Bishop Amat’s turnaround: How Sweet it is …


Ehh, since Freddie is gone til Wednesday, I figured I’d take over the Amat beat in his stead. So here is your Lancers’ update following the bye week and heading into Friday’s game against Loyola.

Few things can make a coach frown like a bye week when his team has started to play its best football of the season.

Count Bishop Amat High School’s Steve Hagerty in that group as his team had won three consecutive games before last week’s bye. Now, Hagerty has to hope all the momentum the Lancers had built up hasn’t gone away with two, big Mission League games left on the schedule.

“I’ve never been a fan of the bye simply because kids like routine and you break their routine,” Hagerty said. “It’s not a huge concern, but if I had my way, I would prefer to play 10 straight.”

Amat hosts Loyola on Friday night in its last home game of the regular season. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. due to web streaming by FOX Sports.

It’s real simple for the Lancers, who are 5-3 overall and 3-1 in the Mission League: win the next two weeks and the PAC-5 playoffs are a certainty, maybe even a league championship. Lose one or both, and things could get complicated.

Although Loyola enters Friday’s game at 0-4 in league and eliminated from playoff contention, Hagerty knows the looseness of playing the role of spoiler could actually be to the Cubs’ advantage.

“They’re scary because they have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Hagerty said. “We respect them because we believe in the pride and traditions of their program. They’re going to come to play. They’re going to be free and less restrictive. They’re going to just let it rip and that’s a dangerous opponent for us coming off a bye or not.”

If the Amat team of October shows up, no matter how loose Loyola plays, it may not matter. The Lancers haven’t lost in the Halloween month despite entering it with a 2-3 overall record and a league-opening loss to Crespi.

There have been several factors in Amat’s emergence. Quarterback Damian Garcia has become one of the top passers around. Running back Torreahno Sweet has gone from reserve to one of the most dangerous weapons in the Lancers’ arsenal. And because of Sweet’s emergence, Anthony Camargo has been able to concentrate on his core position of linebacker, where his impact has helped shore up the Lancers’ defense.

Garcia just missed breaking Pat Haden’s single-game passing yardage school record in Amat’s win over Chaminade. It was the junior’s best performance of the year as he threw for 429 yards and four touchdowns.

“It’s been a good blend of him trying to figure out what we want him to do and what he wants to do,” Hagerty said of Garcia. “He’s tough kid. He’s the type of kid where bullets are flying by him and he’s unfazed by it, and that’s an intangible quality.

“Every week he’s got a new injury and he keeps figuring out a way to get up off the floor. I think a lot of us saw potential in him.”

The Lancers were loaded with weapons on the outside thanks to receivers like Tyler Vaughns, Trevon Sidney and Brandon Arconado. But with little to no running game to go with it early in the season, the offense wasn’t as dynamic as it is today. Sweet has changed all that and also helped the defense get better in an indirect way.

“It’s almost like getting a transfer kid to come in because what it does is put one of our best defensive players (Camargo) back on that side of the ball as a full-time guy,” Hagerty said. “Torrie’s run the ball well. I think he sees the field well when he has the ball in his hands. He’s not a burner, speed-wise, but I think he’s definitely shown he has some power to him.

“With every week, he’s gaining more confidence. He definitely has worked hard and earned the right to be where he is now.”

Amat fans can only hope that the product they see on Friday night is the same one they saw the three previous games before the bye week. If the Lancers do win out and make the playoffs, they can use any help they can get in terms of seeding and draw in the playoffs where several Southland powers await.

It hasn’t always been an easy task for Hagerty to sell his team on the importance of situations, but he’s hoping that taking advice from coaches when it comes to things like urgency is another area where his team improves.

“There was a certain point in the season where it was like ‘Guys, we’re done if you don’t get moving. You realize that, don’t you?’” Hagerty said. “That was at a time when they needed to get moving and they did. They’re great-natured kids. I really like this team. They’re really fun to be around. And when they get down to it, they can really get after it. It’s just whether or not they get after it enough.

“I think they understand what’s at stake. They’ve all worked way too hard and come from places they didn’t want to be to just go away easily.”

