BREAKING: San Dimas promotes Mark Holman to varsity football head coach, replacing Bill Zernickow. http://t.co/d6ZrLXeJ2k
— Aram Tolegian (@aramtolegian) December 11, 2014
I guess after watching Corona Centennial beat St. John Bosco for the Pac-5 title 48-41, the same team that beat Bishop Amat by inches 38-37 to reach the title game, a certain QB at Amat started getting hungry for next year
Even more determined to get the ring next year, I ain't losing no more
— Ryder Ruiz (@ryder_ruiz1) December 7, 2014
CIF SCOREBOARD: For updates of Saturday’s CIF-SS championship games
CIF-SS Central Division Title
Colony 35, Los Altos 7
It wasn’t painless, but at least it was quick.
The Los Altos High School football team fell behind early to Colony in the CIF Southern Section Central Division championship at Cerritos College and never recovered in a 35-7 loss on Saturday night.
“Colony is a good team and they did a helluva job tonight,” Los Altos head coach Dale Ziola said. “We knew they were fast, we just didn’t get the push we thought we’d get some times. The lead just got too big and the rest is history.”
Los Altos, which needed to win its final two regular-season games just to make the playoffs as the Hacienda League’s third-place team, finished the season 8-6. The Conquerors were bidding for the 12th title in school history while making the program’s 15th finals appearance. Colony (12-2) was just too fast and it was apparent from the start. The Titans scored on a 63-yard touchdown run by Ryan Kinard on the game’s third play and didn’t look back.
CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division Title
Pomona 37, Paraclete 29
Pomona makes history with first title since 1951: Pomona High School waited 63 years to get a shot at winning its second CIF-Southern Section football championship.
The Red Devils didn’t waste the opportunity Friday. Darreon Lockett threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns and Pomona captured its first CIF title since 1951, winning the Mid-Valley Division with a 37-29 victory over Paraclete in the championship game at Antelope Valley College.
Pomona’s defensive stands make the difference: Offense might be the first reason to determine why Pomona High School won its first CIF-Southern Section football championship since 1951.
For good reason. The Red Devils piled up the points and the yards in Friday night’s 37-29 Mid-Valley Division victory over Paraclete at Antelope Valley College. Quarterback Darreon Lockett came up with big passing numbers, 366 yards and three touchdowns.
But overlooked would be the Red Devils’ defense. The Spirits, the tournament’s top seed, were held to one offensive touchdown.
The semifinals of the Sierra Vista/Covina tournament moved to Northview for the semifinals and championship on Friday and Saturday.
Friday’s semifinals at Northview HS
Glendora 72, Colony 69
Damien 77, Thousand Oaks 38
Saturday’s Championship at Northview
Damien 67, Glendora 53
Glendora advances to meet Damien in finals: Defending tournament champion Glendora fought off a challenge from an aggressive Colony team to beat the Titans 62-59 in a semifinal game of the fifth annual Sierra Vista Winter Tip Off Tournament on Friday night at Northview High School.
The second-seeded Tartans (5-0) will face top-seeded Damien, a 77-38 winner over Thousand Oaks, in the championship game at 7:30 tonight at Northview.
After falling behind 18-15 early in the second quarter the Tartans went to a match-up zone defense that started them on a 15-3 run and a 30-24 lead at the half.
“We’ve been trying to switch up our defense,” Tartans coach Mike LeDuc said. “We’re trying to not stay in the same thing too long but they’re just a tough team to play against.”
The Tartans built a 14-point lead, 39-25, before the Titans battled back to close the gap to seven points at the end of the third quarter.
Damien knocks out Diamond Ranch in quarters: Damien, the Tribune’s boys basketball preseason No. 1 team, broke open a close game in the second half and pulled away for an 85-58 win over Diamond Ranch in the quarterfinals of the Fifth Annual Sierra Vista Winter Tip Off Tournament on Thursday night.
The Spartans (3-0) will play the winner of the Keppel-Thousand Oaks game at 7:30 tonight in the semifinals at Northview High School.
Two-time Tribune Player of the Year Jeremy Hemsley and Malik Fitts sparked a 23-8 run from the two-minute mark of the third quarter to the 3:24 mark of the fourth as the Spartans put the game out of reach.
