Sierra League Prediction: Chino Hills gets the top spot in the area’s most anticipated league race

Can you imagine a scenario where Greg Gano, Lou Farrar and Steve Bogan all don’t make the playoffs? Obviously not likely, but it wouldn’t be a shock either considering the depth of the new Sierra League, where if you had to pencil in the worst team on paper, it might be Ayala or Damien, teams that would compete for a league title in any other league in our area. It’s great banter and what you want to see from a fans perspective, quality and traditionally rich teams going head-to-head every week knowing half of them won’t even make the playoffs. Even finishing third is not ideal, not when a playoff bid likely means facing a monster seed in the first-round of the Inland playoffs. But hey, it’s going to be fun isn’t it. Here’s how it shakes out.

Above: Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar won the “Drive for Five” with last year’s Southeast Division title, but the drive for a playoff spot in the Sierra could prove just as difficult for Farrar, South Hills coach Steve Bogan and Damien’s Greg Gano. Enjoy it, it’s not that often that you get the area’s three winningest coaches with 13 CIF titles between them all competing in the same league.

1. Chino Hills — This team has grown on me. Just about every person you speak with, including some coaches in the Sierra, say this is the team to beat by far. Nate harris and Ifo Ekpre-Olomu combined for 23 rushing touchdowns, with Edpre-Olomu also hauling in 45 receptions for 712 yards and seven TDs. They dominated lineman camps over the summer, finished in a three-way tie for the Sierra and finished 10-3, beating Elsinore and Etiwanda easily before losing to Upland in the semifinals of the Central Division last season. If you remember, Charter Oak struggled to a one-point victory over Etiwanda, and that was with a far superior team than they have this year, while the Huskies return a majority of impact players that produced last year’s great season.

2. Charter Oak — Even with everything said about Chino Hills, I was prepared a week ago to put the Chargers on top, then they lost some depth with Chris Gilchrist and Aaron Vaughns declared ineligible. Josiah Thropay and Dennis Rufus will still be a potent combination for QB Travis Santiago, but outside of Andy Orozco, they have a lot to prove on both sides of the line. But what the two-time defending Southeast champs have on the rest is confidence, and a coaching staff as good as any from top to bottom that the southern section has to offer.

3. South Hills — You’re kidding right? They just lost four players to neighboring schools and WR Jamie Canada could be out the season with a knee injury. I’m buying because two-way lineman Sioasi Aiono, Jeff Vargas and Peter Nonu are as legit as it gets, and you can’t advance in this league without the horse’s up front, which they’ve got. Vince Hernandez will be among the area’s best QBs, and Jamel Hart among the area’s best RBs. The Huskies will once again be extremely tough on defense, and if they get Canada back by league, they might even scare Charter Oak or Chino Hills. Your biggest concern if you’re a Husky fan is the swag. Do they still have it after back-to-back losses to Diamond Ranch in the playoffs? Do they have it after watching players flee the program? We’re about to find out.

4. Claremont — People are telling me, including Aram, that this could be the second best team in the Sierra after Pomona High RB Taj Teague transferred to the Wolfpack last week, giving them the one missing piece they sorely needed. Teague could be a monster and is a Division I prospect, and a perfect complement to QB Daniel Kessler, who threw for 2,419 yards and 24 touchdowns last year. This is a team supposedly getting relief by going from the Baseline to the Sierra, but I picked them in this spot because I couldn’t ignore some nonleague losses last year, particularly a 24-0 loss to Damien and just a squeaky 31-28 win over Bonita. They got crushed by everyone in the Baseline except 0-10 Alta Loma, whom they defeated, 45-21. I’m not buying the hype until I see them beat quality teams. And they have to prove they can play better defense.

5. Ayala — The Bulldogs stay out of the cellar and get the edge on Damien because of defense, where they return six starters on a team that lost just 14-7 to Chino Hills, and allowed an average of just 15 points a year ago. They might be offensively challenged again, but coach Tom Inglima’s team rode its defense to a title two years ago, and that seems to be this team’s M.O., once again.