NEW! All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 … entering Week 9 …

1. Bishop Amat (5-3) — Did layoff stall Lancers’ momentum?
2. St. Francis (8-0) — Win over La Salle would be good for business.
3. Chino Hills (6-2) — Nice bounce-back win over Damien.
4. La Mirada (7-1) — Making the Suburban League look easy.
5. Glendora (7-1) — So much for a bounce after Ayala win.
6. Monrovia (7-1) — Defense teeing off on lesser competition.
7. West Covina (6-2) — From forgotten to Hacienda favorite.
8. El Rancho (6-2) — Defense allowing just 19 ppg this season.
9. La Serna (6-2) — Pity the team that draws Lancers in first round.
10. Northview (7-1) — Rival Covina hoping to spoil Vikes’ season.
11. La Habra (5-3) — Another Freeway title forthcoming.
12. Diamond Ranch (6-2) — Can put Los Altos on ice.
13. Muir (4-4) — Couldn’t keep up with unbeaten CV.
14. Maranatha (9-0) — Bogan delivering a nice ROI.
15. San Marino (6-2) — Titans roughed up SP and LC.
16. Pomona (4-4) — Scored 46 points in 1st qtr. vs Ganesha.
17. California (5-3) — Potentially dangerous in postseason.
18. South Hills (4-4) — Remarkable turnaround at the right time.
19. Bonita (5-3) — Fighting for their playoff lives.
20. San Dimas (5-3) — Saints are now huge Covina fans.
21. Ayala (5-2) — Going the wrong way at the wrong time.
22. Cantwell (7-1) — Looking good in South Catholic League.
23. Pasadena Poly (8-0) — Whipped RHP like a good thing.
24. Charter Oak (4-4) — A win over WestCo would disrupt Hacienda.
25. Rosemead (4-4) — Cruising toward Mission Valley title.

Glendora QB Matt Fink picks up first college offer from Boise St. …


Boise St. University is the first and probably won’t be the last big-time college football program to offer Glendora High School quarterback Matt Fink, who received an offer to play for the Broncos on Monday night.

Fink, a junior, has thrown for 873 yards and six touchdowns this season and has also run for 648 yards and 10 scores in leading Glendora to a 6-1 record and the top-ranking in the Central Division. Boise St. is expected to be the first of many offers for the 6-foot-3 prospect.

“They called him last night and they offered him,” Glendora coach Jerry Lewallen said. “That’s his first official offer. I think he’s been on some people’s radars prior to this and they wanted to see a bit more film. He’s only a junior and they just needed to see some more game film. I think it’s going to start happening (for him) pretty quick. It’s a great thing for him.”

Fink has been a major reason why Glendora has lived up to its advanced billing of being one of the top teams in the area. The Tartans are back in a more a suitable league and playoff division this season after playing the last several years in the Baseline League and Inland Division.

Fink’s ability to run has actually been his top weapon this season. Opposing defenses still have to respect his arm, but if they do that too much, the running lanes open up and there’s little chance of catching him. Fink’s recruiting page lists his 40-yard dash time as 4.62. Some were concerned that Fink wasn’t wowing recruiters enough with his arm this season, but that’s not the case, according to Lewallen.

“He’s been to enough camps and he’s thrown for some college coaches and they’re well aware of his arm,” Lewallen said. “If you look at the Kaiser game, he threw for 251 yards in that game, had a couple deep balls and some 20-yard outs. It’s all on tape. We’re not throwing the ball 30 times a game, so a coach isn’t going to see him throw it 30 times a game.

Fink isn’t the only Tartan being wooed by college recruiters this season. Offensive tackle Ben Northup, who is 6-6, 330 pounds, is a verbal commit to Hawaii but is also being heavily pursued by Azusa Pacific. Kicker Caleb Watkins recently had a visit to Arizona St.