“We settled down a little in the second half,” Damien coach Matt Dunn said. “(Diamond Ranch) doesn’t have a lot of depth right now. We know they’ll be a lot better in January when their transfers are eligible so I thought we wore them down because of their lack of depth.”
Damien 85, Diamond Ranch 58
Thousand Oaks 46, Keppel 43
Glendora 65, LA Fremont 35
Colony 69, Walnut 68
Colony graduated some key football players from a team that advanced to the Central Division semifinal a year ago. Among those top receiver Kyle Curry and top running back Devan Imbach. So head coach Steve Randall was looking for someone to step up.
He got exactly what he wanted.
Versatile senior Ryan Kinard has been the Titans jack-of-all-trades. He is the leading rusher and a big-play threat on special teams. As the situations and games got more important he was also used at cornerback.
That huge contribution has boosted the Titans (11-2) into the CIF championship game against Los Altos (8-5) on Saturday at Cerritos College.
POMONA’S OFFENSIVE LINE LEADS THE WAY The consensus at Pomona High School is that the football team has been missing one component the last 63 years.
Before and since the Red Devils’ last CIF championship in 1951, the school never had a shortage of athletes. The unit responsible for bridging the gap during Pomona’s run to Friday’s CIF-SS Mid-Valley championship game is the offensive line.
Acting head coach Keith Richardson graduated from Pomona in 1989 and has been on staff for 10 of the last 15 years. In other words, he is deeply versed in the team’s history.
“The achilles heel has always been the offensive line,” Richardson said. “We’ve had good players on the offensive front before, but the cohesion this group has shown is the difference.”
By Aram Tolegian
here’s not too many people who can take on a car moving at 30 miles per hour and win. Los Altos High School lineman David Tolmachoff is one of the exceptions.
The experience wasn’t by choice. It certainly provided a scare and lots of pain. Yet the unintended consequences like adding to Tolmachoff’s almost folklorish presence at school have been priceless for his teammates and coaches.
Tolmachoff will get one last chance to add to his legacy Saturday when the two-way standout lineman leads Los Altos against Colony in the CIF-Southern Section Central Division championship.
“We really just keep him around for the entertainment value,” Los Altos head coach Dale Ziola said of Tolmachoff. “But he’s a huge asset to the team. We’re glad he’s on our side and not someone else’s side.”
Mission League Football All-Area 2014
Co-Players of the year: Tyler Vaughns (Bishop Amat); John Huston (Serra)
Co-Offensive players of the year: TJ Brumfield (Crespi); Khalil Tate (Serra)
Tri-Defensive players of the year: Christian Wiley (Bishop Amat); Rasheem Green (Serra); DJ Beavers (Crespi).
MVP Lineman: Oluqokie Betiku (Serra); Vaimoe Sekona (Crespi).
First Team Offense
Jalen Starks, RB, Crespi, Jr.; Brandon Arconado, WR, Bishop Amat, Sr.; Deontay Burnett, WR, Serra, Sr.; Desean Holmes, WR, Alemany, Sr.; Dymond Lee, WR, Chaminade, Jr.; Brandon Pierce, WR, Alemany, Sr.; CJ Sanders, WR, Notre Dame, Sr.; Robert Alexander, OL, Serra, Sr.; Matt Brayton, OL, Bishop Amat, Jr.; Josh Davis, OL, Serra, Sr.; Andrew Lopez, OL, Bishop Amat, Jr.; Bar Milo, OL, Chaminade, Sr.; Marcus Moore, OL, Crespi, Jr.; Moyo Uili, Crespi, Sr.
Brandon Burton, DB, Serra, Jr.; Zari Leacock, DB, Crespi, Jr.; Chris May, DB, Crespi, Sr.; Chris Pollard, DB, Serra, Jr.; Trevon Sidney, DB, Bishop Amat, Jr.; Marvell Tell, DB, Crespi, Sr.; Andrew Vasquez, DL, Bishop Amat, Jr.; Austin Swanson, DL, Notre Dame, Sr.; Christian Rector, DL, Loyola, Sr.; Tyree Thompson, DL, Alemany, Sr.; Ryan Munoz, DL, Bishop Amat, Jr.; Brandon Lawless, DL, Crespi, Sr.; Anthony Camargo, LB, Bishop Amat, Sr.; Nolan Jackson, LB, Alemany, Sr.; Tysyn Parker, LB, Serra, So.; Mike Ramos, LB, Notre Dame, Sr.; Blake Walls, LB, Serra, Jr.
