West Covina’s Raging Hull hoping to make life miserable for La Serna

By Aram Tolegian, SGVN

Move over, turkey. There’s something else West Covina High School football fans should be thankful for on Thanksgiving

Noodles.

Only this Noodles isn’t a food item that will be found on anyone’s table this Thanksgiving. Rather, it’s Antonio “Noodles” Hull, a sophomore standout who has put the Bulldogs on his back this postseason and has them a win away from playing for a third consecutive CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship.

West Covina (8-4) visits La Serna (11-1) in the semifinals today at California High. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

“I didn’t expect to have this big of a role this year,” Hull said. “I knew I was going to play a part, but I didn’t think that I’d have this role right now.

“I like it. It’s cool.”

So what exactly is Hull’s role? Well, that seemingly changes each week, and if you want to get specific it sometimes changes every series.

It’s no secret injuries have sabotaged the Bulldogs time and again, but Hull has been the one constant head coach Mike Maggiore and his staff turn to in time of need.

When starting quarterback Jon Najera has been lost to injuries at several points this season, Hull has played quarterback. When Najera has been healthy but running backs DeShon Love or Josh Best have not, Hull has stepped in and provided West Covina with the home run threat that’s made the program so successful the past three seasons.

None of it appears to be too much for Hull to handle. Perhaps that’s because his reputation preceded him long before he arrived on campus at West Covina.

Dating back to his youth football days with the Compton Vikings of the Snoop Youth Football League, Hull always was considered to be destined for football greatness. His youth football highlight reel on YouTube was posted on this newspaper’s prep sports blogs and tantalized West Covina fans before he even stepped on campus for his first day of school.

Hull had several high schools interested in his services during his eighth-grade year. Private schools like Cathedral wanted him, as did Gardena Serra and Narbonne. But when Hull’s family moved from Gardena to West Covina prior to his freshman year, there was no doubt about where he would play his high school ball.

“West Covina is a good program and I figured it fit me,” Hull said. “There were other schools, but when we moved to West Covina, I felt like this was the place.

“I’m getting coached by one of the best coaches in the Valley. That always helps.”

Hull has been as advertised. After having to wait until he turned 14, he was brought up to the varsity team last season and stood watch while a dynamic senior class won its second consecutive Hacienda League and Southeast championships.

This past offseason, Hull battled with Najera for the starting quarterback job and ultimately started the season playing a myriad of roles on offense.

The playoffs have been Hull’s breakout party, though.

Against Paramount in the first round, Hull rushed for 130 yards on 13 carries and scored three touchdowns. In the second round, he led West Covina past Muir by rushing for 144 yards and a touchdown.

On Friday, you can expect to see Hull play quarterback and running back. Oh yeah, and safety when West Covina is on defense. Keep in mind he’s still only 15. Hull admitted the wear and tear of his first varsity season is getting to him, but there’s no turning back now with a championship in his sights.

“It’s always something,” Hull said. “I’m hurt right now. I’ve been injured every game. My body is a little banged up. But being back there with Aaron Salgado and my teammates, it’s just given me the extra strength.

“We want to win.”

No matter what happens Friday, West Covina looks like a good bet to make more postseason noise in the future since he’ll be around for two more seasons. Hull’s hoping to solely play quarterback the next two seasons and see where it gets him with college recruiters.

“I’ve got two years,” Hull said. “I think if I grow a few inches, get a little better and learn how to read defenses a little more, I think I can get recruited as a quarterback. Somebody will give me a shot.”

And in case you’re wondering where the nickname “Noodles” came from, it was given to Hull by his father and based on the fictional prohibition-era Jewish gangster character named David “Noodles” Aaronson played by actor Robert DeNiro in the 1984 film “Once Upon a Time in America.”

And despite the film being made more than 20 years before he was born and the obvious differences between himself and a fictional Jewish gangster from the 1920’s, Hull doesn’t mind the nickname one bit.

“He was a leader,” Hull said. “So that’s why my dad gave that nickname. I’m okay with “Noodles.” I’ve been called that all my life.

