Hacienda preview from our Highlander Weekly

The newly formed Hacienda League provides for some interesting football matchups here in the San Gabriel Valley. The seven-team league features a combination of former San Antonio League affiliates West Covina, Rowland and Walnut in addition to Miramonte League affiliated Bonita, Los Altos and Diamond Ranch, along with the former Sierra League Diamond Bar. The new league will continue to pit the former league teams against each other so the Walnut-Rowland rivalry will continue as well as the Bonita-Diamond Ranch rivalry and so on.

“Our kids are Diamond Bar kids, so we’re all gonna play with kids from both sides. I know people from both sides and both sides want this game. The connection to Walnut is because they are in the district, but I don’t think it will be as big as the Diamond Bar-Diamond Ranch game because these are kids who grew up playing together when they were younger and it is for city rights. It is going to be gauntlet style to see who wins. We’re excited for it. It is a game I’ve been wanting since I became the coach at Diamond Ranch.”Diamond Ranch coach Roddy Layton on facing Diamond Bar

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Bishop Amat scrimmage at Upland Tonight, 5:30

I can’t be there tonight, we have a meeting with our correspondents, but would love to hear what Amat nation thinks of tonight’s scrimmage. Tomorrow night Aram and I are headed to Damien to watch their scrimmage against Bonita at 6:30 p.m.. Also, Diamond Ranch coach Roddy Layton texted to say Saturday’s Black/Blue scrimmage is at 11 a.m., and all the public is welcome. If there are any other scrimmages tonight through Saturday, feel free to post the time and locations.

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Valle Vista League predictions: C’mon, it’s San Dimas and you know it clap your hands

I ran into a Northview lineman at Tijuana’s, one of my favorite taco joints on San Bernardino road in Covina. He said some interesting things on how well Northview is doing under new coach Marcel Perez, and that the new atmosphere is paying off. But then he followed with something like “we’re going to take league and CIF,” and said it so convincingly that I didn’t have the heart to tell him they really have no chance. But that’s what two-a-days and the summer are supposed to produce, optimism. But here we talk reality, and the reality is the defending Mid-Valley Division champs aren’t gong anywhere. Here is how the Valle Vista shakes out…On Friday we break down the rough and tough Sierra.

1. San Dimas — This is a team that loses QB Shawn Kennedy to an injury, then learns of the fortunate news that a quarterback from up north transfers into the program, and from what I hear he’s pretty darn good. Why we’re talking QBs on a team that runs the Wing T to perfection tells you how stacked the Saints are. Jordan Taylor and Allen Brown are a handful in the backfield, Kevin Kolbeck is a money go-to-receiver, and coach Bill Zernickow is one of the best. ’nuff said.

2. Baldwin Park — This is the only team that has a shot to knock off San Dimas, and it’s a real opportunity. James Heggins’ teams have been knocking on the door and Wardell Crutchfield III is probably the best linebacker in the league, plus he can run the ball too and will be asked to do a lot more. After sitting out a year after transferring from Duarte, Demetrius Jackson is set to go. You add him to the line strength the Braves had, and this very well could be a team that competes for it all.

3. Wilson — This is a case of buying or selling and I’m buying. I really believe coach Brian Zavala is a program guy and has been licking his chops for the opportunity to move to the VVL. RB Moses Vega is a stud, but what this team will do is play defense. There’s a big difference from facing Charter Oak and Diamond Ranch in the Miramonte to going head up with San Dimas and Baldwin Park. Something tells me the Cats are going to be in the mix.

4. Covina — All conversations start and end with QB Billy Livingston. He’s only a junior but proved last year he’s talented and is a perfect fit in coach Darryl Thomas’ spread offense. They also have the fastest high school sprinter in the country in Remontay McClain and a WR/DB named Randy Robledo, so what’s not to like about them.

5. Pomona — I would have penciled them in at No. 3, but with the recent loss of RB Taj Teague to Claremont, Pomona loses a first-team all-leaguer from a year ago. New coach Anthony Rice did wonders at his previous stint at Colony, and a few of those players are now at Pomona. But Pomona also lost a few with Rice’s arrival, so this is a wait and see.

