UPDATED: Loyola to challenge Drake Beasley’s transfer to La Canada

UPDATE: It’s a total head scratcher, but Loyola, a Division 1 team in the Mission League, told the LA Times that it will challenge the transfer of running back Drake Beasley on grounds of “undue influence”.

Beasley is already enrolled at La Canada and practicing with the Spartans.

In what may be the biggest coup of the offseason, the La Canada High School football team appears to have hit the transfer lottery.

Drake Beasley, the standout running back at Loyola and a player who many consider to be one of the top ball carriers in the state, has enrolled at La Canada after leaving Loyola late last week.

“From what I understand, he checked in yesterday (Monday) and got his CIF paperwork,” La Canada head coach Ryan Zerbel said. “That leads me to believe that he will come out and play for La Canada. I’m going to take a backseat in all of this because I’ve got a team to coach. But if Drake Beasley shows up and says he’s here to play football, then great. He’ll be a great addition to what we have.”

Beasley playing at La Canada would automatically make the Spartans one of the favorites in what looks like a very interesting Rio Hondo League. San Marino has a record-setting quarterback and receiver to replace. Monrovia was hit hard by graduation and had some key returners leave the program.

The Spartans were thought to be one of the teams vying for a playoff spot. But adding Beasley, who rushed for 1,647 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2015, would give the Spartans arguably the top overall player in the area, let alone the league.

“I really want to see him in our pads, practicing and have the paperwork done, and from there I will get excited,” Zerbel said. “Who knows what’s going to happen? You’re talking about a high-profile kid. In this whole thing, there are so many factors. It’s really crazy, all the hoopla. I’m just trying to maintain a calm environment for my players. But they’re young and they see it all on Facebook.”

Beasley played for La Canada’s youth football program before starting his high school career at Loyola. La Canada went 4-6 last season and missed the playoffs due to a loss to South Pasadena, which ultimately determined third place.

The Spartans open the season on Aug. 26 at Hawthorne.

Aram’s take: If you’re South Pas and Temple City, you just threw up a little in your mouth. And that’s because your chances of finishing in the top three with San Marino, Monrovia and LC just probably grew real slim. And if you’re San Marino and Monrovia, the two perennial favorites, your stranglehold on the league title may be in doubt. Beasley immediately becomes the top talent in the league.

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Tyler Sweet, arguably Bishop Amat’s top returning skill player, transfers to Upland

Tyler Sweet, who was arguably Bishop Amat’s top returning skill player, has left the school and transferred to Upland. Sweet’s younger brother, Terayon, has also left for Upland.

Both are the younger brothers of 2015 Tribune Player of the Year Torreahno Sweet, who is now at Western Oregon after a tumultuous senior season at Amat. Sweet was suspended for a game and a half early last season for undisclosed reasons. He was also “not part of the program” according to Lancers head coach Steve Hagerty for most of the offseason leading up to his senior season.

Tyler Sweet was a reserve last season thanks to the presence of several college-bound skill players. He was likely going to be Amat’s top deep threat at receiver. The timing couldn’t be worse for the Lancer who are now just two weeks away from hosting powerful Mater Dei in the season opener on Aug. 26.

Aram’s take: Bad optics for Amat. No other way to look at it. When your top offensive threat jets right before the season, it’s a bad sign. Obviously, the Sweets and Amat have been like oil and water. The timing seems like the ultimate “take that” with the season so close. Nobody really knows what Amat has under the hood yet, but it better be good because the Lancers are playing a very rough schedule.

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Real-life Rudy speaks to Pasadena Poly football team

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It’s going to be hard for any local high school football team to top who Pasadena Poly had this week for a motivational speaker.

On Tuesday night, the Panthers were treated to a speech by Rudy Ruettiger, the subject of the classic movie “Rudy” released in 1993 about a undersized football player who realized his dream of playing college football at Notre Dame.

“It was great,” Pasadena Poly head coach Chris Schmoke said of the moment. “We showed the movie to the kids on Monday night just to make sure they knew who he was. At first, I thought ‘who hasn’t seen Rudy?’ But then again I’ve got kids who don’t even watch football.

“I had to, No. 1, make sure they knew Notre Dame played football and, No. 2, knew who Rudy was.”

Pasadena Poly held a camp from Monday through Wednesday with players sleeping over at the school for two nights. The crescendo moment came when the team went to one of the players’ homes for a talk from Rudy.

