Damien’s Tom Ebiner leads locals at Cross Country state championships in Fresno

By Keith Lair, Staff Writer
Two days after Thanksgiving, Tom Ebiner was thankful for his Damien High School teammates. When the Damien senior appeared to be down and out at last week’s CIF-Southern Section championships at Mt. SAC, it was his teammates who were there to lift his spirits. On Saturday, Ebiner repaid the team by finishing seventh in the CIF State Championships at Woodward Park. (To continue click thread)

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Saturday Morning Quarterback: Covina, West Covina and San Dimas dance to the semifinals; Arroyo and Azusa’s dream season ends; Charter Oak goes down hard at Upland

Highlights from La Serna’s win over Los Altos with TDro

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer
Charter Oak’s first big test against a CIF-Southern Section Inland Division powerhouse ended with third-seed Upland showing the Chargers they’re not ready for prime time.
Charter Oak, which rolled through opponents and averaged 50 points since a September loss to Rancho Cucamonga, wore down against the Highlanders’ defense, and could not slow their offense. The Highlanders stepped on the gas in the third quarter to go up 38 points, forcing a running clock in the fourth. (to continue click thread)

Tonight’s results
Inland Division

Upland 51, Charter Oak 13 — They were unfortunate to be down 21-6 at the break after moving up and down the field and coming away with nothing but field goals. The second half Upland overpowered them and Kenny Lawler showed why he’s so good.
Southeast Division
West Covina 55, Pasadena 12 — It’s going to take a team playing out of its mind to beat these guys. They have the unstoppable combination of they’re good, and they know they’re good.
La Mirada 31, Arcadia 28 — There goes the dream West Covina-Arcadia matchup.
La Serna 35, Los Altos 30 — There goes the dream Los Altos-Muir matchup.
Muir 48, Diamond Ranch 0 — The at-large Mustangs have been just as dominating if not more than No. 1 West Covina.

Mid-Valley Division
Covina 49, Alhambra 7 — Did I hear that right, Venegas with six touchdowns? It was the first game in the refrigerator on Coveritlive, setting up the game everyone wants next.
Monrovia 61, Whittier Christian 7 — Are you kidding? I don’t care if Covina won by 42, this was a statement. I felt good about picking the Colts prior to the playoffs, I’m not so sure now.
San Dimas 30, Azusa 23 — I got caught up in the Azusa nostalgia after watching that video like everyone else. But give credit to the Saints, it’s not easy beating a good team twice, and now they have to do it again.
San Gabriel 40, Arroyo 38 — The Knights fell agonizingly short of reaching the semifinals, but they went down swinging, and all-everything Steven Rivera will go down as one of the all-time best. Now San Gabriel gets its shot at San Dimas-San Gabriel II.


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Area Colleges: APU, Mt. SAC also seeking playoff success

Our local high schools are not the only ones putting their seasons on the line, Azusa Pacific University and Mt. San Antonio College are also in football playoffs. For Mt. SAC, it’s just trying to continue the status quo as the Mounties host Cerritos at 1 p.m. on Saturday, seeking their fifth consectuve Southern California title. Mt. SAC will be the favorite to advance to the CCCAA title game again after routing Cerritos, 51-0, last season. But both teams have won six consecutive games.
APU, meanwhile, after routing Ottawa, of Kansas, in the first round last week, has a monster tilt at Carroll, of Helena, Mont., in the NAIA quarterfinals. The host Saints have won six national titles since 2002, including last season. This will be APU’s second trip to Carroll in two seasons, losing 35-21, in the first round last year. The Cougars, who have never lost in the quarterfinals, are 0-6 lifetime against the Saints, and 0-2 in the playoffs, also losing 14-10 in 2004, in the semifinals. I guess that means the odds are in their favor, right?
Here’s a little something to inspire the Cougars on the eve of their monumental task. Although it’s not a football speech, the meaning is the same.

