About Fred Robledo

Fred J. Robledo is the local sports editor for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group

Who’s got next at Damien? Greg Eckler, Mike LeDuc, Richard Wiard, Don Grant?

With Damien boys basketball coach Matt Dunn leaving for St. John Bosco and the Trinity League, the Spartans have a new opening at a place that just won a Division 3 state championship and a 2013 divisional crown. With a state of the art facility and one of the best student crowds in the section factored with coaching in the attractive city of La Verne, this becomes one of the hottest openings in the Southland. So who’s next?
Could it be Damien assistant Greg Eckler, who had years of success at Bonita before losing his job over a player wrestling incident? If Damien can look past it, Eckler’s resume speaks for itself and a year on staff should help his case.
wiard2How about this wild card, former Bishop Amat girls coach Richard Wiard? Wiard won multiple CIF and state girls tiles before a falling out with Amat last year. Factor in that Damien’s principal is Dr. Merritt Hemenway, who is really close with Wiard during a time when Hemingway was the principal at Amat. Hemingway hired an Amat guy to take over football in Mark Paredes, so this might not be that far-fetched.
Could this be a position that finally wrestles away Glendora’s Mike LeDuc for a return to Damien where he started? Chances are slim, but don’t ever close that door. Or how about former Muir coach Don Grant who was at Chino Hills before bringing on Steve Baik as an assistant, and then turning the position over to Baik. Grant agreed to be Baik’s assistant, but left this past year. He’s someone who would be a great fit given the opportunity. It’s a huge hire for Damien, especially considering area private’s like Maranatha spent big money to lure Pasadena’s Tim Tucker to the school. Also down the 210 freeway, La Salle wrestled Mike Lynch away from Price. Since the Dunn to Bosco story broke, a coach who won a state championship on the East Coast already hit me up on twitter asking about Damien and said he would apply. So, expect the unexpected and for all the rumors to be out there.

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Damien boys basketball coach Matt Dunn leaving to take over at St. John Bosco

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By Fred Robledo
Damien boys basketball coach Matt Dunn is cashing his chips and hoping the grass is greener on the other side.
After leading Damien to the CIF-State Division 3 championship in March to go with his CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA championship in 2013, Dunn announced his resignation at Damien on Tuesday to become the head coach at St. John Bosco where he will compete in the prestigious Trinity League that includes Mater Dei.The 38-year-old Dunn leaves Damien after 12 years, where he compiled a 252-108 record at the school and is 279-131 all-time as a head coach.
It’s a big move for Dunn, who likely received a bump in pay to pry him away from Damien, where he’s had so much success.Dunn was offered the position late last week and struggled with it over the weekend before making a decision.
“It was a tough decision,” Dunn said. “I love Damien, our entire family has put our heart and soul into the school and there are some incredible memories. The coaches and players that I’ve been around I have incredible memories with. Anytime you have to make a decision to leave all that it’s hard.”

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Glendora quarterback Matt Fink chooses USC over Notre Dame and others with Twitter announcement Monday

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STORY:The brief recruiting frenzy that saw Glendora High School quarterback Matt Fink go from relative unknown to national sensation ended early Monday afternoon when the standout picked USC with an announcement on his Twitter account.
Fink hinted Monday morning he would make his decision, tweeting: Very big day today! with a #nomorewaiting hashtag. Just before 3 p.m., Fink made good on his promise, choosing USC over more than a dozen schools, including Notre Dame, Boise State, Washington, Washington State, Oregon and others.

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Area running back Kurt Scoby leaving Fresno State for Azusa Pacific

STORY: Former standout running back Kurt Scoby, who shined at several area high schools before spending one season at Fresno St., is back in the San Gabriel Valley.Scoby has left Fresno St. and transferred to Azusa Pacific University, Cougars head coach Victor Santa Cruz confirmed on Monday.Because Santa Cruz is limited with what he could say due to NCAA rules, all that was confirmed is that Scoby has signed a scholarship offer and will be enrolling at APU in the fall.Scoby’s career at Fresno St. never got off the ground. He suffered a concussion during fall practice and never got a carry in a game this season. He projected to be one of several backups to returning starter Marteze Waller this fall.

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No word yet on whether Matt Dunn will leave Damien for St. John Bosco

Aram tweeted Friday night that Damien boys basketball coach Matt Dunn was offered the St. John Bosco boys basketball position and had the weekend to decide. As of today, no decision has been made, nor will Dunn confirm or deny the report. Stay tuned.

