2015 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Top 10 recruits in the SGV(N)

zioneCal-bound Charter Oak RB Zion Echols is No. 4 on our list.

1. Trevon Sidney
Bishop Amat, WR/DB, Class of 2016

Sidney exited his junior season ranked as the top cornerback in the nation for his class. However, he wants to play receiver. That’s what Sidney concentrated on this offseason and his stock at that position went through the roof. He had offers to play both positions and ultimately will get the chance at USC, where Sidney committed to in early July. Sidney chose USC after deciding from a large field of suitors that included UCLA, Michigan, Notre Dame and Miami.

2. Tyler Vaughns
Bishop Amat, WR, Class of 2016

Name a college football powerhouse and odds are that school has offered Vaughns. The phenom receiver has been called “The High School Megatron” because of his size and ability to treat a football like it’s a tennis ball. Vaughns’ stock stayed high all offseason and the reigning Tribune player of the year has his choice of SEC powers, Pac-12 elites and several others big names mixed in. It’s thought that USC is the front runner, which means Vaughns will team with fellow locals Matt Fink and Trevon Sidney at Troy.

3. Matt Fink
Glendora, QB, Class of 2016

At this time last year, Fink had no offers. At the end of his junior season he had just Boise State and Washington after his services. But once the offseason circuit of camps and combines began, Fink flashed his dual-threat skills and college interest spread like wildfire. Fink quickly became one of the top QB recruits on the West Coast and ended the suspense early by giving a verbal commit to USC in spring.

4. Zion Echols
Charter Oak, RB/WR, Class of 2016

Echols saw his stock jump this offseason after strong sophomore and junior seasons. Echols’ versatility allows him to fit nicely into the vast wide-open offensive strategies being employed by many teams at the next level. Echols took visits to USC, LSU, Oregon and Washington, but following a visit to the Bay Area and an offer from Cal, he was hooked on the Bears and committed before getting on the plane and coming home to the San Gabriel Valley.

5. Keanu Saleapaga
La Mirada, DE, Class of 2016

Saleapaga is a new name to area fans after transferring to La Mirada this offseason. He played his sophomore season at Gahr and last season he was at Cabrillo. At 6-foot-5 and 270 pounds with good speed off the ball, it’s easy to see why Saleapaga is in hot demand at the next level as a strong-side defensive end. But he ended all suspense early by committing to USC in June.

6. Francisco “Paco” Perez
Baldwin Park, OL, Class of 2016

Perez combines good size at 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds to go with a versatile style that has some thinking he can play guard or tackle at the next level. Perez saw a slew of offers in March when the likes of Arizona State, Texas Tech, Oregon State and Vanderbilt came calling for his services. But Perez ended the suspense in early summer by giving a verbal commit to Cal.

7. Brian Casteel
Charter Oak, WR, Class of 2017

Looking for the prized gem of next year’s area super recruit? Here he is. Casteel was named to CalHiSports.com’s All-State sophomore team last season and was a Tribune All-Area first-team selection after putting up some of the top receiving numbers around. He’s a stone-cold play maker who can catch whatever is thrown at him and make things happen in the open field. The recruiting barrage is expected to begin this season.

8. Micah Croom
La Mirada, DB, Class of 2016

Croom played last season at Servite and is part a dynamic haul of transfers that La Mirada got this offseason. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, Croom was on many recruiters’ short list of safety recruits. Croom had offers from Oregon, Colorado, UCLA, Illinios, Indiana and Stanford. But Croom ended the process early and chose Utah.

9. J.P. Shohfi
San Marino, WR, Class of 2016

Shohfi used the offseason to shine with his traveling seven-on-seven team and opened eyes just about everywhere he went. Shohfi has the speed needed to thrive at the next level and catches just about everything thrown his way. It also helps that he scored a perfect 800 on the math portion of his SAT. His 1,821 yards and 25 touchdown receptions last season were among the best in the state. Shohfi has no official offers yet but said he’s in heavy contact with Stanford, Colorado, Washington State, Harvard, Yale, Nevada and Cal.

10. Jake Colacion
La Habra, LB, Class of 2016

Colacion was one of the most sought-after defenders in Southern California. His speed allows him to be a menace from his outside linebacker position whether he’s pressuring the quarterback or dropping into coverage. That kind of versatility helped Colacion give the impression that he was all over the field on every play. Colacion didn’t wait long and this offseason he chose Arizona as his college destination. He had offers from Washington State, Boise State, Indiana, Illinois, Northwestern, Air Force and San Diego State, among others.

2015 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW — Twenty years later, Bishop Amat is still waiting on next CIF championship

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WE ARE STARTING TO ROLL OUT OUR HS FOOTBALL PREVIEW ONLINE. THE MAGAZINE WILL RUN IN LATE AUG.

It started moments after the Bishop Amat High School football team’s heartbreaking one-point loss to Corona Centennial in last year’s CIF Southern Section Pac-5 semifinals.

Through the tears and frustration came a prevailing notion that next year would be different. Next year wouldn’t come up inches short. Next year Bishop Amat would be back on top.

The Lancers had just lost to eventual division champ Centennial, 38-37, in a game that ended with Amat being stopped inches shy of the goal line on a two-point conversion to win the game.

It was a loss that put the once-powerhouse program back on the radar in the CIF-SS’ highest division. It was also a loss that set the stage for legitimate championship expectations this season, which just so happens to be the 20th anniversary of Amat’s last CIF-SS championship in 1995.

Important vote about playoff changes looms …

The CIF-Southern Section executive committee will meet Aug. 13 to vote on whether to proceed with a proposal that would base playoff divisions for high school football on teams, not leagues.

Currently, the 13 divisions of the Southern Section football playoffs are based on leagues. The new system would produce constantly evolving divisions that would change annually based on the previous two seasons’ data.

