Top Ten Best Stories of 2008

1. Northview Baseball wins CIF championship

Northview’s 37-year drought ended in a 1-0 victory over Diamond Ranch to claim the CIF-Southern Section Division IV championship at Dodger Stadium, giving the top-ranked Vikings their first title since 1971. It was the Vikings’ 12th straight win, finishing the season 26-4. “I’ve always been a Northview guy, I went to Northview and it’s always extra special when you win at your alma mater,” said Northview coach Darren Murphy. “When I became head coach all I wanted was for Northview to win a championship. We’ve had some good teams and we’ve been close, but we could never get here and win it. I’m going to enjoy this for a long time.” And how fitting that in a season defined by pitching and defense, the Vikings’ big three of Aaron Elias, Eddie Pedroza and closer Marc Andrade all got a turn, and one-by-one, they combined to give the Vikings their 12th shutout of the season. “It wasn’t just us, it was everyone behind us on the field and in the dugout,” Elias said. “This is a memory than none of us are ever going to forget.”

2. Charter Oak football goes undefeated to win Southeast football title
Charter Oak’s 30-14 victory over Diamond Ranch to claim the Southeast Division championship capped a 13-0-1 campaign, a remarkable accomplishment considering the Chargers lost nine starters on defense from last year’s semifinal team. It was Charter Oak’s fourth CIF-SS title under 62-year-old coach Lou Farrar, completing only its second undefeated season since winning the school’s first title in 1985. Farrar joins Los Altos’ Dwayne DeSpain (7), South Hills’ Steve Bogan (4), Diamond Bar’s Terry Roche (4) and

3. Bishop Amat baseball wins CIF championship

The Bishop Amat baseball won the CIF-Southern Section Division V baseball title for the second consecutive season, beating St. Paul 6-2 at U.C. Riverside. Amat becomes just the fifth area team to score back-to-back CIF-SS titles, joining Bishop Amat teams in 1968-69 and 2001-02, Edgewood in 1976-77 and South Hills in 1997-98. “The team that throws the best strikes, plays the best catch and puts the ball in play the best, has the best chance to win,” said Bishop Amat coach Andy Nieto, whose Lancers won their 17th consecutive game to finish 27-4. “There are those who put too much credence on divisions I, II, III or V. Of course, (the teams in those divisions) may have a bigger talent pool, but it doesn’t change the formula of the game. The formula is easy. What these kids have done in two years is phenomenal. They haven’t lost a Division V game in two years. They are 34-0 in Division V games. So for these guys to do what they’ve done in two years is truly amazing and I’m proud of them.”

4. Bishop Amat football coach Matt Verti resigns, leading to hiring of Lancers coach Steve Hagerty in early February:

Matt Verti’s reaction after stepping down: “I wish things could have been different,” said Bishop Amat coach Matt Verti, who resigned on Thursday after two years, and an 8-12 overall record. “But in the end, and after months of thinking about it, I think it was the best thing to do for Bishop Amat and myself. I knew coming here there was pressure to win, and win now. Previous coaches had told me that, and I knew it. But it’s a little different when you’re actually here. We had some great victories and made some strides. But there were lots of ups and downs, and obviously some really tough weeks that build on you and your family.”

5. Los Altos football coach Greg Gano resigns in April, resurfaces at Damien in December

Greg Gano’s reaction after leaving Los Altos: “It was a difficult season, but the last few season’s kind of wore on me. But when you put it all together, coaching softball, being the athletic director and coaching football, it was just too much. Football is for somebody who can put in the time all year round. It’s every day and to be honest, I just don’t have the energy to do all three and do a good job.” Gano’s reaction on taking over at Damien: “The only way I was going to come back is if the right opportunity opened up, and this was it. The year away showed how much I missed it. Life is a bunch of challenges, and something like this gets the motor running again.”