6. Nogales –– When the Nobles coaching job opened up, some coaches told me this was the best opportunity in the Valley because of the kids on campus, especially the ones who weren’t playing. Well, that opportunity belongs to new coach Sebastian Hernandez. I kind of felt bad for the Nobles last season in the San Antonio. There was no way they could compete with South Hills, West Covina, then had to deal with Walnut and Rowland during one of their good cycles. Going to the VVL is surely relief, and I won’t be surprised if they compete for a playoff spot. I’ve heard great things from people on campus raving about the work they’re putting in, but lets wait until the lights turn on.

7. Northview –– Is this as good as it gets for the Vikes? It was just a couple years ago this was a top ten team in the Valley, but they slipped so far last season, going 1-9 and 0-5 in the VVL, which included that remarkable 16-10 loss to Ganesha. I wanna believe the kid who tells me they’re fighting for a league title and want to believe Perez is up for it, but he’s a coach, not a miracle worker. BTW, watch out for RB Marquise Thomas and a sophomore named Javon Taylor.

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Tough comments from CIF on South Hills

“Just because you change principals doesn’t mean you should change principles,” Southern Section Director of Information Thom Simmons said. “As members of CIF, South Hills has the right, responsibility and duty to make the rules as part of the organization which they are members of.”
“It’s disappointing that South Hills took so long to do this,” Simmons said. “I can’t remember challenges ever happening this late. I can’t say it’s never happened, but I just don’t remember any happening this late. I know one thing for a fact, no school has ever challenged as many as South Hills. The rule has only been in a place for a couple of years, so there’s not a lot of history. But in those two years, nobody’s challenged as many.”

… In fairness, I believe Duarte challenged as many if not more last year.

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Just a thought given all this transfer talk, if you ranked the top five public schools based just on home-grown talent, who would it be?

I’ll take a shot, this is how I would rank the top five public high school football teams if everyone had to use its own home-grown talent. Kind of an interesting thought, isn’t it? Don’t know Chino Hills or Ayala area’s well enough, so sticking with our traditional schools.

1. Glendora
2. West Covina
3. Bonita
4. Charter Oak
5. Rowland

There have been some good points brought up on this thread. If we opened this conversation up to the entire SGV, Muir would be No. 1 hands down, followed probably by Monrovia then West Covina.

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Bonita QB Garrett Pendleton receives good news, only out 4-6 weeks, no cast required

I just spoke with Bonita’s 6-foot-4 quarterback Garrett Pendleton, who feared he could be lost for the season after suffering a fracture near the right elbow of this throwing arm last week. After seeing doctors, it was determined he has a hairline fracture and does not need a cast. He is expected out 4-6 weeks and there is a good possibility he could return by the start of Hacienda League play. “I have been better but it could have been worse,” Pendleton said. “When it first happened, I thought all the hard work I put in was for nothing. Now to learn it might only be four weeks and maybe six, and that I might be back for league is great news. I’m hoping to be back as soon as I can.” Interesting Note: About two hours after posting this, I got a call from a Pac-10 coach asking about the health of Pendleton, and what we thought of him. The coach said he is someone they’re taking a close look at.

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Enough of transfergate, lets get into predictions: West Covina No. 1 in the Hacienda League

If we’re to assume the best teams in the area are Bishop Amat, Charter Oak, Chino Hills, Glendora and possibly South Hills, and that the Pac-5 and the Inland Division are far superior than the Southeast or Mid-Valley Divisions, then the Valley’s best mid-major is the new Hacienda League. I’m not saying Diamond Ranch, West Covina, Bonita and so forth couldn’t compete with teams in the Sierra or teams in the Inland (I won’t go there in the Pac-5), but they have to prove they can dominate and win championships, such as Charter Oak, to be among the discussion of top programs. The Hacienda will be an interesting race, bringing West Covina and Diamond Ranch closer together, creating a huge rivalry between the Diamond schools, and including the area’s winningest program of all-time, Los Altos, a school easy to forget because of its recent struggles. So how’s this going to shake out. Let’s take a look. I will rank the Valle Vista on Thursday, Sierra on Friday, Montview Tuesday, Mission Valley Wednesday, Serra and Baseline Thursday, and let the games begin on Friday.

