The Scouting Guru gives you a little of everything with the 2009 football season a week away

The Scouting Guru has been all over the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, and like always, he’s offered to share his thoughts, free of charge. Don’t hate, enjoy it for what it’s worth, which is one man’s opinion on the talent and teams in the San Gabriel Valley and surrounding areas.

The Scouting Guru says: The fearless one has been busy calling all coaches in the area getting ready for the big football preview tab that will be out next week. So he gave a little nudge to yours truly to help him out this week. We couldn’t say no. As of this writing, every school in the area is in fall football camp. That means the agility ladders are out, conditioning in well underway and players are quickly reviewing their offensive and defensive playbooks for the start of the season. Our service has decided to change our attack this year in the area and will be concentrating on certain “under the radar” schools that have players that we are interested in for the class of 2010 or we will be cross-checking our 2011 lists that will be sent out to the colleges the first week in September. Here are some of the schools in the area that we will be visiting when the season starts next week. To continue reading, click thread


Glendora - We are very interested in both class of 2011 prospects QB Chad Jefferies and WR Wallace Gonzalez. In speaking with the people that have worked with Jefferies this summer, they have raved about his arm. And when we were invited by Chris Rix to watch him throw during a QB training session, the arm strength was not in question. What he needs to improve on is his accuracy with the deep ball. But, he’s got good RPM’s and seems football savvy enough. All that is in question now is how he handles blitzes when the bright lights are on. And…can he shred defense’s with ease. There are questions, but one of them is not his ability. He has it! Gonzalez is that perfect Z-Receiver type that D-1 schools are looking for. Now, he’s not the fastest cat out there (our estimation is that he can run an electronic forty in a 4.8 – 4.9 range. But he has large hands, a great body and terrific size. I would personally love for him to take control of a game. He needs to have that inner confidence to say, “get me the ball and I’ll score.” One player that has literally fallen under the radar is RB Andre Holmes. His junior tape was not all that bad. Again, speed is in question, but we say that he has good “football speed.” However, it’s not a good thing to be a good running back this year in Southern California.

Baldwin Park - I don’t like saying this, but it’s the truth…it doesn’t take a whole lot to win the Valle Vista League. All you need is one great player and your team becomes an instant contender. And at BP this year, they have one big time sleeper in WR Christian Lazaro. As I wrote on my Twitter account last week (www.twitter.com/sgvierecruiting) Lazaro caught the eye of college coaches during the spring evaluation period. When you watch him on film, he finds a way to get open. In our eyes, he is more of a possession receiver. When you add Duarte transfers Demetrius Wright and Wardell Crutchfield III (class of 2011 college prospects), you can tell that this team will be tough to beat in the VVL. BTW, one other note. Don’t fall asleep on Pomona. This is a team that is talented and has athletes. We are interested in 2011 prospect Taj Teague. This is a pretty good team.

Damien – A sleeper school that will no longer be a sleeper school now that Gano is a the helm. Great article on rivals.com on DT Tre Hale. It’s good to know that he knows that he needs to be injury free for the season and come out with great performances. They also have a couple of interesting sleeper prospects that need to be watched. I said it in the summer and I’ll say it again, Damien wins a thriller over Bishop Amat during the pre-season.

YOU HAVE TO READ THIS TO BELIEVE IT

As you might know, my favorite football writer is Peter King of Sports Illustrated. He is the best. Hands down. I wanted to pass this story along to you that he wrote in his weekly Monday column. Travelers will love this story.

“To boycott Westin Hotels or to not boycott Westin Hotels. That is the question.

I booked this training-camp trip in June, cars and flights and hotels. Most places I stayed were the Fairfield Inn types, clean hotels with free Internet, the things you need for the seven hours a night in the hotel. But for San Diego, I booked the Westin downtown because it’s a good hotel in a nice area, and it’s close to the airport.

On the way there Saturday night around 11:15, after the Seahawks-Chargers game, I called to make sure I had the right place, because there’s another Westin in the city. “We’ve got you sir,” said the man on the other end of the phone. Ten minutes later, I arrived. The front desk told me they were overbooked, and they were very sorry, but they had no beds. But if I had a reservation for the last two months, I asked, wouldn’t you have held a room for me.

“That’s how it should be, but we just ran out of rooms,” I was told.

