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.

  • reality

    Why are there no appeals when a team is put in a lower division or league? I mean never, not one, zippo, nada!!! Are administrators teaching our kids to settle rather than strive. It’s the everybody gets a trophy way of thinking. Monrovia should be happy rather than appealing.

    • AramT

      There are appeals. Monrovia and the RHL had theirs yesterday and got denied. VERY HARD to win an appeal.

      • Jastrab

        Aram, I think reality was saying revolves around admin ever saying this league/division is not competitive enough given our demographics, sports history, coaching staff and overall capability. It is a good point!

        • reality

          Yup. Flew right over his head.

          • AramT

            Yep, flew right over my head. I get it now … Not 100 pct sure, but I believe it actually did happen last cycle when Los Alamitos and the Sunset League appealed being moved out of the Pac-5 and as I recall Glenn Martinez argued they were getting relief because they couldn’t hang …. he cited the league’s poor postseason in the Pac-5 playoffs as proof.

      • 4peat

        Monrovia..School AD Wanted The appeal.Not The boys..they are getting ready to play anybody!!

  • Don

    Monrovia has ramped up the non league play over the last three years and will do OK in Football, at least for a round, maybe two. Problem is they will be a lot like C O last time they were moved up; going from competitive in a few sports and always in the fall ring run to second round fall fails and barely being relevant in anything else. Losing in the second round never sat well with the Charger faithful and it’ll go over like a turd in the punchbowl in Wildcatland

    To coin a phrase.

    • AramT

      But Don, the difference is when Charter Oak was losing in the second round it was to Rancho or Upland or Vista Murrieta. If Monrovia loses in the second round it will likely be to West Covina or Glendora or D-Ranch. Point being that CO was losing to teams with far greater advantages and not as much in common than what Monrovia will be losing to (if they lose).

      Another difference is that CO was operating in some of those years with arguably the best teams in school history. Monrovia, at least I don’t think, will have its best teams in school history coming up.

      • Not even

        Aram, DRanch has absolute no chance in h*ll of making the playoffs either this year or next year. The cupboard over there is bare. CO, LA, WC will dominate that league for the next 4 years. Only way DRanch has a chance to see the playoffs will be as the wildcard.

      • Don

        Aram,

        Point taken but I think the differential in school sizes and talent spread remains similar.

        Vista Murrietta is about 70% bigger than Charter Oak, Upland is almost twice as big. WesCo is about 2/3 bigger than Monrovia and Glendora about half again their size.

        For my money, the best C O teams were the Allen, Smith, Rufus,Muema, Powell, Williams, Dallen, Youngblood, (and on and on) teams that tore up the old Miramonte. The past couple of Monrovia squads have dominated their league and Division in a similar fashion.

        My other contention is that the Rio Hondo won’t win much else in the Central. Kommie kickball, baseball, girls sports, all going to be one and done. If it’s any consolation, I think pretty much the same thing will happen to most of the Sunkist and Mt Baldy.

        • 626

          Don, the RHL is only in the Central for football. All other sports are in different divisions. What happened to to CO was that they were placed in a league, the Sierra, which placed all their sports in tougher playoff divisions because the other schools in the league are heavily populated. The same will not happen to the other team sports in the RHL.

        • AramT

          I’m gonna respectfully disagree. I think CO’s 2011 and 2012 teams beat the Muema, Allen, Power, Smith teams … and they do it rather handily. ’11 team with Santiago at QB was the best one of the best offenses, if not the best, I’ve covered and the ’12 team with Hauser eligible is one of the best defenses, if not the best, I’ve covered.

          • Don

            626,

            Thanks for the heads up on the football only, my bad in missing that but it does make the addition of the Rio Hondo to the Central a bit less painful. For us, anyhow. The guys from San Marino who’ll get stuck with the likes of South Hills or Colony or Charter Oak in the first round will just have to grin and bear it.

            And Aram, no problemo with the disagreement on C O’s best team. As great as the Santiago Chargers were, (and I have enjoyed many a C O game with Greg and Millie and the crew), I still think the previous iteration was better, deeper, and the D was, season long . . . yep, better. But hey, without these discussions, what else would we have in the offseason? ;)

  • voizofreason

    Monrovia administration is solely to blame for hiring a coach from a small school to handle all this. I don’t believe that more than TWO coaches “passed” on this job. Aram makes it sound like TEN coaches passed on this job. That being said I gotta believe their were coaches interested who had more experience with more competitive divisions and larger squads that faced stronger competition than some of those “squads” in Division 12 where this guy is from.

    • New York

      Pete Carrol wasn’t available.

    • Derryl Trujillo

      Give the guy a shot.Just because he comes from the small school level doesn’t mean he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

  • Valley Athletics

    Any news on who is going to be at the Claremont passing tournament on Saturday ? I know Amat is .

  • RR

    Coach Stevens is a great football coach and even better person. His dad has more coaching experience than anyone around. The Wildcats are in good shape.

