It finally happened …

I had a feeling this day in high school sports would come sooner than later. Let me first explain what’s going on and offer you some links to help figure it out. There is controversy swirling around Newport Harbor pole vaulter Allison Stokke. She’s an 18-year-old senior and one of the state’s top vaulters. But that’s not why she’s getting attention. It seems that pictures of Ms. Stokke have been circulating around the Internet and they’re not attracting eyes because of her good vaulting form. You can see what I mean by doing a simple google search with her name. I’ve decided against posting any of them here because I don’t want copyright hassles. There’s also a myspace fan page for her, which you can also find by searching either that site or google. Stokke has turned into an Internet superstar for obvious reasons – she’s a female high school athlete with movie star looks and has people toeing a very strange line. And Allison’s father, Allan Stokke, who is a prominent defense attorney, is evidently not happy about his daughter’s new found fame. He voiced his displeasure in a FRONT PAGE story in the Washington Post and more recently the OC Register. Remember, the girl goes to Newport Harbor, and the story is in the Washington Post!!! Think it’s gotten big? The Washington Post article prompted the popular Web site to say: “Giving an huge interview to The Washington Post about how you can’t stand everyone talking about your daughter — and including two more attractive pictures — is really the perfect way to get everyone to stop talking about your daughter.” And then there’s this from CBS.
The situation has become so gigantic that it’s making its way through several major blogs and the debate has begun. I would suggest checking Sportsbybrooks (scroll down) for another viewpoint. It’s currently the lead item on that blog and there’s more further down the page.

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Shrine Game canceled ….

First of all, I blame you. We’ll get back to that in a second. I wrote an article today that ran in all three of our publications. I suggest you read it. Basically, the Shrine Game is taking a year break due to a lack of orginization. Supposedly, this is only a year break and not an altogether cancellation of the event. But if you’ve been tracking the game’s recent struggles – poor attendance, limited TV coverage and controversial selection process – you know that it’s unfortunately on its last leg. It will be a very sad day in SoCal high school football if the Shrine Game becomes extinct. And who’s to blame for all of this? Well, to be blunt, everyone is at fault. Fans for not attending. Players for not playing. Game organizers for not running things properly i.e. changing with the times. Did you go to last year’s game? I did. It was at Citrus College. I don’t think I saw you there because I truly didn’t see anyone there. I do know that I saw some players on the roster who weren’t legit all-stars. Second team all-leaguers selected to play because of connections or coaching preference. So what can be done to revive a game that used to get massive crowds decades ago? I got a call today from Jay Johnstone, who read my article. He’s interested in taking a shot at preserving this part of SoCal sports history. Will anybody else step up?

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I know that it’s kind of a hectic time with two teams playing for CIF championships this weekend, but the (baseball) All-Star game is this Sunday at Mt. SAC at 6 p.m.

Red Team (I think)
Max Valerio Arcadia
Corwin Kim Arcadia
Mark Larini Arroyo
Omar Soto Baldwin Park
Maverick Olivares Bishop Amat
Sergio Munoz Bishop Amat
Chris Eusebio Bishop Amat
Matt Baudino Bonita
Nick Torres Charter Oak
Mark Mendrun Damien
Chris Sandez Duarte
Andrew Viotti Duarte
Greg Cuevas Nogales
Tony Gracia Nogales
Robert Rodriguez Northview
Will Davis Northview
David Leonard San Dimas
Angel Marti South Hills
John Salazar South Hills
Matt Rueda South Pasadena
Joe DePinto St. Francis
Evan Simontisch St. Francis
Matt Quintero St. Francis
Justin Franta Walnut
Ed Caraza West Covina
Nick Field West Covina

Blue Team (I think)
Jacob Giambalvo Alhambra
Bryan Davila Alhambra
Javier Estrada Alhambra
Julio Raymundo Azusa
Cesar Beltran Blair
Adrian Farfan El Monte
Michael Ortega El Monte
Danny Macias Gabrielino
Ricky Pokorny Gabrielino
Mitchell Maseredjian La Canada
Scott Vincent La Puente
Frank Moreno Los Altos
Evelio Ahumada Los Altos
Eddie McKiernan Monrovia
Nick Fabanish Monrovia
Erik Allen Monrovia
Chris Galaviz Montebello
William Loza Montebello
Leander Benjamin Mountain View
Demaris Ellis Pasadena
Matt Forgatch San Marino
Braulio Velasquez Sierra Vista
Adrian Franco Sierra Vista
Mike Mendoza Temple City
Kyle McDonald Temple City

And the softball game is on June 6 at Mt. SAC 6 p.m.

