Here’s Johnny: Correspondent John Honell joins the blogosphere with “Touching Base.”

Correspondent John Honell is a longtime contributor to the Tribune, and well-known throughout the San Gabriel Valley. He knows the area’s history, coaches, and always seems to have insider information. He will share some of it with his “Touching Base” pieces that will run from time to time.

by John Honell
Fred has asked me to send my observations on high school sports, hence the name “Touching Base.” I talk to almost everyone and hear things that might not rate a full story in the paper but deserve to be mentioned. Haven’t done this for a while so will tell you my rules. I don’t say negative things about high school athletes. I try and have fun and don’t mind poking it at people and organizations that deserve it. I don’t blog. (my dad told me to never argue with a fool. Others can’t tell which one is the fool) Don’t assume my political party based on what I write. I may take a shot at the Dems one week or Reps another. (I’m an Army vet and on Social Security and Medicare so I have “views.”) I will take any info you want to send me but, you must include your (real) name and a phone number where, and when, you may be contacted. (I won’t publish it). You may email me direct at: Hope you enjoy me staggering around the bases. Note: Joe Haakenson, the former Tribune beat writer for the Angels, is currently the sports editor at our sister paper, The Long Beach Press-Telegram. Joe was a wrestler in high school at 98 pounds. That weight class no longer exists for CIF or for Joe. To read John’s Column, click thread

First base:
Who said women shouldn’t compete against men?
Congratulations to Tatiana Padilla, a 2007 graduate of Northview High
School. just finished fifth in the World Women’s Championships in
Denmark at 55kg (121 pounds) She qualified by winning the U.S. World
Team Trials earlier this year.
She was a member of Dave Ochoa’s powerhouse wrestling squads at
Northview. Since there was no separate girls varsity team, she could
only wrestle on the boys squad. To compete for the Vikings at the
varsity level, you have to win “in the room.” (practice)
Padilla not only made the varsity, she won the Bishop Amat “boys”
tournament at 125 pounds and beat her opponent in the CIF team
The records this young woman, still only 18 years old, has achieved are
remarkable. She won the 2005 Austrian (that’s in Europe for those that
didn’t hit their geography book)Ladies Open Championship. While in high
school she was a four time Junior Nationals age group champion, and was
a three time USGWA national champion (2004-2006). She was injured in
the semifinals of the 2008 US Olympic trials and didn’t qualify for the
only spot allowed for women’s wrestling. She earned a wrestling
scholarship to Lindenwood University in St. Louis, MO and is currently
an athlete in residence at the Olympic Training Facility in Colorado
Maybe Tatiana has a future as a sportswriter?

Speaking of wrestling, La Puente middle linebacker, Jesus Vargas, was a
State qualifier last year at 215 pounds. Reaching that level in
wrestling requires an intensity few high school athletes achieve. He is
playing football with the same intensity . The senior is leading the
Warriors in sacks and tackles and has helped make his team one of the
surprise favorites to win the Montview League title. First year coach,
Brandon Rohrer calls him relentless. Vargas has helped the Warriors to
to a 3-1 preseason record. If Padilla or Vargas decide they want to be
a sports writer, I can’t think of anyone at the Trib that could stop
them from taking any computer in the room.

Second base
Frank Castro of Duarte is one of my early season heroes. The five foot
140 pound freshman is playing center for the Falcons football team.
With only 19 players on the 2009 varsity squad, there are a lot of kids
playing “out of position.” He is spotting kids 100+ pounds in the
middle of the line.
I went to a small high school in Michigan that had played 8-man
football two years before I got to high school. (six man two years
before that). I know exactly what it feels like to play that position
at 135 pounds. Fortunately,back then a “really big” kid only weighed
220 pounds. Many say that explains a lot about the way I am today.
Another Michigander, Gerald Ford, was accused of playing too much
football without a helmet. At least we had those although face masks
didn’t come along for another year or two. (that explains why I don’t
have my picture taken)
For those of you who are following Jim McConnell’s fantasy high school
playoffs, most of you recognize “The Blair Pair,” Kermit Alexander and
James McAllister. Duarte head coach Tip Sanders was a sophomore
tailback in 1972 when those two were seniors at Blair. He might be the
perfect answer to the problems created when a disgruntled former coach
did his best to wreck the Falcons program. With tough kids like Castro,
he will do just fine.

Foul ball
Did you ever wonder about the mattress police that enforce those laws
that make it a crime to remove tags from mattresses? Under a new rule
this year, players may only wear gray gloves with an “approved logo” on
the back, (read sponsor money for CIF), just like batting and football
helmets. Even more amazing “under armor” bicep bands are illegal if the
logo is showing. (read NO sponsor money for CIF).
Since each head coach certifies that his players are wearing proper
equipment, any infraction is a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty against
the coach. If he gets two in a game, he is ejected. As with any
ejection, he would have to miss the next game.
I’ve g ot an idea to get people back to work. Maybe any laid-off
“mattress police” guys can find work checking gloves and under football
players arms. Maybe schools could hire one as an “advisor” although
they probably wouldn’t make as much as the “advisor coaches.”
Let’s get this economy going!!!

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