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Southeast Division Update: West Covina’s “Noodles” Scouting things out; Los Altos happy to be practicing on Thanksgiving

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
Think West Covina High School freshman Antonio “Noodles” Hull isn’t making a contribution to the Bulldogs’ bid for a second consecutive CIF-SS Southeast Division championship? Think again.
With no real way for the Bulldogs to mimic what they’ll see Friday from Pasadena dual-threat quarterback Brandon Cox, head coach Mike Maggiore and staff have turned to Noodles to give their defense some semblance of what to expect when they face Cox this weekend.
Noodles has been doing his best Cox impersonation this week as the scout team quarterback.
“Well, Brandon Cox is about four or five inches taller (than Noodles) and left-handed,” Maggiore said. “He’s been doing a little of it.”
Simulating Cox, even for a future star like Noodles, is no easy task.
Nor will trying to contain Cox on Friday be an easy task for West Covina’s defense.
“Skill-wise, he’s as good as anyone we’ve played,” Maggiore said of Cox. “He’s a threat on the zone read. He runs quarterback counters. Sometimes, he’ll drop back and just take off if there’s nothing else to do.
“There’s not a lot that he doesn’t do well. We just have to do our best to contain him. I think we’re pretty fast on defense and have some guys who can cover. We’re going to have to force him into some uncomfortable plays.”
Facing Cox and Pasadena’s high-octane offense will be major shift from the double-wing offense the Bulldogs had to stop last week against Norwalk. West Covina (10-1) had only 21 offensive plays in last week’s 38-8 win. Drives could have lasted longer, but Bulldogs running back Jimmy Frazier carried five times in the game, scored on three of them and finished with 188 yards.
West Covina’s ground game might be its best defense this week against Pasadena, assuming there are long drives that keep Cox and Co. off the field.
“We’re not going to tell our guys to take a knee if they’re in the open field,” Maggiore said. “But we’re going to run the ball and mix in some play-action. Last week, we scored pretty quick.”

Thanksgiving practice returns

Practicing on Thanksgiving used to be an automatic for the Los Altos football team until recently. It hadn’t happened in any of the past four seasons, but thanks to the Conquerors’ win over Burroughs last week the enjoyment of the holiday while knowing there’s another game to be played will be felt again in Hacienda Heights.

“We’re pretty stoked,” Los Altos coach Dale Ziola said. “We expected to win in the playoffs. No one but us, but that’s worked for us all year long.

“The kids are special. They’ve been through heck. They’ve gone through three different coaches and three different programs. They’ve been kicked on and spit on and now they’re having a great time.

“Those seniors, man. They’re awesome. To get in the playoffs was cool, but to win that playoff game for those seniors was just the coolest thing in the world.”

The Conquerors continue to amaze under first-year coach Ziola. Los Altos was 0-10 last year but enters Friday’s home game against La Serna at 8-3.

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Mid-Valley Division Update: With looming Monrovia-Covina blockbuster in semifinals, teams say they’re not looking ahead

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
With both teams needing one more win to set up the marquee matchup most area fans want to see in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division football playoffs, Covina and Monrovia high schools promise they won’t be looking ahead on Friday when they play second-round games.

Monrovia, last year’s division champion, and Covina, the division’s top-ranked team,
appear to be on a collision course to meet in the semifinals next week. But first, they must win on the road. For Covina, that means beating Alhambra at Moor Field. For Monrovia, it means beating Whittier Christian at Whittier College.

“That’s for everybody else to talk about,” Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox said regarding a potential game with Covina. “Our kids know Whittier Christian is a good program. They know Whittier Christian can play football, so there’s been no talk around us about Covina at all.

“The kids know we have to play great on Friday night to even think about playing next week.”

Friday’s game will mark the third time in as many seasons Monrovia (8-3) has played Whittier Christian (7-4). Last season, the Wildcats beat the Heralds in the division championship game. Both teams have lost several key contributors from last year’s rosters, but Maddox expects nothing but a good challenge from Whittier Christian.

“I don’t say this to sound arrogant by any stretch, but when you progress in the playoffs like we have and they have each year you’re going to see the same teams,” Maddox said. “They’re doing the right things over there and they do what they do very well.

That’s why they’ve had the success that they’ve had.”

While the Monrovia-Whittier Christian game figures to be competitive, the local punditry doesn’t think Covina-Alhambra will be much of a game.

The only person not buying that is Colts coach Darryl Thomas.

“They’re good, they’re well-coached and they do a whole lot of different things defensively,” Thomas said. “And on offense, they want to confuse you. We have to make sure we bring our `A’ game.”

