gabriel, which never came about and was forced to seek better employment opportunities. Oliva does not currently have a teaching position at Maranatha.

Aram’s take: There were rumors that Oliva would be joining Rick Zepeda’s staff at St. Paul or even headed to Bell Gardens, but him landing at Maranatha is a coup for Karavedas, who is a defensive guy and now just boosted his staff’s offensive expertise. Obviously, Oliva is qualified to be a head coach just about anywhere. Being the Star-News Coach of the Year is a nice thing to have on a resume. So you have to wonder just how much of a long-term thing this will be. If Oliva gets a teaching gig, then he just may be with Karavedas for a while.

It’s official: Matt Bechtel named new head coach at Chino Hills …

Chino Hills has promoted offensive coordinator Matt Bechtel to head coach.

Bechtel, who was offensive coordinator for one season after coming over from Colony, replaces Derek Bub, who resigned after five seasons but will remain the school’s athletic director.

Aram’s take: Yes, it kinda takes the fun out of it when people tell you exactly how things will unfold a year ago and then it happens that way. Nonetheless, Bechtel should do a fine job keeping the Chino Hills pipeline rolling.

Charter Oak’s Alex Hernandez headed to Western New Mexico …

Charter Oak defensive lineman Alex Hernandez will play at Western New Mexico next season.

Hernandez was deciding between Western New Mexico, Humboldt St. and APU. Hernandez, who was at Charter Oak for his freshman and sophomore year before transferring to Damien for his junior and then back to Charter Oak for his senior year, recorded 43 tackles and 11 sacks in 2012.

Meet D-Bar’s Cordell Broadus and Kanya Bell …

Aram’s take: This website “CityBallers” seems to have quite the interest in Broadus and Bell despite the fact that there’s nothing “city” about Diamond Bar. 20k views on this YouTube video. Man, with Noodles in tow D-Bar is going to be one interesting spectacle to watch this spring/summer. Noodles has to be thinking that if he can somehow be the starting QB and throw to guys like this, then whatever “looks” they’re getting will go to him as well. It’s a way to step into the spotlight or share the spotlight. That’s my take.

Brandon Rohrer leaving La Puente to take over at Etiwanda

Brandon Rohrer is leaving La Puente to become the new head coach at Etiwanda, according the Bulletin’s Clay Fowler.

Rohrer was head coach at La Puente for four successful seasons, finishing second in the Montview League three times before earning a share of the league title with Gladstone this past season.

Rohrer is a Glendora grad and was often rumored to be going back to his alma mater during its reason coaching upheavals. Rohrer replaces Tommy Leach, who lasted just one season at Etiwanda before resigning.

Aram’s take: Finally. If you’ve ever wanted to see an example of how not to conduct a hiring a process, Etiwanda supplied one in full over the past few months. But in the end, they actually got a pretty dang good coach. This should come as a shock to nobody as it was reported in a previous “I Heard Things …” that Rohrer was in the mix and Robledo had the same on his blog last week. Feel my heat here, but I always got the vibe that Rohrer was always having an internal battle in his head and trying convince himself that LP was wear he belonged long term. I just always felt like he was trying to convince himself deep down. Anyway, we’ll miss Rohrer around these parts and they’ll miss him especially at La Puente. But all those who are bummed about this have to realize that Etiwanda offers a higher ceiling of talent than La Puente, so you can’t blame a young coach for taking this chance. Now, what the heck is La Puente gonna do? You’ve got Gladstone still open and now they’re second in line in terms of timing. Probably the same group of coaches going for both. Although I suspect most coaches view LP as the better place despite what happened on the field last year.

Antonio “Noodles” Hull transfers from West Covina to Diamond Bar … Sidney Jones next?

Antonio “Noodles” Hull, who was named the Tribune’s Newcomer of the Year after a strong sophomore season at several positions, has left West Covina and is enrolled at Diamond Bar.

Hull “checked in” to Diamond Bar on Wednesday. There were rumors that Hull was going to leave West Covina soon after the Bulldogs’ loss to La Serna in the Southeast Division semifinals. Hull looked like one of the top players in the division during the postseason and led the team to wins over Paramount and Muir.

