Touching Base with John Honell — Week III

Correspondent John Honell is a longtime contributor to the Tribune, and well-known throughout the San Gabriel Valley. He knows the area’s history, coaches, and always seems to have insider information. He will share some of it with his “Touching Base” pieces that will run from time to time.

Touching Base with Nut N Honey, Week Three

Aram may be late jumping (Aram and jumping aren’t usually found in the same sentence) on the Azusa bandwagon but he isn’t the only one. It is hard to estimate crowds in the Citrus College stands but, it appeared there were a couple of thousand fans on hand for the win over Ontario Christian. It looked like a couple of hundred on the other side of the field and half of those were rival Montview League coaches looking nervous. (To continue, click thread)

The Aztecs defense held OC to 55 yards of total offense. The only points came after two turnovers. The first resulted in a touchdown but the big play on the drive was a 30-yard pass that looked like a ruptured duck. At least two Aztecs had a chance at it but the OC receiver came back and got the catch at the 3-yard line. It took two more plays to get the ball in the end zone and tie the game.

The second, a tipped screen pass that was intercepted by the Knights on the Aztecs side of the mid-field stripe got the benefit of two major penalties and still came away with nothing but a field goal. The Aztecs defense is for real. If they don’t self destruct with silly penalties, that bandwagon is in for a long ride. (The band may need to borrow the Clydesdales to pull Aram)
Speaking of Montview League coaches, Fearless Freddy says that West Covina has the best running game in the Valley. I beg to differ. Keith Locklear, an Army veteran of the first Gulf War in Kuwait has instilled Army Pride in his Dons. His offensive coordinator, Don Le Gro the master of “The Blast,” has the Dons rushing for more than 400 yards per game.
I saw Le Gro’s last game in 1999 against South Hills. The Huskies outscored them but never did stop their running game.

I’m not saying the Dons would beat the Bulldogs (it wouldn’t be close) but I have the feeling the Dons would pile up a ton of yardage. It is the system and kids buying into it that will win a lot of games for the Dons this year.

While realizing that CIF never makes a mistake, it looked like Wilson and Los Altos should change places in the new league lineups. A one game, cross-town rivalry, matchup is no way to decide that but the Wildcats looked like they are a real force to be reckoned with when Valle Vista League play begins while the Conquerors play hard but are one-dimensional at this point and that isn’t going to cut it in the Hacienda League.

…..Junior quarterback Josh Morales looks like he is going to be a good one. Making his first start for the Wildcats, he was 10 for 12 passing and one of those was argued about with the officials.
He has three or four deep receivers with good hands and with his running ability the Wildcats offense looks solid. Their defense has great pursuit and kids that aren’t afraid to mix it up. They aren’t deep so if they can avoid injury, they’ll be in the title chase until the end.

…..I don’t understand the animosity towards new coach Jim Arellanes. I know a couple of web sites that have refused to print some of the things said about him. (maybe they should be turned over to the FBI?) He is a guy that was looking for a job, was offered one, and accepted the offer. Nothing more, nothing less. He has the Conquerors on the right track. The running game is going very well but they need to stretch the field more and don’t look like they have the horses to do it. With those big lines in the Hacienda League, it might be a year or two before the Conquerors compete for a title. Both programs have slipped from the mid-90’s but the game still draws a huge crowd. Los Altos stands were jammed and Wilson fans had three quarters of their side filled. Great rivalries are what make Friday night football special but Los Altos is still the only school with two press boxes. When Wilson first opened the schools shared the football field. Los Altos wouldn’t let Wilson share its press box, and Wilson coaches didn’t want any part of being in the same room with Los Altos. They built their own and, since it is trimmed in red, I’m betting Wilson still maintains it.

Checking MaxPreps before the game to get an Ontario Christian roster, I noticed that Laing Stevens was the coach. Thought it might be the son of the long ago Nogales football coach. How long ago? He coached the Nobles to a Sierra League championship. Turned out the real Laing Stevens isn’t dead but he is still dead honest about assessing his team and its chances. It’s good that some things don’t change.

Speaking of long ago, back in the mid-90’s the three high schools in the Covina Unified School District, Northview, Covina and South Hills, had about the same enrollment. (give or take a few) South Hills, with 1,100 students was deemed not to have enough space on campus for that many students. (there is a national “recommended” amount of space per pupil)
The consensus is, the transfers were approved for fear the kids were going to transfer completely out of the District.
Whether all would have left the District is arguable but the money was more important, who could take a chance?

….In three to five years all three schools will be, once again, about the same size and back in the same league. At least the Covina – South Hills rivalry could fill up those stands again. I bet all three schools could move onto the same campus for less than that $500 million dollar school in Los Angeles. (probably for less than Meg Whitman is spending to become governor) Think of how long it would take for CIF to move it to the Baseline league. But then, CIF never makes mistakes.

Isn’t there a rule about who can be on the sidelines? This is a rule that CIF could make that wouldn’t require mind reading.
Some schools are worse than others but many seem like they are the designated hang out spots for retired coaches, relatives of players and coaches, etc, etc.
Los Altos used to be the worst. Those guys criticized Gano when he was there, especially when the Conquerors were struggling. Felipe Aguilar never had a chance. Every one not in uniform, from the 30-yard line to the goal line (it was jammed), had a reason something different should have been done. (they didn’t agree on what the different thing should have been, just that Aguilar should have asked them first) .
Don’t know if new coach Jim Arellanes is responsible for those guys being gone or, if they were just front runners that want to vent their hatred and ignorance on the blogs . Whatever the reason, good riddance. Let them buy a ticket and sit in the stands, maybe they’ll learn how to be a fan.

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