Baldwin Park- Amber Frame
Charter Oak-Delaney Baylor, Jennifer Fontan, Ashley Comeford
Covina-Becky Hernandez
Duarte-Justine Goldsmith
Glendora-Ashley Paul
La Canada-Lise Leibl, Kristen Oechsel
Monrovia-Krissy Mihm, Courtney Mihm, Katie Mc
Samantha Rogers, Brittany Bateson
Northview-Serena Palacios, Casey Mc Phail, Vanessa Gutierrez
Rosemead-Danielle armenta, Leanna San Angelo
San Dimas-Jennifer Bustillos, Jessica Frusher, Gabby McNellis, Amanda
Ratliff, Lauren pulley

Bishop Amat-Lauren Mirabal
Diamond Bar-Brianne Bagwell, Alyssa Walters
El Monte-Jazmin Velazco, Desiree Avila
La Puente-Vanessa Palomino
Los Altos-Samantha Perez, Kim Valdivia
Nogales-Jessica Purcell, Cindy Fonseca
Rowland-Heather Ortiz, Christina Banuelos
South Hills-Tara Olson, Jacquelyn Holtzclaw, Jacqueline, McGrade
Walnut- Britany Matlock, Kristin Lane
West Covina-Shauniece Knight, Desiree Perez, Jordan Augino
Wilson-Jessica Bracamonte

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PREDICTIONS: Monrovia vs. Amat …

I don’t know if Freddie Robledo and his boys are just sandbagging, but there seems to be little belief on the westside that Monrovia can defend its title and take down Amat. It will be ace against ace on Saturday night when Eddie McKiernan and Maverick Olivares oppose each other in a game that will probably take only an hour to complete. Below you’ll find the musings of those who have either covered or coached against both teams in Saturday’s finals. I’d imagine Saturday’s crowd is going to be huge as everyone in the Valley will head east for the showdown. I know, I know, it sucks to go all the way to Riverside to play a game that very easily could’ve been played locally with a lot less money spent on gas. But, just look at Saturday’s game as the only good reason anyone could ever have to set foot in Riverside. Now, on to those predictions … Aram Tolegian: “Amat scores only twice and Monrovia once. McKiernan is dominant, but so is Olivares. Both teams flash leather and do the little things, but Amat does them slightly better. I’ve said it all along, Amat is just top-to-bottom better than anybody in the SGV. That doesn’t mean they can’t be beat, but I’ve seen a lot of teams who have one or two great players, three good ones and the rest average. Amat is just good up and down – batting order, starters and bullpen. Plus, when you watch this team, you can tell Coach Andy Nieto has taught them well. They’re fundamentally sound.” Yes, I just quoted myself. Brian Baiotto: “I definitely think Bishop Amat is going to win because they’ve kind of been cruising through the playoffs. They’re just too sound of a team. I just don’t think McKiernan can beat them alone, as great as he is.” If anybody should know, it’s Northview coach Darren Murphy. He’s played them both. Murphy: “That’s a tough matchup. I like Bishop Amat’s overall depth. They’re better than people assume. When you see Amat, you know you can play with them, but you hope your kids aren’t blown away with the Amat mystique. I like pitching in the playoffs, and Monrovia will be in it with McKiernan. The fact McKiernan has won a championship, and Amat hasn’t, that’s makes it a great game. Overall, though, I’d have to go with Amat’s overall depth. You think they’re beatable, but they find a way to pull out wins.”

Here’s the what the boys from the ‘Dena think:

Fred J. Robledo: Will Monrovia start McKiernan and bring someone else in the seventh inning, or start Eddie in the second inning, and let him finish. I hope the latter is true. In any case, I’ve seen Monrovia and McKiernan enough to know that if Monrovia plays defense behind Eddie, they’re going to win. I watched Monrovia commit three errors in McKiernan’s only loss, a 4-3 setback earlier in the season against Northview. I watched the Cats self-destruct with six errors on Tuesday, but McKiernan came in the fourth inning and settled everything down, then threw shutout innings in the fourth, fifth and sixth to allow the Cat’s to rally and pull out a miracle, 15-14 over Woodcrest Christian in the semis. I’ll set the over/under at 2. If the Cats commit 2 errors or less, they win. Anything more than 2, and the Lancers walk away with the title.

