Sierra Vista’s Giovanni Rivera, the area’s leading rusher in 2010 with 2,304 yards, shocked Dons coach Don LeGro when he attended the first day of summer camp on Wednesday. Rivera was not with the Dons during the spring, and told Le Gro he was going to skip his senior season to concentrate on baseball. “We were thrilled when we saw his face,” Le Gro said. “What it does is take some of that talent we were going to use to replace him, and move it somewhere else. All along we were hoping that as we got closer he might change his mind, and when he showed up, it gave us a whole new outlook.”
“Yesterday was like Christmas Eve and I woke up this morning very excited. I’d be lying if I said we weren’t excited about the level of experience we have. We get to a different level football now as far as teaching them. We’re not just going to be out here with our base stuff.” — Covina coach Darryl Thomas
By Aram Tolegian
Not since the 2006 season, when the Covina High School football program returned one of the best senior classes around, has there been this much excitement when the Colts took the field Thursday for their first day of fall practice. The Colts, who went 10-2 last season and swept the Valle Vista League, return their leading passer, rusher, receiver and tackler. With so much experience, the expectations have been heightened and the anticipation is palpable.
Funeral services for St. Lucy’s assistant soccer coach Mark Faurot, also the goalkeeper coach, junior varsity coach and a big contributor to the club soccer community, will be held on Saturday, August 27, at the Christ First Baptist Church in Covina at 11:00 a.m.
Faurot, who had been an assistant at St. Lucy’s since 2005, was diagnosed with cancer in March and passed on Aug. 5 at the age of 41. Faurot, also a softball coach at La Verne Lutheran a few years back, graduated from Diamond Bar, and was a member of the Brahmas’ 1987 CIF championship team. “Our kids are devastated,” St. Lucy’s athletic director Judy Hartranft said. “It was a very tough battle and very quick. He had a rough last few months.” Former St. Lucy’s head coach Robert Rodriguez remembered him fondly. “He worked tirelessly on behalf of the players and families,” Rodriguez said of Faurot. “He was a huge part of the success they have had.”
1. Jalen Moore, Bishop Amat, Sr. – Earned Serra League first-team honors and rushed for 1,634 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was even more impressive when Zach Shay turned his ankle against Crespi. Even though everyone keyed on him, he was still able to produce.
2. Jamel Hart, South Hills, Sr. — One of the few bright spots on the Huskies’ miserable 3-7 campaign. He rushed for 1,318 yards and 17 touchdowns, and did so against one of the area’s toughest schedules.
3. Chris Solomon, West Covina, Sr. — The reigning player of the year and Southeast Division MVP rushed for 1,790 yards and 20 touchdowns and will be an even bigger focal point this year. Think about it, he only had 151 carries, averaging nearly 10 yards a carry.
4. Corey Victoria, Glendora, Sr. — In coach Todd Quinsey’s run-oriented offense, he inherits a gem in the 6-foot, 180 pound back, who will share the backfield with Donovan Holmes, who give the Tartans quite a 1-2 punch.
5. Gevontray Ainsworth, Covina, Jr. – The third piece of the Colts’ triple threat, which also includes quarterback Billy Livingston and all-purpose standout Vinny Venegas. I thought Ainsworth looked intimidating as a sophomore, already 6-foot and 175 pounds. I’m expecting a monster year from him in 2011.
6. Kurt Scoby, Charter Oak, So. — Rushed for 470 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman, but will be called upon much more to help balance out quarterback Travis Santiago. Whenever Charter Oak’s football teams have had success, they have had solid backs.
7. Jamaal Clayton, Diamond Bar, Sr. – He rushed for 70 yards and three touchdowns as a junior, but figures to be an important piece in coach Ryan Maine’s offense. If Diamond Bar has success, Clayton figures to be a big reason.
8. Dillon Corona, San Dimas, Sr. – He was on the 2009 championship team and in coach Zernickow’s Wing T, the fullback figures to produce and produce heavily. The Saints don’t rely on one back, but if you have to zero in on one, it’s Corona.
9. Desmond Reed, Azusa, Sr. – The Aztecs shared the load and shared in well in 2010, but expect Reed to get the bulk of the carries and be among the area leaders in total yards. He’s a natural back with cutting ability and speed. With Sierra Vista’s Giovanni Rivera not with the Dons, Reed should be the league’s best back.
