The race for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune player of the year award begins this week with several hopefuls in action. Covina High quarterback Mike McDonough graduated after earning back-to-back player of the year awards. In no particular order, these are some of the top pre-season candidates for 2007.
Dorian Wells, South Hills – The best playmaker in the SGV? Will he go crazy going from Bishop Amat to South Hills? You have to like the position he’s in, and his stats should be among the best in the valley at his position. I know he’s a receiver, but if the Huskies go all the way, then he deserves a close look.
Mikey Harrell, Charter Oak – With Michael Johnson gone, look for Harrell to have a huge year as Chris Allen’s No. 1 target. The Chargers offense should be a nice blend of running and passing, which will affect his stats. But as far as pure talent, you can’t go wrong with this guy.
Bryce Mahmud-McBride, Los Altos – That’s right, his official last name is now Mahmud-McBride. With Los Altos’ quarterback situation up in the air, Mahmud-McBride could be asked to carry the Conquerors and has all the tools necessary to do so. He’s got speed, he’s tough, his body is rock solid and a great offensive line to work with. Seriously, I don’t know what’s stopping this guy from a possible 2,000 yard season.
Chris Harris, Duarte – The SGV’s leading rusher with over 2,100 yards is back. And look at what he did in last year’s playoffs, rushing for 241 yards against La Canada, and had another game where he rushed for 166 yards against a powerful Glendora defense. The Falcons are heavy favorites to win the Montview League for a second straight year, and figure to be one of the top four teams in the Mid Valley Division.
Nico Barbone, San Dimas – Oh, this could be a special year for the Saints junior. What I keep hearing most about Barbone is his tremendous work ethic and desire to get better. He had a sophomore season in which he rushed for 1,330 yards with 12 TDs. If the Saints go on to win the Valle Vista with Barbone leading the charge, he would have to be considered. Of course to win it, the Saints need to pull off a few surprises in the Northwest Division.
Tim Gilmore, Wilson – There’s a feeling among some I’ve talked to that on pure talent, Gilmore is special. He’s a run and catch threat on an offense returning a lot of weapons. Of course, he’ll be judged on how his team does. If the Wildcats can somehow find their way into the Miramonte League race, and earn a playoff berth, then Gilmore will get a closer look.
Chris Allen, Charter Oak – An imposing figure for a junior. Sort of a JaMarcus Russell type according to coach Lou Farrar. Look, he went 9-1 as a starter and led the Chargers all the way to the Southwest Divisional finals. There won’t be anyone returning with more confidence, and he has the receivers in place to have a huge season.
Danny Pertusati, Damien – The Spartans lose a great quarterback in Mike Mendrum, but watch Pertusati pick up where he left off, and even add a tad more with his quick footwork. I watched this guy in practice this week, and not only was impressed with his arm, composure, but his ability to scramble out of trouble and make plays. He sort of reminded me of a McDonough type, but this is his first-year starting at QB as a senior, so we’ll see what happens. But a sleeper for sure.
Austin Goldsmith, Duarte – The Falcons QB threw for over 2,000 yards and 20-plus touchdowns as a junior, and against the type of opponents on the Falcons’ schedule, his stats should be off the charts again. With Harris as his counterpart in the backfield, Goldsmith should have no problem finding open receivers. Like Harris, for Goldsmith to be considered, they Falcons must make a serious run at a CIF title.
Other QB’s in the running.…
Brian Partida, Arroyo
Brandon Parham, South Hills
Jose Garay, South El Monte
Oscar Robles, Northview
Drew Kaluzny, Glendora
Steve Ramirez and I will go head-to-head throughout the season, and I will update our records each Monday on the Tribskin Pick’em thread.
Thursday, Aug. 30
San Dimas vs. Gladstone at Citrus College, 7 p.m. – Robledo (San Dimas), Ramirez (San Dimas)
Ontario at La Puente, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Ontario), Ramirez (Ontario)
Friday, Augt. 31
Los Osos at Bishop Amat, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Los Osos), Ramirez (BAmat)
Temescal Canyon at Diamond Bar, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Temescal Canyon), Ramirez(Temescal Canyon)
Covina at Bonita, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Bonita), Ramirez (Bonita)
San Gabriel at Walnut, 7 p.m. – Robledo (San Gabriel), Ramirez (Walnut)
Diamond Ranch at Edison, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Edison), Ramirez (Edison)
Ganesha vs. Azusa at Citrus College, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Azusa), Ramirez (Azusa)
Duarte at Ayala, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Duarte), Ramirez (Duarte)
Damien at Riverside Poly, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Damien), Ramirez (Damien)
Mountain View vs. Workman at La Puente, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Workman), Ramirez (Workman)
Sierra Vista vs. Glenn at Exelsior Adult School, Norwalk, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Glenn), Ramirez (Sierra Vista)
Saturday, Sept. 1
Compton at Chino, 7 p.m. – Robledo (Compton), Ramirez (Compton)
Villanova Prep vs. Western Christian at Citrus College, Noon – Robledo (Villanova Prep), Ramirez (Villanova Prep)
Bassett at El Cajon Christian, 7 p.m. – Robledo (El Cajon Christian), Ramirez (El Cajon Christian)
Listen, I think Duarte’s a shoe-in to win the Montview and has a great chance to win the watered-down Mid-Valley Division, but Falcons coach Wardell Crutchfield still thinks we’re not giving them them enough credit.
I was asking Crutch about running back Chris Harris,, who rushed for over 2,100 yards last season, and like any smart coach, he said he would take Harris over anyone in the valley. No problem with that, which led to Duarte’s place in the Trib rankings, because they also have QB Austin Goldsmith back after throwing for 2,113 yards.
“We’re the best team in the valley,” Crutchfield said. Come again? I stopped him right there just to make sure I heard correctly. You mean the Montview right, or were you talking about the Mid-Valley Division? “I’m telling you we’re the best team in the San Gabriel Valley,” said the serious-toned coach. I had to ask again … Over South Hills, Los Altos, Glendora, Charter Oak, Amat and all those teams? “That’s what I’m saying,” Crutchfield said. “You’ll see. Just keep on doubting us.” I love his passion for his team, but this is what happens when you try ranking teams from different divisions, it doesn’t work. Say Duarte goes 14-0 and wins everything, does that mean they’re the best in the Valley? Amat could go 6-4 and miss the playoffs and I’d still rank them ahead of Duarte. Why, it comes down to quality victories, which means more than an overall record, especially when the toughest team the Falcons have on their schedule is probably Monrovia. I also look at shocking losses, then factor in the records considering the strength of schedule to come up with the best top ten possible. So where does that leave Duarte in the pre-season top ten? You’ll have to wait until Thursday, Aug. 30, when the previews come out.
I thought South Hills and Charter Oak had size, but Glendora blew me away. I know they play at Citrus, but I thought I was watching Citrus. They’re big alright. And if this defense is everything it’s advertised to be with returning linebackers like Mikey Niles, Robert Horn, Chris Kovar and Chad Young, they should be right there competing for the Sierra League title. And stop talking about the injuries, there’s nothing serious to report, just a few guys sitting out practices for cautionary reasons. They had a quite a few injuries last year, and don’t want to go down that road again. The question obviously, is can they move the ball? Is there enough offense to complement this defense? Is junior quarterback Drew Kaluzny, who I’ve heard nothing but great things about, ready for prime time? And how tough will it be replacing running back Jordan Edmund, who rushed for 1,520 yards and 13 touchdowns.
In any case, listen to coach Mark Pasquarella and offensive lineman Jared McGarry talk about the upcoming season.