6. Damien — If you listen to coach Gano, he’ll tell you this is too generous. I know he doesn’t really believe that, but on paper it sure looks like they have the least amount of impact players on the roster. RB/WR James Ramirez and LB/RB David Griffith could emerge, but they will have an inexperienced QB, and will have a lot to prove on both sides of the line. But Damien’s always has depth, and with a coaching staff as good as this one, something tells me they will compete, and might even surprise a few.

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  • Claremont and Chino Hills be both in the top three. In what order, I don’t know. Who the third team out of the league will be, I also don’t know.

  • Wow

    Can’t wait to see how this shakes out and the battles against between Farrar, Bogan and Gano. You guys picked West Covina No. 1 in the Hacienda, I wonder where they and Diamond Ranch would place if this was an 8 team league. I bet they would finish 7 and 8.

  • CHHS fan

    After watching CHHS since they only had a freshman team, here is the deal. There are some great HS football teams out there: Norco, Corona, Rancho, and so on. What CH has that others do not is a Winston Churchill never, never, never give up approach. The one and only game I have seen the wheels even close to coming off was against Colony. Where the QB thought he had a broken arm and refused to come out of the game. Other than that, nothing. I watched a humble CH team show up to CIF game after CIF game where the team was bigger, faster, and stronger and CH was able to knock them on their butts and then help them up after the play. These kids are classy, well coached players. At the CIF game, Elsinore looked like a D1 team size wise, but like a Pop Warner team after the 1st half. The team and the fans were stunned (snack-bar talk at half time was comical. Sure, CH has the star players that will get the hype, but they also have a core group that you will never read about in the paper that make the team lethal. Their is no magic wand to their success. They work harder and smarter and can smell the CIF rings this year. Sierra league bring your lunch, because beating CH this year will be an all day job!

  • COChargerfan

    No duh that Chino Hills is the favorite as they have 3,000 kids plus often draw the best talent away from their sister schools of Ayala and Chino High…meaning that they have a potential in-district talent pool of around 8,200 kids vs. CO’s 1,900 and Claremont’s 2,300. The fact that they didn’t get put in the Baseline with their enrollment contemporaries just proves that the CIF leagues via bed-fellows intead of using logic and certainly they ignore their own rules when it serves their purpose.

    My daughter graduated from South Hills so I root for their success but my brain tells me that they are probably going to finish in the cellar. Even at their very best they weren’t as good as these Sierra teams so why should we believe that they will be able to compete with what they have this year? Sad to say that it is not going to happen and, in fact, they might not win a league game.

    With that said, I expect that most of these Sierra games are going to be close, hard fought battles that will get decided on a turnover or big play.

    Good luck to everyone and praying that all the kids have an injury free season.

  • Norco

    I watched CH struggled yesterday with Villa Park…On VP first series they marched down the field and scored on CH, VP mixed up some nice running & passing…when I left CH was up 2-1 at halftime, I believe it was Ekpre-Olomu who broke a nice run to score for CH…Ekpre-Olomu is a stud and IMO should be the starting RB…Also their NG is a stud, but he seemed to tire rather easily …Now I will say this CH OL is VERY WEAK…they might have the dominated lineman camps, but none of them pass the eye ball test & from what I saw last night…VP DL was able to pressure the QB all night and push around CH…Also CH starting center looks to be 5-9 180lbs…VP LB`s had their way with him…

  • TeachDGame

    to quote —— “COChargerfan said:
    No duh that Chino Hills is the favorite as they have 3,000 kids plus often draw the best talent away from their sister schools of Ayala and Chino High…meaning that they have a potential in-district talent pool of around 8,200 kids vs. CO’s 1,900 and Claremont’s 2,300.”

    OOOOH man, I’m just messing with you, but really, do you want to lead your entire argument with this….. really?????