  • New York

    Aram you answered your own question (from a cynics stand point.) NO, getting put into the Central did not begin the demise. That already started last fall with the Saint Francis blowout and the flop at Paraclete, followed by Maddox’s departure. THEN came the tougher division, much tougher than the Southeast Division the past four years (Charter Oak, Glendora, South Hills, Kaiser, etc).

    However, an opportunistic and optimistic fan such as me would highlight that Monrovia is now in the same division as all the ESGV public powers. Therefore, no ESGV program can tell the Duarte Hawk players that Monrovia is in a lower division. SO, combine Monrovia’s new “upper division” with our fantastic facilities, deep family ties for many talented footballers, and I say we are prime to take things to the next level.

    The only “unknown” is what type of hard-nosed football Coach Stevens will foster. As much as I grew to truly respect Coach Maddox and what he did for us, I was always bothered seeing our teams get out-hit by most teams, especially South Hills. I just could not understand the lack of emotion and desire on the football field. I’ve been away from the game too long to know if that was unique to Maddox’ style or if that is just the way kids are these days. The only time I ever saw a really hungry team was the game we lost to Madison of San Diego. Maddox and the boys had a great night, but just fell asleep on a kickoff. That Madison team was very talented with size and speed.

    Getting bumped up in class is one of the best things that could happen to Monrovia football. The worst thing was getting left in the Rio Hondo League. At least San Marino does things the right way. They just don’t have enough horses.
    My hope is that Monrovia is able to stay in this division forever and at the same time get out of the Rio Hondo League. Without ten legitimate weeks of football, it is impossible to push a team to reach its full potential.

    • Valley Athletics

      I don’t think the central will be much tougher than the south east . The last couple years it’s has been La Serna , Norwalk .and Santa Fe in finals . Westco , diamond Ranch and diamond did not get very far . Muir and Burbank did did better than the hacienda league teams . You add saint francis , cathedral and Harvard westlake and a talented newbie Salesian . Those teams are just as good as charter oak , Glendora And south hills .

      • New York

        That’s fair, but I stand by my opinion that the Southeast is NOT the third toughest conference, or the equivalent of Division 3.

  • New York

    If La Serna was able to build a program, then surely Monrovia can, especially now that the local Duarte Hawks don’t need to go to the ESGV schools in order to play in an upper division. Stay local and play in the same division! The right head coach will staff with the right assistant coaches and our program can be better than ever.

    • AramT

      La Serna does a great job luring talent from as far away as Hacienda Heights. M-Town needs to get really aggressive to be on that level.

      • The truth and nothing but…

        I even read a post on another site where a Monrovia blogger was comparing themselves to Concord De LaSalle. LMAO!

        • lol

          They do both wear green.

          • The truth and nothing but…

            Yes they do. LOL!

          • New York

            Forest Green vs. Kelly Green.

        • observantcat

          No one is comparing anyone to De LaSalle, Your comment was Monrovia can’t compete with the size of the Central div. Line and you called spoke out on one of our players in his defense I mentioned De LaSalle with their more stout players playing on the defense along with the speed and athleticism which I will take all day long when it comes to defense. So now that you have your facts straight you can relax because having 300 lbs defensive lineman is a waste of time because they are not fit enough on the high school level to play at a pace that a more fit Linebacker or DL player weighing in the 230-250 range play at. Monrovia played Paramount a few years back and their Line out weighed us by at least 60-70 lbs per position and you saw the results. The De LaSalle comparison was the same as the lame brains who thought that Long Beach Poly would just waltz into the stadium and do pancake block and win.. Didn’t happen. De LaSalle’s Line averaged the exact same size as Monrovia’s DL this year.

          • sir lancelot

            Hahahaha do not compare De LaSalle to poor lil Monrovia. If that’s the case I would look at Amats D-line, small but quick, fast, and technique. I don’t care if there is a 300 lb 6’5 guy in front of you. If you fit all the top requirements then you won the battle

          • observantcat

            We would be a better comparison than Amat. You may have 100 guys line up and say that play but you don’t get quite the same Athletes as the Cats. So rethink your response because all you’re trying to do is to wish that Your team could be have half the talent that we posses with the numbers that we have.

          • sir lancelot

            So are you saying Monrovia can beat Amat??

          • observantcat

            I’m not saying that Monrovia can beat Amat, Nor did I predict that Crescenta Valley would beat Amat in a passing league tournament. You just come off as one of those guys who think Amat can beat anyone at any time but my friend, let the games be played. Grab ahold of a title of some sort and be happy.