“One day I might stop it, but I’m fine with it for now.”

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The Edgewood Boys are back in town, sort of …. Green and Gold Trojans are now the Blue and Gold Lions

Edgewood’s most famous basketball alum, Mike Powell, is also the world record holder in the long jump…

By Fred J. Robledo, SGVN
Glendora, Damien, Rowland and Covina are just some of the area powerhouses scheduled to participate in the 24-team Sierra Vista/Baldwin Park boys basketball tournament that begins Monday.

But there is also a blast from the past — Edgewood High School — making its return to varsity basketball for the first time since 1988.

Edgewood was a well-known area high school that competed in the Sierra and Valle Vista League’s for many years, winning back-to-back CIF baseball titles in the 70s as well as producing some of the best wrestling teams in area history.

Mike Powell, the world record holder in the long jump, was a slam-dunking machine for Edgewood in the early 1980s, but the school closed its doors and merged with West Covina in 1989 as Edgewood became a junior high school.

But now its back and things have changed.

Edgewood is blue and gold instead of green and gold and its nickname is the Lions instead of the Trojans.

For coach Damien Tate, who played basketball at Edgewood until the school merged with West Covina, said it feels like more of an expansion squad than old Edgewood.

“Weird ain’t the word,” Tate said. “It’s hard to get use to the colors and the name. Blue and gold? The Lions? That doesn’t feel like Edgewood.

“But we’re starting over from scratch. This isn’t Edgewood the way it use to be. It’s a new era.”
There are only 600 students in the school and no seniors. The first senior class isn’t until 2014.

There is also no football team, though West Covina head coach Mike Maggiore and former South Hills coach Steve Bogan, who own a combined seven CIF titles as coaches — both graduated from Edgewood.

Softball and swimming also will compete on the varsity level this season, but Edgewood has a long way to go before it starts fielding more athletic programs.

Edgewood re-entered the CIF Southern Section as an independent playing a freelance schedule with hopes of joining the Montview or Valle Vista League in the coming years.

For Tate, he knows it’s going to be a learning and humbling experience.

Edgewood opens the Sierra Vista/Baldwin Park tournament at Baldwin Park on Monday against Walnut at 3 p.m., followed
by West San Gabriel Valley power Keppel on Wednesday.

The Lions hope that 5-foot-8 guard Daniel Aguilar and 5-foot-6 Cameron Lee can lead the way, but Tate expects a lot of bumps in the road.

“I don’t want our guys focused on wins and losses, my main goal is to teach these guys to work hard,” Tate said. “We’re not anything close to what you would call a basketball school. We’re looking for a different kind of player, a kid that has a never quit attitude. At the end of the day it’s about competing and working hard. If they give me that we can live with whatever the result will be.”

For Tate, it’s a fun opportunity and a different point in his career.

Tate played college basketball at San Francisco State, worked in radio and television and was employed by Warner Brothers for 14 years before being laid off two years ago.

“I still live in West Covina and always wanted to get back into coaching,” Tate said. “For it to be Edgewood, that’s special.”

BALDWIN PARK/SIERRA VISTA BOYS BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Monday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Edgewood vs. Walnut, 3 p.m.
Thousand Oaks vs. West Covina, 4:30 p.m.
Azusa vs. Damien, 6 p.m.
Jurupa Hills vs. Troy, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
La Puente vs. Rowland, 3 p.m.
Arroyo vs. Colony, 4:30 p.m.
Claremont vs. Sierra Vista, 6 p.m.
Garey vs. Glendora, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Walnut vs. Keppel, 3 p.m.
Colony vs. South Hills, 4:30 p.m.
Don Lugo vs. Thousand Oaks, 6 p.m.
Claremont vs. Baldwin Park, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Rowland vs. Garfield, 3 p.m.
Damien vs. Diamond Ranch, 4:30 p.m.
Glendora vs. California, 6 p.m.
Troy vs. Covina, 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday’s round-robin schedule
At Baldwin Park

Keppel vs. Edgewood, 3 p.m.
Garfield vs. La Puente, 4:30 p.m.
Diamond Ranch vs. Azusa, 6 p.m.
West Covina vs. Don Lugo, 7:30 p.m.
At Sierra Vista
Garey vs. California, 3 p.m.
South Hills vs. Arroyo, 4:30 p.m.
Baldwin Park vs. Sierra Vista, 6 p.m.
Covina vs. Jurupa Hills, 7:30 p.m.

