I accepted a position with FOXSports.com today and will leave the San Gabriel Valley Newspaper Group at the end of this week. In this new position, I will be working behind-the-scenes and learning how a major sports media Web site operates. I’m very excited about this new opportunity, but a large part of me is sad to be leaving the SGV Tribune. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I’ve had over the past few years. Covering SGV sports has allowed me to come in contact with some truly great and special people. I will miss the long conversations with coaches. I will miss the interaction with the athletes. I will miss all the guys in the office. I will miss the anticipation of the big game. Above all, I will miss the fans/readers. Fred Robledo will take over for me effective immediately … with a Hawaiian vacation mixed in (don’t ask). I’ve already warned him about how nutty this side of town can be, and the passion the readers/fans have for their schools. Freddie knows most of this anyway … he lives locally and went to Edgewood. You guys will be in great hands. He’s got a ton of experience and will be paired with Steve Ramirez to make sure nothing skips a beat. Plus, I will be reading as much as I can to keep up with the latest happenings, so I’ll definitely give them some heat along the way. Lastly, I want to thank all of you who made this blog and our prep sports sites what they currently are. The hit counts have been tremendous and a surefire way for management to gauge just how key preps are to the community. Because of you, the higher-ups are aware of this, and believe me, they are committed to making the coverage even better for years to come. In the meantime, please start hitting Robledo’s blog for all your needs. I’ve been giving him some background on the area and he just might be more excited for Week 0 than, say, Covina or Bonita or San Dimas or Gladstone or La Puente … so long.
This is truly a sad day. The Genius passed away. In my opinion, Bill Walsh was the greatest football coach ever. He truly changed the game. So much of what we see now has direct ties to Coach Walsh. His breakdown of every detail was something never seen before, and probably won’t be again. What a pleasure it was to watch those NFL Films productions of him breaking down Joe Montana’s footwork and delivery. The precision offense (West Coast) he perfected is and always will be a thing of beauty. None of you have any idea how bummed I am that this man is gone, taking with him the knowledge and comprehension to fill all of heaven. The highlight of Walsh’s career, to me, has nothing to do with Montana or any Super Bowl. It’s his second stint at Stanford, specifically the 1992 season (his first back in the college game). The Cardinal went 10-3 and waxed Penn State in the Blockbuster Bowl. THE GENIUS!
Here’s what I’ve got for you today. I’ve spoken to a few more coaches, but Coach Pasquarella Watch has entered into Day 4. That means still no call back. Hurts! Speaking of getting stiffed, I spoke to Diamond Bar coach John Martin, who offered very little info about the Brahmas and justifiably so. Martin said he won’t really know what he’s got until the pads go on in August. Fair enough. He’s new and wants to see what the boys can do in pads. But not even receiver Kyle Warren is guaranteed a starting spot, according to Martin, who will not name any starters and said all positions are considered open until he sees what happens in pads. One small issue for Martin, who likes to run a double tight end set, is finding two tight ends to fill those roles. Stay tuned … I also spoke to Arroyo coach Jim Singiser, who said he wouldn’t go so far as to compare this year’s team to the 2004 team, which went 12-1. I don’t blame Singiser for tempering expectations because his team has been the darlings of summer, impressing many observers in t-shirts and shorts. Singiser did say he was pleased with how things went throughout passing league. One of the people impressed by Arroyo was West Covina coach Mike Maggiore, who also said South El Monte caught his eye. I’ve heard different things about West Covina, but Maggiore said he’s still pleasantly surprised and really likes his both of his lines. Maggiore did say the Bulldogs aren’t as fast as last year, but there will be athletes in the right places. Just don’t expect the offense to do much more than push opponents around, eat clock and grind for yards. Sounds like a good formula. Maggiore also said the program’s overall numbers are excellent. That’s good news for WestCo as it remains one of the area’s best talent bases. Outback Steakhouse is going to sponsor/cater Diamond Ranch’s annual “Black and Blue Game” on August 25. For $5, people will get chicken or ribs and some sides. That’s a pretty good deal. Then the question will be how how many D-Ranch fans yack it all back up when they see this nonleague schedule:
8/31 at Edison
9/7 at Chino Hills
9/15 Christian of El Cajon (9-3-1 last year)
9/28 at Ayala
10/4 Oaks Christian
Hey Eddie, bet they don’t have this in NY.