    I absolutely! positively! respect the hell out of your coaching staff, but if you want to start quoting who CO pulls their kids from “district wise”, you better start using the numbers for:
    Charter Oak Unified, “whatever” Duarte/Monrovia Unified, Pasadena Unified and every district within 25 miles….. come on now…. you know its true ! Its’ all good in the neighborhood …

    Again brother, I’m not saying anything bad about your coaching staff, but I am totally poking fun at the basis of your argument and logic and if you really know anything “inside” you know its’ true… lead with the hands not the chin… hahaha all in good fun

  • Dan

    To Wow,
    Not sure why you brought up West Covina and Diamond Ranch but I think both those teams would be in the middle of the battle for playoff spots
    and even the league title in the Sierra league this year, especially hearing now that Chino Hills line was getting pushed around last night. WC looks like they will be very good but I’ll have a better idea after tonights scrimmage with Claremont. By the way Claremont looked like they had the skill players to match any team in the Sierra, if they have a decent line they could suprise a lot of teams in the Sierra.

  • CO Bro

    Yeah I kinda cringed at the comment from COChargerfan too!

  • Hey norco

    Hey norco I hear three of your transfers are ineligible. What do you have to say about that?

  • Norco

    It sucks…..they will appeal of course…all three kids have valid change of residence, but Roosevelts AD & Coach felt the need to contest these transfers…funny thing is Roosevelts starting RB Joey Legere & WR/LB Sam Body are both transfers from Norco and Norco let go…but hey…it is what it is….we move on…only one hurt here is the kids…

  • funny

    I wonder if CIF spokesman Thom Simmons will comment on Norco since he’s never seen anyone other than South Hills contest so many tranfers at once … The guy love to stick it to South Hills and nobody else.. Maybe Simmons also should comment about Roosevelt filing so late, just like he did with the Hills.

  • COSteelCurtain

    Don’t forget LB Poly, SHHS, Alabama, Germany, Turkey and Japan while you’re at it! Hah!
    The fact is that 3 or 4 transfers do not win CIF rings. They help, but they don’t win. You should try it. What’s your excuse going to be after?
    Fred, thanks for the annual support!

  • funny

    Oh here’s the Times story on it….

    It’s the summer for denying transfers. Three football players who transferred to Norco have been denied eligibility this season.

    It continues the trend of schools objecting under the rule that you can’t transfer for athletic reasons.

    “This year, schools are really taking time to protest the transfers,” said Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons.

    Players denied eligibility can appeal, but that takes time.

    — Eric Sondheimer

  • Norco

    I will say this Roosevelt just put a big bulls eye on its program….I mean lets get real, last year 8 starters on their defense & three on their offense were transfers…most coming from CC, Norco, Corona Santiago and Colony….yet none of these schools challenged the transfers….Roosevelt HS=snitches

  • Hey norco

    Hey norco stop crying like a little baby.

  • SGVsBest

    Chino Hills, Fred!
    Really? C’mon man….? What studs? All I saw was a couple fat kids and the rest are small. CO, Damien, and SHHS has bigger kids than those guys!
    Did you see what Norco has been saying about them?
    You’re just trying to be nice to your new neighbor. I get it!!!

  • COChargerfan

    Geez you guys are sensitive…I wasn’t making an “argument” (or excuse) but just agreeing that CH is the favorite as they should be based upon the simple logic that a deeper talent pool should exist in a school with 1500 boys vs. one with 900. Do you really disagree? Really?

    As for transfers, I say let the kids play wherever they want. Come on, if they can legally enroll in a school, why can’t they also participate in any extra curricular activity including sports? Add in the selective enforcement of the transfer rules…if it was a bona fide rule than it whould be enforced in EVERY case and not just when a jilted school complains…just makes the CIF wonks look like a running bad joke. It would be a lot easier if they just change the rules to allow any kid that is admitted to a given school to also play sports. I would like some CIF wonk to explain exactly why that would be so unfair?