Valle Vista All-League Football, 2014
League MVP: Alex Camacho, Northview
Lineman of the year: Jaron Reed, Northview
Offensive MVP: Pearnell Smalley, Covina
Defensive MVP: Ricky Padilla, Northview
First Team Offense
WR: Eric Williams, Covina
WR: Zack Moreo, Covina
WR: Paul Cooper, Covina
Backs: Steven Comstock, Northview
Backs: Manny Elizalde, San Dimas
Backs: Joe Benavediz, Covina
Backs: Chris Osorio, Wilson
Backs: Cameron Eaglin, Nogales
OL: Nick Torres, Northview
OL: Yousef Hanna, San Dimas
OL: Ruben Retana, Covina
OL: Nathan Reep, San Dimas
OL: Eric Archuleta, Wilson
TE: Blake Lowary, San Dimas
First Team Defense
DB: Paul Cooper, Northview
DB: Chris Rufus, San Dimas
DB: Abraham Trejo, Covina
DB: Erick Ware, San Dimas
DL: Bobby Rios, San Dimas
DL: Michael Roberts, Covina
DL: Anibal Lopez, Northview
DL: Earl Allen, Rowland
LB: Josiah Erickson, San Dimas
LB: Chris Osorio, Wilson
LB: Ryan Cavaness, Covina
LB: Elijah Grijalva, Northview
PK: Erick Ware, San Dimas
Breaking News Tuesday afternoon: Los Altos-Colony championship will be at Cerritos College on Saturday night.
Statement from CIF: “There’s a feeling and a belief, and from the experience of the people in this office and the people who are involved from Colony High School and to a certain extent Los Altos High School, they feel that facility does not fit the crowd needs for that particular game and does not fit the field conditions that would be necessary for a CIF-Southern Section championship game,” CIF spokesperson Thom Simmons said Tuesday afternoon.
Los Altos coach Dale Ziola following decision: “The playing surface shouldn’t really matter. Two of our three playoff games, we had to go and play on the road on artificial turf despite practicing on a natural grass surface. Now, it’s our home game, so why should it have to be different the other way around?”
Los Altos Athletic director Andrew Formano on CIF statement: We were absolutely prepared to host the game here at Los Altos and were prepared to bring in more seating if that was needed but we thought we had more than adequate seating. We’ve sold 7,000 tickets for graduation before. We’ve hosted big football games and didn’t think that was an issue at all. We have one of the biggest stadiums in the San Gabriel Valley, certainly bigger than some high schools that were approved to host championship games in the past. We never thought seating was an issue.
Formano on Los Altos’ field issues: Our field is our field, we use it every week for practice, for games, for playoff games. We thought it was suitable compared to what CIF has approved in the past.”
Formano On moving the game to Cerritos: It was one of the only choices left. We tried Mt. SAC, Citrus and Cal State Fullerton, but they all were unavailable for (different) reasons. We didn’t look at a nearby high school because we felt our high school was the most suitable. Eventually we chose Cerritos College because of the stadium capacity and there weren’t many other choices at that point.”
Photos from today’s CIF-SS Champions Luncheon in Long Beach
Teams not in CIF-SS championships at Angel Stadium are allowed to host CIF-SS football championships at home if they won the coin flip, are the designated home team and can prove to CIF it can accommodate a championship crowd for both teams and has an adequate enough surface to host it. We’ve seen it happen recently with Monrovia and San Dimas hosting championships and many other schools in the Southern Section. Los Altos has the home game in Saturday’s Central Division championship against Colony, but there is a push by Colony to move the game from Los Altos which CIF is strongly considering. It is believed Los Altos can handle the crowd, the issue is its field. Is it worthy enough to hold a championship game? Consider this: When West Covina played La Serna in the 2011 championship, West Covina argued days in advance that the game shouldn’t be at California High School, where La Serna normally plays home games. It argued the grass surface was dead and not adequate enough, nor did Cal Hi have press boxes for coaches, media or TV media outlets broadcasting the game on live stream. Back then I argued the game should be moved for those reasons too, that championships deserved marquee venues whenever possible and ideal playing surfaces. CIF sided with La Serna after visiting California High on the Wednesday before the game, determining that Cal Hi had enough seating capacity and that the dead grass was not an issue, allowing the game to be played there. There is no difference between that situation vs. Los Altos’ right to host a game on Saturday at its venue. Los Altos’ grass field is no different than the Cal Hi field, plus it has more than enough seating on both sides to stage a championship, plus it has two press boxes for coaches, media and broadcast media. If you’re going to say yes to Cal Hi, you need to say yes to Los Altos because a precedent already has been set. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, I’m hearing the game could get moved to nearby Walnut High, Mt. SAC or possibly Fullerton. But if you ask me, if CIF is going to allow a game at Cal High, then to force Los Altos to move would mean making its own rules as it goes along. Stay tuned, there is sure to be more on this.
