MUST READ: Outside influences have found their way into high school football

For the past couple decades, high school football has largely been shielded from the damaging effects of “club” or “travel” teams that have plagued other sports and rendered playing for the hometown team nearly meaningless.

There was a intrinsic protective layer that football had unlike other sports because there’s simply no way to mimic the actual game without throwing on pads and helmets and lining up 11 guys to go against 11 other guys.

Until now, that is.

No, nobody is playing full-contact football games in spring. Yes, the best way for college coaches to evaluate players still remains watching their game films from fall. But things are definitely changing.

The proliferation of specialized offseason training by private coaches and privately run 7-on-7 teams are starting to become a bigger and bigger part of the recruiting process. And these private coaches are starting wield even more power and influence than anyone previously thought. As we’ve seen in sports like basketball and baseball, as goes the recruiting process so goes the hearts and minds of athletes and their parents.

Earlier this week in these pages we showed you how and why a private coach like Traison Lewis of “Body By Tra” has exploded in popularity among prep football players. What we didn’t show was the potentially damaging effects that a powerful entity like a Body By Tra 7-on-7 team can have on the sport.

Several prominent high school coaches were contacted for the story on Lewis and Body By Tra, but none of them wanted their comments made public. Sure, the parts where the coaches spoke in generalities about specialized training could have been used. But nothing specifically related to Body By Tra was for public consumption.

Why is that? Are the coaches fearful of repercussions from parents who send their kids to training outfits like Body By Tra? There may be something to that.

No matter one’s opinion of Lewis or other specialized trainers and private 7-on-7 team owners, there’s no denying the success of their businesses are directly linked to the amount of top recruits who they help get scholarships. Read that last line again.

Fact is, Lewis and others like him have become very powerful players in the recruiting process, and thus the overall sport. In some cases, even more powerful than a high school head coach himself. We weren’t joking when we used the line “power player” about Lewis. Anybody who has NINE! players who received scholarships playing on ONE! 7-on-7 team, as Lewis did in 2012, is a very powerful person.

Therein lies the problem for high school coaches. Private coaches like Lewis are gaining steam in the hearts and minds of athletes and parents because they are often viewed as bigger advocates for Lil Johnny’s scholarship cause than his own high school coach. Read that last line again, also.

Then there’s the whole matter of undue influence. Lewis has severed all ties to high school coaches as far as his own staff is concerned. The damage has been done, though. Prior to Lewis making that move, there was a long list of Body By Tra athletes who in recent years left their schools and transferred to Upland where one of Lewis’ assitant coaches was reportedly on staff as, get this, “college recruiting coordinator”.

Lewis isn’t stupid. He knows antics like that will lead the powers-that-be, i.e. CIF, to come down so hard and fast on his business that he’ll be watching in the stands like the rest of us if it keeps up. But he has bigger fish to fry. Lewis has a burgeoning business and a growing brand in the recruiting world.

Ten years ago, I would never be standing on a sideline covering a game, have someone approach and tell me “watch out for No. 21, he’s gonna be a good one” … unless that person was No. 21’s parent or some faculty member at the school.

These days, it happens almost every Friday night. And when I ask around about who the guy that whispered in my ear was, the answer almost always is something like “oh, that’s his 7-on-7 coach”. If it’s happening to me, imagine how many college coaches’ ears a guy like Lewis is getting in.

If you need any help with that, I will leave you with this thought. The day Lewis was interviewed for his story, he told me he had just gotten off the phone with a coach at Alabama who wanted him to bring a convoy of Body By Tra players to Alabama to participate in a camp. The same thing supposedly happened earlier with Tennessee.

College coaches aren’t allowed to attend private 7-on-7 tournaments, but media recruiting services are. Somehow, both the college coaches and media recruiting gurus know Lewis’ name. And now you do, too.

You’ll have to decide whether that’s a good thing.

LATEST RECRUITING: La Mirada WR/DB Tony Brown offered by Utah St. … Bishop Amat RB/LB Anthony Camargo offered by Fresno St. …

La Mirada WR/DB Tony Brown, who transferred in the offseason from Servite, has picked up an offer from Utah St., giving him a total of six offers. Brown’s other suitors include Purdue, Iowa St., Utah, San Jose St. and Washington St.

Bishop Amat RB/LB Anthony Camargo, who has insane grades and interest from several Ivy League commodities, has been offered by Fresno St. Camargo is likely to be Amat’s feature back this season, which probably means less time on defense. But in college, Camargo projects as a linebacker.