Ever since Alhambra’s stunning 69-14 loss to San Gabriel, most of the Valley has jumped off the Moors’ bandwagon. But since that game, Alhambra (9-2) has bounced back to beat Bell Gardens and La Puente.

Thomas thinks judging the Moors by one bad game against San Gabriel is foolish for anybody to do, especially his own team.

“They had a bad night,” Thomas said of Alhambra’s loss to San Gabriel.

“San Gabriel had everything bounce their way. For you to score that many points, things have to bounce your way. Other than that, they’ve been a very tough team. I think they gave up almost a quarter of the points they’ve allowed on season just in that one game.”

Covina (10-1) got a scare last week when leading rusher Gevontray Ainsworth injured his ankle in the first quarter against South El Monte and did not return. Thomas said Ainsworth is back practicing and will be ready to go on Friday night.

For Monrovia, early season struggles have given way to a seven-game winning streak with the lowest margin of victory being 12 points.

Defense has been the catalyst for the Wildcats and that stands to reason with super recruit Ellis McCarthy patrolling the line.

Many fans will remember last year’s championship run for the exploits of quarterback Nick Bueno and the offense, but Maddox maintains defense is what got Monrovia a ring last year. He said it will be what gets them another one this year should they win it all.

“I’ll be honest, last year’s team definitely hung its hat on the defense,” Maddox said. “Now we could put up points, but we were spectacular on defense last year. That allowed us to do what we did last year. We’re getting to that point where we’re starting to play how we did last year on defense.”

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PrepXtra Rewind: Chris Rix joins the crew to talk everything from Amat to CO-Upland, The Scouting Guru and the crew discuss several hot-button issues and PREDICTIONS …

Fox Sports Analyst and San Gabriel Valley friend Chris Rix joins the conversation at the 7:45 mark, talking about Charter Oak-Upland, and his thoughts on Bishop Amat’s season and QB Rio Ruiz. Great, great stuff, click the player…

Aram posted this on his blog this morning and I had to share it too. Great video produced by Azusa’s football team, so good it might even make Aztec Pride cry with joy.

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St. Lucy’s advances in state playoffs with four-set win over tired Bonita Vista

By John Honell, Correspondent
Delayed by traffic and no GPS, Bonita Vista High School took more than four hours to drive from Chula Vista for the opening round of the Southern California State-CIF Division II playoff match against second-seeded St. Lucy’s. It will seem like a much longer ride home as the Regents (28-6) defeated the Barons in four games, 26-24, 25-17, 17-25, 25-17 on Tuesday at Damien High. (To continue click thread)

CIF-State Playoffs — Division II
Saturday’s Southern California Regional Quarterfinals

St. Lucy’s (28-6) vs. Downey (27-5), Damien HS, 7 p.m.
La Salle (20-6) at La Costa Canyon (29-8), 7 p.m.

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Girls Hoops Preview: Bishop Amat, Diamond Ranch and Bonita still best of the best

Michelle Yamamoto, left, and Leeah Powell are two of the top players on the Bishop Amat girls basketball team this season. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
It’s hard to imagine an encore resembling anything close to last year’s local girls basketball season, but if it happens it probably will be the same teams producing the magic. Last year’s impressive run by Bonita High School is something that won’t soon be forgotten. On their way to a deep run in the postseason, the Bearcats avenged an earlier loss to area stalwart Bishop Amat. Another meeting in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs between those teams won’t happen because of division realignment, but they appear ready to take their fans on another fantastic journey. It won’t be all about the Bearcats and Lancers this season. Duarte returns every key contributor from last year’s record-setting team, and Diamond Ranch is loaded once again. It should all add up to another stellar winter on the hardwood. Here’s how they stack up at the dawn of a new season. (Click to continue top ten story)

Girls Hoops preseason top ten
1. Bishop Amat
2. Diamond Ranch
3. Bonita
4. Duarte
5. Wilson
6. St. Lucy’s
7. Diamond Bar
8. Rosemead
9. Arroyo
10. Walnut

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This has been the year of the coach …