  • whitey

    any kid can transfer and play sports at their new school, the restrictions are only in place for varsity sports, the CIF SS office does not have the manpower to investigate every transfer, they rely on the member schools(the people who actually make the rules) to file the paperwork appealing the student-athletes transfer/eligiblity……’s simple, even freddy understands it, except when it comes to SH

  • Big News


  • auston johnson

    sgv comment on chino hills lineman …. a bunch of fat kids and the rest were small …. we outlifted and out ran everybody two of our lineman both cleaned over 300 pounds and those were the small ones you saw … and the fat ones out benched everybody and still could move … its not like we did good in the rely and obstacle course because we had two what u call small kids on our team …


    Like I have said from the beginning the #1 seed out of the Sierra will be CO followed by CHills and then SHills has to battle it out with Claremont for the 3rd spot. Damien and Ayala will battle it out for second to last & last place.

    Damn this Friday is officially “Friday Night Lights”!

    Citrus will be the place to be 9/3/2010 get there early…


  • Norco

    auston johnson…

    Are you serious, you have no idea what a legitimate OL looks and plays like…Answer me this why was Villa Park DL for the most able to dominate the LOS against CH? Anyways congrats on winning a few OL competitions this summer…lol…You guys are in some serious trouble win you line up against Corona Chaparral….

  • jcaz

    Its football season so you would think that I would finally be happy right ?

    Generally, it takes more than my next door neighbors, irritating Chihuahua to upset my day, but I have to tell you that I really got more than upset when I went shopping for back to school supplies at Walmart this afternoon for my kid.

    It seemed that in every section of that stupis azz store, that there was some silly azz USC display.

    There was this USC Canopy and tent paraphernalia in the automotive section. Then there was a bunch of USC crap laying around the isles, especially where the check out counters were.

    There was so much USC stuff laying around the store that I could of swore that I was at the USC campus book store.

    Now, believe I or not, I wasnt all that up set with the fact that Walmart was selling stuff from a dying football institution. So what if the stuff is all about a program that’s going to be on probation for the next 20 years or so right ???

    Anyway, what really got my goat, was that fact that there WASN’T EVEN ONE UCLA bobble head to be found anywhere in that stupid store !

    WTF I said to myself !!

    Oh well, maybe if UCLA kicked a little bit more but every now and then in fooball, maybe, then the public’s perception about the school and the program might swing around the other way someday.

    I guess that this validates my point over what I was harping on all this winter over the baseball football debate. You can win in baseball and no body really cares, but if you win in football, then you on top of the world my friend.

    Stay tuned folks….

  • Scott

    Its good to see the Sierra added to the Inland division however this is not the best year talent wise. Chino Hill and CO will be fortunate to win a game. Only the league champ with a possible match up of the CBL 3 has a chance. The Southwest (Chaparal, Vista Murr.) and Big 8 (CC, Norco)are very deep and talented, among the best in the state, then toss in the Baseline (which was dropped after getting smashed for two years only to return this year) are just way too strong.

  • SGV

    to Norcow! why dont you zip it! shut it! and if we wanted anymore lip from you we will drop your pants…..we are so damn tired of you and your NORCO is #1 talk….your so good?? why dont you just put a ball in it ….PLEASE!!!!!!!! anyone agree?? lets take a vote….who wants to Vanish Ms Norcow here???

  • CH Alum

    The most important element at any level of the game is the ability to bounce back after injuries. If a team is deep enough where one key position is crippled, someone else has to have the ability to step up. Last year Chino Hills was able to overcome their injuries at the skill positions(except for the QB). Bub said it best about being able to stay healthy come playoff time.

  • Norco

    First of all I have never come on here and said Norco is #1, IMO they could be 9-1 if all goes well or 6-4…I don`t know…Now why don`t you offer a logical counter argument to my position rather than just attack me personally? Better yet…tell you what…I will be at the CO game…If your man enough to meet up with me and talk sh!t to my face…I`m game…if not just STFU then…understand bigmouth?

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