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Thanksgiving Practice then the long road to Paraclete for San Dimas, who hope to knock off the No. 1 Spirits

By Aram Tolegian

San Dimas High School football coach Bill Zernickow isn’t worried about much this week.

In theory, having a long road trip on a bus packed with players with full bellies from Thanksgiving festivities the day before would be cause for any coach trying to avoid a slugging start in such a critical game.

But not for Zernickow, whose Saints (11-1) take on top-seeded Paraclete (11-1) in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division semifinals on Friday night at Antelope Valley College. Kickoff is 7:30p.m.

“I don’t think the road trip means much to us, we don’t care,” Zernickow said. “Our (team) just love bus trips and doing whatever they do. It’s just an opportunity for us as a football team to do something together.”

The Saints are one of two local teams still alive in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs and that means a team get-together on Thanksgiving Day before a long bus drive to Antelope Valley College on Friday.

Up until this season, Thanksgiving Day practice was a hallowed tradition and watermark of success for local football programs. But that all changed when CIF moved the football season schedule back a week, which means if you want to practice on Thanksgiving, it means making the semifinals. In previous years, it meant needing only to win a first-round game.

For San Dimas, which has become a shoe-in to the Mid-Valley semifinals in recent years, the beat goes on. The program will hold a Thanksgiving Day breakfast, during which parents serve pancakes to players and alumni.

“This was a blessing to get there,” Zernickow said of still being alive in the playoffs on Thanksgiving.

San Dimas will leave campus at 1:30p.m. Friday and head for Antelope Valley College with a stop for dinner in between. Whether the Saints can get off to a hot start and blunt any home-field edge the Spirits may have could go a long way in determining whether the bus ride home is a happy one.

“They have some dudes,” Zernickow said of Paraclete. “They have both athletes and big guys, and they’re well-coached. We’ve been friends with their staff for a while, so we know a lot about them because we’ve spent time with them.

“We know, but it’s hard to transfer that to your own kids.”

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Gladstone coach Albert Sanchez saves best for last: “It was tough walking off that football field.”

By Aram Tolegian

After 14 years as head coach at Gladstone, Albert Sanchez’s tenure officially came to an end last Friday night at Citrus College when the Gladiators were eliminated from the Northwest Division playoffs by North Torrance.

“I get choked up still, because it’s been embedded in me,” Sanchez said of being the head coach at Gladstone. “It’s what I’ve known. I love the game of football and I love to coach.

“It was very emotional. I just wanted to go over to my guys and be with them. It was tough walking off that football field.”

Gladstone finished the season 10-2, earned a share of the Montview League and won the school’s first playoff game since 1977. Things figured to be real tough against North Torrance, but the Gladiators made a game of it, which further increased Sanchez’s pride in his players.

“We looked at North Torrance and figured it was back to playing Division X football the way we used to with their size and speed,” Sanchez said.

“Personally, I thought we were going to have our hands full with them. But it got to a point when the game was progressing where I thought `this is going to be like El Monte again’ and come down to the last possession.”

North Torrance eventually held on for a 42-34 win. Gladstone will now have to spend the early part of the offseason finding a replacement for Sanchez.

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Charter Oak faces reality: “We can do it one week, but we can’t do it week in and week out,” says coach Lou Farrar

By Aram Tolegian, staff writer
For the second straight season, Charter Oak was eliminated from the Inland Division playoffs by a Baseline League team.

Last season, Upland did the honors. This season, it was Rancho Cucamonga by a score of 23-7.