10. Donald Morris, Pomona, Jr – I’m taking coach Anthony Rice’s word that he will be one of the area’s top backs. With the kind of schedule Pomona faces, someone like Morris should be able to rank among the area’s rushing leaders.
1. Michael Ortega, St. Paul, Sr., 5-11, 176 – Ortega sets the tone, combing speed and power. He’s the key to the Swordsmen’s success this season after rushing for 1,196 yards and seven touchdowns in 2010. He also averaged an impressive 8.5 yards per attempt.
2. Tony Botello, Pioneer, Sr., 5-5, 155 – The Titans struggled in the Del Rio League, but it wasn’t because of Botello, who enjoyed a banner season, rushing for 1,189 yards and 12 scores. He will need another type year if Pioneer is to improve on its 5-5 overall record. Most believe he can.
3. Grant Escobar, Whittier Christian, Sr., 5-10, 165 – Escobar is one of the few holdovers from the Herald’s run to the Mid-Valley title game. He was a machine last season, rushing for 1,084 yards and 16 TDs. He’s one of the more versatile backs in the area, also taking time to catch 38 passes for 401 yards and two scores.
4. O.J. Medina, La Serna, Sr., 5-8, 170 –Medina saw limited action behind Richard Alvarez last season, but now it’s his turn and has the ability to be the go-to-guy after rushing for 765 yards and eight TDs. He also pulled eight yards a run in 2010.
5. Ronell Lone, El Rancho, Sr., 5-9, 172 – There is plenty of plus-side for Lone, who averaged more than 7 yards a carry last season, finishing 613 yards. He’s a key to El Rancho challenging in the Del Rio League.
“Coach Maine brings such energy and enthusiasm that when you wake up in the morning you can’t wait to go work out for him. He’s probably going to be the best coach at this school in a long time.” -- Diamond Bar senior running back Jamaal Clayton said.
By Aram Tolegian
There’s something contagious about new Diamond Bar High School football coach Ryan Maine. To spend a few minutes with him is to find yourself about ready to strap on pads and a helmet and hit someone in the name of Brahma football. And that’s just if you’re a normal person. What about the Brahmas’ actual football team? Well, let’s just say they’re fired up beyond belief for the upcoming season and it’s got everything to do with Maine.
“Coach Maine brings such energy and enthusiasm that when you wake up in the morning you can’t wait to go work out for him,” Diamond Bar senior running back Jamaal Clayton said. “He’s probably going to be the best coach at this school in a long time.”
And that’s exactly what the Brahams’ struggling football program needs.
Diamond Bar has fallen from being one of the top teams in the area in the late 1990s to an afterthought on the current area scene. If anybody remembers Diamond Bar’s glory days, it’s Maine. He won CIF championships at the school as a quarterback in 1998 and ’99. Maine was a sophomore back-up on the ’98 team, but was the starting quarterback in ’99.
We have a handful of high school football correspondents returning to cover high school football games in the fall, but are looking for a few more. Those who have covered high school football games before or are studying journalism are ideal. Or, if you have a passion for writing and football, that works too. If interested, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We discovered last year that we put up a lot of points, had lots of (total) yards and threatened a lot of records in the record books. But what good did it do us? We ended up losing our last two games and it left a sour taste in our mouth. We want to make sure we focus more on what’s going to get us to that final game. We want to play into December, and the defense is going to get us there.” — Bishop Amat coach Steve Hagerty
Below: Sophomore Koa Haynes appears to be the leading contender to take over at quarterback when Rio Ruiz leaves for the U.S. National 18-Under baseball team.
By Fred J. Robledo. Staff Writer
Bishop Amat already knows that it will be without senior quarterback Rio Ruiz for three non-league games in September against La Mirada, Damien and Cathedral while Ruiz is with the U.S National Team’s 18-and-under baseball squad that will compete in the COPABE Pan American Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, Sept. 23 through Oct. 2. But for the past week Ruiz has competed on the Milwaukee Brewers’ squad in the Area Code games in Long Beach, forcing him to miss Wednesday’s first day of football camp in preparation for the Lancers’ season opener against Garfield on Sept. 2.
