El Monte’s Brandon “Big Game” Martinez ready to show why he’s the area’s top quarterback

Area’s Top 5 Quarterbacks

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1. Brandon Martinez, Sr. – Is he this year’s version of Arroyo’s Steven Rivera, who won area player of the year last season? He just might be. He’s Mr. Everything after throwing for 2,160 yards, 27 TDs and rushing for 793 yards and 8 TDS. In terms of numbers, he will likely lead everyone. Whether those numbers lead to the Mission Valley League title or a deep run in the Mid-Valley Division remain to be seen.

2. Matt Simko, Chino Hills, Sr.
If this were a draft and you were picking the best quarterback for the next level, Simko is it. He split time at Colony last year and still threw for 1,893 yards, 11 touchdowns and completed 60 percent of his passes. He’s exactly what Chino Hills needed and if the Huskies recapture the Sierra League title, Simko will be a big reason why.

3. Gage Pucci, Damien, Jr.
Toward the end of the season the sophomore’s confidence grew leaps and bounds. He finished with 1,325 yards and 15 TDs and everything I’ve heard about him this summer is he’s ready to take it to the next level. In the three games I watched last year he showed flashes of being something special. Damien needs a game-changer to turns things around and Pucci could be it.

4. Tanner Diebold, Bonita, Jr.
The Bearcats are one of my big surprises in this years rankings because of “Sunshine.” At a school that loves to spread you out, Diebold is the perfect fit that blends size, athleticism and a strong arm. He’s quite the athlete and after having an injury-plagued season under his belt, he’s a comeback player of the year candidate.

5. Ivan Vasquez, La Puente, Sr.
Few quarterbacks were as consistent as Vasquez last season, throwing 22 touchdowns against just two interceptions. He was extremely efficient and with a year under his belt, could be ready to finally help the Warriors unseat four-time defending league champion Azusa.

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Covina in a mighty tough spot facing two-time defending Southeast Champion West Covina on live on Fox Sports West

“Had they come the last two years those would have been classics. But we’ve been in this spot before. When we beat West Covina (in 2010) nobody gave us a chance. Who knows, maybe we’ll surprise them again.”Covina coach Joe Brown on facing West Covina live on Fox Sports West

By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN, twitter@sgvtribpreps
Covina High School’s Joe Brown is taking over the Colts football program after several years as an assistant under coach Darryl Thomas, who resigned after 14 years.
Brown’s first assignment as head coach is a doozy.

Covina opens the 2012 campaign against back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division champion West Covina on Aug. 24 at Covina District Field — a game that will be televised live by Fox Sports West.

“I’ve been a coach at Covina for 17 years and we’ve been on local cable, but nothing like this,” Brown said. “When I found out I was like, ‘really’”.

Brown knows why Fox is televising it.

Covina gave West Covina its only loss in 2010, shocking the Bulldogs in a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback, winning 27-21.

Last year Covina had one of its best senior-dominated teams in years, nearly beating the champs again before losing a thriller in overtime, 26-20.
Covina finished 11-2 and lost to eventual Mid-Valley Division champion Monrovia in the semifinals.

While West Covina graduated a few standouts such as all-purpose threat Chris Solomon, the Bulldogs are still the favorite to win its third straight title.

Covina, however, is in complete rebuilding mode after graduating quarterback Billy Livingston, all-purpose threat Vinny Venegas and losing senior running back Gevontray Ainsworth, who transferred to Monrovia.

On paper, Covina and West Covina was a highly anticipated game that lived up to the billing the previous two years, but Covina might not be as fortunate this time.

Brown kind of chuckled after learning this was the year Fox decided to televise the game.
“Had they come the last two years those would have been classics,” Brown said. “But we’ve been in this spot before. When we beat West Covina (in 2010) nobody gave us a chance. Who knows, maybe we’ll surprise them again.” (to continue click thread)

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The countdown is on, two weeks to football

I know it seems like a long time since this blog had daily topics, but that’s about to change. We’ve finished the 100-plus PrepXtra Magazine, which will be in Home Delivery and Newstands on Thursday, Aug. 23, just in time for the Smudge Pot later that evening with San Dimas at Bonita. Start checking your newspapers and the blogs for stories and video’s, we plan on visiting a few camps each day leading up to next week’s opening games. Any team in particular you want to hear about?

