There are only a handful of teams with a chance to win the Mid-Valley Division, Paraclete, Monrovia, San Dimas are the top tier, Baldwin Park, Arroyo, Azusa are a not-too-close second. Where does Rosemead fit in the mix?
By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
After winning the Mission Valley League title and advancing to the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division title game last season, Rosemead High School football coach Matt Koffler is feeling good about his playoff possibilities, even though the Panthers are a mere 3-5 overall and 2-1 in league. With Arroyo (6-2, 3-0) well on its way to a Mission Valley League title after sneaking past the Panthers 14-12 in the league opener, Koffler is confident that once sturdy running back Joey Diaz returns, they will be an entirely different team.
With two games left, against winless El Monte (0-8, 0-3) on Friday followed by Gabrielino (3-5, 2-1), the Panthers are hoping to double their two-game winning streak to create momentum heading into the playoffs.
That’s when Diaz, who rushed for 233 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening 23-20 victory over Covina, could return if not sooner.
Diaz suffered a slight tear in his MCL against Covina and has been out since, briefly returning for three carries against Arroyo before shutting it down to get ready for the stretch run.
“I feel good about where we are for a variety of reasons,” Koffler said. “You look at who we lost to, Monrovia, Harvard-Westlake, South Hills, and we were in the game with South Hills until it got away from us late.
“Now you give me a healthy (Diaz) for the playoffs and who knows? Now you can control the clock. Now you have more options on offense. You know, if we had lost Tre Sumler for a long time last year it would have affected our record too. That’s the same with Joey. When we get him back it changes the entire dynamic of our team.”
With the exception of Paraclete, which defeated the Panthers 21-10 in last year’s CIF-SS title game, and current No. 1 and undefeated Monrovia (8-0), Koffler says the Mid-Valley Division is wide open.
“People look at our league and say it’s a down year, but I think it’s a down year in the Rio Hondo League with the exception of Monrovia. It’s down in the Valle Vista too. The championship still has to go through Paraclete, but I think the rest of us can knock each other off on any given night.
“Monrovia has been great, but a few weeks back they barely beat San Marino (14-12). I’m not knocking Monrovia, but a bad pass here, a turnover there, it happens. Nobody is so good that they can just pound you regardless. It’s going to be an interesting playoffs, that’s for sure.”