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John Honell column: Area baseball heating up with two weeks before the playoffs

John “Nut and Honey” Honell has been a contributor for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune for over a decade and particularly has a great interest in baseball. He’s well known among area coaches and now and then writes a contributor column for this blog. Today he’s writing about Valley baseball. These are his thoughts ...

By John Honell, Correspondent
With the high school baseball season entering the home stretch, here are a few observations from someone who saw Hal Newhouser pitch against Joe Dimaggio in the first major league game he ever attended. (that is another way of saying, I’m old).

mauchPALOMARES LEAGUE – Everyone talks, rightfully so, about all the Division 1 pitchers in the league. There are more 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 games in this league than I’ve ever seen at the high school level.
There just don’t seem to be many, if any, Division 1 hitters. That’s probably why there are three teams, Glendora, Ayala and South Hills tied for first with Bonita just one game back.
Coaches have told me that CIF is only going to take the top three teams from each league in Division 2 for the playoffs, that means one very good team isn’t going to make it.
South Hills might have the deepest pitching staff in the league but have had trouble scoring runs.
Glendora couldn’t hold leads early in the season but might be playing the best ball of anyone in the league right now.
There are some really good arms on the Tartan staff but, their problems were more mental than physical.
Doc Henley appears to have hauled his psychology couch into the bullpen to get his kids hot at the right time.
The Tartans and Huskies play each other twice, the last week of the season. One of them might be that very good team that doesn’t get to the playoffs.

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MONTVIEW LEAGUE – Defending champ Sierra Vista graduated almost its entire team from last season’s run to the CIF semifinals, so finding the Dons with a one game lead with only two weeks left in the season is a little surprising.
The Dons do have a (not so) secret weapon in veteran coach Brett Stevens who, in my opinion, (but nobody asked) should have been last years Coach of the Year. He thinks baseball is the only major sport and can’t understand why anyone would want to go to a basketball or football game but, he always has his 12-man roster prepared and ready to win.
With a few games left against the bottom two teams to close out the season that would, normally, be enough to earn the top spot in the upcoming playoffs.
Normally, however, is not a word that should ever be used in the Montview.
The competition is terrific, the kids have an obvious love of the game and play with more enthusiasm than every other league in the Valley.
All that being said, if you want to see some strange bounces and even stranger happenings, the Montview League is the place to be on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

walnutlongoriaHACIENDA LEAGUE – Walnut might be the hottest team in the Valley with a 10-game winning streak. They started the season 2-7-2, including 1-3 in league play. Since then Walnut alum and head coach Paul Acosta has convinced his team that solid defense and playing unselfish baseball is a lot more fun.
They have a one-game lead over Los Altos but there are three other teams tied for third, only one game behind the Conquerors.
The Mustangs have to play two games against Los Altos next week and finish the season with two games against Chino.
There is no room for error in this league, so good fielding and whoever best follows the “Just win Baby” advice of the late Al Davis will determine the three teams that make the playoffs.

sdimassafVALLE VISTA LEAGUE – The battle is for second and third place with undefeated San Dimas (24-0) on its way to a record season. The Saints are ranked 16th nationally by Max Preps, 6th in the State, No. 1 by this newspaper, the only publication that has it right.
Nogales is only two games back with Covina and Wilson tied for third one game behind the Nobles.
The old saying that “baseball is a game of inches” couldn’t be more in evidence at Saints games.
At least 10 major league scouts seem to be at games UCLA commit Peter Lambert is on the mound. He is listed on the roster as being 6 foot 2 inches. His ERA is 0.24. But don’t discount Jacob Castillo when he is on the mound. He is listed at 5 foot 11 inches. His ERA is 0.12. That 1-2 pitching combination should take them a long way in the playoffs.

