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.

Star-News Player of the Year Ty Gangi to walk on at Colorado …

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St. Francis QB Ty Gangi, who was the 2013 Star-News Player of the Year, will walk on at Colorado next fall.

Gangi didn’t play much his junior season because he was behind and incumbent starter and was injured, and that may have cost him a bit in the recruiting process. But he was electric as a senior, throwing for 2,882 yards and 25 touchdowns.

Aram’s take: Something tells me Gangi is gonna make it.

QB Christian Lara leaves Santa Fe for La Mirada …

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Christian Lara, who threw for 2,126 yards and 17 touchdowns last year at Santa Fe, has transferred to La Mirada.

Lara also ran for 480 yards and eight touchdowns. If you were wondering what La Mirada was gonna do for a QB with Kevin Dillman off to Texas, well here’s your answer.

Aram’s take: Lara is easily one of the best QBs in the Southeast Division and immediately makes La Mirada a major player. The Mats already got WR Tony Brown in from Servite, so now you have a dual-threat QB who can get him the ball.

La Canada names Ramsey Lambert its new head coach …

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La Canada High School announced 31-year-old Ramsey Lambert as its next varsity football head coach on Wednesday. Lambert replaces James Sims, who won seven games in two seasons at the school.

“I’m excited and it’s a great opportunity to come in and hopefully turn some things around and keep that program going in the right direction,” Lambert said. “I hope we can bring some excitement to the community and a new brand of football that the community and school can be proud of.”

Lambert was most recently the offensive coordinator at Oak Hills in Hesperia, which is where he’s from. La Canada will be Lambert’s first head coach job.

La Canada hasn’t had a winning record since going 6-5 in 2006 under longtime coach Rich Wheeler. Since Wheeler stepped down after the 2008 season, the Spartans have had two head coaches.

Last season, La Canada finished 5-6, was third in the Rio Hondo League and made the Mid-Valley Division playoffs but was routed by Paraclete in the first round.

Lambert has said he’s researched about the last seven years of performance by the program and is hoping to build on last season’s progress.

“The people there in that community are really strung out on success,” Lamber said. “They want to see their kids do well. They want to see their kids do well not only in the class room but in every aspect no matter what extra-curricular activities they join.

“We’ll try to tap into that and see if we can excite some of the alumni about the program as well.”

Lambert in the process of putting together his staff and has already offered to retain assistant coach Jason Sarceda from last year’s staff. Lambert will teach on campus.

Your Monrovia head coach search update …

Naturally, Monrovia is being very tight lipped about the goings on surrounding its head coach search. So, that means I have piece together whatever information I can and pass it along with the best degree of confidence possible.

Underwhelmed — Evidently, Monrovia officials weren’t wowed by the first batch of interviews/candidates. From what I hear, this means that none of the coaches already in the program will be getting the job.

Reaching out — Because Monrovia officials weren’t too excited about their first attempt, they started reaching out to coaches they thought might be a good fit. There’s been some dialogue with some very interesting and well-known names, from what I hear and now there’s going to be another round of interviews (which may have already just happened).

Things to consider — There is some uncertainty with this job because of the chance Monrovia gets a serious bump up in playoff division next month. The new coach likely won’t be running roughshod over the Mid-Valley Division and if the program has some lean years in terms of playoff success, what toll will that take on the talent base? I’ve also heard the frosh team this past fall was nothing write home about, especially numbers-wise.

Next year’s local recruits could be a special class …

With Signing Day now in the rear view mirror, it’s time for area football fans to turn their attention to next year’s class of local high school football recruits. And if early returns are any indicator, the local class of 2015 it could be just as lucrative as ’14.

Arguably the area’s biggest hotbed of recruiting activity will be at Muir where the Mustangs have two outstanding receiver/defensive back prospects in Taeon Mason and DeSean Holmes. Mason just recently gave an early verbal commitment to USC, but if recent history tells us anything, early commits are about as valuable as pet rocks.

Holmes, who transferred to Muir from Alemany this offseason, has an ever-growing list of suitors that include UCLA, USC, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Washington.

Monrovia has been no stranger to hot recruits and next year should be no different. The Wildcats are top-heavy with receivers who also play defensive back. Leading the way is Jordan Nathan, who turned a lot of heads recently at the US Army All-American combine in Texas where he ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash time with a clocking of 4.29 seconds.

Other Wildcats receiver/defensive backs who figure to draw interest are Khalil Bradely, James Jackson and Octavius Spencer.

