I like this much better.

Congrats to Bishop Amat’s Maverick Olivares and Charter Oak’s Tom Quinley on two excellent seasons that led directly to two CIF championships. Congrats to the rest of the team and all the players in the SGV for putting on a wonderful show this season.

Pitcher: Maverick Olivares, Bishop Amat
Pitcher: Tyler Garkow, Charter Oak
Catcher: Nick Field, West Covina
Infield: R.J. Arnold, Northview
Infield: Dimitri De La Fuente, South Hills
Infield: Jordan Fox, Bishop Amat
Infield: Gary Brown, Diamond Bar
Outfield: Chris Eusebio, Bishop Amat
Outfield: Tyler Pill, Covina
Outfield: Nick Torres, Charter Oak
Utility: Kevin Ponzo, San Dimas

Pitcher: Robert Rodriguez, Northview
Pitcher: Andrew Melchor, Nogales
Catcher: Jake Bailey, Charter Oak
Infield: Rich Pedroza, Northview
Infield: Andrew Mistone, Bishop Amat
Infield: Tommy Reyes, Bishop Amat
Infield: JC Torres, Charter Oak
Outfield: Keith Nyeholt, Charter Oak
Outfield: Will Davis, Northview
Outfield: Jordan Leyland, San Dimas
Utility: Mark Larini, Arroyo

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

PRESEASON: Top 10 receivers in the SGV

So fast it’s absolutely necessary to get you the ball. But it was obvious you weren’t quite heavy enough to take the pounding of a running back. And so you were born: The High School Football Receiver. Some call you finesse. But it’s OK, receiver is a finesse position. Some call you play maker, and it’s true. When the team is down 10 in the fourth and needs something big to happen, who do they look to? When the game is tied and it’s 4th-and-8, they need you to come up with that pass over the middle. When it’s play action time, they need you to run by the corner who bit on the run. Ahh, but wait, you need a QB for any of us to see just how good you are. Then you need a coach who knows how to utilize you best. Are you the kind of guy who can’t beat anyone deep, but any jump ball is yours? Or, are you as good as gone with a little shake and some daylight? Or are you both? While I personally don’t condone any NFL team taking a receiver with a first round draft pick, I don’t completely discount the position either. It’s rare that you’ll see a championship football team at any level point to its receivers as the reason why they’re wearing the rings. Unless you’re the Detroit Lions, the position is kind of an afterthought. A football team needs a good QB. It needs a good offensive line. It needs a good running back. You got those things, and the QB has enough time to get the ball to the open receiever, who is only open because the defense concentrated on stopping the good running back first. And they say O-Line is a thankless position. Sheesh! Here we go …

1. Dorian Wells, South Hills – Who else, right? I stand by it, on any team, Wells is the best player in the SGV. Just so happens he plays receiver (mostly). Personally, I don’t think it’s a coincidence Wells ended up at South Hills. There’s probably no other place in the Valley that he’d be showcased better. Wells will be the No. 1 target for whomever is under center. The stats should follow, as should the wins. South Hills projects for a 14 game season and I’d expect Wells’ stats to benefit greatly from that. After this year, we’ll see Dorian on Saturdays.

2. Tommy Cogburn, South El Monte – If you’ve seen him play, you know that Cogburn could line up for just about anybody in SoCal. Talk about a nice blend of speed and hands. Mission Valley League coaches know that if Tommy has the ball in the open field, it’s curtains for their defense. Cogburn is another product of the SpeedKillz program and it should show. As good as the talent is in the MVL this year, it’s my belief that he’s your early favorite for league MVP. Cogburn had 1,195 yards receiving and 14 TDs last year. I’d expect some improvement on those already good numbers.

3. Mikey Harrell, Charter Oak – He caught the game winning TD in the final minute of CO’s win over Diamond Ranch last season. He caught CO’s only score in the championship game loss to El Dorado. Harrell made his bones last year as the No. 2 receiver behind standout Michael Johnson. This season, he’s the No.1 guy and gets the pleasure of having a fully developed Chris Allen to throw to him. Harrell might be the most fun to watch of any player on the list. They don’t come more elusive and he looks better physically after an off-season of maturity and working out.

4. Kyle Warren, Diamond Bar – Warren often gets lost in the fog of Diamond Bar’s overall struggles. But make no mistake, he’s got the frame and athletic ability to be called one of the top WRs in the area. I’m not sure how new coach John Martin is going to utilize him this year, but his 430 yards and 5 TDs in last year’s season from hell actually don’t seem so bad. I expect those numbers to imrpove along with the team. Warren is one of the top weapons around.

5. Dimitri De La Fuente, South Hills – Yes, the pitcher can play a little catch. DLF’s overall numbers may have taken a hit with Wells’ arrival, but there could be enough to go around this season. DLF goes from being the No. 1 target to a clear No. 2. But sometimes that means only big plays and he can certainly deliver those. South Hills’ WR depth goes very deep, but expect DLF to have some big moments.