— Joe Amat (@JoeAmat) December 2, 2014
CIF approved this field at California High in 2011 for the La Serna, West Covina championship game. Even Los Altos’ field, which is the worst in the SGV, isn’t like this … That’s why I said, If CIF approved Cal Hi, how can you NOW say no to Los Altos. It comes down to this, if your field is playable enough to host playoff games, then you can’t argue the surface isn’t capable now, especially looking at the Cal Hi pictures. The only question should be weather Los Altos can handle the crowd, which it obviously can. Los Altos is one of the larger stadiums with huge bleachers on each side. This should be a no brainer.
More precedent for Los Altos’ argument is Rio Hondo Prep getting a home game in 2012 against Mission Prep. Not only was the field in terrible shape, the visiting sidelines force players to stand on a hill.
STORY: One of the areas top prep football coaches has decided to move on.
Veteran San Dimas coach Bill Zernikow resigned on Monday after a decade heading the Saints program. The move had everything to do with his family as he and wife Laurie have three children who are all active in sports.
He would like to be there more for their athletic events.
“I really don’t have a plan,” he said of his next move. “I have tried to be at all their events and it can be hectic when I am dealing with football too. My wife has to be the main one making sure they get where they need to be. It’s really all been on her.”
Zernickow, 41, has compiled an 87-37 mark in his tenure dating back to his rookie season in 2005. His team won four Valle Vista League titles and came home with CIF titles in 2009 and 2013.
Pomona will face top-seed Paraclete on Friday’s CIF-SS championship at Antelope Valley College. We talked to coach Keith Richardson and players at today’s CIF-SS champions luncheon in Long Beach.
We also printed a story on Friday that incorrectly stated that Pomona was making its first CIF finals appearance in 86 years, losing to Covina 7-0 in 1928. Pomona also played for the 1917 championship and lost 27-0 to Manuel Arts. In fact, at today’s champions luncheon, CIF’s media guide also stated the same thing. However, in CIF’s record book it clearly shows that Pomona did win a CIF football title in 1951 — the school’s only football title. Pomona defeated Monrovia 26-13 at Mt. SAC and we believe this is a picture of the 1951 championship team, sent to us by one of our readers.
This is the time we start thinking Tribune football player of the year, offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year, coach of the year and first team. Aram and I were talking this morning, the big awards are so difficult to choose. Good luck picking player and coach of the year, you pick one you can make a great argument for a couple more. Anyways, that’s what we’ve got to sort out during championship week
Mid-Valley Division Final
Pomona at Paraclete, 7:30 p.m.
Central Division Final
Colony at Los Altos, 7:30 p.m.
Los Altos going for 12th championship: The Los Altos football team has officially shed its third-place moniker. The third-place team from the Hacienda League can finish no worse than second — in the CIF-SS Central Division.
Tyler Nevens, who ran for 296 yards, sealed Los Altos’ 27-13 win over Bonita on Friday night with his second touchdown of the game on fourth down from the 1-yard line with seven minutes to play.
Bishop Amat’s miracle rally falls short: Bishop Amat’s last minute miracle comeback fell short, crushing the Lancers’ dream of playing for their first championship since 1995 in a 38-37 loss at Corona Centennial on Friday.
Centennial’s near self-destruction allowed for a crazy finish after running back Sammonte Bonner fumbled a game-clinching touchdown run inches from the end zone, allowing the Lancers to get it back with just over a minute left at their own 3.
