Spring is over, it’s time time to concentrate on High School Football. Based on last year and what’s coming back, here is my way-to-early Super 35 Tribune Football rankings. Unlike Aram, I’m seriously considering ranking teams based on who I think is the best, period, because I’ve grown tired of the best pound-for-pound nonsense. If Amat’s 3-7 and La Puente’s 9-1, you know IT DOES NOT MEAN La Puente is better, so why rank ’em that way. So here ya go.
Above: Amat’s next quarterback, Junior Koa Haynes
Tribune Super 35 Preseason Rankings
1. Bishop Amat — Go ahead and say what you wish, but the fact remains that Amat continually finishes the season with better wins on the resume than anyone else, against a tougher schedule than anyone else, and without a doubt, the best coaching staff in the Valley. Aram loves to point out how Amat has fewer D-1 kids than the Monrovia’s, Charter Oak’s and West Covina’s, so for them to do what they do only proves they have the best coaching staff in the Valley. And in terms of depth, Amat has more than anyone else, which makes up for its lack of game-changers. I’ll change my tune when a Valley team beats Amat, so to Charter Oak and Chino Hills, it’s your turn, you’re up next on the schedule in 2012.
2. West Covina — The Bulldogs are what Charter Oak, South Hills and Los Altos were from the late 90s until Gano left Los Altos and Charter Oak and South Hills were moved to the Sierra — Totally Dominant. Maggiore has won three titles and deserves to be mentioned with the greats in Valley history. And what I love about West Covina is unlike some other public schools, they take their shots at D-1 competition. They’ve played and lost to Mater Dei and Amat in recent years and will get a second shot at Loyola this fall at home. West Covina has more playmakers than anyone in the Valley, but I’m waiting for the Bulldogs’ signature win against a super power and beating Loyola would be just that. If Noodles is as great as they say he is, West Covina will add its third-straight Southeast Trophy.
3. Chino Hills — QB Matt Simko going from Colony to Chino Hills changes everything. He’s arguably and probably the best quarterback in the Valley in 2012 and this team always has depth, numbers, athletes and great coaching. Quarterbacks are game-changers in high school football so there is probably no better time for Chino Hills to take on Amat than right now. But I’ll still take Amat.
4. Charter Oak — No Travis Santiago? No Kurt Scoby? That’s not a good recipe for the type of schedule they’re about to play, so hopefully RB Donovan Washington is everything he’s advertised to be. Charter Oak has athletes, they always do, and Farrar and Co., are a great coaching staff. To win consistently with the type of schedule they face, however, you need a monster defense and a great quarterback, and those are question marks. But based on history, just like Amat, there is nobody on the list ranked below I would take over Charter Oak in a head-to-head game. Based on reputation, just like Amat, you have to give them that.
5. Damien — This SHOULD be Gano’s finest hour with the Spartans. Of all the Sierra League teams, they have the most returning, best depth and I love how much Gage Pucci grew at quarterback last year. Next to Simko, Pucci might be the Valley’s second best.
6. Bonita – This might be a surprise to a lot of you, but I love Bonita and QB Tanner Diebold in this spot. Bonita will be great with Medrano taking over and Podley still there to mentor him. They have a lot returning and if you look at last year, injuries derailed their season more than talent. I think this is their bounce-back year. Seriously, who ranked below should beat them?
7. South Hills — You’ve probably heard by now how solid their offensive and defensive lines are and regardless of recent years records, South Hills continually beats the teams ranked below head-to-head. Heck, they even beat Mid-Valley monster Monrovia. I guess Ayala and Claremont have proved their capable, but I still like the Huskies.
8. Diamond Bar — Sorry Diamond Ranch, now that the Diamond Bar coaching staff has a year under its belt, this is the year they take another step forward. Heard nothing but good things about their program and Snoop Doggs son Cordell Broadus, a sophomore, is supposedly something special. I know I wrote this last year about them, but this HAS to be their time.
9. San Dimas — I don’t care who Zernickow plugs in the Wing T, he consistently has his team chasing a Valle Vista and Mid-Valley title. San Dimas is sort of like Amat in that Zernickow and Co., get the most with what they have and often beat teams more talented on paper.
10. El Monte — I’m going with what I think is the third best quarterback in the Valley in El Monte’s Brandon Martinez. The Lions have a lot returning and a lot of upside after last year’s historic run as far as El Monte football is concerned. B-Mart’s senior year should look a lot like Arroyo All-Everything Steven Rivera’s senior year. I can envision BMart in the player of the year debate. He is that good. Okay, so maybe ranking El Monte this high is a bit of a stretch in terms getting away from the pound-for-pound argument, but this is their year! I’ll stay on course with the remaining choices.
The Rest: 11. Ayala, 12. Claremont, 13. Diamond Ranch, 14. Glendora, 15. Covina, 16. Los Altos, 17. Azusa, 18. La Puente, 19. Arroyo, 20. Rosemead, 21. Duarte, 22. Northview, 23. South El Monte, 24. Pomona, 25. Rowland, 26. Walnut, 27. Sierra Vista, 28. Nogales, 29. Baldwin Park, 30. Mountain View, 31. Workman, 32. Gladstone, 33. Wilson, 34. Ganesha, 35. Bassett