1. West Covina — The size up front on both sides, a third-year starting quarterback and enough running backs to give new meaning to the word depth. If the Bulldogs aren’t plagued by injuries, such as they were last year, this is the team to beat. Not just in the Hacienda, but in the Southeast.
2. Diamond Ranch — Coach Roddy Layton is on a mission, and now that Charter Oak is gone there are no excuses. This is the team that beat South Hills two straight years in the playoffs, not many schools can say that. Although they graduated a few players, it was obvious at a recent practice that this is a program that reloads, not rebuilds. I mean, athletes everywhere, and the spirit was there. With their nonleague schedule lighter than years past, I don’t expect them to start 1-5 or 0-5 like years past.
3. Rowland — Yes, the return of quarterback Michael Ball. This kid was so sensational as a sophomore, then broke his collarbone in the league opener against Walnut as junior. Think of it, Ball battled eventual champion Charter Oak in the semifinals as soph, that experience is invaluable. Even with Ball going down, the Raiders competed, have a lot returning and coach Craig Snyder is not to be undervalued as a coach, in fact, he’s one of our best.
4. Diamond Bar — Yes I said it, the Brahmas check in here over some other notable teams. Even though they got spanked by Walnut and West Covina in nonleague games last year, I like the Brahmas in this spot. This is a team that didn’t have problems scoring points, and returns senior QB Andrew Cameron, who averaged 179 yards a game. They have a lot returning and the new league is a chance for them to reinvent themselves, especially with Diamond Ranch in it. Remember, back in the 80s the purple was among the valley giants.
5. Bonita — Oh I can hear it now, what are you thinking Fred J? I hope K.C. (inside blog joke) is settled in for this but it’s pretty simple, if they don’t have 6-foot-4 QB Garrett Pendleton healthy by the start of league, then No. 5 is pretty generous. Even with Pendleton, I would have ranked Bonita No. 4 behind Rowland. Having said that, this is a wait-and-see. From everything I’ve heard (from Bonita supporters) if Pendleton is ready by league, this is a team capable of winning league. They might wind up being the area’s biggest surprise, but after watching them the past two years, I’ve got to see it before I believe it.
6. Walnut — This is a balanced league when you’re ranking a Walnut at No. 6. My issue is, I thought Walnut was good enough to compete for the San Antonio last year after starting 5-0, then what happened. A 27-7 loss to a Rowland team that lost Ball during the game. A 31-11 loss to West Covina and another spanking to South Hills and the playoff dreams were over. And guess what, this team isn’t as good as last year, though they do have some playmakers. Again, let’s wait and see, they did beat Bonita in a non-league finale.
7. Los Altos — Ouch, the winningest program in Valley history picked last. It’s the sign of the times, I guess. There would be no better story than new coach Jim Arellanes somehow bringing the Conqs back to glory, or even contention in his first season but it doesn’t appear they have the horse’s. Simply put, the rest of the league is just better.

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*Update on South Hills transfers

I had a brief conversation with CIF-SS spokesperson Thom Simmons, who officially confirmed that South Hills formally challenged the transfers of Aaren Vaughns and Chris Gilchrist to Charter Oak based on the belief these were athletically motivated transfers. South Hills also challenged QB Brock Booth’s transfer to Bishop Amat, who has already been denied eligibility on the grounds of an athletically motivated transfer. We also learned that Randal Varela’s transfer from South Hills to Bishop Amat has been officially challenged by the Huskies administration. So, here’s where we’re at with the other three players, noting that Booth is appealing his transfer denial.

… Gilchrist has been declared ineligible by the CIF-SS this morning based on an athletically motivated transfer.
.. Varela is cleared as of now based on a valid change of address, but that could change if South Hills can prove to CIF-SS officials that it was an athletically motivated transfer.
…CIF has not ruled on Vaughns as of today…

Finally, South Hills has taken some abuse on the blogs after changing its philosophy on challenging transfers that leave the school. So much that it provoked a one-liner from Simmons, the CIF-SS spokesperson who said, and I quote .. “Just because you change principals doesn’t mean you should change principles,” Simmons said. Read all of Simmons’ comments, he made some interesting points in terms of the system CIF has in place, in addition to criticizing South Hills for taking so long to file their paperwork.

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Breaking News: Bishop Amat soph RB Dionza Blue cleared according to CIF website

Bishop Amat sophomore all-purpose back Dionza Blue was expected to be one of the Lancers’ big up-and-comers after a sensational freshman year before transferring to Chaminade, where he was cleared to compete in March. However, Blue returned to Bishop Amat over the summer and as of Tuesday, was cleared to play for Bishop Amat by the CIF-Southern Section after a valid change of address transfer request from Amat was upheld. Amat coach Steve Hagerty said Blue had been practicing with the junior varsity because he wasn’t sure of his playing status, adding, “He came back late in the summer, is a good kid and will certainly add depth, Hagery said. “He is an athletic kid who can catch the ball and run the ball. He’s a good young hybrid player that can fill in a lof of places.” BTW, Dionza Blue? Why would you ever leave Amat with a name like that? You want video of the Blue Blur, here it is, see for yourself.