Bishop Amat quarterback Ryder Ruiz, who finished with 411 yards and three touchdowns, engineered a 97-yard scoring drive in the final minute, connecting with Brandon Arconado on a 42-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left.
Pomona in first championship since 1928: To say it’s been a long time since the Pomona High School football team has been in a championship game, is saying that it’s been a while since the Chicago Cubs have won a World Series.
That day is finally here as Pomona defeated visiting Sierra Canyon of Chatsworth, 33-20, in the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division semifinals Friday night.
Third-ranked Pomona (9-4) will play Paraclete (10-3), a 15-12 winner over Northview in the other semifinal game, Friday at Antelope Valley College.
It’s been 86 years since the Red Devils have been in a title game, losing to Covina 7-0 in 1928. The Red Devils were also in the CIF championship game 11 years earlier, losing to Manuel Arts, 27-0.
Colony knocks out Charter Oak: The dream season of the Colony High School football team lives on. The Titans parlayed eight Charter Oak turnovers into a 35-26 victory on Friday night in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Central Division playoffs. Colony improved to 11-2 and will play Los Altos in next Saturday’s championship game. Charter Oak finished 8-5.
All of Charter Oak’s turnovers certainly helped Colony, but Khalil Dorsey made sure the Chargers paid dearly for their seventh.
With Colony leading 29-26 and Charter Oak at the Titans’ 38 with 3:01 to left to play, Dorsey stepped in front of a pass to the flats by Charter Oak quarterback Kam Brown. Dorsey intercepted the ball and returned it 65 yards for the icing score.
Northview nearly knocks off No. 1 Paraclete: Northview’s dream season came to an end after a tough 15-12 loss to top-seeded Paraclete (10-3), which will go to its fifth consecutive CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division championship game.
The Spirits took their first and only lead with 2:33 left in the game on an 8-yard run by Ethan Clark. Their two-point conversion was good, setting the stage for one last attempt by Northview (11-2) trailing by three.
The Vikings drove to midfield, but when freshman quarterback Steven Comstock’s fourth-and-2 pass fell incomplete with 29 seconds left, the game and chance to play for the title was sealed for the Spirits.
“We knew going into the game that it was going to come down to defense,” said Northview head coach Marcel Perez. “They just made one more stop than we did in the second half.”
CIF-SS High School Football Playoff results
St. John Bosco 33, Long Beach Poly 21
Corona Centennial 38, Bishop Amat 37
Saturday’s championship: Centennial vs. St. John Bosco, Angels Stadium, 8 p.m.
Colony 35, Charter Oak 26
Los Altos 27, Bonita 13
Saturday’s championship: Colony at Los Altos, 7:30 p.m.
Paraclete 15, Northview 12
Pomona 33, Sierra Canyon 20
Friday’s championship: Pomona at Paraclete, 7:30 p.m.
Crescenta Valley 41, La Serna 36
Downey 35, Salesian 14
Friday’s championship: Crescenta Valley at Downey, 7:30 p.m.
In this day and age, teams that typically compete for a CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 Division championship, the most coveted and competitive division in Southern California, are usually loaded with big-time transfers and several others supported by tuition assistance.
Bishop Amat, who advanced to the Pac-5 semifinals with a 24-17 win over second-seed JSerra and will travel to the Inland Empire to take on third-seed Corona Centennial on Friday at 7:30 p.m., is not a school known to operate that way.
Bishop Amat is making its first trip to the semifinals since 1998 and hoping to cash in on its first championship since 1995.
Maybe the long drought has something to do with a school that doesn’t hand out financial assistance like they’re giving out college scholarships. That’s not to say Bishop Amat doesn’t hand out financial assistance, but it hasn’t used it as a tool to attract whoever it wants.
And since coach Steve Hagerty took over in 2008, the school hasn’t had a significant game-changing transfer that’s made a difference. In fact, more impact players have transferred out than transferred in during Hagerty’s tenure.
Verdugo, the Bonita High School football team’s star running back was almost the latest chapter in the sad ongoing story about talented players whose off-the-field problems keep them from ever realizing their on-field potential.
“There were a lot of times that I lost a lot of sleep wondering what was going to happen with this kid,” Bonita head coach Adrian Medrano said. “There were a lot of times when I was very concerned.”
