Opening SGV(N) Top 25

Note: This is the opening Top 25 for the SGV and Whittier areas combined, aka what we cover, aka SGV(N). There will be a new one each week reflecting each week’s results. This IS intended to hurt your feelings, offend you, make you happy, make you sad and ultimately say “this is pointless”. So, ENJOY!

1. La Mirada — D-3 this year … D-2 next year? D-1 in ’18?
2. La Habra — By all accounts, Highlanders have reloaded.
3. Bishop Amat — Can Lancers surprise to the upside?
4. St. Francis — New QB Bonds looks ready to make huge impact.
5. La Serna — Can the program simply reload again?
6. Los Altos — Physical, throw-back team is loaded.
7. Charter Oak — Lots of new faces but probably same results.
8. Northview — Should be amazing on offense.
9. La Salle — First strings are legit. But depth? … meh.
10. San Dimas — Leading rusher back for CIF finalist.
11. Glendora — Don’t expect a huge falloff for Tarty.
12. San Marino — Still has some nice components.
13. Arcadia — Talent level keeps improving.
14. West Covina — Plenty of talent to make this ranking look stupid.
15. St. Paul — Program is gradually improving.
16. Monrovia — Historically low starting point for ‘Cats.
17. Damien — Program is mired in mediocrity.
18. South Hills — Does Bechtel need more time?
19. Diamond Ranch — New head coach will make things happen.
20. Bonita — Great head coach hire, but probably a year away.
21. Montebello — Defense should be staunch again.
22. La Canada — This ranking is contingent on Beasley eligibility.
23. Covina — The forgotten Valle Vista League team.
24. Arroyo — Word is Knights are loaded (again).
25. Muir — Kinda concerned about the ‘Stangs.

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La Habra has to replace a local legend at QB, then deal with life in D-2

Fogel

Players like Eric Barriere don’t come along too often. And they simply can’t be replaced.

The former La Habra High School quarterback who guided the Highlanders to a CIF championship last season is now at Eastern Washington. In his wake, head coach Frank Mazzotta is faced with one big question entering the season: who will replace one of the most decorated players in school history?

“It could be Zach Fogel, but I don’t know, we have another kid in the mix in Joe Hernandez,” Mazzotta said. “It’s actually a very live competition.”

PHOTOS: LA HABRA PREPS FOR LIFE IN D-2

Fogel, a junior, has been getting the majority of the reps while Hernandez recovers from an injury. Hernandez, a senior, is expected back soon and could make a late push for the job.

No matter who gets it, coaches are guarding either player against the notion that they have to be Barriere, who in addition to big stats also was a clutch player as evidenced by his last-second touchdown pass to beat San Clemente in the Southwest Division championship last season.

“We’re not trying to make the next Eric Barriere,” Mazzotta said. “And so the next quarterback can’t think that he’s got to be Eric. He’s just got to be himself. And whatever that is, we’ll make the most of it.

“Eric is irreplaceable. For sure. You can’t replace all the things that he did.”

Whomever wins the job is in good shape in terms of talented skill players to work with. Receiver Prince Ross, who was on the other end of the game-winning touchdown pass against San Clemente, is back. Pervis Henderson is another strong target.

The run game is loaded with talented backs, led by likely starter Eli Anderson. And the offensive line is supposed to be a formidable unit.

Because of La Habra’s success, the program was placed in Division 2 when the CIF Southern Section revamped the divisions this offseason and grouped teams based solely on competitive equity.

La Habra will prep for a potentially difficult postseason by playing a strong nonleague schedule that includes games against Division 1 teams in Mission Viejo and Tesoro.

“It’s a huge challenge,” Mazzotta said of being in Division 2. “But, it’s also a great honor. What an honor that we get to play in Division 2 with such great teams. Division 1 has 18 teams and Division 2 has 19 teams. So, we’re in the top 37 of 550-something Southern Section schools?

“That’s definitely a tribute to the legacy of the kids who played here before. And we need to honor that by working hard and playing our best. It’s going to be the biggest challenge our school has ever faced.”

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La Canada and star RB Drake Beasley in for a fight with Loyola over undue influence charge

Beasley

The news late last week that Loyola High School will challenge the transfer of standout running back Drake Beasley to La Canada has been met with surprise and disappointment by the Spartans coaching staff and the school’s athletic department.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Loyola will protest Beasley’s transfer, thus threatening his eligibility for his senior season, on grounds of undue influence by La Canada. Loyola is a Division 1 program with a storied history and plays in the powerful Mission League. La Canada is in Division 12.

La Canada head coach Ryan Zerbel declined Monday to talk about any specifics related to Beasley, but expressed his bewilderment about the charge that he or someone on his staff unduly influenced the transfer.

“Right now, it’s in the best interest of the kid to let the CIF policies play out,” Zerbel said. “That’s what they’re there for and we’ll let it play out. It’s horrible that all of this stuff is said. It’s not like we’re landing kids all the time or we’re a factory over here.”

Beasley made a name for himself locally during his youth football days with the La Canada Gladiators. He went to Loyola for the first three years of his career and earlier this month left for La Canada due to undisclosed reasons.

Beasley is considered to be one of the top running backs in the state, having rushed for 1,647 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. He currently had 12 college offers, including UCLA, Boise St., Arizona and Cal.

If eligible, Beasley shoots La Canada from Rio Hondo League afterthought to one of the favorites. And there’s no telling what the Spartans could do in the second-to-lowest playoff division should they make the Southern Section postseason.

According to CIF Southern Section director of communications Thom Simmons, Loyola had not submitted any paperwork regarding the case of late Monday morning. Once Loyola files its case against La Canada and Beasley, La Canada will have a chance to conduct its own investigation and respond.

In all likelihood, the Southern Section will have to make a decision on whether there was a violation. And that decision needs to be solid enough to hold up in court if matters go that far. The range of penalties if undue influence can vary due to the severity of the infraction.

“Whatever we decide, we have to be able to defend in court,” Simmons said speaking broadly about undue influence decisions. “We have to be able to prove reasonably in a court of law that there has been evidence of wrongdoing.”

Simmons gave no timeline on how long it would take before a decision was made, but did say that undue influence cases can often take one to two months to resolve. Obviously, that would put Beasley in serious jeopardy of missing a good portion of the season. Or, La Canada could play him and risk forfeiting

“We try to clear them up as soon as possible, because when you’re talking about a student’s athlete’s eligibility, the last thing you want to do is hurt the kid if there’s no wrongdoing,” Simmons said.

Beasley will continue to practice with the team throughout the challenge prcoess. The Spartans open the season on Aug. 26 at Hawthorne.

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