Damien coach Mark Paredes sounds off about Baseline League, playing Amat in future …

With the votes counted and Damien headed back to the Mt. SAC Area for league grouping and into the Baseline League beginning next fall, Spartans football coach Mark Paredes isn’t exactly breathing a sigh of relief.

Before Damien won its arbitration hearing to get out of the parochial grouping, the Spartans appeared on their way to being in a PAC-5 Division league along with several catholic football powers.

Now, Damien will be in the Baseline League where it traded the likes of Bishop Amat, Notre Dame and Serra for Upland, Rancho Cucamonga and Chino Hills. Not exactly a huge relief.

“I like the league we’re in now and it’s a good opportunity to play great competition and I’m looking forward to it,” Damien head coach Mark Paredes said. “To me it doesn’t matter. We’re going to work hard and be ready to play in whatever league we’re going to be in.

“Whether we’re in the Pac-5 or where we are now, it’s really neither here nor there because we are where we are and I’m really excited about being in the Baseline League.

Damien went 5-5 in Paredes’ first season. The Spartans were hit hard by transfers out of the program following the leadership change of former head coach Greg Gano and the transition to Paredes. But still, Damien managed to beat Chino Hills in the final week of the season.

The Spartans’ nonleague schedule was unaffected by the league change and a few former Sierra League foes in the form of Ayala, Charter Oak and South Hills appear on it.

Notably missing is Bishop Amat, which Gano took off the schedule before leaving. Paredes, who originally said he didn’t like the idea of playing Amat because of his ties as a former coach of the Lancers, has softened on that position a bit and said Amat is likely to be added back to the schedule if an opening arises in the future.

“I’m going to say it straight out — I’ll play Bishop Amat,” Paredes said. “Right now our schedule is full and we’re not moving anything. But in the future I’d be open to anything.

“Coach Hagerty called me and he wants to play us. We’ll go ahead and we’ll play Bishop Amat if we have room in our schedule. Right now, we don’t.”

Coaches named for Hall of Fame All-Star Game …

The National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame has selected San Marino’s Mike Hobbie (West) and Pomona’s Aaron Jamieson (East) to coach in this spring’s renewal of the San Gabriel Valley all-star game.

Jamieson led Pomona to a 10-2 record and second-place finish in the Valle Vista League in 2013. Hobbie coached San Marino to a 9-3 record and second-place finish in the Rio Hondo League in 2013.

The East holds a six-game win streak in the series and an overall 22-10-2 lead.

The game will be played on May 16 at West Covina High.

Diamond Bar names Marcus Hughes new head coach …

hughes

Diamond Bar High School looked far and wide for its next football coach and found him in New York.

The school announced on Wednesday that Marcus Hughes, who spent the past six seasons at Cornwall Central High in New York, is the Brahmas new varsity football head coach.

“We expanded our search nationwide and Coach Hughes stood out far and above all of the other candidates we had,” Diamond Bar athletic director Kurt Davies said. “His track record not only with winning and losing but with developing young men and developing them academically, that stood out. He’s definitely going to be the leader we’re looking for, for a long time.”

Hughes, 34, replaces Ryan Maine, who resigned in February after three seasons with a 15-17 record and one trip to the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

Hughes is originally from Colorado and was looking for a job in California in order to move here with his wife and children. He went 67-13 in seven seasons at Cornwall and went to the state playoffs in New York the past three seasons.

“I was extremely picky about applying for jobs in California,” Hughes said. “I saw Diamond Bar on the internet and the first thing I looked up was the academics because of my three daughters. And I went back and researched the history on Diamond Bar football.

“I decided to apply and talked to Kurt and he sounded like a great guy. When you interview for jobs, you can tell a lot about a school by talking to the committee and they do a great job over here.”

Hughes inherits a program that has fallen hard times since being one of the area’s most successful up until the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since then, a demographics shift and the opening of several other schools nearby by like Diamond Ranch and Chino Hills have cut into the talent pool.

The Brahmas were 7-5 this past season and upset 2012 Southeast Division champion Downey in the first round of the playoffs before losing to 2013 champ La Serna in the second round.