The area code games concluded on Wednesday, but Ruiz also was selected to play in the Perfect Game All-American Classic on Sunday in San Diego, and will not join the team until it’s concluded. Ruiz is expected back at practice on Monday, something Amat coach Steve Hagerty is adjusting too.
“All us coaches and the kids understand why he’s not here,” Hagerty said of Ruiz. “We’ve already met and talked about it and there are agreements in place. Nobody is looking over their shoulder wondering where he is. Rio’s a great player, but we’re moving along because we got a job to get done. The other 75 kids here know that. We’ll be glad when he’s here and working, but in the mean time it’s business as usual.”
By Steve Ramirez
MONTEBELLO – Montebello High School’s Daniel Servin is a marked man.
The senior is the one player on the Oilers’ defensive that opposing offensive coordinators tag as the one guy that must be accounted for.
But Servin, one of the top returning defensive players is the area, is worth more to Montebello than the production he provides on the field.
“He lives by example,” Montebello coach Pete Gonzalez said. “He works hard in the weight room, he works hard at practice. He’s a great guy who goes out and plays.
“He makes everyone on our team better, because he plays so hard, so fast all the time. You can’t take a down off in practice, because if you take a down off, he’s going to make you look bad. He’s just one of those guys who is going to force you play hard all the time. He’s a great kid all the way around.”
Based on what we already know, schools that draw the most readership and hit counts go something like this: Glendora, Bonita, Damien, Diamond Bar, Bishop Amat, Chino Hills, South Hills, West Covina, Covina, Walnut and San Dimas …What I gather from this is a disconnect between us and several schools in the Mission Valley and Montview League, meaning we have to do a better job blogging on those schools, and readers need to do a better job commenting to get the interest going. Aram posted his Montview League predictions on Tuesday, but still waiting for someone to comment on it. Compare that to his Valle Vista League predictions thread (102 comments and counting) and you can see where we’re going with this. We’re trying to do our part, but can’t do it alone.
You might be surprised to learn who’s leading the quarterback fight at Pomona, or that San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow thinks his backfield could be better than the 2009 championship one. Read on….
A handful of teams are on the practice field this week with West Covina featuring a quarterback battle between Chris Caballero and Jonathan Najera. “This is still a battle because both of them have strengths, and I don’t think you can really tell a whole lot about a quarterback until we see what kinds of decisions they make in the heat of battle,” said two-time Tribune Coach of the Year Mike Maggiore. San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow is not at all concerned with playing his 2011 schedule on the road, saying, “I don’t think it’s challenging at all, I kind of like playing away,” said Zernickow, whose team opens camp this morning. “Obviously when we get our home field back it will be nice, but our kids have known for a year it would be like this and have prepared with that road-warrior mentality.” Zernickow also said with most observers picking Monrovia and Covina as the top Mid-Valley teams in 2011, he likes it that way. “Let us fly under the radar,” he said. The Saints return five players from their 2009 title team, including quarterback Shawn Kennedy and fullback Dillon Corona. With junior back Denzel Mitchell and sophomore Jake Payton, Zernickow loves how his vaunted Wing T offense is shaping up. I finally talked to Pomona coach Anthony Rice, who has a quarterback battle on his hands between senior Brandon Schrieman, who transferred from Wilson, and Tavea Cobb, whom Rice seems to be learning toward. “(Schrieman’s) good, he gives us some options,” Rice said. “Tavea also plays tight end, but he’s really good at quarterback. He’s mobile, runs hard and I like what I’ve seen so far.”
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).
La Mirada football coach Mike Moschetti could miss up to a month after being diagnosed with pneumonia over the weekend. La Mirada football coach Mike Moschetti, who guided the Matadores to a CIF-Southern Section title in 2009, it’s first since the early 1990s, is out of action after being diagnosed with pneumonia over the weekend. He was hospitalized one night for observation, but is now resting at home.
La Mirada offensive coordinator Armando Rivas, who is interim coach in Moschetti’s absence, said the Mats coach could be out from a week to a month.
The Matadores, one of the few Whittier area teams to begin fall practice, have gone undefeated in the Suburban League the past two seasons and won the CIF-SS Southern Division title in 2009.