Aram and I will discuss the two-minute drills on video this season, starting today with Bishop Amat and Garfield. We will post a few each day, others planned are Glendora-Charter Oak, Rowland-Baldwin Park, West Covina-Covina, and Los Altos-El Rancho.
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.
Are you ready for football? Believe me, we’re tired of transfer talk and training camps, and like you, we’re ready for Thursday and Friday night football. Our first-ever preview magazine, TribXtra, hits newstands and home delivery on Wednesday. So, lets shift the focus to the games. These were my final words before the 2007 season, but the message is always the same. 2010, here we come.
For the players who started during the early days of spring and continued through the brutal summer of two-a-days, it’s lights, camera and action time.
But it’s also a time not to take for granted.
As any former football player worth his helmet can attest to, the wins and losses are never forgotten, but the basic lessons in life are applied forever.
You’ll know about sacrifice, unselfishness, brotherhood, camaraderie, and it will be taught and drilled into your head from coaches who will go down as some of the best role modes you ever had.
So are you ready, because the next 15 weeks are yours.
Enjoy it, soak it up, and revel in it.
The stage is yours to perform in, so take it with class, integrity and a passion for the game that inspires those little kids peaking over the fence who someday hope to wear your jersey.
After all, it’s never too early to be a role model.
The Times’ Eric Sondheimer has been busy reporting on one athletically motivated transfer after another, and it appears coaches are growing tired of the rule and how it’s enforced. Just today, The Southern Section has declared junior quarterback Chase Favreau from Huntington Beach Edison ineligible for this season, ruling his transfer from Santa Ana Mater Dei was athletically motivated. “We’re pretty much in shock,” Coach Dave White said. White said the lack of the consistency in how the Southern Section decides whether a student moved for athletic reasons concerns him. That’s a shocker, a player transferring from Mater Dei to another school declared athletically motivated. Maybe I’m wrong, but doesn’t that mean Mater Dei would have had to challenge the transfer? White told the O.C. Register they’re not accepting CIF’s decision quietly. “We’re going to fight this one … to the hilt,” White said. “It’s totally ridiculous. … We’ve got some angry people at Edison.” Earlier, Norco had three players declared ineligible for athletically motivated reasons.. “This year, schools are really taking time to protest the transfers,” said Southern Section spokesman Thom Simmons.
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.