Camargo was a first-team Tribune All-Area performer last season.

Who is this man? And how has he become one of the most powerful forces on the local football scene?

tra2

Depending on who you ask, opinions vary widely about Traison Lewis.

To prep athletes and their parents, there’s arguably no offseason coach/trainer more popular. Among local high school football coaches, however, the consensus is that he’s part of a problem that’s only getting bigger.

What nobody can deny, though, is that Lewis and his brand “Body By Tra” have become a serious power player on the local prep football scene and it’s only getting more powerful.

“Power player? I mean, I don’t know,” Lewis said. “I don’t consider myself that. If there’s one thing you’ll notice about me and our program it’s that we’re very humble and we just like to let the kids and parents evaluate us and see what we do.

“I like to say we’re the best kept secret. People find out about us by word of mouth. All these top-level athletes have been in our programs for years. The kids sell us and the parents sell us more than we sell ourselves.”

If Body By Tra is a secret, then the secret’s clearly getting out. Every offseason a bigger and bigger crop of local talent clamors to be part of Lewis’ 7-on-7 team. And who can blame them? Lewis’ 2012 team had nine players who wound up getting scholarships.

This year’s team featured local standouts like the Bishop Amat tandem of receiver Tyler Vaughns and running back/linebacker Anthony Camargo along with St. Francis receiver Dylan Crawford and West Covina defensive back Isiah Love. Whittier Christian tight end Noah Evans, the son of former Raiders quarterback Vince Evans, is also on the team.

The quarterback? None other than Santa Margarita standout K.J. Costello, who is considered to be one of the top prospects on the West Coast. And because one team wasn’t enough to fit the amount of players Lewis had at his disposal, he had a second team as well.

Lewis, a graduate of Rancho Cucamonga High in 2000, was a standout on the Cougars’ 1999 CIF championship team. He earned a scholarship to Wisconsin as a outside linebacker/defensive end and later finished his college career at Sacramento St. He had brief stints on the practice squads of the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans before trying his hand in the Canadian Football League.

What began as Lewis working out two local athletes at a park in 2006 has blossomed into a business that Lewis claims isn’t profitable but is certainly growing rapidly. The price per workout ranges between $20-40 depending on the athletes’ age and whether it’s on the field or in the weight room.

Lewis estimates that he spends $20-30,000 per offseason on Body By Tra. It’s easy to see how expenses pile up as Lewis often piles his 7-on-7 teams into two, 15-passenger vans and they travel around Southern Calfiornia and have gone as far Las Vegas to compete in tournaments against other top private teams. In June, Lewis will take a convoy to play in a prestigious tournament in Florida.

It’s all part of an increasingly football-centric offseason that many athletes now partake in. Instead of playing in other sports at their schools, the players who choose to focus solely on the gridiron do so by getting specialized training.

“That’s what fueled me to go 110 percent with this — you had a lot of people out there charging parents and kids for recruiting,” Lewis said. “Telling them ‘I can get your kid a scholarship’. That’s not true. What earns you a scholarship is Friday nights.

“I want to have a program that works with integrity and puts kids first. Everybody on my staff is a certified trainer, the whole package. I want this to be a one-stop shop for kids as well as parents. We’re going to get your kid bigger, faster, stronger, but you’re also going to be athletically developed at the positions you’re training at on the field.”

In recent years, several private offseason training options for football players have sprouted up, be it former Bishop Amat quarterback Chris Rix’s “Champion Training” or former Los Altos defensive stalwart Brigham Harwell’s “Trench Hogs”.

But none has been as controversial, or popular, as Lewis’ Body By Tra and that’s because in addition to skilled training, Lewis offers his athletes recruiting exposure. Besides his 7-on-7 team, Lewis offers a myriad of training services for athletes. It’s not just football players either. Bonita girls basketball star Nikki Wheatley, who will play at UNLV next season, is a client of Lewis’. As is Bonita water polo standout Samantha Snow, who will attend Arizona St. this fall.

Athletes from all over are starting to catch on, too. Lewis reports that several football players from Northern California made the trip down every weekend to be a part of his workouts this offseason. There was even a player from Colorado who did the same.

Lewis is mostly based out of Upland, but his weekend workouts this year have been held at Chaffey High in Ontario. It’s Lewis’ supposed ties to Upland’s football program that have gotten have drawn the ire of several local high school football coaches who point to a steady stream of athletes who trained under Lewis and later transferred to Upland.