Diamond Bar lost standout receiver Cordell Broadus, who transferred this offseason to Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, but the Brahmas still have several standouts on campus, including highly recruited receiver/defensive back Kanya Bell, quarterback Tyler Petersen and all-purpose threat Antonio “Noodles” Hull.

“It seems like the kids are committed,” Hughes said. “We just have to keep it going and be consistent. It definitely has the potential to be … it’s already a great school, but has the potential to be even better in football.”

Diamond Bar is currently slated to play in the newly formed Palomares League next season, but that’s somewhat in the air as the Mt. SAC Area for re-leaguing will meet later this month to alter several local leagues in order to fit in Damien/St. Lucy’s.

Davies said that Diamond Bar had 140 applicants for the job.

Damien and St. Lucy’s win arbitration and will return to the Mt. SAC Area for league grouping …

Get ready, because Damien High School and St. Lucy’s Priory will once again be coming to a league near you.

The two schools won their arbitration hearing against the CIF-Southern Section on Friday and will be headed back to the Mt. SAC Area for playoff grouping rather than being placed in a parochial grouping.

Damien and St. Lucy’s along with Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure took to the legal system last spring after they were placed in the parochial area and put into new leagues for the new re-leaguing cycle that runs 2014-16.

Damien and St. Lucy’s hired the powerful Los Angeles firm of Prada of Daley to argue that the move to the parochial group was religious discrimination by the Southern Section and not based on the usual tenets CIF uses for re-leaguing proposals.

“It’s somewhat ridiculous, in my mind, as to what CIF put these schools through,” said attorney Robert Prada. “From our point of view, the welfare of these students was not their concern. I think this result validates that.”

The Mt. SAC Area had already moved on without Damien and St. Lucy’s and ratified new leagues for the area that would have begun with the 2014-15 school year. Now, the area will go back to the drawing board.

Same can be said for the Catholic Athletic Association, which will have to re-do its league proposals without Damien, Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure in the mix. The CAA has announced that it will meet to do just that on Mar. 27 at St. Pius X-St. Matthias High in Downey.

The CIF-Southern Section was set to announce proposals for new playoff groupings on Mar. 16, but that figures to be delayed until the new league groupings are settled.

“We accept the arbitrators ruling and are prepared to move forward,” the Southern Section said in a statement on Friday. “As always, we will depend on the best efforts of our member schools to facilitate the re-leaguing process in the areas affected by today’s decision.”

Damien and St. Lucy’s, although two separate schools, come as sort of a packaged deal as far as athletics are concerned with Damien making up the boys sports half of the equation and St. Lucy’s the girls. The two schools had been longtime members of the Sierra League, but given the makeover the area received during last spring’s league proposals, it’s anybody’s guess as to where they’ll end up.

Get ready, because Damien High School and St. Lucy’s Priory will once again be coming to a league near you.

The two schools won their arbitration hearing against the CIF-Southern Section on Friday and will be headed back to the Mt. SAC Area for playoff grouping rather than being placed in a parochial grouping.

Damien and St. Lucy’s along with Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure took to the legal system last spring after they were placed in the parochial area and put into new leagues for the new re-leaguing cycle that runs 2014-18.

Damien and St. Lucy’s hired the powerful Los Angeles firm of Prada of Daley to argue that the move to the parochial group was religious discrimination by the Southern Section and not based on the usual tenets CIF uses for re-leaguing proposals.

“It’s somewhat ridiculous, in my mind, as to what CIF put these schools through,” said attorney Robert Prada. “From our point of view, the welfare of these students was not their concern. I think this result validates that.”

The Mt. SAC Area had already moved on without Damien and St. Lucy’s and ratified new leagues for the area that would have begun with the 2014-15 school year. Now, the area will go back to the drawing board.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but my understanding was if they sent (Damien and St. Lucy’s) back to us, we would have to start the process all over again,” Walnut High athletic director Jerry Person said. “That’s why we didn’t include them in the first place. This probably sends us back to square one.”

Same can be said for the Catholic Athletic Association, which will have to re-do its league proposals without Damien, Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure in the mix. The CAA will meet to do just that on Mar. 27.

