RIO HONDO POWER! It’s not just about Monrovia and San Marino (right now) …

You know things are going well in the RHL when Blair is 3-2.

By Aram Tolegian
Maybe the Central Division wasn’t such a bad placement for the Rio Hondo League, after all.

After almost half a season, it’s obvious that not just perennial power Monrovia and consistent winner San Marino are carrying the day for the Rio Hondo. The rest of the league has come to play ball, too.

A quick check of the league standings finds that the there’s no team with a losing record and everybody but Temple City (2-2) has a winning record. Heck, even Blair is 3-2!

“I see it as a real tough dogfight.” said first-year La Canada head coach Ramsey Lambert, whose Spartans are one of the big surprises at 4-1. “It comes down to every game is going to be extremely important, not that they weren’t already, but every loss is going to surmount because everyone is so deep and having success.

“And with the confidence that everyone level is probably on right now, it’s going to be tough week in and week out. You can’t take any week off.”

This week, over half the league has a bye and the league openers will begin on Oct. 10. It’s hard to argue against Monrovia being the big favorite. The Wildcats are 4-1 and their only loss came in a competitive game against area power St. Francis.

San Marino has lit up scoreboards on a weekly basis and is also 4-1. The real improvement in the league, however, comes with the other four teams. La Canada won five game last season and is already at four wins so far in 2014. The Spartans are allowing just 14 points per game.

South Pasadena won four games in 2013 and is already at three wins this season. The Tigers are allowing just 7.2 points per game. Temple City has scored 30 or more points in every game this season under first-year coach Rob Castaneda. The Rams get a big test on Friday when they host Azusa.

And then there’s Blair. The Vikings have already equaled their win total for the past four years combined! Sure, the competition hasn’t been great but any confidence the struggling program can get is well worth it.

The Rio Hondo League was moved from the Mid-Valley Division to the Central Division by the CIF-Southern Section this past offseason thanks to the postseason dominance of Monrovia over the past several years. At the time, it appeared the rest of the league got taken for a ride with the Wildcats, but at this point the group may be ready for the challenge.

NEW! All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 … entering Week 5 …

1. Chino Hills (3-1) — Bye week is only thing that could cool offense.
2. St. Francis (4-0) — So much for a bounce against Canyon.
3. La Mirada (4-1) — Not expecting much drama in league.
4. Monrovia (4-1) — ‘Cats know how to win the close ones.
5. Glendora (3-1) — Call it luck. Also call it 4-1 3-1.
6. San Dimas (3-1) — Allowing just 16 points per game.
7. Damien (3-1) — Where does Sparty fit in Baseline?
8. Bishop Amat (2-3) — Things only get tougher vs. Serra.
9. La Serna (4-1) — What a program!
10. Charter Oak (2-3) — Bye comes at perfect time.
11. Pomona (3-2) — Won’t be touched in the Miramonte.
12. Ayala (3-1) — Huge test vs. Damien looms.
13. Diamond Ranch (4-1) — The forgotten Hacienda contender.
14. Maranatha (5-0) — Playing Keppel and Mountain View though.
15. Northview (4-1) — Even in a loss, Vikes impress.
16. West Covina (3-2) — Dangerous team when right.
17. Claremont (4-1) — Young team putting it together.
18. Bonita (3-1) — ‘Cats have serious weapon in Verdugo.
19. La Habra (2-3) — Quality win over Colony.
20. La Salle (3-2) — Got right against Duarte.
21. Los Altos (2-3) — Conqs proved worth vs. M-Town.
22. Diamond Ranch Bar (3-2) — Finished nonleague on solid note.
23. California (3-2) — Offense has erupted past two weeks.
24. San Marino (4-1) — Bounced back against Beverly Hills.
25. Arroyo (4-1) — Rosemead looms on Friday.

Bishop Amat needs relief … no other way about it …

From 2006 to 2013, Bishop Amat has one playoff win and several thousand fans and coaches who think the Lancers still belong in the Pac-5 Division, SoCal’s elite playoff grouping.

Following Friday’s loss to Crespi, the Lancers face an uphill battle just to make the postseason with tough Mission League games left against Serra, Chaminade and Alemany, to name a few.