Andrew Campa, Star-News correspondent “Bishop Amat,” Campa said. “Amat is a division one team playing in division five. They’ve been the most consistent team in this division, and they breezed through a relatively tough Del Rey League. You like Monrovia’s heart, but it can only take you so far.”

Scott Galetti, Star-News staff writer: “Bishop Amat,” Galetti said. “Eddie’s only available for six innings, and once they get past him, I’m not sure if the rest of Monrovia’s staff can hold Amat down. I witnessed a game where Amat scored ten runs after La Salle’s starter went out earlier in the season. After seeing what happened without Eddie against Woodcrest Christian, I’d have to go with Amat.”

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Amat and Charter Oak championship game bound!!!

I’d call this a fitting place to play a championship game.

Charter Oak 5, Torrance 1 (Playoffs: CO 45 runs, Opponents 9)
Amat 4, Temple City 1 (The Amat vs. Monrovia matchup is now reality.)
Santa Monica 5, Northview 4 (Horrendously tough loss for the Vikes. They led 4-1 entering the seventh, but had some problems and fell apart. No shame, though. Thanks go out to this team for an absolutely thrilling postseason.)
Female bases
Charter Oak and San Dimas. Congrats to both teams for two unexpectedly awesome runs.

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UPDATED: East All-Star roster for the Hall of Fame Game …

When: July 6
Where: Bassett HS

Head coach: James Heggins, Baldwin Park
Phillip Aguayo, WR, Bonita
Greg Benson, LB, Diamond Ranch
Todd Bruno, LB, Glendora
Jesse Cervantes, OL, Bishop Amat
Philip Chase, QB/DB, Rowland
John Cornell, RB, Claremont
Jon Couwenhoven, DL, Rowland
Nic Curry, DB, South Hills
Emilio De La Garza, OL, Charter Oak
Terrance Dennis, DB, Diamond Ranch
Ralph Diaz, DL, Covina
Jordan Edmond, RB, Glendora,
Travis Eschardies, WR, Damien
Eric Flores, OL, Gladstone
Rex Foss, WR, Los Altos
Eric Gomez, WR, Ganesha
Josh Gracieux, DL, St. Paul
Aaron Harris, RB, Baldwin Park
Evaristo Herrera, OL, Baldwin Park
Anthony Hile, LB, Damien
Michael Hooper, LB, Bonita
Ivan James, WR/DB, Garey
Jamal James, WR/DB, Covina
Jon Joe, WR, San Dimas
Michael Johnson, WR, Charter Oak
Sam Lavea, DE, Los Altos
Mishaun Marshall, RB/DL, Nogales
Greg Martinez, OL, Montclair
Mike McDonough, QB, Covina
Mark Mendrun, QB, Damien
Ricky Montoya, LB, Baldwin Park
Mike Natividad, OL, West Covina
A.J. Pasalo, LB, Charter Oak
Brian Percell, DL, Pomona
Jose Perez, OL, St. Paul
Shaun Rosenthal, LB, West Covina
Darius Ridge, DB, Claremont
Frankie Ruiz, TE/DE, Bassett
John Salazar, WR/DB, South Hills
Alex Silva, QB, Workman
Richard Skolaski, OL, Northview
Marvin Walker, DB, Chino
William Wallace, RB/DB, West Covina

NOTE: There are preliminary plans to have a Saturday afternoon practice/scrimmage with the snack bar open that will give fans a fun way to watch these guys scrimmage against each other. Heggins thinks it will be the team’s first time in pads. Should be cool. More on that later … The team will practice at Baldwin Park HS in the new stadium where a beautiful field turf surface has been installed. That stadium looks unreal, by the way.

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The shot heard around the SGV …

A familiar scene at Northview games this season.

Northview 4, Bonita 3 – R.J. Arnold delivers a walk-off, 3-run homer.
San Dimas 9, Lompoc 8 – These Saints are road warriors.
Charter Oak 16, Norte Vista 2 – Ditto.
Nogales 3, Alhambra 2 – Romano and the Nobles defy logic, win in 10.

Both dongs were hit to the same place (sorta).