Thursday, August 23

San Dimas at Bonita, 7:00pm
Friday, August 24
Servite at Bishop Amat, 7:00pm
Alhambra at Mountain View, 7:00pm
Arlington at Chino Hills, 7:00pm
Arroyo at Los Altos, 7:00pm
Ayala at Diamond Bar, 7:00pm
Baldwin Park at El Monte, 7:00pm
Bassett at Keppel, 7:00pm
Diamond Ranch vs. Chino at Ganesha, 7:00pm
Duarte at Marshall, 4:00pm
Ganesha at Montclair, 7:00pm
Garey at Pomona, 7:00pm
Great Oak at Claremont, 7:00pm
Northview vs. Ontario at Chaffey, 7:00pm
Notre Dame vs. Workman at La Puente, 7:00pm
Rowland at Nogales, 7:00pm
Salesian at Sierra Vista, 7:00pm
South Hills at Colony, 7 p.m.
Walnut at Don Lugo, 7:00pm
West Covina vs. Covina at Covina District Stadium, 7:00pm
Wilson at Bosco Tech, 7:00pm

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PrepXtra Football Preview Magazine in newstands on Aug. 23, read what coaches are saying

Mark Aug. 23 on your calendars, it’s not only the day San Dimas visits Bonita to open the 2012 football season in the Smudgepot, it’s also the debut of the third annual PrepXtra Football Preview issue. This is our best ever, close to a 100-page book that will include 67-team pages from the Whittier Daily News, Pasadena Star-News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune. We figured why split it all up, let’s share team previews for all our readers in one giant magazine. We’ve spent the month of July taking pictures, talking to coaches and writing previews. Here is a sneak preview of what coaches are saying …

“I don’t think any one game matters more than the other, but we scheduled these games because we think they will challenge us and help us get better. Charter Oak and Chino Hills will be fun for the folks around here, but that’s not the reason we scheduled each other. I think we all felt it was in our best interest to play each other to help improve. Those are two (Chino Hills and Charter Oak) two quality schools and I think it creates a playoff atmosphere with fans. So, it’s good for everyone.” Amat coach Steve Hagerty on facing Charter Oak and Chino Hills.

“I know the challenges,” Spathias said. “I know a couple coaches in the Valley who said don’t take it, it’s physical suicide. But the timing was right. Some of my kids have (graduated high school) and I have a freshman (daughter) at Bonita that said, ‘dad, go ahead and do it.’” Basset coach Hector Spathias on taking the job.

“The strength of our team is probably our skill people,” Gano said. “We’re going to do what I’ve always done. When I had the weapons at Los Altos, I used them. We’re not going to hold back.” -- Damien coach Greg Gano on skill players.

“Chino Hills has got all the pieces. Damien is much improved, they have kids who are experienced now. Claremont looks better, we saw them in summer. And then Ayala and South Hills are just laying in the grass waiting for you.”Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar on the Sierra League.

“If Duarte kept all the players that should be here, they would be a power. But we have to give them a reason not to go, and that’s on the coaches to create an atmosphere so they don’t want to go somewhere else. I honestly feel that winning heals all. If we win it will be a lot easier to retain talent and make it harder for other schools to come to our city and take our players.” Duarte coach Jason Martin on keeping players at home.

“I’m not a big prediction guy. We’ll play, we’ll play hard and we’ll see where it gets us, that’s the only promise I’m making. I’m 26-years-old and new to coaching, but I’m not new to the game of life. We want to build high-character young men. For me, building great young people is more important than anything.”Pomona’s new coach Aaron Jamieson on expectations.

“Nogales is a school that hasn’t been in the playoff hunt for a long time. It comes down to belief and trying to get the school and community to believe we’re capable of winning. I believe the players are ready for it. There’s a confidence in them I didn’t see when I arrived. But they all still hear the doubters in the community who say, ‘you lost all these guys, you won’t be any good.’”That’s tough to hear when you’re a high school kid, but it’s also created a chip on their shoulder which is good. It gives them something to prove.”Nogales coach Sebastian Hernandez on the doubters.

“With our offense we see all kinds of variations of defense’s to try and keep us from doing what we’re doing. The most important part of our offense is how our offensive line adjusts to the different variations and how they block for our backs. They’re young and there will still be growing pains, but they’re ahead of the curve.” Sierra Vista coach Don Legro on experienced offensive line.

“We’re banking on a lot of experience this year. Excuses are out the door. Team execution and consistency in all aspects of the game are a priority. Returning 26 players from last year’s squad is huge. We have a lot of varsity experience on this year’s team. Experience should play a huge roll in close games and throughout the season.” Gladstone coach Albert Sanchez on expectations.