I get it. The hotel business is now like some in the airline business. Westin intentionally overbooks rooms hoping X number of us will be stuck somewhere and not make it to the hotel. The hotels now can abuse us the way some airlines do, when they sell 70 seats for a 64-seat plane and then say, “Don’t blame us.”

I seethed while listening to 47 apologies from two front-deskers. “I don’t want an apology,” I said. “I want a room.”

No problem, sir. They would book me at the Indigo Hotel, and they would comp my room (who cares when you’re traveling on business and have six hours in the hotel before your next trip to the airport), and here are the directions.

Serenity now. Serenity now. Serenity now.

So I set off to find the Indigo, at Tenth and Market. I go to Tenth and Market. No Indigo. I put the flashers on and walk over to a bar with lots of TVs and say to a guy at the door, “You know where the Indigo Hotel is?” He doesn’t know. He goes inside and asks two others. They don’t know. I go back to the car and call 411.

“San Diego, California,” I say to the automated woman. “The Indigo Hotel. Market Street.” A voice came on, a real woman, who said, “Checking San Diego and all outlying areas. No listing for an Indigo Hotel. Can I check anything else for you?”

I pull up the number for the Westin and oh-so-politely (not!) tell the same dude at the front desk that NOT ONLY DID YOU SCREW ME OUT OF A ROOM TONIGHT, YOU GAVE ME DIRECTIONS TO A HOTEL THAT DOESN’T APPARENTLY EXIST.

“I’m so sorry, sir,” he said.

“You have to stop apologizing to me,” I said.

He got me different directions to the Indigo, which is new. It’s a nice hotel, just up the street from Petco. And by Sunday morning, the steam had stopped coming out of my ears.

But now I am left with the decision whether to boycott Westin, which is my favorite hotel chain. Maybe I should let you, the readers, vote. What do you think?”

And you think you had problems last week.

10 Things That I Think I Think

1. I think that the hype can start for the quarterbacks that will be part of the class of 2013. We might just have a special group of quarterbacks. We think that this class will outshine the recently graduated class of 2009. Four are already standing out during summer and fall camps in the area this year. And if there are four now, you know that there will be a few more coming into focus after another year of football. Here are the four that will have all the attention two years from now.

a) Rio Ruiz (Bishop Amat) – Of all the four quarterbacks that we’ve seen; he is the one with the most athleticism. Not only is he a pretty good football player, but he is already projected to be a high round baseball pick when he is done with Andy Nieto and the baseball program at Amat. His arm is strong right now and he can move in the pocket very well. He projects to being a very nice prospect if he decides to want to go down the football route.

b) Travis Santiago (Charter Oak) – Had a chance to see play him late in the season last year and there is one thing about this prospect – he has a cannon for an arm. He can certainly wing it. Plays with what I call “athletic arrogance” (a term that I use when a player can do things on the field very easily and has an inner confidence about himself). He doesn’t have the size right now compared to the other three players on this list, but he’s projects to being a great high school player.

c) Vincent Hernandez (South Hills) – Husky fans can look forward to the future with the great athlete. Last year he played wide receiver while Santiago was the quarterback. But he played QB in youth ball and has caught the eye during summer passing league. While it is very much still in question as to whether he will be the starter for the Huskies (he is locked into a tight battle with Jake Shirley and Brock Booth for the top spot) there is no doubt that whether he plays QB, WR or CB, this kid is going to be a good one. The mire fact that he relinquished the QB spot on the freshman team last year at South Hills to Santiago and was proficient at the WR spot tells you all you need to know about his character. He has the size and athleticism to be a really good one.

d) Steven Rivera (Arroyo) – We were not at the Arroyo Passing League Tournament this summer, but from all the people that we have spoken to, this was the best QB at the tournament. Decent sized kid that can definitely spin the ball and has that edge to him that make him a tough kid. Played last year on the varsity team as a freshman. You just don’t see that at all. The future of Arroyo Football is just fine with this kid at the helm.

2. I think that if you think former West Covina standout Walter Thurmond is going to be a first round pick in the NFL draft in March of 2010, you’d be sadly mistaken. I had a chance to speak with the NFL National Scout when I was at SC’s practice two weeks and a west coast NFL team scout at UCLA the next day and their opinions were the same. He needs to have an injury-free season for him to even think about being a first round pick. “Right now, everyone in the league is paranoid about taking damage goods. Right now, the word is he is damaged goods.” And if that was not enough, here is what one scout said to Nolan Narwoski of Pro Football Weekly, “Walter Thurmond has great speed and athletic ability. He’s just not strong or physical, and he does not always play to his speed. He’ll struggle in press coverage.” According to www.nfldraftscout.com, Thurmond is currently projected as a 3-4 round draft pick.