Charter Oak finished 10-2 for the second consecutive season, but the sense that there’s a ceiling on just how far the Chargers can go in the rugged Inland Division is becoming reality.

“We can do it one week, but we can’t do it week in and week out,” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said. “The physical pounding and preparation are really difficult. My kids gave me everything they had. They left it all out on the field.”

Last season, the case can be made that Farrar had his best offense ever, led by quarterback Travis Santiago, running back Kurt Scoby and two next-level receivers in Chris Gilchrist and Bryce Bobo.

This season, the case can be made that Farrar has his best defense ever, a unit that allowed just 11.5 points per game. But the results were the same – the Chargers were sent packing in the second round.

“Here’s the deal, I thought about that after the game Friday and now three or four days of thought,” Farrar said. “Personnel-wise, if I could take the best players we’ve had for the last three years and put them on the same team, then I’ve got a chance to go to the third round, or the fourth.

“If I took the last three years and put all our kids on one team, I would look like Rancho Cucamonga. The point is, Rancho Cucamonga just had more players in more positions than we did. I don’t know if we can reach those levels.”

— Aram Tolegian

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Call Prep Results to (626) 544-0992; (626) 544-0991; Wilson Girls Hoops tourney updated, Rowland boys open with rout over Nogales

Boys and Girls Basketball and Boys and Girls Soccer tournaments run now until the end of December. All coaches hosting or competing in tournaments need to send tournament schedules to fred.robledo@sgvn.com. I will post as many area tournaments as I can and update depending on the cooperation with the tournament hosts, thanks.

BOYS BASKETBALL
NONLEAGUE
Rowland 72, Nogales 30

In the opener for both teams, Rowland was led by Joe Dioniso with 17 points, five steals and four rebounds, and Saeed Montoya added 14 points and four rebounds. Chris Arzadan added five points and six assists for the Raiders (1-0).

GIRLS BASKETBALL
WILSON TOURNAMENT
Round Robin
La Habra 65, Los Altos 18

The Highlanders (1-0) easily disposed of the Conquerors behind the scoring of Allison O’Brien with 22 points and Megan Chancellor chipping in with 10 points. Also scoring for La Habra were Amy Wilbourn and Cyrena Gonzalez, each with eight points. With the loss Los Altos drops to 0-1.
South Hills 57, La Mirada 31
The Huskies (1-0) put away the Matadores (0-1) in the first half leading 29-19 and never looked back behind the scoring of Imani Payton with 18 points and Sarah Madrigal contributing with 10 points. Brittany Wang scored nine points, Abry Moreno 8 and Kasey Murakami had six. Cherrelle Jimenez, Samantha Perez and Natalie Veal had two points each. La Mirada got their scoring from Alexandria Vanzulen with 11 points, Danielle Ashley scored 10 points and Madison Magil chipped in with seven points. Tiane Luatua contributed with two points and Vanessa Calzada had one to round out the scoring for La Mirada.

32ND ANNUAL WILSON LADYCAT CLASSIC UPDATES
At Wilson High School
Monday’s Results

Arcadia 73, Rowland 43
Wilson 67, Sierra Vista 16
Redlands East Valley 67, Alta Loma 56
Sonora 55, Nogales 35
Tuesday’s results
South Hills 57, La Mirada 31
La Habra 65, Los Altos 18
Norco 62, Walnut 36
Diamond Bar 61, Alhambra 13
Wednesday’s schedule
Rowland vs. Sierra Vista, 9 a.m.
Alta Loma vs. Nogales, 10:30 a.m.
La Mirada vs. Los Altos, Noon
Arcadia vs. Wilson, 1:30 p.m.
Redlands East Valley vs. Sonora, 3 p.m.
South Hills vs. La Habra, 4:30 p.m.
Walnut vs. Alhambra, 6 p.m.
Norco vs. Diamond Bar, 6:30 p.m.
Semifinals: Friday, 6 and 7:30 p.m.
Championship: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

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Tribskin Pick’em: Sorry West Covina, this is La Serna’s time; Monrovia and Paraclete will meet in final

Aram and I will go head-to-head in Tribskin Pick’em throughout the season for our annual dinner bet.