The Diamond Bar duo of receiver/defensive backs Kanya Bell and Antonio “Noodles” Hull should also see their fair share of interest. Bell is recovering from a knee injury that cut short his junior season, but does have offers USC, UCLA, Washington, Arizona St., Nebraska and Boise St., to name a few.

Hull played in just one game his junior season and plans to use the offseason passing circuit and 7-on-7 competitions to bolster his stock. He will also visit several college camps this spring.

La Mirada had a stellar signing class this winter and may have another waiting in the wings. Leading the way is lineman Anthony Cerillo, who already has an offer from Colorado. Fellow lineman Nikko Nau figures to get offers soon, as does new transfer Tony Brown, a receiver who just came in from Servite.

Diamond Ranch has been sending players to the next level consistently under head coach Roddy Layton. Next year’s group should include defensive back Daniel Garcia, receiver/defensive back John Perkins, linebacker Chris Kirchgraber and receiver Jordan Frisby.

Glendora offensive lineman Ben Northup has next-level size, at 6-foot-6, 300 pounds and should see plenty of attention from recruiters because of it.

Despite rumors, Pasadena says Doug Bledsoe still head coach

Rumors made the rounds on Twitter on Wednesday evening that former Minnesota Vikings receiver Matthew Hatchette was going to be named the new varsity football head coach at Pasadena.

Those rumors were prevalent much of the week, actually, following the transfer of Downey QB Jorge Reyna to Pasadena. Reyna, a junior, quarterbacked Downey to the CIF-SS Southeast Division championship in 2012. Many are trying to make a connection between Reyna’s arrival at PHS with a pending arrival of Hatchette.

However … Bulldogs AD Mike Parisi had this to say

“Coach Bledsoe is still the head coach and he isn’t going anywhere. Bledsoe for sure is going to be the head football coach next fall.”

Bledsoe himself was surprised to hear of the rumors and said he has no relationship with Hatchette, so even the notion of the former NFL receiver being an assistant coach at PHS was a surprise.

Hatchette is involved with B2G Sports, which is one of the “elite” 7-on-7 teams that are popping up recently and seem to always lead to a flurry of transfer activity (think Jake Payton to Upland last year). These 7-on-7 teams are going to be a great detriment if they are not curtailed. This could be another example of that.

Aram’s take: Even the Muir people were talking about Hatchette being at PHS today. So this rumor really has some legs. My first reaction when I saw the tweets, which I was included in, was “I didn’t know Coach Bledsoe was even gone.” I get it, Reyna’s transfer to a program that was 1-9 last year is mysterious. But then again, he will be working with one of the top receiver prospects around in Tyrek Adams.

Ryan Maine resigns after three seasons as Diamond Bar head coach …

Ryan Maine has resigned as head coach of the Diamond Bar High School football team after three seasons the school said in a release issued Monday.

ryanmaineMaine, who starred at Diamond Bar as quarterback back in his playing days, lasted three seasons and went 15-17 with one playoff appearance. The school said it will be immediately begin its search for a new coach.

“It’s been the toughest two weeks of my life,” Maine said. “But when your wife wants to stat a family, you have to start thinking about that. I told the players it’s not about them. It’s more about thinking long term and an opportunity to put my family in a better position.”

Maine won a CIF championship as Diamond Bar’s quarterback in 1999. He was also on the Brahmas’ 1998 CIF championship team. He graduated in 2001 and attended University of San Diego.

Maine returned as an assistant coach and took over the program with his trademark high-energy style in 2011. The Brahmas had their best season under Maine in 2013 when they went 7-4 and reached the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs as an at-large team. Diamond Bar went on the road in the first round and upset defending division champion Downey before falling to eventual champion La Serna in the next round.

During Maine’s time at Diamond Bar, the program got national attention thanks to the arrival of Cordell Broadus, the son of famous rapper/entertainer Snoop Dogg. Broadus, who will be a senior next season, left Diamond Bar soon after the 2013 season and is now at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas.

“I coach for the kids,” Maine said. “I don’t care about the title ‘head coach’. These (Class of 2015) kids are the best group Diamond Bar has seen in a long time, so I know Diamond Bar will still be successful.

Playoff opportunities have been few and far between at Diamond Bar, which underwent a demographic shift soon after Maine graduated. Not only that, nearby schools like Diamond Ranch and Chino Hills have started to cut into the once plentiful talent pool.

“We truly appreciate all that Coach Maine has done for the program over his history at DBHS,” Principal Catherine Real said in the release. “We fully support him and his wife in all future endeavors and wish him the best of luck.

“We will be conducting a comprehensive search for a new head football coach to ensure that our student athletes will be successful for years to come.”