3. I think that some of the Bishop Amat fans need to simmer down. I have read many of the tweet’s and blog postings ripping everyone who says that BA might have a “down” year. Hey, I think that Steve Hagerty does a great job and has a fantastic coaching staff. Just like many of the top public school football programs in the area. But to say that Amat football is the be all end all of HS football in the area just doesn’t work. I can safely tell you that SH would have beaten BA in 2005. I happen to be a part of the program and you can bet, other than the Loyola championship game that year, if you asked the Esperanza coaching staff – they will tell you that the toughest opponent for them was SH. Even Steve Fryer of the Orange County Register mentioned it in his column the next week. The point that I am getting at is that I have seen all the teams from the Serra League and I just don’t see the talent at BA that will stack up against the other three teams in the league. If you don’t agree with the assessment, that’s fine, but don’t start belittling people that think otherwise. They have Darian Johnson and Pasadena HS transfer Austin Lacy. But there are way too many questions on a defense that got hit hard by graduation. I’d venture to say that the biggest loss on defense was not Sheldon Price or Isaiah Bowens, but it was linebacker Brent Seals. He was the player that found his way to the ball. So my advice to all Amat is simple…take it easy. Judging by the talk lately, you’d think that BA football team was bigger than the Health Care Debate. It’s just a football game everyone. Treat it that way.

4. I think that the elite talent for the class of 2011 in the area stacks up just nicely with the IE. First you have Charter Oak ATH Dennis Rufus who we project as a Pac-10 prospect. He has the speed and the football skills to be a really good one. Then there is South Hills OL Sioasi Aiono who we also project as a Pac-10 guard after next season. He has offers already from BYU and San Jose St (and they are verified). Then there is Glendora WR Gonzalez. Those three players fit in perfectly in the top 15 of our Top 50 players on our big board regardless of position. Since we are expanding into the Orange County our top rated player for the class of 2011 is in Orange County. It’s WR Victor Blackwell of Mater Dei HS.

5. I think that the most interesting race for a league championship will be in the Sierra League. You can make a case for four teams to being on top when the regular season is complete. We’ve talked about Glendora and Damien but here are a couple of other teams to watch for in that league.

a) Chino Hills – HC Derek Bub has done a great job since taking over and he as a very talented squad. First they have a Pac-10 prospect in class of 2011 CB Ifo Ekpre-Olomu. He was voted first team All-CIF last year and that doesn’t happen all that often. He quick, got a nice body to him and technically sound. They also have a really nice RB in class of 2011 prospect Nate Harris. One league HC told me last week that he thinks Harris is the best player on the team. And when you couple that with QB Ryan Hotchkiss and an offensive line that really impressed us at the Los Osos lineman competition; that will make this team very formidable.

b) Ayala – Tom Inglima is one of the top guys in the business and will inherit a team that will be very young in the secondary. But, he also has one of the top sleeper QB’s in the IE in Orange Lutheran transfer Ryan Orozco. We had a chance to work with the kid at the USC Rising Starts camp and he impressed so much that he reportedly got a preferred walk-on offer from Jeremy Bates when the camp is over. Big strapping kid with a big arm, Ayala will definitely come out throwing this year. They also have a nice lineman in Patrick Kim. The projected offensive guard at the next level has an offer from UTEP.

6. I think that there are some people on here that don’t understand just how difficult it is to fill out a pre-season schedule. Can’t help but laugh at all the people that are burying CO for their first two games of the year. It’s not fair for a couple of reasons.

a) It wasn’t CO’s fault that Aliso Niguel and Pioneer opted out of their contract. When schools opt out of a contract, it puts the other school at a huge disadvantage. Instead of relaxing because the back end of a contract gets fulfilled, that other school has to “luck out” and find that other game. South Hills was in the same boat when Duarte was dropped from the schedule due to circumstances beyond SH’s control, but they really were fortunate and found Tesoro. Bishop Amat also changed their schedule, but it was Steve Hagerty’s decision to change it because he didn’t want to play a week zero game. So it cuts both ways.