Last Week: Robledo (6-3); Tolegian (6-3).
This Week: Robledo (170-77); Tolegian (171-76).

Last Week: Aram and I both went 6-3, however we took different paths to get there. We both missed taking Charter Oak over Rancho Cucamonga and La Mirada over Santa Fe, but Aram got me taking North Torrance over Gladstone and I got him back taking San Dimas over San Marino. So, I’m still one back with two weeks to go.

This week: Doesn’t get much better than West Covina’s rematch against La Serna. I’ve seen West Covina enough to know they’re tough, physical, and playing with the heart of a champion. But La Serna is simply better and has been waiting on this one and will get it done in the rematch. In the Mid-Valley I’ve said all along Monrovia will meet Paraclete in the final and there is no reason not believe it won’t happen. I do give San Dimas a great shot at Paraclete, but the Spirits are good enough to get it done.

This weeks games and predictions
Friday
Southeast Division
West Covina vs. La Serna at California High, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (La Serna); Aram (Frankie)
Santa Fe at Downey, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Santa Fe); Aram (Downey)
Mid-Valley Division
Sierra Canyon vs. Monrovia at Granada Hills HS, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Monrovia); Aram (M-Town)
San Dimas vs. Paraclete at Antelope Valley College, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Paraclete); Aram (Norm)

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La Serna gets its rematch with West Covina after last year’s 84-21 blowout loss to the Bulldogs

“I guess I’m trying to downplay that part of it. On the bus going home, I said I wished it was 35-14. I didn’t want that to happen, but it’s hard to tell the kids not to play.”West Covina coach Mike Maggiore on the Bulldogs’ 84-21 win over La Serna in last year’s title game. The 84 points set a CIF record for points in a championship.

By Aram Tolegian, SGVN

West Covina returns to the scene of the crime on Friday night when it takes on La Serna in a rematch of last year’s CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship game, in which the Bulldogs put an all-time beatdown on the Lancers with an 84-21 win.

The teams will be back at California High on Friday, but this time there’s no championship on the line. Just major revenge for the Lancers and a chance to play in next week’s title game for both teams.

Although West Covina is a much different team with a much different roster from last season, they Bulldogs are still the two-time defending division champions and represent the culprit in the most embarrassing loss in La Serna’s history.

“I guess I’m trying to downplay that part of it,” Maggiore said of last year’s 84-21 score. “On the bus going home, I said I wished it was 35-14. I didn’t want that to happen, but it’s hard to tell the kids not to play.”

West Covina jumped all over La Serna in last year’s title game behind the likes of Chris Solomon, Jimmy Frazier, Justen Meaders and Dorrin Turner.

All of them graduated in June and the Bulldogs now feature a roster of several guys playing out of position due to a season-long injury bug that’s caused coaches to shuffle the starting lineups on seemingly a weekly basis.

Last week, junior Henry Tarin became the Bulldogs’ third quarterback of the season when he stepped in for injured Jon Najera so that backup quarterback
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Antonio Hull could remain at running back. Tarin will likely see considerable time under center again this week.

Although several key cogs from last year’s La Serna’s team have also graduated, there are plenty on the roster who still remember the embarrassment. None more important than junior quarterback Frankie Palmer, who has become arguably the top player in the division.

La Serna has been a force this season. The Lancers are 11-1 and haven’t lost since a setback against Norco on Sept. 21. West Covina is 8-4 and riding a four-game win streak that has seen the Bulldogs knock off league champions Paramount and Muir in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

“They’re much better than they were last year,” Maggiore said of La Serna.

“You can tell they’re much more confident. They’re a great football team and it’s going to be tough.”