I’ve had a few emails praising area coaches in what certainly has been the year of the coach in high school football. We’ll crown a coach of the year in a few weeks, but has there been a year like this with so many that are deserving. Duarte’s Tip Sanders led the Falcons back after back-to-back 0-10 seasons, leading them to 6-3 and on the brink of a playoff berth. La Puente’s Brandon Rohrer led the Warriors to their best start in school history before finishing 9-2. And look at Azusa’s Joe Scherf, going undefeated his fourth straight year in the Montview, and still alive in the quarterfinals. There is probably no better feel good story than what’s happening at Los Altos, where coach Dale Ziola is 8-3 and in the quarterfinals after the Conqs’ program was left for dead, 0-10 last year with virtually nobody wanting a piece of that job. West Covina’s Mike Maggiore continues to establish himself as one of the Valley greats, gunning for his second straight and third CIF title. And how about Roddy “playoff” Layton. That’s all he does is advance in the postseason. What if this is the year he finally gets the prize. The Valle Vista League is full of contenders. Covina coach Darryl Thomas may finally gets his CIF title in a few weeks, Bill Zernickow is on course to take San Dimas back to the title game and what about Pomona’s Anthony Rice, whose team is now part of the SGV conversation. The Mission Valley league is full of feel good stories too. El Monte and coach Joel Sanchez chased their first league title since 1979, South El Monte’s Ibis Aguilar got the Eagles in the postseason after a miserable 2010, and Arroyo coach Jim Singiser has his first real shot at a title with one of the Valley’s all-time greats at QB. Damien coach Greg Gano’s team finally turned the page in the Sierra when few thought they could and Sweet Lou Pa Farrar is back at it again, winning a Sierra League title and chasing a title in a division that you thought was unthinkable last year. It’s not right we have to pick just one in a few weeks, but no matter who gets it, there are so many others that are just as deserving.

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Upland-Charter Oak Showdown live on Fox Sports Friday

Well this sort of squashes our plans for Coveritlive, unless you want Mike the Cousin there for a live Q&A…let us know what you think.

Friday’s up-to-date game time and locations
CIF-SS Playoffs
Inland Division

Charter Oak (10-1) at Upland (11-0), 7:30 p.m.
Southeast Division
West Covina (10-1) at Pasadena (6-5), 7 p.m.
La Mirada (7-4) at Arcadia (9-2), 7 p.m.
La Serna (8-3) at Los Altos (8-3), 7:30 p.m.
Diamond Ranch (6-5) at Muir (7-4), 7:30 p.m.
Mid-Valley Division
Covina (10-1) vs. Alhambra (8-2) at Moor Field, 7 p.m.
Monrovia (8-3) vs. Whittier Christian (7-4) at Whittier College, 7 p.m.
San Dimas (9-2) vs. Azusa (8-3) at Citrus College, 7 p.m.
San Gabriel (7-4) at Arroyo (10-1), 7 p.m.

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San Dimas knows it faces a different Azusa in Friday’s Mid-Valley Division quarterfinals

“I think our parents are thinking it’s going to be the same Azusa, but our kids are pretty dialed in. Our kids saw them in person and saw them on film. I think it’s basically trying to get our parents to believe that they’re going to be good, too. They’re two different groups.” — San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer
It’s hard to imagine San Dimas High School would be at any disadvantage Friday when the Saints play the same Azusa team they beat by 25 points on Sept. 8 in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs. But some disadvantages can be of the mental variety, and nobody knows how true the age-old adage “it’s hard to beat the same twice in the same season” better than Saints coach Bill Zernickow. (To continue click thread)

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Arroyo’s Rivera remains humble after reminded he’s the San Gabriel Valley’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns

By Aram Tolegian, staff writer
Upon being told about this newspaper’s discovery that he’s the Valley’s all-time leading in passing in career yards and touchdowns, Arroyo quarterback Steven Rivera took things in stride.
“I called him up and told him about it because I was pretty excited,” Arroyo coach Jim Singiser said. “His reaction was `Thank you, coach.’ “We’ve got more to do.”
Rivera’s four-year total of 8,296 passing yards and 91 touchdowns makes him tops in Valley history. His 91 career touchdown passes rank seventh on the CIF-Southern Section list. Rivera needs 179 yards this week against San Gabriel to move into 10th on the Southern Section’s all-time yards list.

