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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