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Softball Rankings: Charter Oak takes over the top spot

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Softball Rankings
1. Charter Oak (15-7)
— In the what have you done for me lately category, the Chargers’ 6-2 win over Chino in a game it had to win to move into a first-place tie in the Hacienda is the areas biggest of the year and a leap to No. 1 in our rankings.
2. Bishop Amat (15-6) — The Lancers and St. Paul are virtually tied in the Del Rey, each with a loss having split with each other. They meet next week at St. Paul for the rubber match and league title.
3. South Hills (15-6) — The Huskies cut Glendora’s lead to one in the Palomares title chase, but they’re going to need help from someone else to catch the Tartans with four to go.
4. Glendora (18-6) — The Tartans dropped their first league game to South Hills, but returned with a win over Bonita to remain in first place ahead of the Huskies by a game.
5. Edgewood (15-0) — They’ve thrown perfect games, are smashing home runs and have dominated a league more than I’ve ever see any team dominate a league before, 11-0 with 11 straight shutouts, outscoring the league 184-0. But it seems like the D-5 pollsters aren’t convinced, dropping the Lions in the polls for three straight weeks. Don’t get it.
6. South El Monte (12-4) -Still 8-0 and undefeated in the Mission Valley league waiting on next week’s game with one-loss Arroyo to win the title outright.
7. San Dimas (14-9) — In a game it had to win to regain control of the Valle Vista, the Saints crushed Northview 13-3 after losing to Covina earlier in the week.
8. West Covina (13-11) — The Bulldogs were the areas darlings early in the year, but now they’re tied for third with Los Altos in the Hacienda and in danger of missing the playoffs.
9. Arroyo (14-3) — Only three losses and one loss in the MVL which was to tough South El Monte, who the Knights get next week for a chance to share the title.
10. Covina (13-8) — The Colts earned the big win over San Dimas, and are now tied with Northview for second in the Valle Vista.

SOFTRANKINGS

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Baseball Rankings: San Dimas still unbeaten No. 1 with Glendora climbing to 2 and Walnut creeping to 7

walnutlongoriaBaseball Rankings
1. San Dimas (24-0)
— The Saints are within three games of matching Bishop Amat’s 1993 San Gabriel Valley record for consecutive victories which is 27. They should have no problem getting to 26 with a pair against Rowland this week, but Wilson could make it interesting with a pair next week.
2. Glendora (19-6) — The Tartans were in danger of missing the playoffs before a four-game win streak, including sweeps over Ayala and Claremont to move into a 3-way tie for the Palomares league. They’re the hottest team in the Palomares at the moment.
3. South Hills (17-7) — Huskies lost a firm grip on the league lead by not sweeping Ayala last week. But over the next four games, will be hard to bet against the Huskies with their pitching.
4. Bonita (18-8) — If the playoff started today, the Bearcats would miss it sitting in fourth in the Palomares, but only a game behind the three league leaders. With a pair against Ayala this week, however, the Bearcats control their own destiny.
5. Nogales (17-9) — The Nobles are alone in second in the Valle Vista and gave the Saints a brief scare. They could be a hard out in the D-3 playoffs.
6. Sierra Vista (14-5) — Dons closing in on the Montview league title but still only a game ahead of Baldwin Park in the loss column.
7. Walnut (13-7-2) — The Mustangs are the hottest team other than San Dimas, winners of ten straight, including a sweep over Charter Oak last week to take a one game lead over Los Altos in the Hacienta title chase.
8. Bishop Amat (13-11-1) — How do you lose 10-0 to Serra to fall a full game behind Del Rey league leaders St. Paul and Cathedral? If the Lancers want league, they will have to sweep St. Paul this week.
9. Arroyo (12-3) — Knights a perfect 9-0 in the Mission Valley League needing only a win to clinch the league title.
10. Los Altos (10-11-1) — The Conquerors’ grab our last spot being only a game out of first place behind Walnut, who it will meet for a pair next week that could decide the title.

BASERANKINGS

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Aram’s five burning spring football questions with one biggie? Will Amat’s Torreahno Sweet play this fall?

I told Aram this should be a weekly project until the fall, five burning football questions each week that keeps you up to speed on what could be one of the best football seasons in recent memory that you can discuss, digest, roll your eyes and believe or not believe. Today Aram started with this, and it’s a lot of fun, and a great way to head to the weekend.

Sweet

By Aram Tolegian
These days, spring practice for high school football means many things to many different people. Of course, coaches have to present the image that the t-shirt and shorts workouts that take place over the next month or so will somehow have an impact on the upcoming season. In the past, that might have been truer than it is now. With year-around workouts and conditioning and specialized training and private 7-on-7 passing teams, players rarely fall out of football mold, thus making spring practice a cute blip on the calendar the exact results of which are never known. Skeptical as one might be, there are still developments that could happen and eyebrows that could be raised during said spring practices. There are situations that bear watching and we’re here to help point them out by asking the five burning questions of spring practice.