ABOUT NORTHVIEW VS. BONITA: I’ve never seen such a stunning end to a prep baseball game. What amazed me was the silence right after Arnold went yard. The Bonita fans were obviously shocked, but I don’t think it even registered with Northview fans for about a minute. That’s probably because it happened so quick. Arnold came to the plate, took a cut, then took another and connected. Poof! Game over! Absolutely unreal!!!!

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Amat or South Hills … Where was Chris Rix on Monday?

ANSWER: If you said South Hills, you’re correct … keep reading!

I stopped by both Amat and South Hills this afternoon to catch a glimpse of practice. I went to South Hills first because Capri Deli is strategically located nearby (roast beef and provolone, toss the bread). As soon as I got to Huskiesville, Director of Football Operations Jimmy the E dragged me into head coach Steve Bogan’s office, and there he was – Chris Rix. I asked Jimmy the E “What’s he doing here?” His response was “He’s just helping us out with the quarterbacks.” We all promptly made our way out to the field. Once there, I got a private moment with Coach Bogan to ask questions about the players. Then, I asked about Rix and basically got the same “He’s helping us out with the quarterbacks” answer. OK, Rix isn’t officially on Bogan’s staff yet, but he could be headed that way. Interesting …On to my impressions. First off, some attorney somewhere should consider legal action against the Huskies on the grounds that Bogan has a quarterback monopoly. With so many other Valley teams needing only a signal caller to have a big season, i.e. Los Altos or Amat, it’s comical that South Hills has three! All three of these guys would start almost anywhere in the Valley, and probably beyond our borders, too. Rix and former South Hills QB Kevin Mort were working with Brandon Parham, Cameron Deen and Chris Willison. This was one impressive site. I’m not kidding you, all three QBs have good size and good arms. You really don’t see three at the same place like this almost anywhere. If you have a chance, go watch a South Hills passing game. The rest of the team passed the look test, too. The one who impressed me the most was Evan Heard. Here I thought Heard’s role would diminish with Anthony Drake vying for time. But Heard’s physical development this off-season is just stunning. He’s morphed into a Michael Johnson-type frame and he’s only entering his JUNIOR season!!! Also, Damon Kuklinski looked much bulkier (in a good way) and his footwork is still all there. I could not be more impressed with what I saw. On to Amat … I was most interested in the QB situation. I can tell you, for what it’s worth, any one of South Hills’ QBs would be Amat’s frontrunner. That’s no knock, but it is what it is. I don’t really know names when it comes to most of Amat’s roster. But I saw four QBs in throwing drills and the smallest one (name?) looked the best by far. He threw the nicest ball with the most velocity. Looks like a good fit. What impressed me most were the bookend tackles – Dominique Austin was one of them and I don’t know who the other is. Amat has the makings of a very good line. I only saw Marcus Wagner play defense, but I’d hate to tackle him if he were a running back. This is another kid who looked as though he didn’t miss a weight room session. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t blown away by Amat’s talent as compared to South Hills or Charter Oak. I think the Lancers probably have more overall horses, but I saw a myriad of kids at both South Hills or CO who would definitely start at Amat. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing. About the coaching, I’d like a tour of the players from head coach Mark Verti like I got from Bogan, but I’m not sure that’ll happen during practice. Verti remains very hands-on. I noticed the coaching staff was very intense. That’s understandable considering the pressure these guys are under.

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I will start this thread for those of you who have visited practices at any of our SGV schools. Please start by telling us where you watched from … were you that guy in his truck on the street? Were you two blocks away with binoculars?
Then, let everyone know what you thought, even if it’s a simple “So and so looked yolked.” I’ll decide what’s good enough to stay posted. Also, when/if I get out to a practice, I will post what I saw. We already have two solid reports. They’re posted in the comments section.

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If it feels like you’re being watched, it’s because you are …

Per my conversation today with an assistant football coach, who said he’s noticed people watching spring practice from afar and wanted to know if I had something to do with it: I must tell you all that I’ve never shunned insiders. If you’ve got something to say, want to call or email, I’ll listen. If it makes you feel involved, a part of the action, then do it! You know who I’m talking about … the guy by the fence who you don’t recognize. The guy who you look at and say “Is that Johnny’s dad?” and then your assistant coach says “No, Johnny’s dad is over there.” The guy who’s there one day, but not the next. Anyway, when I first started this beat I received sporadic phone calls from people who seemed to know a lot about certain programs, but weren’t exactly affiliated with the school. Insiders, if you will. Unlike other people in this business, I didn’t shun them because, as I found, their information was usually accurate. And so the amount of people feeding info to your’s truly grew. And now they blog. Or at least a lot of them do. I don’t know who they are, but they form a good network. One that I feel ultimately enhances the coverage because I can’t be everywhere at once. Maybe one more sandwich from Capri Deli and I’ll be able to, but not right now. Anyway, don’t sweat it. We all want the same thing – to know who’s got what and who’s going to crush next season. I feel better now that we got everything aired out.