One such notable transfer came last year when former San Dimas running back, then a member of the Body By Tra 7-on-7 team, transferred to Upland in the offseason. Payton was later ruled ineligible by the CIF-Southern Section on grounds his transfer was athletically motivated. Payton later played at Bonita.

Lewis denies he has any ties to Upland football and this year has instated a policy to have nobody on his coaching staff who is affiliated with any high school program. That wasn’t the case last year, though, when Lewis’ quarterback coach Mike Esquivel, a 2000 Upland graduate and Upland Pop Warner coach, was also on staff at Upland. Esquivel is no longer on staff at either place.

Several local football coaches declined to comment on the record about Lewis and Body By Tra when contacted about this story. However, many expressed concerns off the record that ranged from having their players illegally recruited to play for another school while being part of Body By Tra to having parents be sold unrealistic dreams about their kids’ chances to get a football scholarship.

Like it or not, Lewis is here to stay and his print on the local football scene is getting bigger and bigger. His case as to why Body By Tra is so popular and growing so quickly is compelling when viewed from the standpoint of a teen-aged football prospect and his parents.

“Where else can someone go from being nobody to all of a sudden being one of the top prospects in the state of California and getting recognized?,” Lewis said. “These kids want to be a part of this more than anything. What kids are looking for is a place to get exposure. With a 7-on-7 tournament, if you can go to one place on a Saturday and Sunday and see the best skill talent in all of Southern California, that’s a no-brainer for the recruiting services.”

To contact Body By Tra …

Phone: 951-283-4796
Email: bbtathletics@gmail.com
Web: bbtathletics.com

All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 entering spring practice …

tyrekadams
Tyrek Adams is 1 big reason the Dena will surprise in ’14.

So yeah, this the opener for the 2014 season. There will be another after spring/before passing tournament circuit and another one after that and then a final preseason one right before the season in August. But don’t hold me to any of that either.

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1. Bishop Amat — You know it’s scary when I’m more excited than Freddie.
2. Charter Oak — Worried about defensive losses, but offense is scary.
3. Glendora — Arguably the best QB around in Fink makes Tarty scary.
4. Muir — Your early favorite in the Southeast.
5. St. Francis — Heavy graduation losses, but program reloads well.
6. Chino Hills — Tons of skill back, but defense has to get better.
7. Los Altos — So much returning line talent. Another big year coming.
8. La Habra — The rumblings haven’t been all positive this offseason.
9. San Dimas — QB, top-two rushers gone. But D is loaded.
10. Diamond Bar — Noodles for a full year and loads of skill talent back.
11. Damien — Lost some studs on D, but RB Thigpen is real deal.
12. La Mirada — Defense has to get faster, but Lara at QB is nice.
13. West Covina — Yet another factor in loaded Hacienda League.
14. La Serna — Program is solid, but how do you replace Frankie Football?
15. La Salle — A tad concerned about proposed new league.
16. Monrovia — New coach, tons to replace. Cats are hard to decipher.
17. Pomona — You’ll know the name Darreon Lockett real soon.
18. Rosemead — Tons of returners. Your early MVL favorite.
19. Diamond Ranch — Lost a lot to graduation, but always solid.
20. Arroyo — Hit hard by graduation, but program reloads.
21. South Hills — Will be in deep in new league.
22. Bonita — Might be hardest hit team by graduation.
23. Montebello — Trajectory of program is up.
24. Pasadena — My surprise team. You’ll see.
25. Maranatha — Lots back and Bogan running the show.

It was almost the end of an era for San Gabriel Valley football fans …

Local high school football fans will never know how close the San Gabriel Valley came to losing the annual East-West all-star game. Actually, they will because I’m about to tell you.

As of last Sunday, the game was pretty much off. The reason? The National Football Foundation decided that because of insurance issues it will no longer be attached in any way, shape or form to the game … or any all-star game anywhere for that matter.

To put that in a local perspective, the game that so many of the Valley’s former prep football greats once played in was almost dead after 34 years of providing our top football talent with final sendoff in front of their family and friends. What a disgusting thought.

Enter Mike Maggiore and West Covina High School. Maggiore, the current Bulldogs head coach who played in the game in 1985, saved the day along with the powers-that-be at West Covina. That’s right, somehow a school district, of all things, was able to secure insurance so that the game could go on. And it will, on May 16 at West Covina at 7 p.m.

How ironic, a school district was able to reach a confidence level regarding insurance that an entity that calls itself “The National Football Foundation” could not. What a joke. But anybody who has been following the demise of the prep all-star game concept in recent years isn’t surprised.