If the Lancers don’t make the postseason, it will mark the fourth time in the past nine years that Amat didn’t even go dancing. Considering Amat was in a four or five-team league for most of the past decade, that’s saying something.

Heck, in one of the years Amat did make the playoffs, the Lancers needed the stars to align and a coin flip in their favor on the final night of the season just to make the dance.

This year was supposed to be different. Amat has one of its most-talented teams in quite some time, with three players receiving college offers from some of the top college football programs on the West Coast.

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I think you owe me an apology … and I owe Glendora an apology …

I hyped Glendora ALL SUMMER LONG and all the way into halftime of the Alta Loma game. And during this time I got nothing but heat and doubt and arguments from all of you Monrovia bloggers.

“Not fast enough”

“Glendora at No. 2 is a joke”

“Too slow”

“How can you say Fink is the best QB in the area?”

SHADDUP! WHO’S THE MAN? ARAM, THAT’S WHO!!! So anyway, after Thursday’s win over a very good (not great) Charter Oak team and beating Los Altos handily last week, I think we can all give credit where credit is due. And I accept your apologies. And I extend my apologies for jumping off the Tarty wagon after the first half of the Alta Loma game.

NEW! All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 entering Week 4 …

She’s feeling The Bogan Effect. So am I. So are you!

1. Chino Hills (3-1) — Slayed the Amat dragon.
2. St. Francis (3-0) — Made the clutch plays late vs. Monrovia.
3. La Mirada (3-1) — Got sweet revenge against rival La Habra.
4. Bishop Amat (2-2) — Speechless and a tad concerned.
5. Monrovia (3-1) — With more polish this team is set.
6. San Dimas (3-1) — Players got tired of Z’s ’08 Rosemead stories.
7. Charter Oak (2-2) — It’s statement time vs. Glendora.
8. Glendora (2-1) — More to prove vs. CO on Thursday.
9. Damien (2-1) — Exposed St. Paul in a big way.
10. Pomona (2-1) — Tough-beat loss to Colony.
11. Ayala (3-1) — On three-game win streak.
12. La Serna (3-1) — If they beat Rancho, watch out!
13. Northview (4-0) — Defense allowing 9 points per game.
14. Maranatha (3-0) — Bogan.
15. Los Altos (2-2) — Speed will be tested against Monrovia.
16. West Covina (2-2) — Bad showing vs. powerful Tesoro.
17. Claremont (3-1) — Looking like Palomares contender.
18. Bonita (3-1) — Two straight wins, now a bye.
19. La Habra (1-3) — Defense continues to cause worry.
20. La Salle (2-2) — Maranatha loss could hurt business.
21. Diamond Ranch (3-1) — Gradually building confidence.
22. El Rancho (2-1) – Find out more vs. D-Ranch on Friday.
23. Diamond Bar (2-2) — Going backward at wrong time.
24. San Marino (3-1) — If you can’t stop Cal-Hi …
25. Arroyo (3-1) — Enters league play on 3-game win streak.

Football playoffs could get major overhaul in two years … Divisions could be formed regardless of league …

If CIF-Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod gets his way, and he likely will, the complexion of the football playoffs could change drastically in two years.

Wigod said during a special one-on-one interview last week that he is exploring alternative playoff formats for football that would make it so playoff divisions are no longer determined by leagues but by teams instead.

Under the current format, an entire league plays in the same playoff division once the postseason begins. Under Wigod’s concept, teams from the same league would be dispersed to different divisions based on a formula that the commissioner is currently working to perfect.

“We’re going to hopefully create competitive, balanced divisions with teams that are there because of their performance and no other reason,” Wigod said. “It’s ultimately going to be the Southern Section Council’s decision. We’re either going to do this because it’s the right thing to do And if we don’t do it, it’s not going to be because we didn’t study it.”

Wigod’s model would use two years of data to set the divisions every year before the upcoming season. Hypothetically, the day after football season ends, that year’s data combined with date from the season prior would be used to produce division alignments for the following season.

Before Wigod’s idea comes to fruition, the CIF blue book would need an overhaul in terms of how the playoff divisions are currently formulated and voted on. But there’s no denying that Wigod’s vision, at least for the very best teams regardless of present division, would create a super division at the very top somewhat similar to the open division currently being used in the boys and girls basketball playoffs.

