PREDICTIONS!!!!

Now that I’ve had a chance to digest the brackets (and some other things) … it’s time to pull out the crystal ball. Bracket by bracket picks for every RELEVANT division to this area.

PAC-5

First Round
St. John Bosco
St. Bonaventure
Santa Margarita
LB Poly
Centennial
Mater Dei
Bishop Amat
JSerra
Second round
St. John Bosco
LB Poly
Mater Dei
JSerra
Semifinals
St. John Bosco
Mater Dei
Final
St. John Bosco

The lowdown: It’s very clear the Trinity is the top league in this division. Contention runs deeper than the top Trinity teams, though, with Corona Centennial and LB Poly also in with big shots. It’s hard to know what to make of the Mission League. Competitive? Yes. But Alemany, Chaminade and Serra ALL weren’t as good as last year. Bishop Amat was way better. Crespi was somewhat better. Amat showed it’s the true class of the league, but the Lancers have QB questions at the wrong time of year. The top Trinity teams played a lot of close games against each other and that should set them up well for a huge showing.

CENTRAL

First round
Colony
Summit (if no Fink)
Charter Oak
San Marino
Kaiser
West Covina
Los Altos
Monrovia
Second round
Summit
Charter Oak
West Covina
Monrovia
Semifinals
Charter Oak
Monrovia
Finals
Monrovia

The lowdown: All bets are off now with Glendora QB Matt Fink highly questionable. With Fink, the Tartans are a clear favorite. Without him, a case can be made for a number of teams. Give me Monrovia, though. The Wildcats can play any style of game. They played a grinder vs. Los Altos and pulled it out. They played a shootout vs. San Marino and pulled that out. They gave a good account for 3 1/2 quarters against St. Francis, too. If Charter Oak wasn’t so banged up, they might get the nod. But the Chargers are winning on coaching and good medical care. Still, the skill players are there to do damage. Like Glendora, all bets are off with Colony, which also lost its stud QB. West Covina is my darkhorse. If that WestCo-Monrovia semifinal match-up materializes, it’s gonna be a coin flip.

MID-VALLEY DIVISION
First round
Paraclete
El Monte
La Puente
Northview
Pomona
San Dimas
Rosemead
Sierra Canyon
Second round
Paraclete
Northview
Pomona
Sierra Canyon
Semifinals
Paraclete
Sierra Canyon
Finals
Sierra Canyon

The lowdown: Despite the outstanding seasons by Northview and to a lesser degree Pomona, you have to really like the top-two seeds in this division. Sierra Canyon is more athletic than just about everyone but Pomona. Paraclete is physical, seasoned and owns a huge home-field edge. Northview appears to have the best chance of any locals to make a serious title bid. In theory, though, you’re not supposed to like frosh QBs in these spots. If the predicted semifinals games do happen, they’re close enough calls to think anything could happen.

SOUTHEAST
First round
St. Francis
Dominguez
Paramount
Crescenta Valley
Cathedral
Downey
El Rancho
La Mirada
Second round
St. Francis
Crescenta Valley
Cathedral
La Mirada
Semifinals
St. Francis
La Mirada
Finals
La Mirada

The lowdown: This division is simply loaded. And I’ve had extensive exposure to it this season having covered La Mirada, St. Francis, Muir, La Serna, California and Crescenta Valley all in the flesh. First off, I’m worried about CV. They have explosive capabilities, but this team is very finesse in what could be a physical bloodbath for four weeks. If CV lost in the first round, I wouldn’t be shocked. The SGV League are the x-factors. Cathedral is good enough to reach the finals, but that would probably mean beating La Mirada in the semis, but before that landmines await in Muir and then Paramount or Norwalk. St. Francis is certainly a deserving favorite. The Knights played in a much more difficult league than La Mirada did. But La Mirada had the much more difficult nonleague schedule and the win over Tesoro is arguably the best win by any team in the entire division this season. Although both team could get an upset scare along the way, St. Francis looks like the surer bet to reach the finals. But if La Mirada emerges as the opponent, then we’re sitting one on of the best finals matchups anyone could ever hope for. Slightest of leans to the Matadores.

NORTHWEST

I’m not going to pick this one because of lack of familiarity with the other teams beside RHP, Maranatha, Cantwell and Poly. But I will say that I think both Maranatha and Poly are somewhat vulnerable based on SOS. However, that implies the competition has some SOS to speak of. Which I’m not sure about.