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Paraclete coach Norm Dahlia should get an award for class and sportsmanship after Martinez gesture

By Aram Tolegian

Understanding the magnitude of the situation prior to last Friday’s second-round game between El Monte and Paraclete, Spirits coach Norm Dahlia volunteered the thought of stopping the game to Lions coach Joel Sanchez when/if quarterback Brandon Martinez became the official east San Gabriel Valley single-season record holder for most touchdown passes in a season.

That may not have come as much of a surprise were the game being played in the Valley, but it was played at Antelope Valley College. Nonetheless, Dahlia felt it was important to honor Martinez’s accomplishment.

So when Martinez passed both Pat Haden (Bishop Amat) and Felipe Aguilar (Los Altos) with his 43rd touchdown pass of the season, the game was stopped, the public address announcer told the fans what had just happened and Martinez was congratulated at midfield by both coaches and given a game ball.

“I thought that was awesome on his part,” Sanchez said of Dahlia’s gesture.

“I never thought of doing that just because it’s not bigger than the game, but he (Dahlia) said he thought it was important to recognize the young man and his accomplishment. He said it would be an honor if we’d let them do that.

“I didn’t tell anyone and it was more of a surprise. Brandon was like `What are we doing?’ and I told him `Just come over here really quick.”‘

Martinez later added another touchdown pass and the record now stands at 44. Martinez also is now the entire San Gabriel Valley’s all-time single-season passing yards record holder with 4,243 yards after passing Muir’s Richard Irvin on Friday night.

Unfortunately, Martinez won’t be able to add to either total because the Lions’ season came to an end with a 56-16 loss to the Spirits.

Martinez wasn’t the only Lion to set records on Friday. Receiver Abel Barajas caught his 18th touchdown pass of the season, which gave him the school record for touchdowns receptions in a season. The previous record holder was Ray McNeil (1979) with 17. Barajas is also the school’s all-time single-season and career receiving yardage leader.

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West Covina and San Dimas gut it out, get to the Final Four; Charter Oak, Gladstone and the MVL finished

West Covina-Muir photo gallery

GAME STORY: WEST COVINA 21, MUIR 19
By Fred J. Robledo
Defending CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division champion West Covina isn’t done yet.
After needing to win its final game in the Hacienda League to make the playoffs, the Bulldogs advanced to the semifinals with a 21-19 victory over third-seeded Muir that was full of clutch calls from Bulldogs coach Mike Maggiore.
West Covina (8-4) will face second-seeded La Serna at California High in next week’s semifinals. La Serna (11-1) is the same team the Bulldogs defeated 84-21 last year

San Dimas, San Marino photo gallery

GAME STORY: SAN DIMAS 31, SAN MARINO 28
By Aram Tolegian
Hollywood endings usually are reserved for Denzel Washington, not Denzel Mitchell.
But not even Hollywood could have scripted a better ending on Friday night for Mitchell, a running back/defensive back on the San Dimas High School football team.
Mitchell made the game-turning interception, then moments later scored the game-winning touchdown as San Dimas handed visiting San Marino a 31-28 defeat in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

Friday’s results
Southeast Division

West Covina 21, Muir 19
Santa Fe 27, La Mirada 26
La Serna 29, Compton Dominguez 13
Mid-Valley Division
San Dimas 31, San Marino 28
Sierra Canyon 28, Arroyo 20
Monrovia 43, South El Monte 6
Paraclete 56, El Monte 16
Inland Division
Rancho Cucamonga 23, Charter Oak 7
Northwest Division
North Torrance 42, Gladstone 34


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One way or another, Charter Oak has to go through Rancho Cucamonga again; Gladstone doesn’t want the party to end

By Fred Robledo, SGVN

After four consecutive years of taking on Rancho Cucamonga and four years of coming up empty, with the exception of a tie in 2008, Charter Oak had enough of Rancho Cucamonga and left the Cougars off the 2012 schedule.

The CIF-SS playoffs just changed that.

The schools will meet for a fifth consecutive time when Charter Oak (10-1) takes on Rancho Cucamonga (9-1) on Friday at Los Osos High for the right to advance to the CIF-Southern Section Inland Division semifinals, and perhaps a date against top-seeded Vista Murrieta, arguably the best team in the state.