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Breaking News: Pomona RB Taj Teague transfers to Claremont, giving Wolfback another weapon

As soon as I post enough of transfergate, I get the tip an another this morning. Pomona first-year head coach Anthony Rice confirmed that Taj Teague, a Valle Vista Legue first-team running back as a junior after rushing for 800 yards, has transferred to Claremont High. Teague, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, is expected to be among the Valley’s best rushers and would have been a key figure in Pomona’s Valle Vista league title hopes under Rice, who is hoping to reshape the program after success at his previous stint at Colony. If many of you are wondering if Pomona will challenge Teague’s transfer to Claremont citing “athletically motivated” reasons given what has transpired in recent days, Rice says no and wishes Teague well. “Let him play,” Rice said. “I don’t challenge anything, if he (Teague) wants to go to Claremont so be it. I wish the kid the best of luck and hope he has a great senior year. You hate to lose a kid of that caliber, but it’s his choice.”

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Another MaxPreps made easy

If you’re like me, you hate searching Maxpreps for schedules, rosters and statistics for area teams, so once again I have created a MaxPreps widget for local teams, which now includes Chino Hills, Ayala, Claremont, Pomona and Ganesha. Once schools start inputting rosters, this will be invaluable. Already you can click on the team rankings to see how MaxPreps ranks the area. Once stats are inputted, you can see where area players rank against each other. Of course, this only works if teams input rosters and stats, so get on it coaches and boosters, don’t be one of the few holdouts, all the kids deserve coverage.

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Aram reporting that South Hills is challenging the transfers of Vaughns and Gilchrist to Charter Oak; South Hills AD Paul Reed explains why

By Aram Tolegian
South Hills High School athletic director Paul Reed confirmed Monday night that the school has filed a protest with the CIF Southern Section office in regard to the transfers of sophomore running back Aaren Vaughns and junior wide receiver Chris Gilchrist. Reed said that South Hills is alleging that the transfers were athletically motivated and should not be allowed. The protests were made in late July at the same time South Hills also protested the transfer of Brock Booth to Bishop Amat. CIF denied Booth eligibility until April of 2011, thus costing the senior his final chance to play prep football. (To continue reading, click thread).

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Coaches react to first-ever coaches poll

The coaches have had their say, and Bishop Amat High School is No. 1. Area coaches were asked to participate in a coaches poll that ranked the top 20 teams in the Valley. Some declined or did not respond, but the majority did vote and Amat received the most first-place votes and total points. “We’re flattered the coaches think enough of our program to think we’re the top team in the San Gabriel Valley,” Bishop Amat coach Steve Hagerty said. “I’m fired up, but in a respectful way it really means nothing. I hope they’re right. I hope they’re prophets and they are absolutely correct.”
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Brock Booth’s transfer request to Bishop Amat denied, could other South Hills transfers be next?

I told you this could be coming now that schools are filing transfer requests. It appears that Bishop Amat tight end Brock Booth will not be eligible, at least to start the season. Booth’s transfer request from South Hills to Bishop Amat has been denied, according to the CIF-SS webpage. Booth left South Hills before the summer, and though he initially wanted to try out at quarterback, he settled in at tight end and looked good in Friday’s scrimmage. South Hills apparently challenged Booth’s transfer, and he was denied for athletically motivated reasons, according to CIF-SS spokesperson Thom Simmons. CIF’s website said Booth was denied on Friday and is not eligible to play sports at Amat until April. To further that, I have been checking CIF’s website on the eligibility of RB Aaren Vaughns and WR Chris Gilchrist, two other South Hills players that have transferred to Charter Oak. Also, Randal Varela transferred from South Hills to Bishop Amat. As of today, there is nothing new to report on the aforementioned transfers, it appears the transfer request paperwork still has not been filed for Gilchrist, Vaughns or Varela. But with Booth being declared ineligible for athletically motivated reasons, you have to wonder about the eligibility of other South Hills transfers. We will keep you posted when we learn more.

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