6. Taylor Herrera, Damien – The more I think about this Damien team, the more the glass looks half full as opposed to half empty. Herrera can flat out fly. He’s got a great QB in Danny Pertusati to work with, too. Imagine this scenario: Pertusati gets flushed from the pocket, he makes a move to stay alive and sets up to go deep. There’s Herrera running all alone behind the secondary … TOUCHDOWN Damien! There should be a lot of that this year.

7. Kevin Jones, Northview – I’m Kevin Jones, don’t like you don’t know my name. Ain’t nothin’ changed … OK, sorry I couldn’t resist a “Back Then” Mike Jones reference. Anyway, we’ve discussed the skill position explosion taking place at NView and Jones is a big part of it. I like the Vikes passing game lots this year. QB Oscar Robles should love what he sees when he looks down field. It’s either Jones or Anthony Farmer. Ooooh, I like the upside of this team! It’s breakout time!

8. Darius Reese, Duarte – I’m going to place Reese on this list, but the truth is that he can and will do it everything for coach Wardell Crutchfield. Like Wells, Reese is the definition of an all-purpose player. Just like most of the names on this list, Reese + open field = points. An offensive Big Three of Austin Goldsmith, Chris Harris and Reese should have Duarte in store for another big season.

9. Tony Seanez, Los Altos – Little Tony Seanez … what can you say? The kid just gets it done. He won’t scare opposing secondaries, but they’ll have a hard time getting in position to make a good tackle on him. And therein lies Seanez’s biggest strength – he’s elusive. I’m not sure what to make of LA’s passing game yet, but Seanez is as sure handed as they come and he’ll deceive some DBs to the tune of embarrassment.

10. Anthony Farmer, Northview – Honestly, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Farmer have just as big of a season as Jones. There’s gonna be enough to go around at Northview as the offensive circus at District Field will now be conducted by the Vikes and not Covina.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

BREAKING NEWS: Dorian Wells headed to South Hills …

Found money …

The info: Former Bishop Amat football standout Dorian Wells, who is arguably the top player in the San Gabriel Valley, has checked into South Hills High and is enrolled in summer school there. He will evidently be a member of the football team this season.

Analysis: Wells’ arrival vaults South Hills into a whole different class. As you all know, I’ve ranked South Hills No. 1 in the SGV and believe they are the favorite to win the Southwest Division. But before Wells’ arrival, you could make an argument for Charter Oak or Los Altos to hold such expectations. Now, South Hills easily ranks with some of the top teams in SoCal. I truly mean this. It’s not crazy anymore to project an undefeated season, and if that happens, then what about a state championship bowl game? The Huskies already have three solid QBs, two excellent running backs, a defense that has a D-1 D-Lineman, two of the top LBs around, and scattered members of the vaunted frosh team from last season ready to play big roles. The offensive line is the only worry. South Hills is absolutely set for an amazing season. Granted, no game has been won or lost yet and the Huskies still have to go do it. But Wells is one of the top skill players in SoCal and he will be an excellent defensive back. Wow! That’s all I can say.
About Amat … I’m simply speechless. This could be the worst off-season I’ve ever witnessed. Obviously something happened for Wells and Amat to part ways. I still don’t want any speculation or commentary on this. For whatever reason, players are leaving Amat rapidly. This does not bode well for what was once a promising season. Amat simply can’t recover from losing Wells and Bryce McBride in the same off-season, then throw in Brandon Sermons and Tony Adams, too. The good news for Amat is the bad news for South Hills – no games have been played. Amat hasn’t lost to anybody yet. But you just have to shake your head. With Wells and McBride, the Lancers were a competent QB away from being a legit playoff team. I’d be very worried and perplexed if I were an Amat fan (and some people say that I am).

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

Top 10 running backs in the SGV …

Gatorade, check. Oxygen, check. Smelling salts, check. Damon Kuklinski is playing running back, too!

If last year was the Year of the Quarterback in the SGV, then this year is the Year of the Running Back (that could be my lead for the football preview right there). I could go on and on with this list because the Valley is up to its eyes in talented ball carriers. Some teams even have multiple options at the position. I’m a little concerned about the fact that many teams may not have a good quarterback to go along with their stud running back, meaning it won’t take much to derail the seasons of several of the names on this list by stacking up against the run. Wasn’t it Mr. Miyagi who once said balance is the most important thing in life. Ahh, something like that. Anyway, here we go … I’m pretty rock solid on this list, but as always I’m open to a little spirited jousting where opinions may vary.

1. Bryce McBride, Los Altos – If LA doesn’t find a QB, then what should be a great season for McBride could be only just OK. It won’t take Charter Oak, Damien or South Hills long to figure out what they need to do to beat Los Altos. And you could see the blue visor go flying if LA isn’t capable of keeping the heat off with a little play action here or there. But the positives pointing toward McBride having one of the best seasons around is the fact that he should simply run away from many of the opponents on LA’s docket. Then there’s the advantage of having guys like Nick Longoria and even tight end Ray Rodriguez clearing the way for him. Conqs coach Greg Gano is savvy enough to get McBride the ball in every which way and even tailor an offense around him if the QB situation doesn’t get better.