Get ready for this item to be a daily staple. Among other things, I will post a once-a-day thread with some tidbits of info for you … AND … it will likely include a photo of my lunch. It won’t start until I get back to work in early August. The idea came to me while sitting in the Dodger dugout with Juan Pierre, just thinking about life, two hours before yesterday’s game. Not a word was spoken, or rappped, but it was very stirring. I must tell you that I set foot back in the office today for the first time in a long while. I immediately got the “Got a minute?” invitation into Steve “The Legend” Hunt’s office. Not sure if he was kidding when he fired me for wearing shorts, but technically I’m still alive because I wasn’t actually working. For those who don’t know, Steve is the greatest living prep sports writer. He also calls the shots now for the entire SGVN. For me, and those before me, it’s kinda like following Wooden at UCLA. I’m not trying to score points, but those of you with a little gray in your hair know what I’m talking about. By the way, I’ll play the Steve Lavin role if his wife is in the package. Following the impromptu discussion, me, Fred Robledo and Eddie Barrrera, of Mets fan degeneracy fame, went to lunch. Go to Eddie’s blog if you want to discuss local news. Eddie got his first dose of Mongolian BBQ today, so be gentle. Between meetings I made some calls to football coaches and this is what I got. Nick Lenhart, with a good recent performance at a passing tourney, has a slight edge on two others for Amat’s QB vacancy going into Hell Week. Yeah, I capitalized Hell Week. And I got this from Amat coach Mark Verti, so trust it. Verti also said that Marcus Wagner still wears the golden “A” on his helmet. Then I spoke to Damien coach Scott Morrison, who gave me an eery feeling that Sparty will be just fine this year. That was nothing like the feeling I got from Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar, though. More on that later. Anyway, Coach Morrison said he was pleased with how summer went. He also told me QB Danny Pertusati won’t play in the secondary if he can help it. I don’t agree, but then again, there’s a reason why Coach Morrison wears the headset and I hop over the cables. Back to Big Lou. You know that feeling you got sometimes when watching The Sopranos? The one where you knew something was going to happen, like somebody getting whacked a few scenes later. That’s the vibe I got today from the SGV’s boss of bosses. It’s been dangerously quiet in Charter Oak recently. Farrar did reveal that O-Line coach Moose Evans likes his group this year. As you know, CO has a lot to replace on its O-Line. But so far, so good. Arroyo coach Jim Singiser called me back after I left a message, but I couldn’t pick up at the time because I had left the office and preoccupied. I will call you soon, coach (if you’re reading).
UPDATE: I forgot, Freddie dubbed The Crazy Horse in West Covina as our spot for Monday Night Football. You should’ve seen Robledo’s eyes when he saw it’s going to open soon. See you there?
It’s autograph day here, so I’m pretty busy signing away with Nomar, Penny and Lowe. OK, not really. Anyway, no live blogging today. But tomorrow I’ll begin making calls to local football coaches (fair warning) to hear how their summers went. We will also have more position rankings this week (so quit jonesing). Be ready. Football begins in August!
I’ve never seen a painting that can capture the beauty of this.
4:31 p.m. – Dodgers win, 8-6. Just got back from the postgame interviews. Now it’s time to do magic with the alphabet.
3:37 p.m. – Dodger fans might want to consider that Saito may not be available. Jonathan Broxton for a save opp against the Mets’ bottom half?
3:34 p.m. – Eddie’s Mets just got a little closer thanks to Carlos Beltran’s bomb. It was enough to make the NY media look up from their soft serve. Do they not have soft serve in NY? Geez. We’ve got a game here. Stop thinking about food!
2:40 p.m. – Kiss Cam just came on. Ahh, the middle of the sixth inning tradition. First we kiss, then we sing. I’ll bet there are some days they don’t have Kiss Cam down at Petco.
2:18 p.m. – Dong! Matt Kemp just put the Dodgers ahead with a three-run shot. Still not quite an everyday player yet, though.
1:47 p.m. – Y’all wanna hear JP flow? Juan Pierre just extended his hitting streak to 14 games by driving in Brad Penny.
