The Montview race is going to be interesting, because unlike in previous years, the Montview is only guaranteed two playoff spots, with the rest hoping to earn an at-large, which could prove to be quite a chore. It will be important for the Montview to play well in the preseason, and it’s a league that improved mightily last year, and should be improved across the board. Azusa is head-and-shoulders above the rest, but several like La Puente, Gladstone, Sierra Vista and Workman are gaining on them.
1. Azusa –– In his first two years coach Joe Scherf has gone 21-4, won two league titles and has advanced to the Mid-Valley Division quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively. It’s a completely mentality change that players have bought into. More players are staying at the school, players that didn’t normally go out for football and showing up in droves. This is the result of winning, and they’re doing it home-grown style. Kudos to the Aztecs.
2. La Puente — The Warriors were 8-3 overall and second in the Montview behind new coach Brandon Rohrer, who should give Azusa all it can handle in his second season. Senior RB Jose Perez should be a force in the Warriors’ Wing T, but defensively, they’re solid with LB Jesse Gutierrez and Pedro Candia.
3. Workman — I’m taking a shot here with new coach Scott Morrison, and like what they have returning in RB/S Gabriel Fychok and with lineman Steven Miranda and Ismael Villaviscencio. Morrison has won titles in much tougher leagues and like Rohrer, could turn around a team that already was on its way back after going 6-5 last year.
4. Gladstone — The Gladiators returned somewhat to form by going 7-4 overall and return plenty of talent for 12th year coach Albert Sanchez. They will be tough to compete with in the backfield with Jhossep Juarez and Joe Herrera and if they improve on defense, they could be competing for the No. 2 spot, but not sure they have enough to topple Azusa.
5. Sierra Vista — One thing I know for certain, and that is that coach Keith Locklear is one of the hardest working coaches there is. He gave up coaching the girls varsity basketball team, which he did wonders with, to focus on football. He loves to throw the ball around, but the Dons need to prove they can play defense after allowing an average of 25 points in 2009.
6. Ganesha — After dropping from the Valle Vista League, many are wondering what to expect from the Giants. They started improving last year, even beating Northview to end a long league losing streak. They will have more to prove in the Montview, a league that seems like the perfect fit.
7. Bassett — The Olympians finally settled on new coach Aubrey Duncan, a no-nonsense Pasadena High graduate who took over late, but seems to have a handle on thigns. This is a wait-and-see, but they do have some impact players in Michael Pena and Alejandro Camacho.
8. Duarte — The Falcons hope to return to be more competitive after going 0-10 last year after the departure of so many players to neighboring school following the firing of coach Wardell Crutchfield. The numbers are better and they will improve, but not sure they’re ready to climb out of the cellar just yet.