Damon Kuklinski and South Hills could be your early Southwest Division favorite
Way too early area Top 10 for 2007
But first, a quick thought from Aram: From everything I’ve seen and heard, I think the area is poised to have some major success over the next 1-5 years. The bulk of this is likely to come from Amat, Los Altos, South Hills and Charter Oak. No surprise, right? From frosh to junior classes this year, these programs appear to be absolutely loaded. It’ll be fun to see what happens.
1. Bishop Amat - McBride, Wells, Wagner, Austin, Seals … need I go on? Think about how many players got PT this year due to injury. Experience doesn’t look like it will be a problem for HC Verti. The senior class should be one of Amat’s best in recent memory. The lower classes were good, from what I hear. I can tell you what I saw – Amat’s frosh team looked to be absolutely loaded. I don’t know if there’s a policy at Amat about playing sophs, but I’d imagine some will get significant time. The Amat people really need to help me on this. The Lancers need to find a QB as that looks to be the big question mark right now. I’m not kidding when I say this, but I think as close as things are in the PAC-5, Amat could make one of the biggest rebounds in SoCal next season. Quite possibly a semifinalist if things break right.
2. South Hills – Kuklinski, Heard, Bowden, Umodu, Parham, De La Fuente will all be back. Kuklinski will enter the season as arguably the area’s top linebacker. Parham will be one of the top QBs. Heard and De La Fuente will provide the offensive supporting cast. South Hills had an excellent frosh team this year. The defense has its top two leading tacklers back as well as its top DL in Umodu. Due to injuries, several players lettered this year. This team could be very, very scary in ’07.
3. Charter Oak – Up to 10 starters will be back on defense led by Carreon, Perri and Altimirano. The offense will return QB Allen, RBs Snowden and Crespo. The offensive line will be new, but one coach said it might be better than this year! WR Harrell could be one of the top playmakers in the area if his championship game is any indicator. Now you know why Big Lou will be back.
4. Los Altos – Leading QB, RB and WR are gone. But, TE Rodriguez will be back along with WR Seanez. QB could be Howling? The defense will have DL Longoria and LBs Felix and Maciel. Don’t forget about frosh all-purpose player Donte Webb, who didn’t do much this season but should become a major threat next year. LA’s frosh team was supposedly outstanding – 9-1, I think. This program is poised to make another big run over the next few years. Plus, you never know what will transfer in.
5. Glendora – The defense should be a team strength with LBs Niles and Horn back. The offense must replace do-everything RB Edmond, but RB Vega showed signs of being able to handle the load. QB duties should go to Kaluzny, who obviously showed enough this year to get some series in big games, so you have to assume he’ll be ready for primetime. All league OLs Kovar and McGarry also return, too. The Tartans need more athletes to take the next jump.
6. Damien – This might be a stretch, but I like Pertusati taking over at QB, assuming that’s what happens. RB Williams returns as does OL Schmitz. The DL has leading sacker DE Rabe back. I’m not sure how Damien’s lower levels were this year, but I thought I heard they were good.
7. Duarte – The offense will again be explosive with QB Goldsmith, RB Harris and all-purpose Reese returning. The defense has second leading tackler Hayes, a soph, back. Didn’t hear too much about Jordan Canada this year, but assuming he’s back, that’s yet another athlete for HC Crutchfield to utilize. The question is will Crutchfield be back?
8. South El Monte – It’s hard to separate the Eagles, Arroyo and Rosemead, thus making it possible that there will be a tri-champ against next year. QB Garay and WR Cogburn return to headline the offense. Cogburn is the league’s best weapon and only Rosemead with Tra Sumler has something to possibly counter him with. The defense returns the leauge’s leading sacker in Perez and the third leading tackler in Navarro. I have no clue how Escamilla is doing it?
9. Diamond Ranch – Simply having RB Aubrey Haynes back should make the Panthers a contender in the Miramonte. Also, it appears that HC Layton has the program headed in the right direction after the ’05 fiasco. There’s always athletes to work with for whomever is the coach, so the Panthers should be able to at least hang athletically with the rest of the league.
10. San Dimas – This is another ranking I could easily be talked out of by Easter. You have to respect any team with a running back like Nico Barbone. Plus, rumor has it that the Saints were decent on the lower levels, which should only help. HC Zernickow had a big job to do to improve the overall toughness of the players in the program and it looks like things are on the right track. With Covina needing an overhaul and Northview still possibly a year away, San Dimas should be the VVL’s early favorite since it has the league’s best player returning.