CIF-SS Council deals blow to several Southland football powers, but that’s good news for Cathedral and St. Francis

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OFFICIAL: Catholic League
Bishop Amat, Serra, Loyola, Notre Dame, Alemany, Chaminade and Crespi
OFFICIAL: Mission League
St. Paul, St. Francis, Cathedral, Salesian, Harvard-Westlake and La Salle

LONG BEACH — The Catholic Athletic Association left the fate of two of its most important leagues in the hands of the CIF-Southern Section and when all the votes were in, several representatives from some of the Southland’s top football powers were disappointed.

The CAA saw its football-only league proposals voted in at Wednesday’s council meeting, then successfully appealed by Cathedral High School, which left one of the major goals of the association unmet. That goal was to create two, four-team leagues that will likely compete in the Pac-5 Division.

Instead, the council voted in Cathedral’s proposal that the two, four-team leagues be turned into one, seven-team league that did not include Cathedral, as originally planned. In the process, the council nixed the CAA’s major objective of securing two, four-team leagues so that it would get four guaranteed playoff spots. With a seven-team league, only three playoff spots will be guaranteed.

“The CAA voted and the final two proposals were 24-0 to have two, four-team leagues,” Chaminade athletic director Todd Borowski said. “We knew there was nothing else we could (today). There was no other appeals and you just have to go with what the council votes.

“We had our say, but apparently it wasn’t good enough. This is a great learning thing for us.”

The big winner in all of it was Cathedral, which avoided being placed in one of the two powerful four-team leagues. Another winner was St. Francis, which faced the prospect of replacing Cathedral in one of the leagues if Cathedral had argued that the Knights were a better fit.

Cathedral’s argument, though, was based on competitive equity and principal Brother John Montgomery made a compelling case that his school did not belong at the Pac-5 level. The final vote tally for Cathedral’s appeal and subsequent plan was 46 (for), 16 (against) and 12 abstentions.

“It’s hard because I feel for those guys because I know they didn’t want a seven-team league because that’s a gauntlet to go through,” St. Francis football coach Jim Bonds said. “I do think the council made the right decision today. It was in their hands and we would have had to live with whatever that decision was regardless.”

The new seven-team Catholic League, which is likely to be placed in the Pac-5 Division next month when playoff groupings are announced, consists of Alemany, Bishop Amat, Chaminade, Crespi, Loyola, Notre Dame and Serra.

The Mission League will now be Cathedral, St. Francis, Salesian, St. Paul, La Salle and Harvard-Westlake. The league configurations will start next school year and last four years.

The CAA had been to the drawing board several times trying and the one overriding theme was the desire to have two, four-team leagues. Where the CAA met trouble was in finding a suitable eighth team to round out the two-league formation.

At first, it was Salesian. But Salesian appealed and won, causing the CAA to put forth another proposal that replaced Salesian with Cathedral, which immediately said it would appeal that idea at Wednesday’s meeting.

“The council made their vote and the council does have the ability to move schools and/or leagues,” CIF-Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said following the meeting. “And they did. They made the move to let Cathedral go to the Mission League.

“It’s always the responsibilities of the leagues and the areas to form these leaguing configurations. If they do them and everyone is happy, we’re not here. But as you saw today, there was a school (Cathedral) who felt they were placed in appropriately.”

In other business, the council voted to support a motion that would limit the amount of practice time teams can have in a week to 18 hours in six days and no more than four hours in one day. The new rule will directly football teams who spend long days on the practice field during “hell week” in the form of two-a-day practices.

“This is a state-wide proposal and it’s been looked at by the CIF-State health advisory committee and sports medicine committee,” Wigod said. “A lot of people have said we have do something to limit the time that kids are involved in sports. It’s a health and safety issue.”

The measure will need to pass at the State Federated Council meeting to get enacted.

One motion that was overwhelmingly shot down was a measure that would have allowed athletes to play both club and high school sports at the same time while that sport is in season.

St. Francis might be movin’ on up if it’s left to the CIF-Southern Section council …

There’s a vibe out there among those who closely follow the Catholic Athletic Association’s high school football re-leaguing process that one more twist or turn is coming.