1:39 p.m. – Speaking of pizza, I was wondering how I look in the press box? I’m sitting front row in the L.A. Daily News seat, and maybe somebody looking for Vinny will see the big daddy banging away on his lap top. Well, I got my answer earlier this month when former SGVN columnist Keven Chavez went to a game I was covering and from the cheap seats sent the following text message: FAT. He always had a way with words. Guess he saw me.
1:37 p.m. – David Wright just blasted his 18th dong of the season. Lotta Mets fans here. I don’t get it, if the pizza is better in NY, then why ya here? I have to keep reminding myself that life isn’t all about pizza … there’s burgers, too.
1:22 p.m. – Hey, Lastings Milledge just drove in the Mets second run. Ya dig?
1:11 p.m. – Remember Paul LoDuca? You say Rusell Martin, I say DePodesta. Somewhere in this huge ballpark there’s a guy saying “They shoulda never got rid of LoDuca.” You still here, sir?
1:08 p.m. – Have you ever been at a Dodger game and asked what your walk-to-the-plate music would be?
12:58 p.m. – Turn on Fox, the game has started. Did I tell you yet that last night I’m watching the game and I get a text message from our news editor after Carlos Beltran’s bomb in the eighth inning? It said “Who’s your daddy?” His name is Eddie Barrera and he’s a degenerate Mets fan … an NY transplant who does the usual song and dance about how “NY has the best pizza and hot dogs.”
12:51 p.m. – Alyssa Milano has taken her seat. Nice! She sits a few rows behind the Dodger dugout.
12:47 p.m. – I just crushed a ham and cheese omelette and had a great conversation in the dining room with Times Dodger beat writer Dylan Hernandez and LANG beat writer Tony Jackson. Baseball writers are hilarious. Take my word for it.
11:52 a.m. – Back from the clubhouse. The players were watching the USA vs. Japan softball game. BUSTOS! Anyway, everyone seems half asleep since last nite’s game started at 7:40 p.m. and today is a day game. Good to see Mike the Clone posting in response to this thread. But I’m curious, if we’re the same person, how come I’m here and you’re there? Or are you here? I might make a run to the kitchen now. They have a breakfast spread – $7 – and an omelette bar. When you’re not eating carbs, things like omelettes are golden. I could hold out until the free dogs are put out … do you know what it does to a man to eat a hot dog without a bun? Think about it.
10:15 a.m. – I don’t expect this thread to have much success, and the usual “This is supposed to be about prep sports” should be forthcoming from a few of you. Nonetheless, it is what I’m doing today (and tomorrow). I can’t sit up here and not see Tyler Garkow on the mound or CO running out onto the field in celebration. There, that’s your prep element. Headed to the clubhouse for some juicy quotes.
Ballyhooed South Hills sophomore quarterback Chris Willson, who was in a three-way battle with senior Brandon Parham and junior Cameron Deen for the open starting job, has left the school and is likely to play at St. Paul this season. Willson played in all four of South Hills’ passing league games at Arroyo High on Saturday, but he was not at practice on Monday and the family informed the school he will transfer out. I can’t officially confirm he’s headed to St. Paul, but evidently that’s where his family said he’ll end up. Willson was part of last year’s dynamic freshman class and appeared to have the highest upside of any of the Huskies QBs.
Aram’s take: Have I said on this blog before that somebody at St. Paul is hustling? I know I have. Do you need more proof? South El Monte’s Joe Morales last year, Diamond Ranch’s Aubrey Haynes and now Willson this year have somehow come to the off-season conclusion that St. Paul is the greener grass on the other side. If you’e an Amat fan, this has to perplex you. It does me. St. Paul hasn’t beaten Amat in how long? Their schedule is nice, but it’s not sexier than Amat’s. And yet somehow there’s a way that St. Paul is convincing kids that Santa Fe Springs is a great destination. About Willson, clearly this move was made because of playing time concerns. It can’t be a big shock because once everyone heard the Huskies had three legit signal callers, the knee jerk was to think one or two would transfer in search of more immediate playing time. I don’t think Coach Bogan has made any official decisions about the QB rotation, but it’s pretty obvious that Parham will be the guy. Consensus opinion is that he’s looked by far the best this summer. But man, Willson was headed toward a great prep career and probably scholly somewhere. He still might get it at St. Paul. This is a big blow to South Hills’ future, not that many people will shed a tear. But there was a chance for the Huskies won three consecutive CIF titles. Believe me, this year’s soph class, even without Willson, is excellent. They could win one as juniors and then be overwhelming favorites to repeat as seniors. And we all know this year’s team is favored to win a ring. Add it up and you get three. Deen still gives SH a great option in 2008, but who will start in 2009?