Fact is, the East-West all-star game was heading down a slippery slope into oblivion that most high school all-star games find themselves on before eventually flickering out.

Remember the now-defunct Shrine Game? Remember how that one used to be played before gigantic crowds at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before eventually barely being able to fill up the parking lot at Citrus College for its last few installments?

Well, those who thought that could never happen to the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame East-West All-Star Game were quite wrong. It’s easy to point to the game organizers when looking for blame. After all, the game was supposed to pit the area’s best talent from BOTH sides of the Valley against each other. But that’s rarely happened in several years.

There’s plenty of blame to go around. Some local football coaches have lost touch with the game. Game organizers were often anything but organized. Some players were less than interested in playing while others treated it like the biggest honor in the world.

To look down at the roster in certain recent years and not see players from Bishop Amat, St. Francis or Muir was a flat-out joke. The answers were never clear from either side when asked how this could happen, but it doesn’t really matter because the fact is player participation from the Valley’s flagship programs should simply be a given.

Another flaw is that the games have become increasingly uncompetitive with the East now working on a six-game winning streak and most of the scores in that streak blowouts. Organizers have tried to no avail to balance things out. But if no Muir or St. Francis kids are playing for the West in certain years, then it doesn’t really matter how many players you pull from non-Valley schools like Garfield and Lincoln?

The good news is that Maggiore understands all of that and has some great ideas to change things. First, starting next year and going forward, the game will likely be played in January. The thinking is that more players have incentive to play because it’s a final showcase for recruiters before signing day. It also doesn’t hurt that in terms of conditioning and mindset, January is much closer to the end of the football season than June.

Second, the borders are likely to change. What divided the Valley into East and West in the past has been the 605 Freeway. Maggiore is going to propose that the dividing line is changed to Azusa Avenue. If that doesn’t make things more competitive, then nothing will.

It’s too bad it’s come to this. It’s too bad that one of the best events on the Valley sports calendar had to recently be plucked off of life support. But maybe in the end it will be a good thing.

One of my fondest memories from the East-West game came in 2005 when on the first play of the game, West Covina’s Walter Thurmond III landed a jarring hit on Blair’s Sean Smith on a pass out of the backfield. Both players are now in the NFL. Those types of moments need to keep being added to the Valley ledger.

The National Football Foundation’s loss will hopefully be the Valley’s gain. This might just be the seam that local coaches burst through to get back involved in the game and make sure their players do the same so that future memories and one final showcase of talent for the athletes who have given so much can thrive for future generations to come.

CIF-SS Council deals blow to several Southland football powers, but that’s good news for Cathedral and St. Francis

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OFFICIAL: Catholic League
Bishop Amat, Serra, Loyola, Notre Dame, Alemany, Chaminade and Crespi
OFFICIAL: Mission League
St. Paul, St. Francis, Cathedral, Salesian, Harvard-Westlake and La Salle

LONG BEACH — The Catholic Athletic Association left the fate of two of its most important leagues in the hands of the CIF-Southern Section and when all the votes were in, several representatives from some of the Southland’s top football powers were disappointed.

The CAA saw its football-only league proposals voted in at Wednesday’s council meeting, then successfully appealed by Cathedral High School, which left one of the major goals of the association unmet. That goal was to create two, four-team leagues that will likely compete in the Pac-5 Division.

Instead, the council voted in Cathedral’s proposal that the two, four-team leagues be turned into one, seven-team league that did not include Cathedral, as originally planned. In the process, the council nixed the CAA’s major objective of securing two, four-team leagues so that it would get four guaranteed playoff spots. With a seven-team league, only three playoff spots will be guaranteed.

“The CAA voted and the final two proposals were 24-0 to have two, four-team leagues,” Chaminade athletic director Todd Borowski said. “We knew there was nothing else we could (today). There was no other appeals and you just have to go with what the council votes.

“We had our say, but apparently it wasn’t good enough. This is a great learning thing for us.”

The big winner in all of it was Cathedral, which avoided being placed in one of the two powerful four-team leagues. Another winner was St. Francis, which faced the prospect of replacing Cathedral in one of the leagues if Cathedral had argued that the Knights were a better fit.

Cathedral’s argument, though, was based on competitive equity and principal Brother John Montgomery made a compelling case that his school did not belong at the Pac-5 level. The final vote tally for Cathedral’s appeal and subsequent plan was 46 (for), 16 (against) and 12 abstentions.

