I’m happy it rained on the CIF championship bowl games …

Mother Nature was trying to tell CIF something yesterday.

I kept hearing people refer to the winners of yesterday’s games as “state champions.” But I remember CIF’s Thom Simmons telling me they weren’t going to be crowning any state champions after the bowl games. The games were simply “championship bowl games.” Very confusing. Maybe something changed. Are Oaks Christian, O-Lu and Canyon officially state champs? Or, did the tricky title of the games fool them like it did all of the FSN crew? Somebody please tell me.

I won’t lie to you – I spent most of Saturday shopping. I got text messages from two people asking me if Oaks Christian was winning. I got no reply from these two people when I texted back that I was at Nordstrom. That’s right, not Home Depot Center, not on my couch, NORDSTROM! However, it’s usually a safe bet that on any given weekend I’ll be on my couch watching sports. But it’s Christmas.

I did, however, get home in time to catch some of the Canyon game. Just watching the third quarter and listening to Petros Papadakis call the game was enough for me to keep turning the channel or put it on mute when it was on 653. Don’t get me wrong, Petros is very good on the radio. But TV makes his act get old real quick.

The only redeeming part of the Fox Sports broadcast was watching Lindsay Soto brave the rain while trying to act excited about the day’s events. Even her undying enthusiasm for prep sports had to be tested severely yesterday. I doubt she got home yesterday night, ran into her husband’s arms and said “Let me tell you about what a great day I had.”

It was a bad day overall for the media, which spent most of the week claiming none of the three games would be close and the event would be better with different matchups. In case you haven’t been able to tell by simply reading my stuff, prep sports writers can’t handicap football games. We really shouldn’t even try, because when you’re right, you still sleep alone and when you’re wrong you get countless emails from people who waited until after the game to call you an idiot.

Here’s a brief thought on all three games:

Oaks Christian27, Cardinal Newman 20 – Didn’t see the game, but Cardinal Newman covered and that’s all that mattered. I’ve never seen a more hated team than Oaks Christian. Nobody likes them, except for their own fans.

Orange Lutheran 42, Palo Alto 28 – This only fueled the “Corp is better than Clausen” argument that will wage for the next four years.

Canyon 27, De La Salle 13 – Watching De La Salle’s offense in the second half of yesterday’s game was like watching a certain former Tribune sports writer hit on a waitress at the now defunt National Sports Bar in West Covina – painful.

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UPDATE: Tribune Player of the Year (football) …

I’ve received many inquiries as to who it might be, and from what I understand, there are a lot of people thinking that because they haven’t heard anything yet, it means their kid/player didn’t get it. I can tell you all right now that I simply haven’t decided yet. The All-Area team is selected already. Player of the Year is not. This is a very difficult decision to make and I like to put a lot of time and thought into it as well as get the opinions of others. I will have a decision soon.

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Way too early area Top 10 for the 2007 football season …

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.

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It could be a long year for the East SGV boys hoopsters …

Early tournament results are troubling …

Glendora Tournament goes to Pasadena. Glendora, which used to own this thing, was out somewhat early. And the Tartans lost to Alta Loma in one of the conso games.

Arroyo Tournament goes to La Canada The Spartans beat Keppel in the finals.

Two eastside tourneys and no eastside teams around at the end. Hopefully, things get better.

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Sorry about the video highlights …

The audio came in very choppy … but rather than not having any video at all, I urged the boys to come up with one anyway. It’s one of these things that you don’t know about until you get back to the Tribune and see what you’ve got. The picture is all good, don’t adjust your computers, it’s just that the sound came in very choppy. I know it’s annoying, but it’s better than nada.
As a side note, Keith Birmingham put together a nice audio slideshow that I think you’ll like.

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UPDATED: POSTGAME: Talk your smack or cry me a river …

Southwest Division
El Dorado 17, Charter Oak 6

Aram’s final thoughts: Here’s your bottom line in the Southwest Division
1. El Dorado
2. Charter Oak
3. Los Altos
…and the rest.