Northview High School football coach Marcel Knows exactly what to expect when Paraclete comes to town on Friday to play his Vikings in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.
The only question is whether his team can stop what’s coming?
“They play sound football and they do good things,” Perez said of the No. 1 seed Spirits. “They’re a very good football team. A lot of athletes. It helps when you have the Jimmys and Joes, for sure.
“It’s going to be an old-school game where it’s going to be about who’s standing last.”
Northview enters Friday’s game in the midst of one of the best seasons in school history. The Vikings are 11-1 and are in the semifinals for the first time since 1997. But Paraclete (9-3) is the No. 1 seed for many reasons, one of the biggest being running back Melquise Stovall.
Stopping Stovall is going to be the focal point of the Vikings’ defensive game plan.
“They’re the No. 1 seed and our we’re the No. 1 team out of our league and look where they put us in our bracket, so go figure,” Farrar said. “I’m not a bracketologist. I just know that from where they seeded us and where they seeded them, we can’t be superior to them. They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason. Look at their scores. Look what they’ve done.”
By Aram Tolegian
Although it may sound strange to area fans who know the history of the Charter Oak High School football program, veteran head coach Lou Farrar is calling his Chargers the underdogs on Friday night when they host Colony in the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Central Division playoffs.
“They’re the No. 1 seed and our we’re the No. 1 team out of our league and look where they put us in our bracket, so go figure,” Farrar said. “I’m not a bracketologist. I just know that from where they seeded us and where they seeded them, we can’t be superior to them.
“They’re the No. 1 seed for a reason. Look at their scores. Look what they’ve done.”
True, Colony enters with the sexier record at 10-2. And yes, the Titans have been lighting up just about every defense they’ve seen. But the Chargers have picked up their game at the right time to be 8-4 and Farrar knows a few things about playoff success.
Charter Oak has scored 49 points in each of its first two playoff games. Last Friday, the Chargers did enough to cool off San Marino’s high-flying offense. Now, they have to try to slow Colony’s attack, which is averaging just under 40 points per game.
“We just have to figure a way to slow them down and stay just one jump ahead of them” Farrar said. “They’re as good as advertised.”
Colony lost its starting quarterback to injury just prior to the playoffs. Back-up Jordan Johnson has come in and the team hasn’t missed a beat. And how could they, with a receiving corps that has several nice targets?
Charter Oak has had plenty of big offensive performance of its own, headlined by running back Zion Echols’ 302 yards and five touchdowns performance against San Marino. Quarterback Kam Brown has also been so good that he ranks among the best passers in the state.
The Chargers have the week off from school and will practice during the morning. Farrar said there will be no special ceremony for Thursday’s Thanksgiving practice, but he does expect to see plenty of alumni in town and on the sideline offering advice and pep talks to his team.
By the CIF semifinals, we usually have a good idea of who the Tribune football player of the year will be. Normally we’ve got it narrowed down to two or three, but with six teams still playing, and almost all of them relying on multiple standouts, it’s hard to get a feel for who it is or who is leading. I don’t want to mention names at this point, but I’m curious what are bloggers think? If you were picking player of the year today, who would you pick?
The High School boys basketball season has arrived and with it comes new surroundings and a breath of fresh air for some like Glendora, which is finally out of the rugged Baseline league.
Glendora, under legendary coach Mike LeDuc, will battle it out in the new Palomares along with Bonita, South Hills, Diamond Bar, Ayala and Claremont, forming one of the areas most competitive leagues.
Damien and two-time player of the year Jeremy Hemsley have moved to the Baseline league where it will go up against some of the state’s best teams like Chino Hills, Rancho Cucamonga and Etiwanda, but the Spartans are up for the challenge after winning a CIF-SS divisional title a couple years ago.
As usual, we start out the season with our annual top ten preview.
For the top ten, click the thread.
The Spartans finished 22-7 and were knocked out in the tough Division 1AA playoffs last year, but figure to be a big-time player moving back to the 3AA Division, where it won the championship in the 2012-13 season.
Hemsley, who already has given a verbal commitment to San Diego State, averaged 22 points, five rebounds and five assists a year ago, and will be challenged by several other top-notch players in the Baseline.
