The best report cards over the summer come from coaches who spend their weekends at summer passing leagues, and several I’ve spoke with this week have said the same thing, that Charter Oak’s Travis Santiago and Arroyo’s Steven Rivera have been head and shoulders above the rest. The way Charter Oak’s offensive coordinator Dominic Farrar and Arroyo coach Jim Singiser utilize the two suggest they’re in for monster years too. In fact, I would be surprised if come week seven, eight and nine if Santiago and Rivera aren’t the top two in the Valley in passing yardage and touchdowns because they will be among the leaders in attempts too. There are several other quarterbacks to consider, but here’s my list of the Super Six for 2011.
1. Travis Santiago, Charter Oak – He threw for 2,418 and 21 touchdowns last year and is even more confident and experienced this season. He will probably wind up with over 3,000 yards and over 30 touchdowns, but the bigger question is the offensive line and can they win against other good teams in the Sierra. I hope it’s not like a Daniel Kessler situation where you throw for a lot of yards and touchdowns, and then your team is one-and-done in the postseason. But I’m with most observers in that Santiago has been the best QB over the summer and if you had to put your finger on a preseason favorite for player of the year, he’s had the kind of summer that warrants it.
2. Steven Rivera, Arroyo — A coach told me if he could take any quarterback in the Valley, he would take Rivera. He also said if he had the same type of supporting cast that you find at Charter Oak, Bishop Amat, West Covina, etc, etc, it would prove his point even further. No argument here. Rivera’s been under center since he was a freshman, and he’s been good since then. You take Rivera away from Arroyo, they win two, maybe three games. With him, they have a shot at the Mid-Valley Division title. Who is worth more to their team than that?
3. Rio Ruiz, Bishop Amat — It will be interesting how they use Ruiz, because RB Jalen Moore is a beast and the most important piece to their offense. They will also have Zach Shay returning and will probably run more than they throw. In terms of total offense, nobody touches Amat, they simply have too many weapons. In terms of talent, give Ruiz 30 attempts a night and he’s among the area passing leaders too. But that won’t happen at Amat.
4. Billy Livingston, Covina — We can’t discount Livingston, in a spread like the Colts, he’s capable of putting up big numbers too. In terms of total offense, Livingston should be among the area leaders with his ability to run the ball, and with options like Vinny Venegas and Geovantray Ainsworth, the Colts’ offense will be among the best in the Valley.
5. Vincent Hernandez, South Hills -- Some will argue he’s as talented as anyone on the list, but like Ruiz, he’s their second option with Jamel Hart returning at RB. The Huskies also do not have the skilled receivers that others teams do, so it will be interesting how many attempts he gets per game. If all-purpose Jamie Canada returns from injuries, the Huskies’ offense will be as balanced as anyone not named Amat.
6. Henry Omana, Diamond Bar – He’s a sleeper in that he had solid numbers as a junior and is with a new coach in Ryan Maine who desperately wants to return Diamond Bar to the area’s elite. On paper, Omana’s size and arm strength make him an intriguing prospect for college coaches. If he has a monster senior year, his stock could fly the roof. I also think Diamond Bar, not Diamond Ranch or Bonita, will be the biggest threat to West Covina in the Hacienda League.