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Boys Hoops Preview: Lutheran, Damien and Glendora are loaded, get ready for a super 2011-12 season

La Verne Lutheran head coach Eric Cooper has a talented team featuring the likes of Cameron Osorno (15), Grant Jerrett (33) Eric Cooper Jr. (21) McKay Anderson (20) and Brian Beard Jr (1). The Trojans are seeking their third consecutive state championship. (Keith Birmingham / Staff Photographer)

The new CIF-Southern Section Division realignment will benefit some teams more than others for the 2011-12 boys basketball season, but there is no doubt the area is in for an exciting season with back-to- back state champion La Verne Lutheran boasting one of the best teams in the country and Damien in position to make a run at the Division 3AAA title with St. Mary’s-bound senior Chris Reyes topping a deep Spartans roster that includes two heralded freshmen. (To continue reading Top Ten preview, click thread)

Tribune boys hoops preseason top ten (2010 record)
1. La Verne Lutheran (23-5)
2. Damien (26-4)
3. Glendora (21-7)
4. Ayala (19-9)
5. Chino Hills (22-7)
6. Northview (23-7)
7. Covina (17-12)
8. Bishop Amat (21-8)
9. Rowland (17-12)
10. Bonita (26-4)

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Tribskin Pick’em, your predictions and ours; I finally decided, I’m going with Charter Oak

Aram and I will go head-to-head in Tribskin Pick’em throughout the season with the loser buying lunch in December.

Last week: Robledo (15-0); Tolegian (13-2)
Season standings: Robledo (188-49); Tolegian (187-50)

Last Week: I was first-round playoffs clutch, going 15-0 to turn Aram’s one-game lead into my one-game lead heading into the quarterfinals. I got Aram on two big picks, taking Los Altos over fourth-seed Burroughs, and with Azusa’s big win over Cerritos Valley Christian.

This week: I know everyone wants to dismiss Charter Oak’s chances against Upland, but even Calpreps has it a close game, picking Upland 38-31. I realize the Chargers need to play the perfect game, and if they get on top early, I’m not sure Upland’s the comeback type. The first quarter is everything and if this is going to work, Charter Oak can’t be intimidated, they need to swing first, forget they’re on live television and slug it out. The way people are talking, you would think they’re facing the ’85 Bears, but it’s just Upland. Charter Oak won’t be able to stop them consistently, but the Chargers can score and they’re so much better than when they faced Rancho Cucamonga earlier in the season. If my money’s on anyone, it’s on Travis Santiago. He’s a winner, and I’m riding him to the finish line. Momentum swings once you get to the playoffs, and so do our picks from week to week. That’s why I like Azusa over San Dimas, I love the way they’re playing, and the fact San Dimas smoked them 41-16 earlier in the year and is a 20-point favorite on Calpreps is more reason for me to believe the Aztecs will get it done in the rematch. After what Muir did to No. 2 Santa Fe doesn’t mean I’m picking the Mustangs over DRanch, but it does mean I’m taking Los Altos over La Serna because I have no faith in the Del Rio League teams. DRanch is not Santa Fe, and will do enough to get back in the semifinals again over Muir. Arcadia-La Mirada coud be epic, but I’ll take the Apaches in a close one and West Covina rolls over PHS. I like Covina and Monrovia big, and our other feel good story with Arroyo, who I picked to go to the finals in the Mid-Valley, getting it done at home against feisty San Gabriel.

This week’s games and predictions
Inland Division
Charter Oak (10-1) at Upland (11-0) — Robledo (Charter Oak); Tolegian (Upland)
Southeast Division
West Covina (10-1) at Pasadena (6-5) — Robledo (WC); Tolegian (WestCo)
La Mirada (7-4) at Arcadia (9-2) — Robledo (Arcadia); Tolegian (Arcadia)
La Serna (8-3) at Los Altos (8-3) — Robledo (Los Altos); Tolegian (Conqs)
Diamond Ranch (6-5) at Muir (7-4) — Robledo (DRanch); Tolegian (Muir)
Mid-Valley Division
Covina (10-1) vs. Alhambra (8-2) — Robledo (Covina); Tolegian (Colts)
Monrovia (8-3) vs. Whittier Christian (7-4) — Robledo (Monrovia); Tolegian (M-Town)
San Dimas (9-2) vs. Azusa (8-3) — Robledo (Azusa); Robledo (Saints)
San Gabriel (7-4) at Arroyo (10-1) — Robledo (Arroyo); Tolegian (Arroyo)

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