“It’s hard because I feel for those guys because I know they didn’t want a seven-team league because that’s a gauntlet to go through,” St. Francis football coach Jim Bonds said. “I do think the council made the right decision today. It was in their hands and we would have had to live with whatever that decision was regardless.”

The new seven-team Catholic League, which is likely to be placed in the Pac-5 Division next month when playoff groupings are announced, consists of Alemany, Bishop Amat, Chaminade, Crespi, Loyola, Notre Dame and Serra.

The Mission League will now be Cathedral, St. Francis, Salesian, St. Paul, La Salle and Harvard-Westlake. The league configurations will start next school year and last four years.

The CAA had been to the drawing board several times trying and the one overriding theme was the desire to have two, four-team leagues. Where the CAA met trouble was in finding a suitable eighth team to round out the two-league formation.

At first, it was Salesian. But Salesian appealed and won, causing the CAA to put forth another proposal that replaced Salesian with Cathedral, which immediately said it would appeal that idea at Wednesday’s meeting.

“The council made their vote and the council does have the ability to move schools and/or leagues,” CIF-Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said following the meeting. “And they did. They made the move to let Cathedral go to the Mission League.

“It’s always the responsibilities of the leagues and the areas to form these leaguing configurations. If they do them and everyone is happy, we’re not here. But as you saw today, there was a school (Cathedral) who felt they were placed in appropriately.”

In other business, the council voted to support a motion that would limit the amount of practice time teams can have in a week to 18 hours in six days and no more than four hours in one day. The new rule will directly football teams who spend long days on the practice field during “hell week” in the form of two-a-day practices.

“This is a state-wide proposal and it’s been looked at by the CIF-State health advisory committee and sports medicine committee,” Wigod said. “A lot of people have said we have do something to limit the time that kids are involved in sports. It’s a health and safety issue.”

The measure will need to pass at the State Federated Council meeting to get enacted.

One motion that was overwhelmingly shot down was a measure that would have allowed athletes to play both club and high school sports at the same time while that sport is in season.

St. Francis might be movin’ on up if it’s left to the CIF-Southern Section council …

There’s a vibe out there among those who closely follow the Catholic Athletic Association’s high school football re-leaguing process that one more twist or turn is coming.

It’s the same vibe that one might get while watching a cinematic thriller that fools you into thinking the ending is obvious before one final act shatters all preconceived notions and leaves the audience with its mouth open.

In theory, the final act to this saga should have already been played out when the CAA met on Tuesday and in a close vote put forth its latest and final proposal for league alignments that would span the next four years.

On April 30, the CIF-Southern Section council will meet to ratify the new leagues and move forward in the process of cementing things so that the next order of business — the new playoff groupings proposals — can take place in May.

One problem, though. Cathedral High School is going to appeal the CAA’s league proposal. Big deal, you say. Appeals rarely win, right? And how can one win an appeal on the very deadline day that everything needs to be finalized?

Well, this is where the aforementioned final twist will take place. In the eyes of this reporter, Cathedral stands a very good chance to win its appeal and if I were St. Francis, I would be getting my argument against joining the Pac-5 Division ready because you’re likely to need it.

At issue is Cathedral’s placement in what’s being called the Catholic South League along with Bishop Amat, Loyola and Serra. The Phantoms don’t feel they belong at the Pac-5 level. It’s the same argument Salesian recently made in its successful appeal, which led to this latest proposal.

Basically, the CAA’s solution was to swap Salesian for Cathedral. That’s not going to work either. At least it shouldn’t. No matter how one feels about how Cathedral and Salesian do business, it’s hard to make an argument that either is more Pac-5 ready than St. Francis.

How St. Francis has avoided being fingered as the team that should be moving up to fill the final spot in the Catholic South League is a total mystery. Personally, I don’t think that any of the trio of Cathedral, Salesian and St. Francis belong in the Pac-5. But if somebody’s gotta do it, the numbers don’t lie and it should be St. Francis.

The Knights are 3-1 against Cathedral over the past four years and the lone loss was by two points. The Knights have finished above Cathedral in the Mission League in three of the past four years.

Some will argue that Cathedral, with its penchant for attracting transfers and supposed craftiness in helping with the financial burden of attending a private school, is better equipped to handle the leap than St. Francis, which is expensive, doesn’t offer much in terms of aid and rarely gets transfers.

While there may be a lot of truth to that, the problem for St. Francis is that it will get laughed off the stage if it tries to use that argument before the council. The main thing that will be considered is competitive equity and Cathedral has a heck of a case if it goes that route and suggests St. Francis be the program to round out the Catholic South.