Although one could make the tie-in that Poly is a small-school program often stocked with undersized players, that was merely a favorable coincidence. Turns out, one of the Poly parents has a connection to Rudy dating back to his own high school days.

“I think the players thought it was neat and positive,” Schmoke said. “Rudy is definitely a salt of the earth kind of guy … blue collar kind of guy. He was just a real positive person and his message was perseverance and positivity.

“We’re not big and don’t fit the bill when you think of a big football program. But we definitely want to put forth to the kids that when the lights go on, we’re going to compete with anybody.”

Poly looks set for a big season. The Panthers have about 50 players in the program, good numbers for a school their size, and have several returning starters back. What’s more, Schmoke says that for the first time he can remember, the varsity roster is made up of solely juniors and seniors.

The Panthers went 6-5 last season and open the season on Aug. 26 at Temple City.

“We think we’re preparing for a great year,” Schmoke said. “Schools that we’ve traditionally played are disappearing from the map or either going to eight-man or just won’t play us anymore.

“We’re opening with Temple City and if you tell anybody that hasn’t been in the Valley for a while that Poly is opening with Temple City, they’d think I’m crazy. But that’s where we’re at. We’re trying to compete with anybody.”

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West Covina WON’T challenge the transfer of Northview RB Kevin Thomas

West Covina head coach Mike Maggiore said Monday morning that the school won’t challenge the transfer of running back Kevin Thomas, who left West Covina for Northview earlier this offseason, on grounds that the move was athletically motivated.

According to the CIF website, Thomas’ eligibility is still up in the air while CIF awaits “former school response”. West Covina not challenging the transfer would be clear a major hurdle for Thomas to be eligible to start the season. However, he still needs to satisfy the valid change of address portion of the CIF transfer rules.

Thomas, a senior, rushed for 780 yards and seven touchdowns for the Bulldogs last season. He would fill a serious void at running back for Northview and give the Vikings a scary trio of skill players along with QB Steven Comstock and all-purpose threat Antuwan Ayers.

Northview opens the season on Aug. 25 against Charter Oak at Covina District Field.

… as for West Covina, the Bulldogs aren’t exactly hurting at running back. Henry Martinez, a 1,000-yard rusher from two seasons ago, is back from an injury that cost him his junior season.

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Surprise, surprise: It’s Nogales!

Optimism is bliss across local high school football fields at this time of year.

Nobody’s lost a game. Everyone has league championship aspirations, if not more. However, precious few teams will actually their August goals in November. Nogales is bent on making sure that won’t be its story.

The Nobles, as the season nears, are arguably the area’s biggest mystery team. They’ve switched leagues from the difficult Valle Vista League, with Northview and San Dimas at the top, to the more doable Montview League.

And should the Nobles qualify for the playoffs, they’ll be in Division 13 … the lowest in the CIF Southern Section. It’s a much-needed reset for a once-powerful program and one that could pay off big starting this year.

“I think, as a staff, taking a look at the teams we’re going to play, it definitely brings a sense that there’s a chance to make something happen,” Nobles head coach Richard Salazar said. “I think the kids kind of see it, too.”

Another reason for a sunny outlook at Nogales is the return of 15 total starters (eight offense, seven defense) from last year’s team. That includes three-year starting quarterback Matt Olguin and a couple of outstanding in receivers in 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior La Renzo Williams and James Gray. The offensive line is also a veteran group led by senior Joseph Mantilla.

Nogales has to get better on defense, especially against class teams. The Nobles allowed nearly 30 points per game, but that number should come down against lesser competition. It also helps that standout defensive tackle Jonathan Guardado, an all-league selection in 2015, is back.

Nogales doubled its win total from two games in Salazar’s first season to four games last season. Baked in those results were some good performances in losses and also a confidence-inspiring win over Azusa, which is annually one of the favorites in the Montview League.

Based on talent, Nogales might be the favorite to win the Montview League. Just finishing in the top three would likely lead to a trip to the playoffs where, again, the Nobles have a fighter’s chance of making a deep run.

“The new division poses a real chance for us schools that need the opportunity to try be successful and build that morale,” Salazar said. “It gives us an optimal way of getting results so that we can show these kids there is an end-product to what we’re doing.

“I don’t care what division we’re in because a CIF championship is a CIF championship. I’ve been a part of a CIF championship as a player and a coach at La Habra and it’s something that doesn’t come easy. Even league championships these days are as tough as anything to get. But again, I tell these kids everyday that success is a byproduct of what you do. You’ve got to put in that work.”

Nogales opens the season on Aug. 26 against Garey.

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