It’s the same vibe that one might get while watching a cinematic thriller that fools you into thinking the ending is obvious before one final act shatters all preconceived notions and leaves the audience with its mouth open.

In theory, the final act to this saga should have already been played out when the CAA met on Tuesday and in a close vote put forth its latest and final proposal for league alignments that would span the next four years.

On April 30, the CIF-Southern Section council will meet to ratify the new leagues and move forward in the process of cementing things so that the next order of business — the new playoff groupings proposals — can take place in May.

One problem, though. Cathedral High School is going to appeal the CAA’s league proposal. Big deal, you say. Appeals rarely win, right? And how can one win an appeal on the very deadline day that everything needs to be finalized?

Well, this is where the aforementioned final twist will take place. In the eyes of this reporter, Cathedral stands a very good chance to win its appeal and if I were St. Francis, I would be getting my argument against joining the Pac-5 Division ready because you’re likely to need it.

At issue is Cathedral’s placement in what’s being called the Catholic South League along with Bishop Amat, Loyola and Serra. The Phantoms don’t feel they belong at the Pac-5 level. It’s the same argument Salesian recently made in its successful appeal, which led to this latest proposal.

Basically, the CAA’s solution was to swap Salesian for Cathedral. That’s not going to work either. At least it shouldn’t. No matter how one feels about how Cathedral and Salesian do business, it’s hard to make an argument that either is more Pac-5 ready than St. Francis.

How St. Francis has avoided being fingered as the team that should be moving up to fill the final spot in the Catholic South League is a total mystery. Personally, I don’t think that any of the trio of Cathedral, Salesian and St. Francis belong in the Pac-5. But if somebody’s gotta do it, the numbers don’t lie and it should be St. Francis.

The Knights are 3-1 against Cathedral over the past four years and the lone loss was by two points. The Knights have finished above Cathedral in the Mission League in three of the past four years.

Some will argue that Cathedral, with its penchant for attracting transfers and supposed craftiness in helping with the financial burden of attending a private school, is better equipped to handle the leap than St. Francis, which is expensive, doesn’t offer much in terms of aid and rarely gets transfers.

While there may be a lot of truth to that, the problem for St. Francis is that it will get laughed off the stage if it tries to use that argument before the council. The main thing that will be considered is competitive equity and Cathedral has a heck of a case if it goes that route and suggests St. Francis be the program to round out the Catholic South.

What high school football fans are witnessing here is actually a microcosm of one of the major plagues of the CAA. So many of the schools in the group frown upon the others for the way they do business.

While some athletic programs abstain from playing the recruiting/athletic scholarship game and ultimately pay the price in terms of wins and losses, others are consistently accused of recruiting or luring top talent, some of which is in the form of transfers. Those schools are the ones winning championships. Ain’t that right, St. John Bosco?

It’s quite the contradiction. Behind closed doors and under their breath, certain CAA schools often entertain the idea and bounce around the concept of starting their own entity separate from CIF. We’ve all heard it at some point.

But how can that happen if nobody can seem to agree on the proper way to do business? How can that happen if you base league placements on which schools play the recruiting game better? How can that happen if there’s contradiction all over the place?

From Damien and St. Bonaventure’s arbitration hearing win and subsequent exclusion from the parochial area to Cathedral and Salesian claiming they can’t be in the same league as each other to now St. Francis being shielded from being the obvious team to round out a league, it’s been a fiasco of a year for the Catholic parochial schools.

One of several things can happen at the council meeting on April 30. Cathedral could lose its appeal and further drama will be avoided. But if the Phantoms win, then there’s a live chance that the council will decide the fate of the CAA leagues.

It’s never good to leave your fate in somebody else’s hands. It’s never a good feeling to let somebody do your thinking for you. But that’s exactly what might happen and probably should at this point.

This council meeting is supposed to be for the simple process of ratifying league proposals that are well thought out and not contradictory. Instead, you can bet there will be fireworks and probably one final twist.

Muir WR/DB Taeon Mason offered by Notre Dame …

taeon

Muir wide receiver/defensive back can add Notre Dame to his growing list of suitors.

