Nogales football job open …

The Nogales High School varsity football head coach job is now open after it was announced that Bruce Alley will stay in his role as athletic director and not coach football.

Alley took over the football program after former head coach Sebastian Hernandez just prior to the 2013 season.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Is Central Division placement the beginning of the end for the Monrovia Football Factory?

Some of the luster was already off the Monrovia High School football program when the CIF-Southern Section proposed the Wildcats, along with the Rio Hondo League, be moved to the Central Division.

Monrovia had just come off a season in which it was walloped by St. Francis in the area’s biggest nonleague game of the season and later lost in the semifinals of the Mid-Valley Division playoffs despite being prohibitive favorites to win their fourth consecutive division title.

Then came word that head coach Ryan Maddox, who had guided the program to one of the most successful runs in area history, resigned to focus on other career goals. Maddox’s departure led to a longer-than-expected job search that saw some very high-profile local coaches say “thanks but no thanks” to being the next head coach.

In the end, Monrovia landed Chris Stevens, formerly of Ontario Christian, to lead the program into arguably the biggest transition period in school history.

The above mentioned happenings aren’t exactly the perfect set up for a program that’s about to see a boost in playoff competition to steep that it could make them the laughing stock of the Valley.

If those words sound harsh, then I urge you to please understand the following point. It’s one thing to go 4-6 and miss the playoffs. When that happens, people may chuckle and forget all about it a few minutes later. That isn’t what will happen to Monrovia. Quite the opposite, actually.

This fall, Monrovia will likely trample the Rio Hondo League yet again. With any success in the nonleague, the Wildcats figure to have a good enough record to go into the postseason as a top-four seed in the Central Division playoffs.

It’s at that the point the Valley’s vast football fan base will reach a crescendo of doubt as it pertains to the Wildcats’ validity at the Central Division level. The prevailing notion will be that Monrovia is about to get exposed the minute it steps on the field against, say, a top-flight team from Hacienda or Palomares leagues.

Monrovia won’t need to win the Central to stave off embarrassment, but it has to avoid a first-round exit. But is the program really at a level where even that’s possible?

This fall’s Monrovia team will have way more question marks than any of the past five editions. Who’s the quarterback? Who’s the star running back? Those positions were never really in doubt in recent years. But they are now.

There’s still plenty of talent, especially in the outside skill positions, at Monrovia. The Wildcats annually have some of the fastest players around. The Wildcats also have excellent size along both lines, albeit young. But you’re not just going to run by anybody in Charter Oak’s secondary and you’re not just going to simply push around Glendora or West Covina.

Monrovia got by on sheer talent and Maddox’s cool-under-pressure leadership in the Mid-Valley Division. It’s going to take more than talent, though, when the guy across from you in the Central Division is just as fast or big, or both.

And Maddox isn’t around anymore to masterfully handle all the different personalities and strange situations that Monrovia has had in the recent past.

Monrovia is a powerhouse in flux. New coach. New quarterback. New running back. New division. Meanwhile, the Valley is an unforgiving place that’s hard to impress. Same doubts. Same questions. Same skepticism.

Are we witnessing the beginning of the end of a football power?

Or is Monrovia about to make CIF’s tough assignment look easy?

No matter how you answer either question, one thing is for certain — the Wildcats better use the next three months wisely because there’s plenty of cynics lying in wait. Some of them wear helmets and shoulders, and some do not.

DENIED: Rio Hondo League loses appeal to not move to Central Division …

At least the Rio Hondo League tried.

In what seemed like a real long shot move Wednesday morning, the league consisting of Blair, La Canada, Monrovia, San Marino, South Pasadena and Temple City, appealed the CIF-Southern Section’s proposed placement of the league in the Central Division on grounds that it didn’t make sense based on both geography or competitive equity.

The verdict? The nine-member Southern Section Playoff Groupings Appeals Committee voted 7-0-2 to deny the appeal and unless the league wants to try its hand with another appeal at the Southern Section Council level, area fans can expect to see the Rio Hondo League in the Central Division beginning this fall.

“I think it’s pretty tough to get an appeal approved,” Monrovia athletic director Randy Bell said following Wednesday’s decision. “It’s just the nature of the beast. They put a lot of work into figuring out what they’re doing. It’s kind of a two-pronged thing when you make your appeal.

“You have to give your data that you feel makes your appeal valid and you also have to come up with an alternative solution. The complexity of that task is just ridiculous. To come up with a solution that doesn’t knock over a bunch of dominoes and effect a bunch of others schools is really difficult.”

In addition to the Rio Hondo League, the Central Division will consist of the Hacienda, Mt. Baldy, Palomares and Sunkist leagues. Much of the reason why the entire Rio Hondo League got bumped up is because of Monrovia’s domination of the Mid-Valley Division.

The Wildcats won three consecutive Mid-Valley Division championships between 2010-12. And with San Marino having some recent success, the league looked ripe for a boost in playoff competition. Of course, had the league decided to move Monrovia out during the last re-leaguing cycle, all of this might have been avoided.