“We trying to study this to see if it’s going to be implemented for all sports so that we can be consistent and people won’t get confused,” Wigod said. “My goal for this year is to develop the formula that we believe would utilized and be workable. If we believe we have a workable formula, then we’ll add the data and we’ll be able to look at what divisions would look like.”

Pomona could pay heavy price for canceled game with Mission Prep

Pomona High School could face far more costly ramifications than just a forfeited game for its football team after the Red Devils failed to honor a contract to play Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo in a nonleague road game last Friday night.

The result will go into the record books as a loss for the Red Devils, who didn’t make the trip after district officials determined that a four-hour ride to Mission Prep and a four-hour ride back were not in the best interest of the players, according to a statement last week by Pomona Unified School District administrative director Fernando Meza.

Pomona’s problems may not end there, however. According to the CIF-Southern Section blue book, under rule 151.2 any expenses incurred by the offended school, in this case Mission Prep, for stadium rental, transportation, officials’ fees, etc., shall be paid in full by the school breaching the contract.

It gets worse for Pomona. Under rule 151.3, when a school fails to engage in a contest agreed upon, without giving notice to the other school and securing an honorable release, it may be suspended from membership.

Mission Prep athletic director Vic Ecklund said Monday that he and school principal James Childs are still mulling what action, if any, to take next.

On Aug. 6, the two schools finalized a contract to play each other in a nonleague game at Mission Prep on Sept. 12. Ecklund said that in late August, Pomona informed Mission Prep it wasn’t going to honor the contract due to district concerns.

When asked last week by this newspaper about the reasons why his school needed to cancel the game, Pomona athletic director Anthony Rice cited travel costs and other factors.

“Once the info was sent to the school district, it was one of those things where they said it was too much,” Rice said last week.

Rice’s explanation makes little sense since the original contract had Mission Prep paying $1,500 for Pomona to have a chartered bus for the trip and even a pregame team meal paid for the by the host school before the game, according to Ecklund. Rice did not return calls seeking comment on Monday.

As for the time concerns, Ecklund said that Mission Prep offered to move the kickoff for Friday to 8 p.m. or play the game on Saturday. Those offers were declined. Eventually, Ecklund said his calls to Rice were not returned.

Meza issued another statement on Monday saying that the game was cancelled after the school district decided that its students would have returned to campus at 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. Meza did not answer questions as to why the game was scheduled in the first place if that was such a concern.

“After determining that having an overnight trip to play a non-league game was not in the best interest of our students, athletic directors at Pomona High opted out of the game,” Meza’s statement said. “Upon making that decision, Pomona High athletic directors immediately communicated with Mission Prep two weeks prior to the Sept. 12 game.

“While we worked with Mission Prep to reschedule the game, it was mutually understood that neither school could accommodate alternative arrangements. Cancellation or rescheduling of preseason games among schools is not uncommon.”

Southern Section spokesperson Thom Simmons said Monday that his office had been informed of the cancellation by the schools and has received no other information on the matter.

Resolving the situation, according to Simmons, was between Mission Prep and Pomona and that no other CIF action beside calling the game a forfeit loss for the Red Devils would be taken unless either school expresses further complaints on the matter.

“We’re always disappointed when schools that enter into contracts don’t live up to the agreements,” Simmons said. “What we don’t know is the full extent of the reasoning behind why they couldn’t fulfill the terms of the contract.”

Both teams appear headed toward big seasons in their respective divisions. Pomona is 2-0 in games played on the field, but technically 2-1 after the forfeit. The Red Devils are ranked No. 3 in the Mid-Valley Division. Mission Prep, which is now 2-1, is ranked No. 2 in the Northwest Division.

It’s not uncommon for teams from the Southland to play nonleague games at Mission Prep. Arcadia-based Rio Hondo Prep has an annual series going with Mission Prep, that requires the Kares to make the trip at least once every two years assuming the teams don’t also meet in the playoffs.

Other teams to have played road games in recent years against Mission Prep include St. Monica of Santa Monica, Linfield Christian of Temecula and Riverside Christian.