Disclaimer: You’ll notice I titled this thread “semi-breaking news” because I got the tip from one of my loyal bloggers. I don’t know your name, sir, but I must thank you. By the way, in case you haven’t realized, blogs break news in a myriad of ways. This is the wave of the future. Nice work. Info sharing is powerful stuff. Keep it coming!
Quit fronting like you have a social life.
Something tells me that if you read this blog, you’ll have plenty of time on your hands between August and December … and, that’s OK. Needless to say, any kind of list isolating the top games of the year is subject to change. Things change. People change. Teams change. At least that’s what she said … minus the whole teams change part. Whatever. Anyway, a game that maybe isn’t on the radar right now could be played for the highest stakes of the season. I doubt it, but it’s possible. But for now, in the dead of summer, I’m confident in identifying what look like the biggest games of the season. Hopefully, these don’t overlap. But if they do, with the Tribune scoreboard and your Iphone, you can be in two places at once.
1a. December 7, Charter Oak vs. South Hills, CIF-SS Southwest Division finals – Quasi kidding.
1b. October 26, Charter Oak at Los Altos – The Miramonte League title and a top four seed in the Southwest Division playoffs figure to be on the line this night, unless Roddy and the Panthers get crazy again. Anyway, this is a huge rivalry even when patches aren’t up for grabs. Did you know Los Altos hasn’t beaten CO since The Miramontes Miracle in 2004?
2. October 12, South Hills at Los Altos – A battle of Southwest Division heavyweights, this could be a semifinals preview. Two of the area’s most successful programs, two of its top coaches and, of course, Dorian Wells vs. Bryce McBride. Don’t think the former teammates turned competitors storyline won’t be in-play.
3. October 12, Damien vs. Glendora, at Citrus Coll. – OK, we’ve got a nasty overlap here with South Hills/Los Altos on the same night. Coin flip and decide. This is a huge game for the Tartans and Spartans as it’s the Sierra League opener for both. The loser can probably forget about a league title and faces a climb to secure a playoff berth.
4. September 21, Glendora at Charter Oak – Big Lou wants the Mayor’s Trophy back. Glendora’s front seven doesn’t give anything back.
5. October 12, Northview vs. Covina, at District Field – OK, October 12 is going to be a nightmare. Is this the night that Northview tosses its big rival from the Valle Vista League throne? We’re going to find out everything we need to know about the VVL on this night.
6. October 12, St. Paul at Bishop Amat – More October 12. What a night! I might have to chopper to all of these games for a quarter. Anyway, given all that’s happened at Amat this off-season, nothing would be as bad as losing to St. Paul. I don’t know what Lancer fans will do if that happens. Major blood rivalry here.
7. November 2, Arroyo at Rosemead – No disrespect to South El Monte, who I fully expect will split with Arroyo and Rosemead once again. But by this date, the Knights and Panthers will have both played SEM, which probably makes this game the difference maker in the Mission Valley League. Plus, this rivalry has a longer history of meaningful games.
8. September 7, Monrovia at Duarte – If, and that’s a big “if,” Duarte is able to win this game, it could signal an official power shift between the neighboring cities. And to the victor goes the spoils, a.k.a the talent pool. Duarte’s resurgence just won’t be official until the Falcs beat the ‘Cats. It’s great to have these two teams playing a biggie!
9. October 5, Bonita at San Dimas – Little boys from these two communities dream of winning this game since they’re old enough to pee in the pool at Raging Waters. Smudge Pot – now that’s a rivalry!
10. November 11, Loyola at Bishop Amat - Think about the Amat season ticket plan – you get Orange Lutheran, St. Paul, Notre Dame and Loyola. OK, follow along here – let’s say Amat beats Alemany, Crespi or ND, that probably makes the Loyola game for a playoff berth, or a coin flip at least. And even if there’s nothing on the line, it’s still Amat vs. Loyola and all week I’ll remember going to Glendale College in the early 90s six hours before kickoff just to to see Scott Fields run without having to stand along the rope in the end zone.