“If we’re talking hypothetically, if Monrovia was no longer in the Rio Hondo League, I think the Rio Hondo League would still be in the Mid-Valley Division,” Bell said. “But that being said, re-leaguing is a bigger deal especially for the schools and the league as a whole. And I struggle to agree with folks who say football should drive re-leaguing.

“The Rio Hondo League’s attitude is not that Monrovia needs to go. Monrovia has been the dominant team in football, but it’s South Pas in volleyball and San Marino and La Canada in swimming. You have to take everything into account.”

Bell said the Rio Hondo League’s enrollment argument centered around the fact that the Rio Hondo League’s average enrollment is 1,400 students compared to the smallest average of the other four teams in the division being 2,200.

The league also submitted average roster size for the past two years, and the Rio Hondo League average was 41 whereas the other leagues were in the 50s and 60s, according to Bell.

As for competitive equity, the Rio Hondo League argued that its 30-32 overall record against the rest of the Mid-Valley Division over the past four years shows it’s already in the right division. And if one subtracts Monrovia’s success from those numbers, the rest of the league has actually underwhelmed.

The Rio Hondo League’s alternative proposal was to move the Alpha League, now called the Gold Coast League, into the Central Division instead.

“We felt we had a pretty good enrollment and competitive equity argument, but really what CIF is looking at is the competitive equity and the top of the Rio Hondo League for the past several years has been really competitive,” Bell said. “It’s hard to say what our next move will be. I know CIF kinda hopes leagues will give it a couple years and let it play out. And if they need to make a change, they’ll make a change. We completely understand the difficulty of their job as well.”

Kudos to CIF for outstanding job on football playoff grouping proposals …

Here’s something you don’t say very often: CIF hit it out of the park.

It’s been a few days since the CIF-Southern Section office made public its playoff grouping proposals for football. And in what may come as a shock to many, they nailed it.

By now, everybody has had a chance to pour over the proposed divisions which will go into effect this fall. Try as you might, it’s hard to come up with any disagreements.

First, let’s start with the local landscape. The big question going into this cycle of grouping proposals was where would CIF place the newly formed Palomares League? In what amounts to a dream situation for local fans, the Palomares will be in the Central Division along with the Hacienda League, Rio Hondo League, Sunkist League and Mt. Baldy League.

This proposal means get ready for potential postseason matchups like Los Altos vs. South Hills … or West Covina vs. Glendora … or Charter Oak vs. Monrovia. About Monrovia. That brings us to the only bit of controversy that’s come from the proposals.

The Rio Hondo League is set to appeal its placement in the Central Division. Why? Because at its core the rest of the league knows it’s nowhere near capable of playing against the rest of the teams in the proposed Central Division.

To the Rio Hondo League, I say tough toenails. You had the chance to do something about your Monrovia problem last year. The Wildcats tower over the league in football and were good enough in several other sports to have withstood a move to a different league, like, say, the Pacific League.

Instead, the Rio Hondo League, which is a broken league on so many levels thanks to Monrovia’s football dominance and Blair’s inability to have a stable athletics program, chose to leave things the same.

By way of the Rio Hondo League’s inaction last year when re-leaguing was done, the powers that be left the entire league vulnerable to exactly what happened — everybody getting bumped up on account of one team.

The Southeast Division got an unexpected twist when CIF proposed to move the Mission League in and significantly boost the championship chances of teams like St. Francis and Cathedral. But more than just improving the chances of already established football programs, being in the Southeast Division also gives other Mission League teams like St. Paul a chance regroup and start working its way back to prominence.

It won’t be easy for the Mission League, though. The Suburban League, with La Mirada and Norwalk, is no pushover. The Del Rio League has a burgeoning powerhouse in La Serna. The San Gabriel Valley League is chalk full of teams that have plenty of talent at their disposal. And then there’s the Pacific League where Muir is on its way back and Burbank figures to a tough out again this fall.

On the surface, it appears that San Dimas is about to become the next version of Monrovia — a well-oiled program that really has only one or two legitimate threats to its chances of winning multiple CIF championships.

The Saints figure to be annual favorites in the new-look Mid-Valley Division, and that’s a good thing. San Dimas showed last year in its winless nonleague that it’s not ready to hang in something like the Central Division. But the Saints are not infallible either. See 2011’s semifinals loss to San Gabriel.

More than giving San Dimas an opportunity to take the next step as an area power, the new-look Mid-Valley Division, by getting Monrovia out of the picture, opens the door for true neighborhood football programs like Arroyo or Rosemead or Montebello to enjoy a prolonged postseason run more often.

CIF is under no obligation to make things perfect for a particular area in terms of potential local matchups that will drum up interest from fans and lead to big crowds. Of course, doing so only helps their bottom line.

The main goal should be to create divisions where you don’t already know the winner in August and just about every team that finishes in the top three in its league feels as though it has a realistic chance at a deep run.

That’s exactly what has happened here and for it this sportswriter is prepared to give CIF the rare pat on the back.