The Spartans also return 6-foot-5 post player Malik Fitts, who averaged 13 points and seven boards, and inside bruiser Isaiah McCullough, a junior who started on varsity as a freshman and figures to have a breakout season.
The good news for the Spartans is even if they finish third or fourth in the Baseline, which is one of the top leagues in the state, they still figure to be among the favorites when the playoffs start.
2. Diamond Ranch
New coach Eric Cooper, who built little known La Verne Lutheran into a power that won lower-level CIF-SS divisional and state titles in 2010 and 2011, is back in the area and is already attracting talent for the Panthers.
Diamond Ranch, which will be favored in the new Hacienda league and could challenge Damien in the 3AA Division, welcomes 7-foot junior transfer Roman Silva from Etiwanda and also 6-foot-3 sophomore guard J.J. Watson, a highly coveted recruit who transferred from a school in North Carolina.
Watson, who averaged 19 points during the regular season and 25 points in the North Carolina state playoffs as a freshman, is already being looked at by several big-time colleges.
“He’s something special,” Cooper said of Watson. “Of all the great kids I’ve had over the years, he’s the best sophomore I’ve ever had, which is saying a lot. He’s the complete package.”
Also transferring to Diamond Ranch is junior point guard Tyler Mclean, who started at Servite last year and 6-foot-8 Latrelle Standifer from Rancho Verde.
The Panthers were just 12-15 last year but the new infusion of talent should change everything. They also return junior Ethan Jarrell, who earned Hacienda league first-team honors as a sophomore.
“I’m excited,” Cooper said. “If these guys work hard skies the limit. I’ll just lay out the plans, but they have to want it and go get it.”
Going from the Baseline to the new Palomares is huge relief for the Tartans who have practically everyone returning from last years’ 18-12 team.
The big returners are senior point guard AJ Bigornia, who averaged 19 points and 6-foot-4 senior forward Brandon Brothers, who averaged 13 points.
Joseph Alvarez, a 6-foot-9 senior center, is back and healthy after an injury-riddled junior season.
And you can bet LeDuc is happy with the new surroundings, though he’s not ready to say his Tartans are the league favorites.
“In my opinion, there are no favorites, everybody has a shot,” LeDuc said. “I don’t mean that as a cliche, but whoever plays the best and comes together will be the best. We have a shot along with all the others.
Glendora will compete in the Division 2AA playoffs, which doesn’t have many noticeable super teams.
“Just looking at some (preseason) rankings, there are a half dozen pretty good teams (in Division 2AA),” LeDuc said. “I haven’t wasted a lot of time looking at it, but on the surface that’s what it looks like.”
One of the best kept secrets may be the emergence of the Brahmas, who second-year coach Henry Frierson says could be the best team at the school in over a decade, partly due to some serviceable transfers that could help challenge Glendora as co-favorites for the Palomares league title.
4. Diamond Bar
Diamond Bar was 11-17 last year but added senior point guard Tyler Ginyard from Damien, junior shooting guard Lamar Johnson from Upland and 6-foot-7 Brandon Rice, who started at Diamond Bar, left to Servite, and is back for his senior year after sitting out his junior season.
The Brahmas also have brothers Tyler and Kyle Peterson, and a super freshman in Jaren Williams that a lot in the basketball community are raving about.
Williams played with Cantwell Sacred Heart over the summer before settling at Diamond Bar.
“We have the ability to be better than we have been in a long time,’ said the second-year coach. “We’re kind of under the radar but we like the talent level on our team and feel like we can do a few things.”
Although the Mustangs lose coach Josh Cameron, there is loads of talent returning from a Mustangs team that went undefeated in winning the Hacienda league title and finished 22-6.
Former assistant Joe Khouzam will take over as head coach.
If anyone figures to challenge Diamond Ranch in the Hacienda, it could be the Mustangs who return Hacienda player of the year Juri Williams, who averaged 10 points but is a game-changer defending the floor and making everyone better.
Jeff Huang, another Hacienda first-team selection, is back for his senior year along with Ryan Herrera.
6. Bishop Amat
Like Glendora, Bishop Amat is another team that will enjoy its new surroundings in the Camino Real league after competing against state powers Bishop Montgomery and Serra in the Del Rey League.