“Hey little Cody, come to our place and I’ll buy you some Skittles.”
The kid’s name is Cody Paul. His Los Alamitos Griffins went 15-0 … no shock. For those of you who think Charter Oak, Los Altos and South Hills get their hands dirty, just imagine what some Orange County coaches are probably already doing to get this kid to Servite or O-Lu or Mater Dei or Los Alamitos.
First of all, I want to thank the loyal bloggers who truly broke this. Using proper protocol, and acting upon your tips, I confirmed that former Amat QB Junior Tamayo has transferred to Los Altos. Before any of you flip out, I’m not trying to overblow this because Tamayo was one of several players in the mix for Amat’s starting job and was a reserve last year. In my opinion, he’s LA’s frontrunner. I saw Tamayo in spring drills and thought he threw the best ball of any of Amat’s QBs. That was before all of the Lancer QBs in the fray were out at practice, however. Nonetheless, I think that Tamayo could develop into a pretty good player for Gano, and we all know that QB appears to be the missing piece at LA. But that’s only if Tamayo actually wins the job, which Gano says is still up in the air.
What a year for linebackers in the Valley. It’s one of my favorite positions at the high school and college level because these guys have so much of a say in the game. Not so at the pro level, where it seems like only handful of linebackers can truly play a big role in the outcome. I’m aware this is going to be a controversial list, but hey, it’s a controversial position. My advice to those who shake their head at the list is to ask you to simply realize that some schools have a monopoly at the position. Then ask yourself if any of the guys on the list were at your school, what would they do? That should help ease the tension. Also , I want to stipulate something: I don’t fully trust most stat keepers when it comes to tackles. Some teams give credit for a tackle when a player is simply within the same zip code as the ball carrier. It’s kind of subjective. Therefore, I think LB is a position better observed in person than in the stat column. Anyway, as a whole, the Valley is once again loaded with good linebackers.
1. Damon Kuklinski, South Hills – Most overused term in football writing/broadcasting: Throwback.
2. Marcus Wagner, Bishop Amat – Amat’s rock, literally, in the middle.
3. Mikey Niles, Glendora – This year’s Todd Bruno. Should get major aid from the D-Line.
4. Nick Padilla, Charter Oak – Will have to play a Pasalo-like role this year. That’s a hard act to follow.
5. Marc Felix, Los Altos – Six sacks last season and third on the team in tackles. I expect even better in ’07.
6. Robert Horn, Glendora – The new “Beast of the East?” Gottsta stay healthy. Between you and me, I get scared watching him from the sideline.
7. Ray Washington, Charter Oak – It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the biggest breakout player on the list.
8. Andrew Rodriguez, Northview – The area’s version of A-Rod hits QBs and RBs, not homers.
9. Drew Carreon, Charter Oak – Plays a hybrid position and came on like gangbusters after the position switch midway thru last year. Now Big Lou tells me Washington State is interested.
10. Chris Bowden, South Hills – 106 tackles a sophomore. Should have a similar season playing alongside Kuklinski.
In case you’re like me and can’t make it, go here and click on the scoreboard logo to launch live scoring. I’ll be doing a lot of refreshing from Dodger Stadium. Also, please notice our SGVN techies have already input the entire regular season schedule. Click on Week 0 to start seeing all the games. The current Trib Top 10 is also available.
I will be covering the Dodgers-Marlins series this weekend, which obviously means I won’t be able to cover Friday’s Hall of Fame Game. Nonetheless, you will be in great hands with Freddie Robledo and Steve Ramirez. Plus, we’ll have some video highlights, which will come in extra handy for me. I’ll also rely on all of you loyal bloggers to post your thoughts here on what happened. I’ll have a “Talk your smack, cry me a river,” thread going. Tonight is the walk-through at Baldwin Park HS, so that will serve as the last chance I get to see these guys as prepsters.
These guys are thinking about blowing up the East’s front seven …
… meanwhile, these guys are thinking about lighting up the West’s secondary.
And while that’s going on, the West’s coach is wondering about the East …
“I don’t know what the East squad has, but it’s hard to imagine them having a better backfield than ours,” West coach Joel Murphy said. “You have two guys with different styles who do what they do so well. There’s a reason they were hyped-up and written about all year, and now I know why.”
It all makes for a fireworks (not really) show on July 6 in the Five Points.