The Fighting Irish offered the senior-to-be on Tuesday. Mason is reportedly already at USC commit, but is open to all offers. UCLA and Oregon have also shown interest, if not offers.

Although Mason plays both ways for the Mustangs, he projects as a cornerback in college and is one of the top recruits in the country at that position.

Mason was a Star-News All-Area selection last season.

Aram’s Take: If you’re handicapping where Mason goes, you have to think USC will be it. The whole Kevon Seymour (former Muir player now starting DB) connection is going to be tough to overcome. Also, be very afraid of Muir this season … if the Mustangs find a QB.

Brigham Harwell’s Trench Hogs ready to unleash on the Valley this season …

The high school football offseason has plenty going on to show fans just how good their team will be at the skill positions. But what about the linemen?

You don’t see the big guys, err trench hogs, at out passing tournaments unless they’re watching in the stands. No, they’re typically hidden away in smelly weight rooms trying to lay the foundation for success.

That is until former Los Altos standout Brigham Harwell started Trench Hogs, a weekly workout designed to help offensive and defensive linemen get the extra polish that’s usually reserved for skill position players.

“You’re only as good as your lines,” said Harwell, who was the Tribune Player of the Year in 2003 and later played at UCLA. “That’s why I wanted to do Trench Hogs. You only go as far as your linemen.

“I wish their coaches would see see the kind of work they’re doing. The coaches aren’t seeing it, but they’ll see it in camp, because by August these guys are going to be top-notch players.”

Harwell, now an assistant coach at Cantwell Sacred Heart in Montebello, holds the workouts on weekend mornings at Cantwell. Saturdays are for skills work while Sundays are for weight room. There are 15-20 participants on a given weekend.

“It’s amazing to see guys wake up every weekend and be here,” Harwell said. “I went hard during the week in high school, but I would never workout during the weekends. These guys are a different breed. They don’t go on vacation. Football is their lives.”

Harwell is set to unleash his proteges on the local scene this fall, headlined by Bishop Amat’s Ryan Munoz and Andrew Vasquez, and Los Altos’ David Jimenez.

Jimenez is already known a quantity. He was a force last season as a junior and figures to be one of the top defensive linemen in the area this fall. Listed at 6-foot, 255 pounds, Jimenez had 65 tackles last season, including 11 tackles for loss.

“Jimenez is just a strong guy, a lot of power,” Harwell said. “He’s going to be a senior and knows that this is his year.”

Munoz and Vasquez saw limited playing time for Amat last year but figure to be counted on heavily in their junior season. Both players could quickly develop into stars for the Lancers, according to Harwell.

“This year would be their year to make their nose in the Valley,” Harwell said. “They know all the tricks.

“Andrew has technique and is really fast and explosive. Ryan is just all around a good defensive tackle. He has it all.”

Is Monrovia about to become a Wing-T offense?

An ad posted on the CIF by Monrovia football seeking an offensive line coach with knowledge of the Wing-T offense created some grumblings among area football pundits that the Wildcats were going to run the archaic offense under new head coach Chris Stevens.

Stevens put those fears to rest on Friday, explaining that while their will be some elements of the Wing-T in his offense, the Wildcats will be a hybrid that works the ball to their play makers in a myriad of ways.

“We are running the Wing in the run part of it,” Stevens said of his offense. “We are going to have a little bit of the Wing-T run scheme up front. We’re going to block down, pull and kick.

“I’m a hybrid guy. I don’t just sit in one formation and run the ball 80 percent and throw the ball 20 percent. It’s a balanced attack. I’ve incorporated the Wing-T run game with the spread passing game.”

The clarification has to be good news for the strength of Monrovia’s returning nucleus — the wide receivers. The Wildcats have a scary collection of talent on the outside led by Octavius Spencer, James Jackson and Kahlil Bradley.

The bad news for Monrovia’s opponents is that Stevens has designs on not only getting his talented wide outs the ball down the field, but also on jet sweeps.

“They are the group that we return the most experience,” Stevens said of his receivers. “We’re going to get the ball in their hands and make them be the play makers that they are.”

