Breaking News: Charter Oak sophomore quarterback Travis Santiago cleared to play

The CIF-Southern Section reversed its decision on Charter Oak sophomore quarterback Travis Santiago on Wedenesday, approving his request for a transfer based on “change of address.” Santiago left South Hills during his freshman year last February for Charter Oak. The sophomore is currently in a quarterback battle with junior Josiah Thropay over who will take over for Chris Allen when the season starts next Friday against Gardena. Before Wednesday’s ruling, Santiago was on “restricted” football status until February of 2010. Charter Oak officials maintained all along they had its paperwork in order, and now can put this behind and get ready to defend its Miramonte and Southeast Division titles. On a side note, from what the coaches have been telling me, Santiago and Thropay could alternate possessions to start the season until the coaching staff is comfortable naming a permanent starter.

FOX SPORTS UPDATE: It’s officially official. We told you a month ago that Fox Sports West intends on covering the Sept. 25 Rancho Cucamonga-Charter Oak showdown live on television. With both teams going 13-0-1 and winning section titles, their only blemish was a tie against each other at R.C., last season. Fox is hoping and praying both teams are undefeated when they meet again in the SGV’s backyard. This IS the nonleague game of the year.

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Football: Who to pay attention to in Week 0?

For many, the football season begins next week. Here is a list of the “zero” week games, and for fun I will list them in the order of importance in terms of our coverage. This gives you an idea of what we think are most important games to our readers. You can agree or disagree, but most of you will agree :)

Thursday, Sept. 3
1. La Puente at Gabrielino, 7 p.m. – Great Thursday night opener, two new head coaches making their debut. I’m feeling La Puente, think they have a great shot.
2. Azusa vs. Garey at Citrus College, 7 p.m. – How will the Aztecs respond after one of the greatest years in school history?

Friday, Sept. 4
1. Damien vs. Rancho Cucamonga at Los Osos, 7 p.m. – Are you kidding me, Greg Gano makes his debut against the defending champion and No. 1-ranked team in the Central Division.
2. San Dimas at Los Altos, 7 p.m. — The best local match-up between two teams that have a lot to prove. Will San Dimas rebound after losing their entire backfield? And is Los Altos ready to become Los Altos again under second-year coach Felipe Aguilar.
3. Diamond Ranch at Muir, 7 p.m. — Third time’s the charm? I sense a rivalry building here, these teams split last year, but the Ranch knocked out the Mustangs in the playoffs. Muir is debuting it’s new field turf surface, so trust, they won’t lose this one.
4. Gardena at Charter Oak, 7 p.m. — The defending champs and No. 1 team in the area is always intriguing. I’m setting the line at Chargers + 28.
5. Nogales at Baldwin Park, 7 p.m. — Is Nogales really the weak link in the San Antonio? Is Baldwin Park really the favorite in the VVL? We will know much more after this. Can’t wait to see the Braves’ new additions from Duarte.
6. West Covina at El Rancho, 7 p.m. — Not being disrespectful leaving the Bulldogs this far down. They should handle this rather easily, and very curious to see just how dominant they can be.
7. Norwalk at South El Monte, 7 p.m. — All eyes on the new coaching staff at South El Monte under former La Puente coach Ray Hernandez. Everything I’m hearing is positive, but now the real proof comes after kickoff.
8. Westview at Bonita, 7 p.m. — The Bearcats are another “not sure what to expect,” team. I was at the school over the weekend, and was impressed with their size. You know, maybe they will be a surprise.
9. Duarte at Cajon, 7 p.m. — Assuming the Falcons have enough players to field a team, lets see if new coach Tip Sanders can work his magic again.
10. Mountain View vs. Workman at La Puente, 7 p.m. — I’m already on record saying that Workman will win the Montview. Hope they prove me right.
11. Western Christian vs. Gladstone at Citrus College, 7 p.m. — This is not Covina Western Christian anymore, they have moved to Upland. Anyway, the Gladiators can’t do any worse than last season. Can they?

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Hey Diamond Ranch, the Westside is talking …

“We’re aiming for heads,” — says an unidentified Muir player…this according to the Star-News’ Miguel Melendez, who continues to pump up next week’s Muir-Diamond Ranch showdown… Read on…

Says Miguel: Those are the words of a Muir football player when asked if the Mustangs are seeking redemption when they host Diamond Ranch next Friday at 7. There are posters all over Muir’s campus promoting the school’s new football field, which is generating buzz around campus with students who will attend their first game just to see their team play on a new field. Muir will try to do what it couldn’t do in the first round of the Southeast Division playoffs. We’ll see how the Mustangs fare against the runner-up. All year long, a certain D-Ranch assistant coach has taken friendly jabs at Muir coach Ken Howard. It’s time to put that to rest, Kenny. The Mustangs won at Diamond Ranch last year in the season opener but faltered in the playoffs. Muir will protect its home field and reclaim SGV supremacy.

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Citrus College: Familiar names McDonough, Tucker, Gilmore, Snowden, Stansell, all on board

Citrus College has a lot of local weapons this season, which resembles an all-star alumni game. Remember Covina quarterback Mike McDonough, the Tribune’s two-time player of the year, he’s now an Owl. They have a backfield that includes West Covina’s Isaac Tucker, Charter Oak’s Kanaan Snowden, Wilson’s Tim Gilmore and Rowland’s Brandon Stansell. Will this be good enough to challenge Mt. SAC. Read on …

Above: Perhaps nobody left it on the field as much as McDonough. Imagine if his teams were competing in the Mid-Valley Division today? Covina might have won back-to-back titles.

By Steve Ramirez
There is a lot of excitement for the Citrus College football team this season.
The Owls have a new coach – former defensive coordinator Ron Ponciano – and a solid recruiting class combined with some good returning players is creating some optimism for Citrus, which is playing in the highly-competitive National Division Central Conference for the second consecutive season. “We just want to compete,” said Ponciano, who has replaced Kevin Emerson. “Last year, we just lost our energy, desire. Our goal this year is to just go out and compete.”

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Fire Watch: Are teams cancelling practice?

With the fire in the Azusa foothills and the dark clouds hovering over the Valley, have football practices been cancelled? Tell us what’s going on in your neighborhood?

By Miguel Melendez
A blaze in the Angeles National Forest producing poor air quality across the San Gabriel Valley forced some high school football teams on Wednesday to cancel or restrict outdoor activities. The fire, which broke out Tuesday afternoon on both sides of Highway 39 near Morris Dam Reservoir, has burned 750 acres. Chris Rush, an Angeles National Forest dispatcher, said the blaze was less than 10 percent contained early Wednesday.

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