6. Glendora’s Dominic Tiger-Cortes’ magical CIF playoff run for the Tartan’s boys basketball team

The Glendora sharpshooter and Tribune MVP helped the Tartans go on a magical run in February, leading the Tartans to the CIF-SS Division I-A semifinals with a 58-56 victory over J.W. North. He hit a game-winning shot in the second-round, and had a game winning stop again. Reporter Steve Ramirez wrote; I’m beginning to think Glendora is the team of destiny. They win another nailbiter, except this was almost the reverse of Tuesday’s come-from-behind win at El Toro. This time the Tartans, playing in a “Hoosiers” type atmosphere with a standing-room only crowd, were on the ropes….enter Dominic Tiger-Cortes, who once again saved the Tartans, except it wasn’t a thrilling 3-pointer, or drive to the hoop and score. No, he showed he can also play some ‘D.’ He went on 1-on-1 with a kid – North’s Malcolm Lee – who will be playing for Ben Howland at UCLA next year. And he stepped up, blocking Lee’s path to an easy deuce and forcing a travel that clinched it for the Tartans.

7. Northview baseball beats Bishop Amat, 4-2, to win Glendora tournament

In the championship game of the Glendora baseball tournament, more than a 1,000 fans packed Henderson field on a chilly night to watch Northview beat Bishop Amat in a baseball game between the area’s two best clubs. Both teams went on to win CIF championships, leaving Northview the undisputed champion of the area. Said Vikings coach Dareen Murphy, who got ejected after bumping with Lancers coach Andy Nieto: “We built this program to be in games like this,” said Murphy, whose Vikings improved to 4-0. “We’re in a different mindset now. You know you’re not going to win every game, but at least we have the mindset where we expect to win every game. We came out a little tight and made some fundamental mistakes. Some of that was the hype of tonight’s game and some of that was playing a team like Bishop Amat and all of that mystique. But we’ll take it. This is the best tournament in the area and our kids dug down and won the championship.”

8. Gladstone baseball coach Rich Remkus wins 500th

Remkus won his 500th game on Wednesday in his 24th season with the Gladiators with a 7-4 victory over Pomona. “It’ll take a while to sink in,” Remkus said. “I’ve always felt for a high school team to win 20 games in a season is sort of a benchmark of excellence and success. If you sit back and think, you have to win 20 games a year for 25 years to get there. The years just go by and you don’t realize it. I guess I’m older than I thought.”

9. Northview baseball’s improbable 3-0 win over Covina in 11 innings:

Northview took over first place in the Valle Vista league with a 3-0 victory over Covina in 11 innings, which followed Wednesday’s 1-0 win at San Dimas in eight innings. Covina pitcher Tyler Pill was magnificent, going nine innings, allowing three hits and retiring 15 of the last 16 batters he faced. Pill was about to earn the victory when the Colts loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth with one out. Freshman Matt Munoz appeared to hit a long scoring fly-out to right-center, but all the Colts runners were going on the play, so the Vikes got the easy double-play force at second to end the inning. In the 11th, the Vikings took the lead on Ruben Ramirez’s scoring fly that brought home Gabe Jaramillo from third, then Vikings catcher Robert Williams provided the exclamation with a towering two-out, two-run homer for the 3-0 win. Northview’s starting lefty sophomore Eddie Pedroza threw five innings and allowed just one hit, and Marc Andrade earned the victory by going the final six innings, giving up just two hits. Said Covina coach Scott Root, “We gave them the game; we should have won it. They’re a good team, but I really believe we won the game. I don’t know what happened. It was one of those things where the wheels fell off and we didn’t know what to do. I told them on a fly get back and tag, but I think someone yelled `go,’ and they (all) took off.”

10T. Karynn Dunn of Diamond Ranch wins three CIF titles in track; Gretchen Jacques, Glendora wins two swim titles:

Dunn doing her thing for Diamond Ranch in the the Division III track finals, won the long jump, triple jump and 100-meter low hurdles. Jacques, the Glendora freshman swimmer, won a pair of CIF-SS Division II swimming titles in the muscle events, winning the 50 and 100 yard sprints.

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