Charter Oak was 26-1-1 and won back-to-back Southeast Division titles in 2008 and ’09, but there still was a sour taste left from Rancho Cucamonga, which tied Charter Oak 14-14 in 2008 and won 35-25 the next season, ruining the Chargers’ chance for perfection in both seasons.

Charter Oak continued its series with Rancho Cucamonga after moving to the Sierra League, but the results are similar, losing 40-28 in 2010 and 21-13 last year.

This time could be different.

Charter Oak is the division’s fourth seed and ranked No. 20 in the state by Calpreps.

In years past these were dubbed step-up games for Charter Oak, but the Chargers have shown all season and again last week with a 24-14 win over Chaparral these are no step-ups.

Winning is expected now.

That confidence comes after back-to-back undefeated seasons in the Sierra and two years in a row of postseason experience in the division, arguably one of the toughest in the Southland.

“We’ve come a long way as a football team and have accepted the challenges of competing at this level,” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said. “I don’t know if anyone is picking us to win, but we know we belong and we know at this point, any one of the teams (in the quarterfinals) can get hot and win it.

“All the teams are that good, you just have to be better in each round.”

Charter Oak’s defense in 2009 was spectacular in allowing an average of only 10 points and shutting out the entire Miramonte League.

This year’s edition also is allowing just 10 points a game but is doing it against much tougher competition.

Will it hold up against the Cougars?

Rancho Cucamonga quarterback Adam Friederichsen has thrown for 1,754 yards and 14 touchdowns and the Cougars average 167 yards on the ground behind Khalil Muhammad and Kiraun Mayo.

“In the films we’ve seen, they run back kickoffs, they got some extra kids at the skilled positions, they’ve got team speed and all the usual big uglies up front,” Farrar said. “It’s a test for our defense, there’s no doubt. This is one of the best teams in the best league’s in the division and certainly we know from having played them enough times that we have to play great football to win.”

Gladstone not done yet

After winning its first playoff game since 1977, the Gladiators don’t want to wait another 25 years to win the next one.

Gladstone (10-1) routed Mary Star of the Sea 54-17 in the first round of the Northwest Division playoffs and will face North Torrance (9-2) in the second round on Friday at Citrus College.

It was a gratifying win for coach Albert Sanchez, who after announcing earlier in the week he was stepping down after 13 years in charge got his first playoff victory.

“It was kind of nice the way we did it, we did whatever we wanted to do with them,” Sanchez said. “After some of the losses we’ve taken in the playoffs over the years it was nice to be on the other side of a blowout.

“But that’s over and done with. We know we’re not playing Mary Star of the Sea this week.”

North is a 22-point favorite on Calpreps and is the champion from the tough Pioneer League that boasted five teams in the playoffs with three advancing to the second round.

It’s a league in which fourth-place Compton Centennial knocked off undefeated La Salle 12-10 and second-place El Segundo routed

La Puente, 31-7.

North enters on back-to-back shutouts after routing Oak Park, 27-0, in the first round.

“Without a doubt we know this could be one of the top two teams in our division,” Sanchez said. “They pass the ball, they run the ball and they play defense.

“It’s vitally important that we compete from the get-go. We’ve played from behind in a lot of games this year, but we don’t want to play from behind against them.”

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Boys Water Polo: Damien’s rally falls short, loses to top seed Agoura 8-6

Damien water polo gallery

By Keith Lair, SGVN

Five goals is a monumental task to overcome against the top-seeded team in the CIF-Southern Section Division 2 water polo tournament.

But Damien High School almost did it. The Spartans, who were not expected to reach the semifinal round, closed the gap on No. 1 seed Agoura before falling, 8-6, on Wednesday in the CIF-SS semifinals at the Woollett Aquatics Center at Irvine High.

“The problem is that we came out slow,” Damien coach Grant Miller said. “They are a good team and to be able play with the best shows where we’ve come from and hopefully where we’re headed.”

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