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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS: This is why I love Division IV …

The “love” must be spread equally, according to some people.

Is it time for Charter Oak to take its Pill?

C-Town vs. CO on Thursday.

I’m sorry, there were a lot of other items to come out of today’s pairings announcements. But nothing could be better for the Valley than this. Anyway, Northview got the No. 2 overall seed and avoids Torrance (my biggest fear) in the lower bracket. Amat is the Numero Uno seed in D-5, no surprise there. This should be a very fun next couple of weeks.

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Did I say last week? I meant this week …

Pertusati … and … well, Pertusati. Damien is the hardest team in the area to gauge.


But first, some concept: Bill Walsh once said that quarterback is the most important position on the field. Take it from a guy who watches football non-stop, from Friday night until Sunday night, I believe this is the most profound statement about the game EVER! (And yet it’s so simple). It’s better than “defense wins championships.” Better than “ya gotta have a good running game.” There might be examples of both axioms being true, but the fastest way to having a good football team, especially in high school, is having a good QB. And it doesn’t matter if he’s a runner (Philip Chase) or a thrower (Matt Castaneda) or both (Mark Mendrun). You see, I truly believe that life isn’t complicated. Complications come only when we make them. I believe everything can and should be simplified. High school football is no different than anything else. Good coach + good QB = good team. It’s just that easy for me. Having watched a lot of high school football, my biggest philosophy is that if a team has an effective passing game, it’s got the foundation for a good season. I’ve seen too many teams handicapped by bad QB play. The reason for this is that very few coaching staffs can make up for a lack of a good QB by running the ball well and being creative. Eventually, you need to throw. I’m not saying a team has to be Ty Detmer and BYU, but I am saying it has to be able to at least throw fear (literally) into the opponent. So now that you know my criteria for preseason rankings, you have a little insight into why the rankings are what they are. Believe me, they can and will change. This is the best guideline I can provide SGV fans entering spring practice. I will insert the anonymous opinion of SGV insiders here and there. I’ve heard some very interesting things thus far and it’s only May! Obviously, your comments and input are appreciated.

1. South Hills – I’m not sure many of you will understand this, so I’m just going to say it. Things like the 35-0 loss to Charter Oak, the loss to Rowland, injuries to key players and the overall inability to get on a roll last year have South Hills poised to take no prisoners this season. As one SGV assistant coach put it “Charter Oak woke up the sleeping giant.” They did, and now the San Antonio League and Southwest Division are going to pay for it. The Huskies won a share of the league title last season and upset a seeded team on the road in the playoffs in a REBUILDING YEAR. Now the best frosh class this area has seen in a LONG TIME is ready to play a significant role on the varsity level. Are they needed? You be the judge. South Hills has a viable returning QB in Brandon Parham, who lost the battle last year but most assume will have the job to himself this year. Really? Word is that junior Cameron Deen and soon-to-be sophomore Chris Willison (6-1, 185) will push for the starting job. RB Evan Heard is back after a solid sophomore year, but word is that Anthony Drake (one-time Diamond Ranch student) will get the bulk of the carries and is very explosive, an element South Hills sorely lacked last year. Dimitri De La Fuente returns at WR, but word is that both receivers on last year’s frosh team could crack the starting the lineup. Couple all of that offensive potential with a defense that will rival Charter Oak as being the best in the area, and you see why it’s not too soon to put South Hills at No. 1. About the defense, the front seven will be stellar with LBs Bowden and Kuklinski back and DL Kebin Umodu already entertaining one offer from a Pac-10 school. The season lays out perfectly. The Huskies will get tested early by a tough non-league, go untouched in league and enter the playoffs as a seeded team. In my opinion, no team in the area or Southwest Division has more upside than South Hills. It’s very possible the Huskies could be sitting on three consecutive CIF titles.

