Let me be real blunt, we’re weeks away from spring practice and I’ve got five teams set to disappear from the Tribune Top 10 football rankings next season.
More on that in a minute … but first: I’ve heard your roars for more football topics. I know your calendars have mid-May circled because that’s when t-shirt and shorts drills begin. You want to know the Top 10 heading into spring practice. You want to know the Top 10 position rankings and have some schedules broken down to their very last compound. But before any Top 10 can be constructed, one must start with the elimination of certain teams. Narrow down the field, if you will. I know my man “Jimmy The E” over at South Hills knows exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve got to take your racing form and start drawing Xs thru the horses. Then, you arrive at the contenders. So, beside the obvious eliminations, here are some names that were major Win, Place or Show options last year, but won’t be nearly as lucky this year. Could I be wrong? Yes. I’d like to urge all these teams not to cancel practice just because I say their seasons are over before they begin. But, don’t say I didn’t tell you so when things go south and we’re all watching the playoffs together from the sidelines.
Joey Chase will try, but they’ll be crying for the Class of ’07 by late September in Snoop’s hood.
1. Rowland – No more Philip Chase, Rene Small, Jon Couewenhoven, Chad Norys … need I continue? It was nice while it lasted. But Rowland ain’t South Hills. It can’t reload. The senior class that brought the program back to respectability in 2006 will be sorely missed. I see no program on this list poised for a bigger fall. The problem for teams like Rowland or others on this list is that they didn’t make any friends with their success of the past two seasons. Nobody will take them lightly and there’s going to be a lot of opponents looking for revenge (South Hills being one of them).
2. Covina – Talk about scary graduation losses – Mike McDonough, Tre McNair, Jamal James, Manny Esquivel, Ralph Diaz, Brad Gomez … stop me when you get tired. It’s not a pretty picture when you couple what Covina loses with how bad Northview and San Dimas will be seeking revenge. I’m not %100 sure that Covina will fall so dramatically that it can’t put a scare in the Vikes or Saints, but the days of 9-1 regular seasons and 40+ points per game are over until DT pops with his next team of the decade.
3. West Covina – From preseason No. 1 in 2006 to likely not even ranked in 2007. Yes, it could be a big fall for the ‘Dawgs as a dynamic senior class says adios in June. Things wouldn’t have been so bleak, but the program’s graduation insurance – sophomore all-purpose stud Demond Wallace – was in and out of trouble last year with coaches, and last I heard, he’s in Louisiana. WestCo still has an underrated talent base, but you’ve got to be loaded to hang in the Southwest Division with South Hills, Charter Oak and Los Altos. The Dawgs aren’t loaded.
4. Damien – It’s reasonable to expect the entire Sierra League will either stay the same or get better. What’s not reasonable to expect is that Damien will stay the same or get better. The days of Mendrun-to-Eschardies are over. Was there really much more to the offense than that last year? Not to mention the defense says goodbye to linebacker Anthony Hile and defensive back Daniel Harper. Spartans coach Scott Morrison is the luckiest big headset on this list, because unlike the other teams, he’s replacing his QB with a potential stud. The problem is that Damien will need much more than Danny Pertusati to hang in the Sierra and Inland Division.
5. Bonita – Nobody does a better job making the best of what he’s got than Bo-Hi’s Eric Podley. Absolutely nobody. But can Podley pull off yet another magic act next season? QB Jeff Chavez is gone. He kinda came out of nowhere to be one of the area’s best signal callers, just like Mike Williams did. Is there another sleeper in the system? The smart money says “No way, Jose.” Bonita’s in a similar predicament as West Covina in that the ‘Cats are in a division that figures to be dominated by local powers South Hills, Charter Oak and Los Altos. Those teams are nothing to sleep on this year. But Bonita has an even more difficult task than West Covina because the ‘Cats have to vie with D-Ranch and Wilson for the vaunted “other playoff spot” in the Miramonte. West Covina only has to deal with Rowland and Walnut. Podley has pulled off 8-2 and 7-3 seasons, respectively, in the past two years. And I do mean “pulled off.” With so much lost from this year’s team, don’t look for the magic to continue.