Monrovia begins spring practice on May 5.

Bogan hiring the latest sign that Maranatha is on the verge of becoming a powerhouse …

maranat

Pasadena is there for the taking. I know it. You know it. Maranatha High School knows it. And more importantly, the school is doing something about it.

Pasadena is well known as an athletics hotbed. It’s also no secret that its public school system, especially in terms of athletics, is a bit of a wreck. Coaches are woefully underpaid and the amount of turnover is staggering in terms of coaches and athletes is staggering.

Who better to take advantage of this than Maranatha?

And why not? There’s currently a pipeline of Pasadena football talent extending to the San Fernando Valley and beyond where schools like Alemany, Crespi and Oaks Christian are being bankrolled by our local talent.

What if those kids looking for an alternative to Pasadena public schools decided to stay close to home and pursue their athletic dreams locally? Maranatha, with its growing list of top-notch coaches, is doing whatever it can to make itself look like the top option.

It simply can’t be on accident that in the last year Maranatha has hired Mr. Basketball in Pasadena, Tim Tucker, to head its boys hoops program. And now four-time CIF champion Steve Bogan has been brought in to coach the football team.

It doesn’t stop there. In the girls basketball program, there’s a marquee name on the coaching staff like Tye’sha Fluker, who starred at Muir before attending Tennessee and playing with four teams in the WNBA. Think she can teach the younger generation a thing or two?

The baseball program has former Temple City standout pitcher Ryan Tucker, who had a brief career recently in Major League Baseball with the Florida Marlins and Texas Rangers, on staff as pitching coach.

Again, none of these things are happening on accident. The collection of coaches being assembled on campus at Maranatha isn’t by mistake. It’s almost as if Maranatha has realized what so many schools fail to understand — the best way to build a thriving high school is through athletics. Especially for a private school.

And the best way to build a great athletics program is to first start by hiring the best coaches around. Many of Maranatha’s athletic programs are already successful. The football team won a league championship last fall. The boys basketball came close to tying powerful Village Christian for the league title. The girls basketball team won league. The baseball team is currently tied for first.

Simply winning league championships won’t be enough. Bogan will be expected to do that and then follow it with postseason success. It won’t be easy because building a football program is the longest job a coach can have. But Bogan is starting with a good foundation and should some of that Pasadena talent come trickling in, things may get real good, real fast.

Tucker is already well on his way. Maranatha had several transfers into the program last year and there figures to be another good haul this season. The girls basketball team just saw standout Channon Fluker, formerly of Muir, earn Star-News Player of the Year honors.

The ball is already rolling at Maranatha. The city is there for the taking. The coaches are in place to take it both in terms of getting talent in and knowing what to do with it when they’ve got it.

We will never know what goes on behind closed doors at Maranatha, but we don’t need to hear the conversation when the actions are right under our noses. Maranatha is making its move. It’s bidding to become a Pasadena sports powerhouse. And if you’re good here, you’re good anywhere.

In a city where so many other schools are content to sit back and let it happen, who’s really going to bet against the Minutemen?

Bishop Amat’s Tre Sidney and Tyler Vaughns, and St. Francis’ Dylan Crawford pick up offers from USC …

tresid
Tre Sidney (right) doing what he does.

It was quite a weekend for the Bishop Amat WR/DB tandem of Tre Sidney and Tyler Vaughns, and St. Francis WR Dylan Crawford. All three juniors-to-be picked up offers from USC.

Sidney was the Tribune’s Newcomer of the Year last season after intercepting eight passes. Vaughns had 395 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

Crawford was St. Francis’ leading receiver with 993 yards and 10 touchdowns.

dcraw
St. Francis’ Dylan Crawford doing his thing vs. Monrovia.

Charter Oak Spring Showcase passing tournament field set … May 17 at Charter Oak HS

Fans who can’t wait until fall to get their football fix will appreciate that Charter Oak is hosting one of the earlier passing tournaments of the offseason just over a month from now.

The Charter Oak Spring Showcase is set for May 17 and field of 24 teams is entered led by several top local programs. The tournament will be a one-day event with the champion not expected to be crowned until early evening after a day’s worth of competition.