CRUEL: This is what a football team that thought it punched its ticket to the playoffs looks like … BUT WAIT …

sphs

The above photo is from Twitter. It’s a portrait of the South Pasadena High School football team and spirit squad moments after the Tigers beat La Canada, 21-3, for what they thought was a trip to the upcoming Central Division playoffs.

But after getting off the bus following Friday’s road game, the Tigers were informed by school officials that they had forfeited the victory for undisclosed reasons … those reasons, according to multiple sources, were the illegal videoing of La Canada’s practices earlier in the week by Tigers head coach Marty Konrad’s brother.

A source has come forward to this reporter and said that a La Canada coach who works for the Los Angeles County sheriff’s Department ran the plates of videographer’s car and also got footage of him in the La Canada parking lot. The alleged videoing of La Canada’s practice took place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Konrad did not coach the Tigers in Friday’s game. The Rio Hondo League determined BEFORE THE GAME that the Tigers would forfeit the game if they won. Only problem is the players did not know that before they took the field. So in a cruel twist, South Pas thought it finished third in league and earned a trip to next week’s playoffs. Instead, the Tigers were informed late Friday that although they won, they actually lost … before the game was ever played.

RIDICULOUS!

A letter from South Pas principal Janet Anderson and athletic director Greg Luna explain things better.

Dear Tiger Football Families,
First of all, we would like to thank you for your unwavering support this season. What a remarkable season it has been with tonight’s game a beautiful jewel in the season’s crown. It is with very heavy hearts that we share with you what your sons have likely already shared. After their bus ride back home from La Canada, their coaches and the two of us met with the team. We acknowledged and celebrated their accomplishments and their joy. That made it all the harder to share with them that rather than continue into the CIF playoffs as the third place team, their season has come to an end.
Yesterday, we became aware that our school was accused of a violation of CIF regulations. We are continuing our investigation into the allegation. La Canada played tonight’s game under protest. Had they won, the protest would likely have been moot. With us winning the game, the Rio Hondo League leadership determined that SPHS would forfeit the game and La Canada would take the third place spot.
Tonight, we told the players that they did things correctly; the violations are not tied to their behavior. We also shared that since it is an ongoing investigation, there are details we will not be sharing at this time. Due to the time sensitive nature of playoff seeding, we do not expect there to be a change in this ruling. We are sending you information as quickly and as thoroughly as we can tonight, however brief it necessarily is.
Please help our players process this disappointment by highlighting the many stellar points experienced throughout this season.
We thank you for your understanding and continued support.
Sincerely,
Janet Anderson, Principal
Greg Luna, Athletic Director

NEW! All-Encompassing SGV(N) Top 25 … entering Week 10 …

EDITOR’S NOTE: There will not be another Top 25 until the final Top 25 AFTER the playoffs/bowl season. Good luck, bruthas.

1. Bishop Amat (6-3) — Suggest everyone sees this team at least once.
2. St. Francis (9-0) — Beware of pesky Salesian on Friday.
3. Chino Hills (7-2) — A big postseason run is in the offing.
4. La Mirada (8-1) — Seeking revenge vs. Norwalk.
5. Glendora (8-1) — No league game has even been close.
6. Monrovia (8-1) — Area pundits wanted style points vs. LC.
7. Charter Oak (5-4) — Big Lou may win Hacienda after all.
8. El Rancho (7-2) — Not being feared enough in Southeast.
9. La Serna (7-2) — Will have to take hard road in playoffs.
10. Northview (8-1) — Wow, what a season!
11. La Habra (6-3) — Got a scare from Troy.
12. West Covina (6-3) — Still dangerous come playoff time.
13. Muir (5-4) — Set to Tussle with PHS on Friday.
14. South Hills (5-4) — Are they good enough to upset Glendora?
15. Maranatha (9-0) — When do playoffs start?
16. San Marino (7-2) — Can score on anyone.
17. Pomona (5-4) — Can wrap up Miramonte this week.
18. California (6-3) — Dangerous No. 3 to play in postseason.
19. Diamond Ranch (6-3) — Bad loss to Los Altos.
20. Bonita (6-3) — Need win on Fri. to clinch playoff spot.
21. San Dimas (6-3) — May be taken lightly in playoffs.
22. Pasadena Poly (9-0) — Can reach perfection on Friday.
23. Rosemead (5-4) — Red hot at the right time.
24. Los Altos (4-5) — Back in business with a win on Friday.
25. Montebello (5-4) — Your Almont League champs.

Bishop Amat’s turnaround: How Sweet it is …

sweets

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.”