2. Charter Oak – Talk about a complete team. There are 10 starters back on defense, an up-and-coming QB, two RBs good enough to be featured and an elusive playmaker at WR. But the only reason I can’t put Charter Oak No. 1 yet is because I believe losing WR/DB Michael Johnson and LB AJ Pasalo will take a bigger toll than most people expect. Not to mention, most of the offensive line has to be replaced. However, if the new offensive line is as good as the coaching staff believes, then CO will be markedly better on offense. RBs Kanaan Snowden and Johnny Crespo are a fantastic combo. WR Mikey Harrell and QB Chris Allen should get plenty of good opportunities down field with that kind of running game. I think the biggest thing this spring will be monitoring Coach Lou Farrar’s situation. Some people say OC Dominic Farrar and DC Roger Lehigh will basically run the show as Big Lou’s role begins to decrease. I just have a hard time believing Big Lou can simply slide into the background. It’s a situation worth watching at passing league games and the like. By the way, CIF ought to just follow my Top 3 for the Southwest Division’s opening poll. The division champ will come out of this group.

3. Los Altos – One insider told me to set up camp at Los Altos because this is far and away the best team in the area. I’m not sure I buy it and that’s because of the QB vacancy. However, all bets are off with South Hills and Charter Oak if the Conqs do somehow land a transfer or coach Greg Gano develops a competent passer from what he’s currently working with. TE/DE Ray Rodriguez and OL/DL Nick Longoria are a great pair to build the core of the offense and defense around. LBs Richard Maciel and Marc Felix are a nice tandem in DC Lee Fair’s scheme. The offense has everything, but the aforementioned QB. The Conqs have to be able to get the ball to Rodriguez and WR Tony Seanez. The running game is set with Bryce McBride, who I rate as the top RB in the area. I’d like this team even more if the Donte Webb situation were more clear. He’s still on campus, from what I hear. But it’s a long off-season. If Webb stays and can somehow play a Chappelle Brown-like role at WR/DB, then this team gets that much better. Los Altos’ off-seasons are always fun to follow. Nobody reloads better and holes always seemed to get filled.

4. Bishop Amat – From top to bottom, this is the best team in the SGV. But Orange Lutheran, SO Notre Dame and Loyola don’t really care what Los Altos, South Hills and Charter Oak think of the Lancers. So, everything about Amat has to be judged by the company it keeps. Players like Dorian Wells and Dominique Austin are great, but almost everyone in the PAC-5 have their own versions of them. And when you’ve got a weakness, it doesn’t take long for opponents to figure it out. Amat’s weakness right now is QB. Who is he? From what I hear, several players are battling for the spot. Amat can’t get through its league and CIF-SS division without a balanced offense, so the QB situation is the single most important item this spring/summer. It’s quite simple – if Amat finds a capable signal caller, get ready for a big season. All of the other pieces are in place.

5. Glendora – I’m not sure about how explosive the Tartans will be, but the defense is in place to have another strong season. I am a little concerned about the offense in the post-Jordan Edmond era. Not to mention, Zach Butler, the team’s second best offensive threat, is also graduating. That leaves QB Drew Kaluzny and RB Jake Vegas as the cornerstones of coach Mark Pasquarella’s offense. Glendora’s front seven is one of the best around, so the job of the coaching staff is simple this spring and summer: Develop the skill players because 14 points per game might just be enough for seven wins. P.S. I’d still like to see Glendora with a little more in the athleticism department.

6. Duarte – Am I the only one noticing that Duarte is starting to control the Duarte-Monrovia talent split? And it’s happening so quietly. This is quite a scary situation that’s in the process of happening. Last year, Duarte sent TWO players to Division I college teams. We’re talking UCLA and Fresno State, folks. What other SGV team did something like that? This year’s team features Chris Harris, who anonymously was the Valley’s leading rusher last year (it was a very tough conversation with Coach Crutchfield, telling him that Harris wasn’t 1st team All-Area). Not only does Harris return, but QB Austin Goldsmith (2,100 yards and 21 TDs) is also back. All-purpose standout Darius Reese returns, too. Duarte will put up a scary amount of points again this season. There’s absolutely no reason the Falcs won’t roll thru the Montview League and be on their way to another semifinals (or beyond) finish in the Mid-Valley Division.

7. Damien – The Spartans were No. 1 in the area for most of last season. So dropping all the way to No. 8 in the off-season is a big slide. Like last year, there’s a chance I’m severely underestimating the talent. QB Danny Pertusati gives Damien the formula I like – good coaching and a good QB. But I’m worried about the defense and the running game. I’m worried that Damien won’t be able to stretch the field like last season. The offensive line has the potential to be good and RB Marcus Williams is back. But beside Pertusati, where’s the speed on this team? This is yet another club to watch this spring/summer.