NEW! All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 …

1. Bishop Amat (5-3) — Lancers put it together, Mission League pays.
2. St. Francis (7-0) — Heading toward a historic season.
3. Chino Hills (5-2) — League title hopes took hit with Upland loss.
4. La Mirada (6-1) — Back in action vs. Mayfair after bye week.
5. Glendora (6-1) — Nobody can keep up with QB Fink and that’s that.
6. Monrovia (6-1) — Tuning up for big playoff run.
7. West Covina (5-2) — Won’t fly under radar for long.
8. El Rancho (5-2) — Not mentioned among top Southeast contenders (yet).
9. La Serna (5-2) — Needed late heroics to edge rival Cal.
10. Northview (6-1) — Where do Vikes rate in Mid-Valley picture?
11. Ayala (5-2) — Ran into Glendora freight train.
12. Muir (4-3) — First place in Pacific on line vs. CV on Friday.
13. La Habra (4-3) — Manufactured drama vs. Sunny Hills on Fri.
14. Diamond Ranch (5-2) — Part of Hacienda grab bag.
15. Maranatha (8-0) — Heritage Chr. could be interesting battle.
16. Claremont (5-2) — Hanging tough in Palomares.
17. California (4-3) — Proved lots in loss to La Serna.
18. San Marino (5-2) — Gave rival South Pas a dose of reality.
19. Pomona (3-4) — Set to knock off city rivals next two weeks.
20. Bonita (4-3) — Odd twist losing to South Hills.
21. San Dimas (4-3) — Bounced back vs. Nogales.
22. Cantwell (6-1) — Strength of sked is weak, but wins are wins.
23. Los Altos (3-4) — Right back in Hacienda race.
24. Charter Oak (3-4) — Wilting a bit at the wrong time.
25. La Canada (6-1) — Here come the big tests.

Arroyo forfeits three nonleague wins due to ineligible player …

Arroyo has forfeited nonleague wins over Temple City, Montebello and Rowland after self reporting to CIF that it had an ineligible player in violation of Southern Section transfer rules.

The player was used solely on special teams and the incident probably never would have been known about if the school had not informed CIF of the situation, according to Knights coach Jim Singiser.

“I’d be a hypocrite if I was expressing to the kids that it’s okay to do things so long as you don’t get caught,” Arroyo coach Jim Singiser said. “And that’s basically what I would have done if I hadn’t reported it. But is that really what I want our kids to learn?

“The chances of anybody knowing about it were negligible. This was a kid who had no impact on any of the games, he’s not the kicker and he’s not the return man.”

The forfeits make Arroyo’s record go from 4-3 to 1-6. The Knights are 1-2 in Mission Valley League play and are on a bye this week before returning to action Oct. 24 against Gabrielino. The game will be a must-win for Arroyo as it fights for its playoff life. The Knights have a 30-year streak of making the postseason.

NEW! All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 … Entering Week 7

Banner courtesy of “Joe Amat”.

1. Chino Hills (5-1) — Beat Upland, and Baseline is theirs?
2. Bishop Amat (4-3)Can’t wait to see My Lancers on Fri.
3. St. Francis (6-0) — Thought H-W would fall easier.
4. La Mirada (6-1) — Take a rest Mats, you’ve earned it.
5. Glendora (5-1) — Looking like clear Central favorites.
6. Monrovia (5-1) — Reiterating: Cats know how to win close ones.
7. Ayala (5-1) — Hoping to cool off Glendora.
8. Charter Oak (3-3) — Chargers starting to make their run.
9. West Covina (4-2) — Still a bit of a mystery.
10. El Rancho (4-2) — From unranked to No. 10. Yep.
11. Northview (5-1) — Last Friday had to feel good.
12. La Serna (4-2) — Remember, El Rancho is dangerous.
13. Diamond Ranch (4-2) — Need to bounce back vs. Walnut.
14. Muir (3-3) — Scary and putting it together rapidly.
15. Maranatha (7-0) — 10-0 looking more and more likely.
16. Damien (3-3) — Must-win vs. Etiwanda on Friday.
17. La Habra (3-3) — Huge win over Buena Park.
18. Bonita (4-2) — Got cooled off by Tarty.
19. Pomona (3-4) — Should start to pile up the wins.
20. San Dimas (3-3) — Season taking a strange turn.
21. Claremont (4-2) — Ran into Ayala buzzsaw.
22. California (4-2) — Can they knock off LS, too?
23. San Marino (4-2) — Titans proved lots in M-Town loss.
24. La Canada (5-1) — Can’t argue with that record.
25. St. Paul (4-2) — Huge win over La Salle.