b) And when you find that right team, it has to matchup with your home to road ratio so that schedule equals out. Remember, most schools like to have to five home and five road games. Finally, teams are reluctant to play another team that is in the same playoff division. It’s very tough to beat the same team twice.

c) Another factor in getting a game is fan interest. Great games bring big gates. And for many schools, a big night at the box office makes the year for a school as a whole. That was part of the reason why South Hills scheduled Northview in 2008. It was a great crowd last year and there will be a better crowd this year when Northview is the home team. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Northview is counting on a big gate when they play SH at CDF. When you look at the South Hills home schedule this season, not only do they play West Covina (which always brings a huge gate) but they will also play Tesoro on a Thursday night. It’ll be big box office that night too. Bishop Amat’s home schedule is highlighted by state champion St. Bonaventure coming down this year and league games against Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Loyola (on a Saturday night). You can bet that the stands will be filled at kickoff in those games. CO has Rancho Cucamonga, but with Fox deciding to make it their “Game of the Week” it will definitely cut down on the gate. But a good gate is being anticipated by everyone at CO.However, with a right fee being paid out to CO by CIF, that will offset some of the missing people in the stands.

d) And it wasn’t CO’s fault that either Aliso Niguel or Pioneer didn’t do their homework and know that CO is a pretty good. So, CO most likely didn’t have a choice but to fill in their schedule with LA City Section schools. Let’s hope that no one from CO gets hurt after their first two games of the year. The schedule gets tougher with Eitwanda, Damien and Rancho Cucamonga. As far as I am concerned, anyone that gives grief to Lou Farrar for their schedule has never had a fill out a pre-season schedule. It’s tough when you are given the “No Vacancy” sign every two years.

7. I think that many people that have criticized former Duarte running back Jordan Canada for going to South Hills and that South Hills can’t develop their own players are horribly wrong for a couple of reasons;

a. In the case of Jordan Canada I have two words for all the knockers… Tim Gilmore. Last year many of you correctly projected that Wilson would have a horrible year with coach Hoyd and it turned out that Gilmore would have been better off at a more stable program. Now it will be interesting to see how things work out with Canada. After all, he has one offer already New Mexico State and if he has the year that we all think he will have, he’ll have a lot more. And we’ll look back to Tim Gilmore with great sadness.

b. As far as developing talent, South Hills has developed terrific players from when they began on campus as a freshman. Jason Murray, Jeron Fairman, Bryan and Jeremy Payton, Marquies Winbush, Fred Glaster, Kyle Peterson, Nick Lamaison, Cameron Deen are just a few players that have been products of South Hills’ success in the current decade that were with the program from pillar to post. Yeah, there has been a transfer here and there. But when the historians look back at the Steve Bogan era at South Hills, they will look at the homegrown players that have represented South Hills on the football field with great fondness.

8. I think that as – I have stated in the past – Bogan gets a “free pass” when it comes to the quarterback position for the upcoming season. And it is because of the way that he and his staff has developed his quarterbacks and the schemes that they run at SH. And facts back it up. Let’s look back at the last three starting quarterbacks that have played at SH.

1. Kevin Mort – 2x First team All-CIF QB, had a offer to be a preferred walk on at USC but declined it and now starts at Shortstop for University of Mississippi

2. Nick Lamaison – First Team All-CIF QB and just signed with SEC power University of Tennessee.

3. Cameron Deen – 2x First Team All-CIF QB and signed with University of Northern Colorado.

I think SH fans can be rest assured that Bogan and his staff will find the right gun slinger when the season starts.

9. I think it’s time for all of you to step up to the plate. As many of you know, times are hard and there is no industry that is under the gun more than the newspaper industry. There was genuine talk of their not being a Football Preview this year. Its costs a lot of money to put the tab together and it’s tough to put something out like the preview tab. Story ideas and league previews are just a small part of it. The advertising money is what makes this paper run. So let’s all step up to the plate and when the preview hits the stands next week, DON’T READ IT ONLINE. Get your 50 cents and go to the rack and buy your copy of the Football Preview. And for goodness sake, don’t go to the news rack put 50 cents in and grab the entire rack of papers. Just take one so that the next person can put his 50 cents in and enjoy the preview….just like you are.

See you soon…on the sideline.

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