The field is: Charter Oak, Bishop Amat, Arroyo, Rosemead, Diamond Ranch, El Rancho, La Habra, Duarte, La Salle, Bonita, Etiwanda, La Puente, San Jacinto, Paloma Valley, Westlake, Saugus, West Ranch, Sonora, Eastside, Upland, Sierra Canyon, Calabassas, Hart and Redlands East Valley.

Bogan’s Back! Former South Hills coach takes over at Maranatha

bogans
Steve Bogan, who won four CIF championships during a highly successful 20-year run at South Hills High School, was named the new varsity football head coach at Maranatha on Thursday.

Bogan replaces Jude Oliva, who stepped down last month after one season.

“Maranatha is a destination job for me,” said Bogan, who had shown interest in the Maranatha job two years ago when it was previously open. “When I believe that the lord is opening a door, and the time is right, I enter where I’m called.

“I feel that the environment on campus, the commitment to excellence and Maranatha’s focus on Christ aligns with how and I where I want to end my career.”

Bogan resigned from South Hills following the 2011 season. The move ended a wildly successful run that included four CIF championships, 13 league championships and a 32-12 record in the playoffs. He recently returned to coaching at South Hills, but at the freshman level.

Maranatha went 8-3 and won the Olympic League last season under Oliva. The school has been very aggressive in its push to build a top-flight athletics program. Last year, Maranatha hired Pasadena coaching legend Tim Tucker to head its boys basketball program.

Bogan inherits a program that looks ready to build on last year’s success. The Minutemen return one of the top players in the area in running back Caleb Devine. Also back is 3,000-yard passer Eli Snyder at quarterback.

Aram’s Take: Absolute coup by Maranatha. Bogan’s track record is just about unparalleled around these parts and he should be the long-term fit that Maranatha’s been needing to take things to the next level and beyond. Maranatha hasn’t publicly said so, but it’s clear they are trying to build the school through sports and having coaches like Bogan and Tucker around is proof of that. Could become quite the scary place considering how much Pasadena talent prefers to leave town and head to private schools … why go too far?

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Kurt Scoby makes it official with Fresno St. …

scooby

Monrovia High School running back Kurt Scoby made good on his promise to get his academics in order and signed with Fresno St. on Tuesday afternoon.

Scoby, one of the top running back recruits on the West Coast, originally chose Fresno St. in fall but was unable to sign in February due to some unmet academic requirements. Fresno St. reserved Scoby’s scholarship in hopes of him qualifying and that’s exactly what he did.

“It was either do or die for me and I’m not going to die,” Scoby said. “That’s one thing I’m not going to do. I’m going to be successful and I have something to prove.

“My reaction is thanking God and proving people wrong. I’ve dealt with adversity for a while and I wanted prove people wrong and do what people said I couldn’t really do.”

Nobody’s ever doubted Scoby’s football talents, but many area fans were skeptical that he could reach the next level after bouncing around several schools since spending his first two prep seasons at Charter Oak.

Scoby left Charter Oak for Duarte in 2012 following a stellar sophomore season that saw him rush for over 1,500 yards and 21 touchdowns. Scoby never played a down at Duarte and eventually wound up at St. Paul where he played half of his junior season.

Scoby left St. Paul and briefly enrolled at Cathedral and Alemany before finally winding up at Monrovia. It was a decision he said helped him get his academics straightened out while still being able to shine on the field.

“It was just teaching myself how to be a student all over again,” Scoby said. “I know I could ball out, but it was just my time to show people that I could really ball out in the classroom and show people I’m not just a meat head and I can do my thing in the classroom as well as the football field.

“Being at Monrovia, I was back home and people really didn’t care about the athlete I was. They wanted me to be successful. They taught me how to be a student and it came out good.”

Scoby rushed for 2,206 yards and 35 touchdowns for the Wildcats last fall. He’s hoping to compete for a starting job at Fresno St. this season and said the Bulldogs’ non-conference schedule, which includes games against USC and Nebraska was a major draw for him.