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Baseball: Just what you thought, three-way tie in Palomares with two weeks to go

BONITACELEGlendora, which looked like it might fall completely out of the playoff picture a couple weeks ago is tied for first in the Palomares after a 10-1 win over Claremont on Friday. South Hills, which could have remained in first with a sweep over Ayala, was hammered at home by the Bulldogs, 9-4. South Hills, which has a team 0.47 ERA, gave up the most runs it has all season by far. Bonita’s 7-4 win over Diamond Bar kept the Palomares a four-horse race with the Bearcats only a game back of the three league leaders.

palomares

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Walnut baseball wins tenth straight in 6-1 victory over Charter Oak to take over Hacienda

walnutlongoriaWalnut got a little breathing room in the race for the Hacienda League baseball title by completing a two-game sweep of Charter Oak with a 6-1 win on Friday afternoon.The Mustangs (13-7-2, 8-3) got a four-hit, complete-game pitching performance from junior Christian Longoria and won their 10th consecutive game to take a one-game lead in league play.After struggling early in the season and starting league play 1-3, the Mustangs are on top of the standings, but there are still four teams within two games of them as they head into the last two weeks of the regular season.“This game meant a lot for the whole team,” Longoria said. “We struggled early in the season but once we started winning it became contagious.”

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Charter Oak softball means business, shocks Chino, 6-2

STORY: Charter Oak moved into a tie for first in the Hacienda league by beating league favorite Chino 6-2 at home Thursday. Charter Oak improved to 15-7 and 5-1 in the Hacienda while Chino dropped to 14-5 and 5-1. Earlier in the day Michelle Gardner and I thought the Chargers had no shot. That’s why they play the games.

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San Dimas pitcher Peter Lambert shows us what it’s like to have a MLB prospect in the Valley

San Dimas only needed four innings with pitcher Peter Lambert in a mercy-shortened 10-0 victory over Covina to run its perfect record to 24-0. baserecordSan Dimas is three games shy of matching Bishop Amat’s 1993 San Gabriel Valley record for consecutive baseball victories with 27. Bishop Amat didn’t win the championship that year, but its 27 straight wins is eighth all-time in the CIF record books. Lompoc owns the CIF record for consecutive wins with 36 set in the 1970-71 season.

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Voice of the Valley: Words can’t express the impact “Corn Dawg” has on the high school sports scene

cdog2Odds are you’ve heard Corey Kwok’s voice if you’ve been to just about any local high school sporting event.From baseball to basketball to football to even girls volleyball, Kwok, who is known by most as “Corn Dawg,” has become the voice of the Valley … and parts well beyond. His booming voice may not match his frame, but it’s certainly caught on and made him one of the most recognizable figures on the local sports scene.It’s a pretty good niche Kwok has carved himself. He does the public address announcing for local sporting cdog1events and in return gets to be around the sports and people he loves. Sometimes, a few bucks get thrown his way, too.Not bad for someone who doesn’t drive and rarely has a working cell phone.“It’s above and beyond so worth it because of the people I’ve met and continue to meet,” Kwok said while interviewed at a Pasadena noodle restaurant just minutes before catching a train to his next assignment. “I enjoy it when people I don’t know come up to me and commend me for a great job. It’s not just fans and parents, it’s players, too.”Kwok, who prefers to go by his more adult-sounding moniker “Swaggy C,” is known for his sometimes flashy appearance. He tries to rock the latest popular basketball shoes with some wild socks as often as his wallet allows. It makes him very distinctive for fans to notice.

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“Spring football isn’t spring football anymore,” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar says

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By Aram Tolegian
It used to be that spring football marked a special time on the high school football calendar.
It was a first step toward the upcoming season, if you will. Players and coaches would reunite and for three weeks or so hold practices in T-shirts and shorts, the consequences of which are debatable.
These days, though, spring practice is merely the latest activity in a offseason of that seemingly never ends.
“Spring football isn’t spring football anymore,” veteran Charter Oak head coach Lou Farrar said. “The offseason is never really ‘off’ anymore. When real football practice started in August, you used to wait for it. But it’s always there now.
“You don’t want to diminish the season, but the preparation is so long.”
Over the next week or so, most area teams will begin their own manicured version of spring practice.
At Charter Oak, the practices will be four days a week and offer a chance to any would-be player on campus to join the 68 guys who have been part of the offseason festivities since the season ended last November. Farrar isn’t expecting a big turnout.
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