8. Arroyo – The Knights are the only MVL currently ranked. Although Rosemead and South El Monte have some nice talent coming back, Arroyo appears to be the more reliable situation. I’m not %100 sure about Tommy Cogburn and what toll asst. coach Jerry Urias took at South El Monte. Same can be said for DC Anthony White being removed from Matt Koffler’s staff and whether Tra Sumler is ready/able to be in the spotlight. So, Arroyo looks like a pretty solid favorite in the MVL and one could make the argument that nobody has more returning talent than the Knights. The preferred formula of a good QB/good coach is in play here. Plus, the Knights have up to four transfers/shoulda been Arroyo kids anyway ready to play a significant role.

9. Northview – There’s talk that the Vikings are ready to go on a Covina-like run beginning this year. Not only is the talented soph soon-to-be junior class something to be excited about, but it’s also the second year for head coach Jim Arellanes, so the players should be more used to his systems. It’s no secret that the upcoming junior class was supposed to do some good things, so this has to be the year all of that starts to materialize. The VVL looks wide open and Northview might just be the fastest of the fast.

10. Diamond Ranch – The Panthers had Top 5 potential until RB Aubrey Haynes made an odd transfer to St. Paul. Although nobody understands how going from Diamond Ranch to St. Paul qualifies as moving on to greener pastures, the blow of Haynes’ departure certainly hurts. But RB duties aren’t hopeless if Brian Spirlin fills Haynes’ shoes. There was some concern the soon-to-be junior was bolting for Colony, so monitor that situation closely. The rest of the Panthers offense appears just fine. Amat transfers Tony Adams and Brandon Sermons could add to the firepower. There’s returning experience at QB, which is nice. The Panthers’ nonleague schedule remains worrisome, but not as suicidal as last year. Like Northview, Diamond Ranch has a second-year coach in Roddy Layton who should see things go much more smoothly now that the campus is used to his style. Diamond Ranch remains one of the area’s more naturally talented schools, so even though this year’s team isn’t as experienced as last year, it remains a good bet to have similar results. Remember, the Panthers beat Los Altos and were a minute away from beating Charter Oak last season. Don’t sleep on this program.

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ANSWERS: Los Altos vs. Bishop Amat (Ahh, the beauty of blogs) …

I guess it’s just part of my job to be able to get ahold of coaches at the push of a button. Here’s what they said …

Mark Verti, Bishop Amat

Why don’t you play Los Altos?: “I don’t know. I’m not sure.”
Can you understand why fans would want to see it?: “I can understand why, it’s two local schools with local fans. It’s two schools with good tradition. It just hasn’t happened. If we played Los Altos every year, I don’t think it would be a big deal. It’s just that we haven’t played in the past and people want to see it. They’re a great program. It makes sense, but it hasn’t happened.”
Would you consider playing Los Altos in the future?:” I never say never on anything. We sign two-year contracts with schools. When they’re up, we sign with new schools.”

Greg Gano, Los Altos

Why don’t you play Bishop Amat?: “I don’t know, that’s a good question. I’ve never talked to Coach Verti about playing. Coach DiFiori called one year and our matchups didn’t matchup. It’s never been that they pursued us or we pursued them.”
Can you understand why fans would want to see it?: “They (fans) would want to see it. They’re (Amat) still the premier school in the Valley. Who’s ever denied that? We have a lot of respect for those guys.”
Would you consider playing them in the future?: “If it worked out on our schedule, we wouldn’t duck them and they wouldn’t duck us either.”

Aram Tolegian,

I want to thank both coaches for answering these questions. And I want everyone on here to appreciate both coaches for playing along and being honest. It’s an interesting proposition to be sure. I think both coaches kind of agree that fans are making a bigger deal out of this than what there really is. But then again, that’s what we are – fans. That’s what fans do. And I think that both coaches understand that.

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“Little Floyd right now would be sitting in a grave or somewhere selling drugs if wasn’t for his daddy,” Floyd Sr. said. “Now his daddy is the villain? No, the villain is that Black Mamba (Roger’s monniker as a fighter).” – from boxing writer Robert Morales’ story in today’s Tribune.

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