  • Mean Joe Green

    What most outsiders never heard about Monrovia last year were the whispers coming from fans that we were in trouble. No one with intimate knowledge of the team thought that Monrovia was a powerhouse last year. All the rumblings that I heard was that Monrovia was in a rebuilding stage with the likes of Scoby and Potts. So although Scoby and Potts received significant and well deserved coverage last year for their individual stats, most M-Town fans that I spoke to never thought that it was enough to go all the way. We were exposed when St. Fran put 9 in the box and dared us to throw the ball. Paraclete followed the same format and exposed us. We rode the Scoby horse all the way into the playoffs, praying that no one would ever force our QB with an injured collarbone to throw. Anyone who watched the Paraclete game and saw Scoby being carried off the field at halftime would have seen the affects and consequences of riding one kid all season long. If we were in the central division last year, the holes in our team would have been exposed in the first round. The RHL and Mid-Valley helped us mask a glaring hole in our team and pushed us into later rounds. This year, we are more balanced on both sides of the ball. No we do not have a headliner like Scoby this season, but we have a balanced attack that I dare say is better. Last year everyone knew how to beat us. Unfortunately, no one had the horses to do it. This year it won’t be so easy, because no one including you Aram have any idea what to expect from M-Town.

    • observantcat

      Great analysis MJG, I too agree that we will be much more balanced as a team on offense, last year we should have let our ends take a hand off every once in a while to spread the field. No one could have stopped Gillespie once he turned the corner, but instead we chose to just keep feeding our featured back over and over again. This season Kameron Johnson should be able to shake through most defenses if we use our speed on the corners equally. Every man on the field will have to be accounted for our speed is going to much more dangerous this season.

      • Mean Joe Green

        Observant, you are so right. How does a kid who has lightning speed and has the second fastest time in the state for the 200m, not get the ball? Cravon carried the ball 4 times compared to Scoby’s 164. He also had only 14 catches (7 of which he converted into touchdowns).

        • AramT

          Mean Joe,

          I think I have a pretty good idea of what to expect. If you’re telling me you’ll be better off at RB without Scoby, then I will instruct you to take your green glasses off. QB? Maybe you’ll have a better passer, but Potts was a excellent athlete. The only wildcard I can see here is Stevens’ offense. It can be very good and very confusing and make defenses account for a lot of things. But I’d also imagine it will take plenty of time to get used it.

          • Mean Joe Green

            I am not saying we are better at those positions. I am saying that our attack will be more balanced. Thus more unpredictable and harder to scheme against. Last year, our opponents had one job, STOP SCOBY. The RHL could not do it, but because he is human, it was only a matter of time before the wear and tear became noticeable. Last year we were one dimensional and paid the price.

          • observantcat

            Aram, Monrovia was much more fluid with Bias at the running back position and a balanced attack in 2011. This was a kid who only carried the ball 10 times in 2010 and scored only 1 TD. In the finals against San Gabriel he had close to 300 yards rushing and 4 TD’s. Johnson is going to be a Jr. and has rushed for over 600 yards and scored 9 rushing TD’s and with his cast he should be well on his way to a 1500 plus season and the other skill guys won’t be to far behind. The passing game is going to make all the difference.

          • Mean Joe Green

            Observant, I can’t imagine his numbers going down. He did all that as a back up with no passing game. It will be hard to stop him when you can no longer crowd the box because of the threats on the edges. I am excited this year.

        • Valley Athletics

          So maybe Maddox wasn’t a good coach after all . If he had all this talent and did not use it to full potential , I put that on the coach . What i do hear is Stevens is a good coach . So maybe this is an upgrade and good for Monrovia he is also a quarterback and skills coach for chris Rix championship training . So that is a plus for your Qbs and skill players .

    • 4peat

      maddox is a good coach!! but ..from what ive heard ,in that game..he didnt wanna listen to his staff..when they told him to make changes in that game..thats why we lost

  • The truth and nothing but…

    Maddox is no dummy!

  • GreenCat

    Aram, we may have lost the potential of very good QB in Bryant, but a very good friend of mine who lives in Texas just told me that a highly recruited D1 QB prospect from Texas is going to be moving to Cali in July and transferring into Monrovia. From what I’m being told he is a 6’3″ duel threat Jr. with a big league arm and has already been listed as a 3 star with a ton of upside. Get ready Central Division because here we come.

    • CatAlum

      I heard the exact same thing from a couple different sources, but I was told it was on the hush hush. i guess the cat is out of the bag now. I can’t wait to get a look at this kid.

  • New York

    Is it too early to name Charter Oak or Glendora as the Central Division Champion? Big Lou for Central Division Coach of the Year? Maybe it will be Lewallen? Either way it seems to be a forgone conclusion….

    • Mean Joe Green

      New York I believe it is waaaaay too early to include Glendora in the discussion. They barely beat two teams that we beat. Glendora struggled against South Hills and Ayala, and we beat them both with a balanced attack. Scoby only had one touchdown in each of those games. I am not saying that we will be in the championship, but I am saying that if its between us and Glendora, then my money is on the Green Machine.

      • New York

        You might be right about Glendora, but they typically have a strong offensive line and that can really carry a team or at least keep them in games with ball control.

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