“It’s going to be a paradigm shift for the entire section, if it passes,” CIF-Southern Section information director Thom Simmons said. “What you’ll see in August won’t be a finished product but certainly good enough to base a vote on. They’ll decide whether it’s worth going forward with.”

The executive committee is made up of 23 members, which includes representatives from each area in the Southern Section. The proposal would look and feel much like the one currently being used for basketball, meaning teams from the same league would likely be playing in different divisions once the playoffs started.

If the executive committee decides to proceed with the proposal, an official vote will be taken in January and the new system would be in place in time for the 2016-17 school year.

The new system would see teams move up and down in division based on their success, or lack thereof, from the previous two seasons. It’s unclear whether divisions would go back to be being labeled by numbers instead of names, but the top division would certainly be a mix of established Southland football powers and upstarts, much like the open division is in basketball.

Conversely, teams that play in upper division leagues now, but have unrealistic chances at winning their playoff division, would see their chances of winning a section title improve greatly.

Exactly how teams would qualify for the playoffs remains a bit fuzzy and is likely to be addressed at the meeting. Currently, league champions, second-place and in most cases third-place teams are automatic qualifiers or the postseason.

Season’s greetings! Fall practice begins … “It’s go time”

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Nothing says the start of a new football season like a team’s first fall practice.

For several area high school football teams, Monday signaled the beginning of a new campaign that will hopefully culminate four months from now with league championships and deep playoff runs.

“It’s go time now,” said second-year Duarte head coach Travis Brown. “There’s a sense of excitement. The kids are are locked in. You have spring ball season, your 7-on-7 season, but today was a different fit. There was no complaining and the guys were focused.”

The Falcons began official preparations at 8 a.m. on Monday for their Week 0 opener against Diamond Bar on Aug. 28. Duarte went 2-8 in Brown’s first season, but the former Los Altos standout receiver is hopeful his team will give a better impression this season.

“You want to avenge a bad season, but the one thing we’ve preached is that last year doesn’t matter,” Brown said. ‘We’re a new team with new identities. I think it took me getting a season under my belt to appreciate the entire process. We’ve got guys on this team now who are 100 percent bought in.”

Duarte did mostly conditioning drills on Monday and returned to the field at 3:15 p.m. for more of the same. Brown also said the team worked on installing its offense and first few plays.

Across town at El Monte, the vibe wasn’t atonement, more like greed. The Lions want even more success after finishing second in the Mission Valley League last season. El Monte is considered one of the favorites to win the league this season thanks to the return of standout quarteback Edward Dominguez and dangerous running back Roy Barajas.

“The excitement is kind of unreal right now,” El Monte head coach Joel Sanchez said. “They’re so fired up to get going. For a lot of these guys, it’s their third (varsity) year now and it’s amazing how things have changed.”

In order to win the Mission Valley League, the Lions will have to beat Arroyo for the second consecutive season and then find a way to get past defending champ Rosemead. Sanchez said his players know exactly what the task at hand is.

“Everybody’s No. 1 goal is to beat Rosemead,” Sanchez said. “Usually, everybody’s goal is to beat South El Monte. We’ve beaten Arroyo and South El Monte, but I think the Rosemead game, they’re looking forward to it. We didn’t play well last year and the year before we got our butts kicked. They know what they need to get fired up for.”

The Lions also got their pads on Monday, but won’t be able to use them until Thursday. Same with all teams that began practice on Monday. El Monte opens the season on Aug. 28 against reigning Almont League champion Montebello.

Later this week, Los Altos will renew what’s become its annual tradition of starting fall camp with a midnight practice. Late Wednesday night and into early Thursday morning, the Conquerors will take the field in preparations for the 2015 season.

What Los Altos does for an encore to its improbable 2014 playoff run is anybody’s guess. The Conquerors made it further in the playoffs than any local team by advancing all the way to the Central Division championship game where they lost to Colony.

Should any local team actually win a CIF championship this season, a trip to the state championship bowl game playoffs await. Under new CIF rules, all 13 CIF-Southern Section champions automatically qualify for the state championship bowl game playoffs.

That means the season could potentially be extended by two weeks to 16 games instead of the usual 14.

NEW! All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 … (Post passing circuit) …

NOTE: This may or may not be the last Top 25 before the season. Depends how much I find out during August. Regardless, this will take a focus on what was learned (heard) during the spring/summer passing/linemen competition circuit.

1. Bishop Amat — Most athletic Lancers defense in some time.
2. Charter Oak — Pac-5 level talent in the skill spots.
3. La Mirada — Reloaded. Only concern is chemistry.
4. Glendora — Even with Fink, not impressive on passing circuit.
5. St. Francis — Word is Knights are down a notch.
6. West Covina — Promising better pass attack.
7. La Habra — Offensive skill talent is scary.
8. La Serna — LB Campos looks like special talent.
9. San Marino — No real word on if defense is better.
10. Monrovia — Line play looking real strong.
11. Northview — Word is line play is down from ’14.
12. Damien — Word is there’s minor improvement in talent.
13. Los Altos — Weight room numbers are scary.
14. Muir — QB and line concerns remain.
15. Bonita — About the same as last year.
16. South Hills — Guessing game in several key spots.
17. San Dimas — My, how soon we forget.
18. Diamond Ranch — Talent lacking in key spots, I’m told.
19. El Rancho — Not getting much info on this team.
20. La Salle — Talent level didn’t drop too but it’s young.
21. St. Paul — Mystery team due to skill talent questions.
22. Montebello — Defense and running game still look good.
23. El Monte — Two very legit skill players at QB and RB.
24. Arroyo — Strong line play. Like really strong.
25. Rosemead — Word is Panthers way down along both lines.