The CIF-Southern Section was set to announce proposals for new playoff groupings on Mar. 16, but that figures to be delayed until the new league groupings are settled.

“We accept the arbitrators ruling and are prepared to move forward,” the Southern Section said in a statement on Friday. “As always, we will depend on the best efforts of our member schools to facilitate the re-leaguing process in the areas affected by today’s decision.”

Damien and St. Lucy’s come as sort of a packaged deal with Damien making up the boys sports half of the equation and St. Lucy’s the girls. The two schools had been longtime members of the Sierra League, but given the makeover received during last spring’s league proposals, it’s anybody’s guess as to where they’ll end up.

Monrovia names Chris Stevens new head coach …

Monrovia High School finally has its man.

Chris Stevens, head coach at Ontario Christian the past six years, was named the Wildcats new varsity football head coach ending a search that lasted a bit longer than most expected for one of the Valley’s premier jobs.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” Stevens said. “It’s just a fantastic opportunity for me and my family to join such a great a community and a great athletic family.

“I was humbled at the fact that they chose me and I’m very excited to continue the winning tradition over there. I told them in the interview that I’m the perfect fit into an already outstanding mold. My job is to go in there and not change anything. My job is to keep everything going in the right direction.

Stevens replaces Ryan Maddox, who resigned earlier this offseason after a wildly successful six-year run that saw the Wildcats win three consecutive CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championships between 2010-12.

Monrovia was bidding for a fourth-consecutive division championship last season when it was upset by Paraclete in the semifinals. Maddox later left, saying he was trying to further a career in administration.

The length of time needed to fill one of the area’s top jobs came to a surprise to many. Rumors circulated that the school wasn’t wowed by the first wave of applicants and reached out to coaches from around the area who they thought would be good candidates. No word on where Stevens fit into that mix.

Stevens was 52-22 at Ontario Christian, including two league championships. His teams were well known for putting up a lot of points on offense. His offensive prowess should come in handy considering the Wildcats have to replace their leading passer and rusher from last season.

Also hanging over the program is a potential move to a tougher division when the CIF-Southern Section release proposals for playoff groupings later this month.

“I embrace it,” Stevens said of a potential division hike. “For the program itself to have already been established and winning as it has been, it’s inevitable. To be honest, I was surprised it’s taken this long. After Coach Maddox won the first one, I thought Monrovia would be up and outta there.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge. We’re ready to accept that challenge, whatever comes our way.”

Stevens said no decisions have been made about his coaching staff. He expects to meet with Maddox in an attempt to retain as many as members of last year’s staff as possible.

Baldwin Park picks former Walnut standout QB Daniel Al-Gattas …

Baldwin Park High School announced Wednesday that it has named Daniel Al Gattas as its new varsity football head coach.

Al Gattas, an assistant coach at Mt. San Antonio College last season, replaces Chris Williams, who left after two seasons at the school with a 7-14 record.

“Since I was last here, this was always a place I wanted to come back to,” said Al Gattas, who served as an assistant coach at Baldwin Park for one season in 2008. “I knew what the players are like and the mentality they had. I felt like if this job ever came open and I was ready, I felt like it was something I very much wanted.”

Local fans may remember Al Gattas from his playing days as a standout quarterback at Walnut. After graduating in 2003, Al Gattas, 29, never strayed far from the area and has spent most of his coaching career at Mt. SAC where last season he was quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator.

Baldwin Park was one of the area’s surprise teams last fall, going from 0-10 in Williams’ first year to 7-4 and nearly upsetting Arroyo in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

“I got a chance to meet with the players Wednesday and I’ve been watching a lot of film and it’s on the upswing,” Al Gattas said of the Braves program. “The kids are working hard everyday and there’s a positive attitude. I think they’re ready to get over the hump and have another great year.”

Baldwin Park had several solid seasons under James Heggins, who was head coach prior to Williams taking over. Heggins and Al Gattas coached together at Mt. SAC. Al Gattas will be an off-campus coach for Baldwin Park as he will keep day job at Mt. SAC.

Baldwin Park has to replace its leading passer and rusher, but the Braves do have a pair of 1,000-yard receivers back in Raymen Barraza and Jaysen Miller.