Amat returns leading scorer Joshua Andarza, a senior who averaged 12 points and 7 rebounds and also senior guard Christian Mora, who averaged eight points. Andarza and Mora are both returning Del Rey first-team selections.
Bishop Amat should be among the Camino Real favorites along with Salesian, St. Anthony and Bellarmine-Jeff.
The Lancers also return bruiser Anthony Camargo, who earned second-team all-league honors last year.
The Bearcats were 20-8 and finished third in the Hacienda league and figure to be steady again. The Bearcats welcome new coach Tim Godley, who had success at other schools and is just what they needed to remain among the areas elite.
Can Bonita hang with Glendora and Diamond Bar in the new Palomares? That remains to be seen this season, but over the long haul, they’ll battle it out annually for the league title.
The Wildcats were the surprise of the Valley after going 20-8 and going undefeated in the Valle Vista league to claim the title and they return Kyle Price, a senior point guard who earned league first-team honors.
Also back is junior all-leaguer Justin Chan, junior Jared Kawamoto and senior post player Justin Lee.
The Wildcats do lose league player of the year Kevin Price, but figure to be the favorite along with San Dimas for the league title.
9. San Dimas
The Saints’ biggest offseason transfer was coach Gordon Hamlow moving over from Rowland after winning five league championships and finishing second five times in 13 years with the Raiders..
The Saints were 12-14 last year but return arguably the league’s best player in senior Ryan Ocampo, who averaged 13 points last season and 6-foot-5 forward Omar Nasri, who averaged eight points.
A sophomore to watch is 6-foot-3 guard Ronnie Rafeh and senior guard Eddie Casas.
“Great shot selection, strong low post presence and tough defensive play will
be the staple of this team,” Hamlow said. “The Saints believe they will be a strong contender in the Valle Vista League.”
10. South Hills
Huskies coach Marc Hart is realistic after going 13-15 last year, figruing that after Glendora and possibly Damien, everything else is a crapshoot in the Palomares league.
The Huskies will likely battle for the third spot with 6-foot-4 junior Darius Scott, who can shoot the long ball and play inside, and Alex Sanchez, a 6-foot-4 forward.
The Huskies also returns Marcus Williams, 6-foot-3 sophomore guard.
Aram Tolegian (Last Week: 7-5; Season Total: 359-112)
Fred Robledo (Last Week 7-5; Season Total: 359-112)
Last Week: Aram and I missed virtually the same games and we cancelled each other out on one. I got him taking Bishop Amat over JSerra but he got it back taking Colony over Glenodra. So, there you ago we’re tied heading into the final two weeks of the season.
This Week: I changed some of my pre-playoff predictions based on what some teams are doing in the playoffs and those already knocked out. Originally I had Corona Centennial knocking out Bishop Amat in the semifinals, but outside of No. 1 St. John Bosco, nobody is playing better defense than Amat. Amat will score on Centennial just like Serra did in a 68-64 first-round loss to Centennial, the difference is Amat’s defense will hold Centennial in the 20s and do enough to reach their first championship game since they last won it in 1995. I also had Northview beating Paraclete in the Mid-Valley semifinals, but Paraclete is looking to good with 44-0 and 63-0 wins. Northview’s good, but they’re not Paraclete good. But I do like Pomona over Sierra Canyon at home in other semifinal and I’m sticking with Pomona to win the championship. Los Altos has made the Southeast look so easy and their win over Monrovia leads me to believe they’ll handle Bonita and face Charter Oak, who will knock off Colony, in the championship game.
CIF-SS High School Football Playoffs
Long Beach Poly at St. John Bosco, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (St. John Bosco); Aram (SJB)
Bishop Amat at Corona Centennial, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Bishop Amat); Aram (Amat)
Colony at Charter Oak, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Charter Oak); Aram (CO)
Los Altos at Bonita, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Los Altos); Aram (LA)
Paraclete vs. Northview at San Dimas, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Paraclete); Aram (Clete)
Sierra Canyon at Pomona, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Pomona); Aram (Pomona)
La Serna at Crescenta Valley, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (La Serna); Aram (LS)
Salesian at Downey, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Salesian); Aram (Downey)
Templeton at Arrowhead Christian, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Arrowhead); Aram (AC)
Pasadena Poly at Nipomo, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (PPoly); Aram (Nipomo)