Consider this the Robledo preseason top 35. As I stated earlier, Aram is picking the top ten to start the season for PrepXtra, then I will take it from there the rest of the way based on how the season shakes out week to week.
Team, 2010 record
1. Bishop Amat (9-2) — There is no question in my mind, they return Serra first-team RB Jalen Moore, QB Rio Ruiz, a healthy Zach Shay and many others from one of the best offensive teams in Lancers’ history. Will it translate to a Serra and Pac-5 title? That’s wishful thinking. But compared to the rest in the SGV, it would be silly to rank anyone else ahead based on past results and what’s returning in 2011.
2. Charter Oak (6-5) — On paper and over the summer they looked good, really good. Travis Santiago separated himself from a strong contingent of SGV quarterbacks, and with RB Kurt Scoby, WR Chris Gilchrist and other weapons, the Chargers should be the real deal. But I’m from Missouri when it comes to the Chargers. They have to show me they can win a step-up game, something they haven’t done since I took charge in 2007. They won back-to-back titles, but I wouldn’t exactly call beating Diamond Ranch in back-to-back title games over-achieving.
3. West Covina (13-1) – Now that they have won the Southeast title and given coach Mike Maggiore his second title, the Bulldogs are among the area’s elite, and will continue making deep playoff runs in the Hacienda and Southeast. In terms of pure demographics, West Covina owns the area’s best athletes and returns the player of the year, Chris Solomon. It’s a powerhouse public school that will continue getting better.
4. South Hills (3-7) — This might not be where South Hills ends up at the end of the season, their schedule is simply too tough. But on paper, QB Vincent Hernandez, RB Jamel Hart and WR Jamie Canada give them weapons to contend with anyone. If they can shore up their defense, the Huskies are in business.
5. Chino Hills (10-3) — The Huskies lose a lot of impact players, but coach Derek Bub should reload with so many athletes in town, and what separates them from other SGV teams is their size on the line, a reason they did so well in summer lineman competitions. At the end of it all, the Huskies will be fighting South Hills, Charter Oak and Damien for the league title.
6. Damien (6-4) — I’m buying because like Rick Neuheisel at UCLA, the pressure is on coach Greg Gano to show he can win somewhere other than Los Altos, where he won four championships. Like Neuheisel there have been several coaching changes, philosophical changes and key transfers that all indicate the Spartans intend to show they’re no longer that other Catholic school’s punching bag.
7. Covina (10-2) — I’m on record stating that Monrovia is the team to beat in the Mid-Valley Division, but the Colts could give them a run for their money. This could be coach Darryl Thomas’ best team since the McDonough years with so many weapons on offense. I know what to expect from all purpose Vinny Venegas and QB Billy Livingston, but they key for me is RB Gevontray Ainsworth, who looked like an impact-maker as a sophomore, but didn’t get enough touches. If Ainsworth has a breakthrough season, Monrovia should be worried.
8. Diamond Bar (6-4) — Attitude is everything, something coach Ryan Maine is drilling into the head of his new team. That’s why they went out and won the SGV shootout with a purpose, and have one of the area’s best QBs in Henry Omana. I’ve always thought Diamond Bar should be better than what they’ve show the past decade, and with Maine in charge, maybe a return to the glory days isn’t too far away.
9. Glendora (5-5) – New coach Todd Quinsey has his hands full, but he has the perfect pieces in his run-oriented offense with Corey Victoria and Donovan Holmes. Because of their schedule they may not finish in the top ten, but I would take them in a head-to-head over anyone ranked below.
10. Arroyo (9-2) — I’m never comfortable ranking Mission Valley League teams this high, but Arroyo is different. Steven Rivera is as rare as four–year starting quarterbacks come, and this team will have a chip on its shoulder. If they can improve their defense, they could be scary because you know the Knights can put points on the board.
The Rest:11. Bonita (12-2), 12. Diamond Ranch (5-6), 13. San Dimas (8-5), 14. Azusa (10-1), 15. Claremont (7-4), 16. Ayala (4-6), 17. Walnut (6-5), 18. Pomona (5-5), 19. La Puente (8-3), 20. Rosemead (8-4), 21. Rowland (4-6), 22. Baldwin Park (5-6), 23. Wilson (4-6), 24. Los Altos (0-10), 25. Workman (2-8), 26. Sierra Vista (7-3), 27. Northview (3-7), 28. Gladstone (5-6), 29. Nogales (1-9), 30. Ganesha (4-6), 31. Mountain View (5-5), 32. El Monte (4-6), 33. Bassett (3-7), 34. South El Monte (1-9), 35. Duarte (0-9).