West Covina won the Southeast Division in 2010 and ’11. The Bulldogs had a “down year” last season, during which they earned a share of the Hacienda League title, reached the semis and finished 7-6. West Covina has never not won or shared the Hacienda League title. Diamond Bar has never won more than two three Hacienda League games in a single season. Eh, … but … the league’s only been around for three years.

Hull made a name for himself before ever reaching the high school level thanks to a strong career with the Compton Vikings in the Snoop Youth Football League. Rapper Snoop Dog’s son Cordell is currently a sophomore receiver at Diamond Bar.

Aram’s take:
This was going to be a future “I heard things …” but it was so well known that I didn’t see a need to rush. Hell, me and Fred heard it as we were leaving West Covina’s loss to La Serna, but we thought it was just some angry WestCo fan venting. There’s going to be a lot of speculation about why this happened. I’ve heard from reliable sources that Noodles was unhappy about playing running back during the playoffs after starting QB Jon Najera got injured. Noodles has always maintained a preference to play QB. But will he even get that chance at D-Bar where sophomore Tyler Peterson figures to be entrenched as the starter? The next big question is whether Noodles’ close friend Sidney Jones joins him at D-Bar. Jones showed what an exceptional talent he is toward the end of last season. The senior-to-be figures to flourish next season no matter where he plays. Finally, this is a big coup for Diamond Bar. Granted, Noodles is another of the same type of talent the Brahmas already have (Broadus, Kanya, T-Brown). And what D-Bar really needs is some linemen. But still, teams don’t get worse by having a talent like Noodles around. Let the speculation begin on just how much influence, if any, Snoop had on this happening.

Signing Day has arrived, find out where everyone is signing

Today’s expected football signees
SGV and Whittier High Schools
Brandon Cox, Pasadena, QB, Utah
Brett Walsh, Monrovia, LB, Northwestern
Bryce Bobo, Charter Oak, WR, Colorado
Khari Garcia, Charter Oak, DB, Montana State
Riley Deen, South Hills, OL, Northern Arizona
Lake Aiono, South Hills, OL/DL, Undecided
Andrew Hauser, Charter Oak, LB, Wake Forest
Darren Andrews, Bishop Amat, WR, UCLA
Joe Cook, Bishop Amat, WR, Dartmouth
Muleck Henderson, West Covina, WR/CB, Chadron State (Nebraska)
Azeem Victor, Pomona, LB, Washington
Louis Mozqueda, Ganesha, OL/DL, Ottawa
Dionza Blue, Bishop Amat, DB, Boise State
George Frazier V, Monrovia, Linebacker, Colorado
Koa Kaleopa’a, La Mirada, LB, still deciding
Mason Bryant, Monrovia, WR, Penn
Spencer Ueli-Fa’atoalia, La Mirada, OL, New Mexico State.
Joita Te’i, Mt. SAC, DE, still deciding
Julian Gener, Mt. SAC, LB, Hawaii
David Metcalf, DB, Citrus College, Prairie View A&M
Nick Montana, Mt. SAC, QB, Tulane
Rodney Mathews, Citrus, DB, Fresno State
Dorian Crawford, Mt. SAC, DB, Texas Tech

CATASTROPHE: Tribune All-Area DB Pablo Ocegueda of South El Monte reportedly loses four fingers in tug-of-war mishap …

South El Monte defensive back Pablo Ocegueda, a Tribune first-team All-Area selection at defensive back last season, reportedly lost four fingers in a tug-of-war fiasco at school on Monday.

Ocegueda was undergoing surgery on Monday night to reattach the severed fingers. Several Eagles teammates and coach Ibis Aguilar have been at the hospital with Ocegueda to offer support.

Ocegueda was a key cog in helping South El Monte share the Mission Valley League title with El Monte. The senior had 74 tackles, five interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Aram’s take: From what I hear, and this is all second hand because I obviously wasn’t at South El Monte High when it happened, is that the rope being was used was not a thick one that you can only grab and not wrap. So, Ocegueda wrapped the rope around his hand and when it came time to pull, the rope tightened and caused the injury. Hopefully, his fingers can be reattached and work again.