2. Chris Harris, Duarte – Harris led the SGV in rushing last year as a junior. Granted, much of that was against inferior competition, but he did rack up 166 yards against Glendora, 241 against La Canada and 189 against Santa Clara. Even the 95 yards against Verbum Dei looks respectable. Don’t expect the numbers to change much this year and they could get slightly better even though tackle Mike Harris is now at UCLA. The presence of QB Austin Goldsmith means that teams can’t just gang up on Harris without facing the prospect of getting beat deep. Harris also figures to move forward physically and the speed is already there to turn a crease into a breakaway.

3. Nico Barbone, San Dimas – Barbone was the worst kept secret in the SGV last year. He was hyped going into his sophomore season and delivered in spades by rushing for 1,330 yards and 12 TDs. The bad news for opposing defenses is that Barbone has evidently put in his time this off-season. He got faster and more agile by taking in part Jimmy Nolan’s SpeedKillz camp. He’s also reportedly gotten stronger via the weight room. Add it all up and Barbone is going to be an even bigger load this season … one who might run away from a few more people, too.

4. Tim Gilmore, Wilson – Some coaches I’ve spoken to believe Gilmore might be the best athlete in the SGV. I’m not totally sure how the Wildcats are going to use him this year. I’d expect him to get a lot of carries, but also some receptions. Gilmore is extremely fast and capable of winning some games all by himself. Against CO or LA, the solo act won’t work. So it will be up to ‘Cats OC Greg Willig to complete the package with other options.

5. Kanaan Snowden, Charter Oak – The Chargers are legitimately three deep at RB this season. But I expect what started late last season to continue this year, and that’s Snowden getting the bulk of the carries. Snowden’s best attribute isn’t speed or breaking tackles, it’s the fact that he hits the right whole and rarely messes with any east/west movements. Snowden has improved physically this off-season and should be ready to build on last year’s late-season emergence.

6. Brian Spirlin, Diamond Ranch – Spirlin was the Panthers’ original starter last year before getting hurt very early in the season. His off-season has been confusing, just like everything else Diamond Ranch. There were rumors of Spirlin transferring to Colony, but it didn’t happen. If healthy, he’s a compact runner with good speed and the ability to shrug off tacklers. Spirlin is expected to be the Panthers’ workhorse and the presence of other weapons should make it so that he doesn’t have to deal with opponents focusing solely on him.

7. Evan Heard, South Hills – I still can’t get over Heard’s physical maturation. The D-1 frame is in place for the versatile junior. But I keep hearing talk of Damon Kuklinski sharing time in the backfield. Given Heard’s versatility and ability to catch the ball, he could play an all-purpose role that will see him line up all over the field. I don’t think Heard will be totally shutout of the carries, and if anything, he should see the bulk of the load since Kuklinski’s first priority is linebacker. Expect another major step forward by Heard this season.

8. Howard Martin, Northview – Just like all members of the Vikings’ ballyhooed Class of ’09, Martin will be expected to take a major step forward this year. There are so many skill players poised for breakout seasons in Northview’s offense, it’s hard to believe there’s enough yardage to go around. But the base of Northview’s offense will be running the ball and Martin should be a force in that department. He’s arguably the top breakout candidate on the list.

9. Damon Kuklinski, South Hills – When I visited Huskies practice, Kuklinski was working with the RBs. How can the area’s top linebacker pull double duty at running back, especially the way Kuklinski plays LB. You could look at Kuklinski’s frame and see it as being possible. This is yet another player who has certainly improved his appearance during the off-season. Wow! Kuklinski has always had the footwork to make for a good running back. I worry about his endurance playing two demanding positions. But he should be good for 10-15 carries a game and that could be enough for some excellent numbers. Kuklinski got carries last year, so this will be nothing new.

10. Marcus Wagner, Bishop Amat – If the Lancers coaching staff would definitively commit to Wagner being the feature back, then he’d shoot up this list. But like Kuklinski, Wagner also plays LB and I just don’t see how he can hold up doing both. Wagner simply looks painful to tackle. Think bowling ball with speed … and with a good offensive line clearing the way, wow! But coaches are treating the QB and RB scrambles like top secret info, so I have no clue what Wagner’s load will be.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email

RUMOR: Mike DiFiori is after the Temple City job …

I want to CLASSIFY this as just being a rumor, but I believe it to be pretty reliable info or else I wouldn’t post it. Evidently, DiFiori has thrown his name in the hat (applied) for the vacant Temple City gig. If it’s true, DiFiori’s break from coaching (at least in the head coach capacity) will have lasted one season (even though for that one season he was an assistant at La Salle). Anyway, DiFiori once coached at Temple City before his stint at Amat. Once again, can coaches please come with something better than “I want to spend more time with my family.” Let me get my hands on the “How to handle the media” guide from CIF and I will change that part.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email