That might look obvious to you, but it says something. First of all, SGV fans know that CO or Los Altos haven’t had one of their juggernaut teams since earlier this decade. That makes both teams reaching the Final Four a very impressive feat. Charter Oak wasn’t seeded, but reached the finals. Los Altos was the “coin flip team”, but that’s really a technicality. The Conqs were easily one of the top teams in the division. What I’m trying to say is that going by the records and seedings, this wasn’t supposed to be the SGV’s year in the Southwest Division. Yet here was CO playing for all the marbles. Here was LA in the semis. Here was West Covina beating the No. 1 seed. Here was South Hills downing a top four seed on the road. None of these teams were “loaded” this year. None of them! In the years that SH, LA and CO won CIF titles this decade, they entered the playoffs as seeded teams … as favorites. That wasn’t the case this year. What you saw in El Dorado was a “once in a lifetime” group. The Golden Hawks don’t reload like LA or SH or CO. I don’t think Trabuco Hills will ever be better than it was this year. I don’t think Foothill can do much better. And I won’t even mention Mayfair … if it didn’t happen this year …

The conclusion to make is that this was El Dorado’s title to lose. They were the favorites. They are legitimately the best team in the division. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t have been caught on an off night, but there’s no doubt about it – El Dorado is the best team in the division and they simply took care of business. Going forward, the rest of this division – the OC leagues and the 562 league – are in deep hot dog water beginning next year. With the underclass teams CO, SH and LA have, don’t look for Farrar or Gano to retire anytime soon. Don’t look for Bogan to take it easy on anybody in the coming years. Do look for the SGV to be a major force for the next few years.

CO gave it a great run this year. But remember, the difference between this year’s team and ’01 champs or the ’02-03 Conqs or last year’s SH, is that this team wasn’t SUPPOSED to win it. Those teams were all SUPPOSED to win it. Pretty soon, the SGV will have the seeded teams i.e. the teams supposed to win it and I’d imagine they will.

Congrats again to El Dorado. The Golden Hawks were a class act, from players to coaches to fans. They accomplished a major feat for their school and will go down as local legends because of it. I know it was hard for a lot of you to see CO lose, but if you’re going to lose, El Dorado was the kind of team you don’t mind losing to.

Also, congrats to the entire division and all of its players and coaches. Not just locally, but everyone. You guys put on a tremendous show! It was a wild ride. It was classic high school football. It was the perfect reason why I always tell people that going to a game/getting behind a team is their civic duty.

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Going back to sleep … see you all at the game!

Yeah, I did it.

I won’t lie to you. I woke up this morning and the scale said I still weigh too much but the lowest I’ve been in a while. I celebrated by going from Monterey Park to Pasadena for a chilli omelette from Top’s. I told dude to hold the hash browns and toast so I could stick to my modified, less healthy version of the Atkins Diet. They didn’t give me the hash browns or toast, but I still got charged $6.48. I’m convinced there’s flour in the chilli, but oh well.

Anyway, some of you have asked me about the life of a sports writer in the past. There’s an initial look, just for you. Just like how some teams lay out a game day intinnerary, sports writers kind of do the same. Here’s mine:

9:15 a.m. – Wake up.
10 a.m. – Take 10 to 605 to 210 to go to Tops. Get off the 210 at Myrtle in Monrovia because traffic is terrible.
10:30 a.m. – Arrive at Tops.
11:00 a.m. – Arrive back at home; crush omelette with ease.
11:10 or so – Go on Internet.
Now: Go back to sleep. Hey, you would too if you didn’t have a real job.
3 p.m. – Wake up (again)
3:05 p.m. – Take a shower.
3:45 p.m. – Get on 10 Freeway for what should be an hour’s drive to go 10 miles.
4:45 p.m. – Arrive at Tribune.
5 p.m. – Leave Tribune for Citrus College.
5:30 p.m. – Do TV pre-game show with Big Reg, who keeps busting my chops.
5:45 p.m. – Possibly walk off the set if the stools Reg is using are too small.
7 p.m. – Cover Charter Oak/El Dorado game.
9:45 p.m. – Listen to various yells from people telling me to how to do my job as I leave the stadium.
10:15 p.m. – Arrive back at Tribune to write.
11:30 p.m. – Finish article.
11:45 p.m. – Make sure “SGVN Video Game of the Week” narrarator Jeff Tolcher is OK.
Midnight – Leave Tribune.
12:01 a.m. – Try to talk myself out of making a run to Alfredo’s. This typically becomes a desperate conversation once I’m past the 605 on the 10 East. It gets real emotional as the Santa Anita Ave. exit approaches.
12:30 a.m. – Yell various profanities in a state of disgust that there’s a line THIS LATE at Carl’s Jr.
12:32 a.m. – Order something that I can take the buns off of and eat (wack).
12:40 a.m. – Eat.
12:45 a.m. – Go on Internet at home to see if Tribune web site has been updated. It usually isn’t.
1 a.m. – Go to bed.

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