“Motivation, that’s the biggest thing. The last two years they’ve been getting their butts kicked. They’ve worked hard to be in the position they’re in . We’ve preached that hard work will pay off and I think they believe it.”Northview coach Marcel Perez on motivation

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Who should be on the 2012 PrepXtra Preview Football Magazine’s All-Area team?

The toughest part of the PrepXtra Football Preview magazine is identifying the top players for the preseason all-area team. I’m always interested in hearing who football followers nominate and why. We’ll make these decisions over the next couple days, so fill in the blanks and tell us who you think should be on it.

2012 Tribune Preseason All-Area Team?

QB: .


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Interesting spreads on Bet it and Sweat it

As Aram point outs, this is for entertainment purposes only, but wonder what Bishop Amat’s thinking after being labeled 24 points underdogs to Servite, or Covina 30-points underdogs to West Covina? How about tradition-rich Muir 38-point dogs to Upland, and who would have imagined that Arcadia would only be a 7-point favorite over Rio Hondo Prep, who has a student body the size of one of Arcadia’s math classes … BTW, I’m on record saying Prep wins that game straight up….Yes, the season starts three weeks from today with San Dimas at Bonita. Aram likes the ‘Cats by 4.

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I’m so embarrassed a website in this town named La Mirada preseason No. 1 over West Covina that I can’t convince myself to mention them

Competing websites, if that’s what you want to call them, will go any length for publicity. How else can you explain ANYONE touting La Mirada No. 1 in the Southeast and West Covina No. 2. Absolutely ridiculous. I’m not saying La Mirada’s not good, there’s just no justification for ranking them ahead of West Covina. NONE. The Bulldogs’ semifinal and final in last year’s Southeast playoffs was the most dominating performance over divisional rivals I’ve ever seen. After blasting La Mirada 63-34 in the semis, they mercied La Serna 84-21 in the championship. Sure, there might be some slippage, but West Covina’s second unit could have won last year’s title. What’s probably even more shocking on the Southeast poll mentioned by a certain website I refuse to mention is that Compton Dominguez isn’t ranked in the Top Ten. COMPTON DOMINGUEZ! May God rest his soul, but you know you can hear Big Bob saying, “Cmon Man.”

Okay, here is what a Top Ten Southeast Poll should look like ..

1. West Covina — Absolutely and without question.

2. La Mirada – Out of respect for Mike Moschetti, one of my favorite players of all time and coach of the Matadores, this is the spot they should occupy. Like I mentioned, they’re not bad, just not as good or talented as West Covina.

3. Compton Dominguez – Look, they play big-boy football. They went 2-1 against three Pac-5 teams in nonleague. The Southeast is a step down for them. Two of their four losses were to Crespi and Redlands East Valley. Athlete for athlete, they could be scary.

4. La Serna — Despite how bad they looked in the title loss to West Covina, they were absolutely playing their best toward the end of the season, beating Mayfair, Los Altos and Muir to reach the title game, and they have several players back.

5. Paramont – Played Monrovia and St. Francis tough last year and is another dangerous team from the San Gabriel Valley League that is use to playing higher-division opponents.

6. Bonita – I’m sold on QB Tanner Diebold having a sensational year. I thought injuries hurt the ‘Cats more than anything last year. Two years removed from reaching a title game, they’ll bounce back.

7. Diamond Ranch — Aram has the Ranch ahead of Bonita in his all-encompassing poll, but I’ll take a wait and see approach.

8. Muir — On talent alone (although its dwindling), Muir’s a top ten in this division even if they play bad.

9. Mayfair – Was certain they would do better in last year’s playoffs. Doubt they will be that disappointing again.

10.T — Bellflower — Finished in a three-way tie for the Suburban with La Mirada and Mayfair, but they were consistently inconsistent. Maybe they improve, but certainly capable.

10T. Arcadia -- Way too many question marks in the post Dimalante era. Without the deepest talent pool to pull from, wondering how they replace so many skilled players from last year. But historically, the Apaches are always in the mix.

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Former Charter Oak standout Kurt Scoby will not have to sit out any games at St. Paul, granted a valid change of address by CIF

Kurt Scoby, one of the top running backs in the San Gabriel Valley while a sophomore at Charter Oak last season, transferred to St. Paul and has been cleared to play by CIF officials after filing a change of address transfer, making the junior immediately eligible for the Swordsmen. Scoby left Charter Oak in the spring and briefly enrolled at Duarte before moving on to St. Paul. Mark Sept. 21 on your calendar, that’s when Scoby and St. Paul take on Bishop Amat at Kiefer.

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