What high school football fans are witnessing here is actually a microcosm of one of the major plagues of the CAA. So many of the schools in the group frown upon the others for the way they do business.

While some athletic programs abstain from playing the recruiting/athletic scholarship game and ultimately pay the price in terms of wins and losses, others are consistently accused of recruiting or luring top talent, some of which is in the form of transfers. Those schools are the ones winning championships. Ain’t that right, St. John Bosco?

It’s quite the contradiction. Behind closed doors and under their breath, certain CAA schools often entertain the idea and bounce around the concept of starting their own entity separate from CIF. We’ve all heard it at some point.

But how can that happen if nobody can seem to agree on the proper way to do business? How can that happen if you base league placements on which schools play the recruiting game better? How can that happen if there’s contradiction all over the place?

From Damien and St. Bonaventure’s arbitration hearing win and subsequent exclusion from the parochial area to Cathedral and Salesian claiming they can’t be in the same league as each other to now St. Francis being shielded from being the obvious team to round out a league, it’s been a fiasco of a year for the Catholic parochial schools.

One of several things can happen at the council meeting on April 30. Cathedral could lose its appeal and further drama will be avoided. But if the Phantoms win, then there’s a live chance that the council will decide the fate of the CAA leagues.

It’s never good to leave your fate in somebody else’s hands. It’s never a good feeling to let somebody do your thinking for you. But that’s exactly what might happen and probably should at this point.

This council meeting is supposed to be for the simple process of ratifying league proposals that are well thought out and not contradictory. Instead, you can bet there will be fireworks and probably one final twist.

Muir WR/DB Taeon Mason offered by Notre Dame …

taeon

Muir wide receiver/defensive back can add Notre Dame to his growing list of suitors.

The Fighting Irish offered the senior-to-be on Tuesday. Mason is reportedly already at USC commit, but is open to all offers. UCLA and Oregon have also shown interest, if not offers.

Although Mason plays both ways for the Mustangs, he projects as a cornerback in college and is one of the top recruits in the country at that position.

Mason was a Star-News All-Area selection last season.

Aram’s Take: If you’re handicapping where Mason goes, you have to think USC will be it. The whole Kevon Seymour (former Muir player now starting DB) connection is going to be tough to overcome. Also, be very afraid of Muir this season … if the Mustangs find a QB.

Brigham Harwell’s Trench Hogs ready to unleash on the Valley this season …

The high school football offseason has plenty going on to show fans just how good their team will be at the skill positions. But what about the linemen?

You don’t see the big guys, err trench hogs, at out passing tournaments unless they’re watching in the stands. No, they’re typically hidden away in smelly weight rooms trying to lay the foundation for success.

That is until former Los Altos standout Brigham Harwell started Trench Hogs, a weekly workout designed to help offensive and defensive linemen get the extra polish that’s usually reserved for skill position players.

“You’re only as good as your lines,” said Harwell, who was the Tribune Player of the Year in 2003 and later played at UCLA. “That’s why I wanted to do Trench Hogs. You only go as far as your linemen.

“I wish their coaches would see see the kind of work they’re doing. The coaches aren’t seeing it, but they’ll see it in camp, because by August these guys are going to be top-notch players.”

Harwell, now an assistant coach at Cantwell Sacred Heart in Montebello, holds the workouts on weekend mornings at Cantwell. Saturdays are for skills work while Sundays are for weight room. There are 15-20 participants on a given weekend.

“It’s amazing to see guys wake up every weekend and be here,” Harwell said. “I went hard during the week in high school, but I would never workout during the weekends. These guys are a different breed. They don’t go on vacation. Football is their lives.”

Harwell is set to unleash his proteges on the local scene this fall, headlined by Bishop Amat’s Ryan Munoz and Andrew Vasquez, and Los Altos’ David Jimenez.

Jimenez is already known a quantity. He was a force last season as a junior and figures to be one of the top defensive linemen in the area this fall. Listed at 6-foot, 255 pounds, Jimenez had 65 tackles last season, including 11 tackles for loss.

“Jimenez is just a strong guy, a lot of power,” Harwell said. “He’s going to be a senior and knows that this is his year.”

Munoz and Vasquez saw limited playing time for Amat last year but figure to be counted on heavily in their junior season. Both players could quickly develop into stars for the Lancers, according to Harwell.

“This year would be their year to make their nose in the Valley,” Harwell said. “They know all the tricks.

“Andrew has technique and is really fast and explosive. Ryan is just all around a good defensive tackle. He has it all.”