Bishop Amat reaches semifinal by building its team from the ground up … by not giving into transfers, and that’s just fine for coach Steve Hagerty

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.

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Bonita’s Angel Verdugo thankful for a second chance as Bearcats on verge of title game

Bonita High RB Angel Verdugo (#23) tries to push the football in for a touchdown despite having his helmet torn off vs San Dimas High at Citrus College Stadium in Glendora, Calif. October 2, 2014. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Bonita High RB Angel Verdugo (#23) tries to push the football in for a touchdown despite having his helmet torn off vs San Dimas High at Citrus College Stadium in Glendora, Calif. October 2, 2014. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Angel Verdugo is thankful for one thing in particular this Thanksgiving: a second chance.
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.”

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PrepXtra Live Football Semifinal Show talking Los Altos-Bonita, Charter Oak-Colony, Pomona, Northview and of course, Bishop Amat’s first berth in in 16 years

This is the 1952 Pomona football team, the last Pomona football team to win a CIF championship. They have a chance to win the school’s first title in 62 years. I talked to San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow about Pomona after the Saints’ 41-14 loss. Zernickow said Pomona is the most athletic team he’s ever coached against in high school or college.

Pomona 1952 team

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Northview coach Marcell Perez on facing No. 1 Paraclete: “It’s going to be an old-school game where it’s going to be about who’s standing last.”

northfootNorthview 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.

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Charter Oak in rare role as underdog in Central Division semifinals hosting Colony

“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.
echols“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.

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Who is the Tribune’s leading candidate for football player of the year?

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?

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Boys Basketball Top Ten Preview: Damien No. 1, but Diamond Ranch, Diamond Bar and Glendora looking good


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.

1. Damien
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.”

3. Glendora
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.”

5. Walnut
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.

7. Bonita
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.

8. Wilson
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.

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Tribskin Pick’em: Going with Bishop Amat, Charter Oak, Los Altos and Pomona to reach championship games

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
Friday’s predictions
Pac-5 Division

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)
Central Division
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)
Mid-Valley Division
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)
Southeast Division
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)
Northwest Division
Templeton at Arrowhead Christian, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Arrowhead); Aram (AC)
Pasadena Poly at Nipomo, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (PPoly); Aram (Nipomo)

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PrepXtra: Bishop Amat stuns JSerra, 24-17 to reach Pac-5 semifinals; Northview, Pomona, Los Altos, Bonita, Charter Oak all win

SCOREBOARD: Follow for updates of quarterfinal football games throughout the night


Charter Oak back in semis: Charter Oak High School’s football team found itself in the shootout most expected on Friday night against San Marino. And in the end, the Chargers were the ones who didn’t run out of ammo.
Zion Echols rushed for 302 yards and five touchdowns as the Chargers withstood two rallies by host San Marino to post a 49-31 win and punch their ticket into next week’s CIF-Southern Section Central Division semifinals.

Bishop Amat stuns JSerra: Bishop Amat went with the hot hand in starting junior quarterback Ryder Ruiz in his fourth consecutive game even though Damian Garcia was available after getting a doctor’s clearance after a rib injury, and the move paid off big-time for the Lancers.Ruiz threw for 216 yards and two touchdowns to lead Bishop Amat to a 24-17 upset over second-seeded JSerra to advance to the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division semifinals for the first time since 1998.
Bishop Amat (9-3), ranked seventh in the state by MaxPreps, won its seventh consecutive game and will face Corona Centennial, a 27-24 winner over Mater Dei, in next week’s semifinal at Centennial.
“Whatever we decide, either (quarterback) is capable,” Bishop Amat coach Steve Hagerty said about the decision to go with Ruiz over Garcia. “Damian had his moment and unfortunately got hurt and now Ryder’s living his moment.”mes and predictions.

Los Altos knocks out No. 2 Monrovia: Redemption or revenge, whatever you want to call it, it was sweet for Los Altos on Friday night.
The Conquerors avenged a last-second loss to Monrovia (10-2) earlier in the season with a resounding 45-35 victory, ending the Wildcats’ season and propelling themselves into the CIF-SS Central Division semifinals.
Los Altos (7-5) dominated the game on the ground, behind a great night in the young career of sophomore running back Tyler Nevens, who rushed for 290 yards and five touchdowns.

Colony ends Glendora’s season: Colony High School head football coach Steve Randall might be hard to track down today. He may be on some riverboat, gambling. He showed that kind of swagger Friday night.
Facing a fourth-and-goal from the Glendora 14 in a tie game, Randall opted to go for the kill rather than a field goal. Quarterback Richard Johnsonn took the snap and appeared to pitch it to Ryan Kinard, the Titans’ leading rusher of the night.

Bonita gets its revenge: The Bonita High School football team is making good use of the only at-large bid handed out in the Central Division.
A week after, knocking off Sunkist League champion Kaiser, the Bearcats defeated Hacienda League co-champion West Covina 24-13 Friday night at Glenn Davis Stadium in the CIF-SS Central Division quarterfinals.

Pomona smacks champ San Dimas: The Red Devils lost their head coach on the eve of their playoff opener. The latest distraction was Friday’s bomb threat at Pomona High School. Neither has derailed the school’s football team, which rolled to its second blowout victory in as many playoff games with a 41-14 dismantling of defending CIF champion San Dimas on Friday.

Northview in semis for first time since 1987: It’s been 26 years since Northview last appeared in a CIF-Southern Section semifinal game.
It’s now official. Northview started slowly but turned on the offense in the second quarter and defeated host Montebello, 42-24, in a Mid Valley Division quarterfinal game.The Vikings, who defeated Montebello for the second time this season, won their seventh in a row and improved to 11-1. Montebello ended its season at 7-5.
The Vikings, who last won a CIF title in 1987, were led by running backs Alex Camacho and Elijah Grijalva with two touchdowns each.

Pac-5 Division
Bishop Amat 24, JSerra 17
Semifinals: Bishop Amat at Corona Centennial

Central Division
Colony 41, Glendora 27
Charter Oak 49, San Marino 31
Bonita 24, West Covina 13
Los Altos 45, Monrovia 35
Colony at Charter Oak
Los Altos at Bonita

Mid-Valley Division
Paraclete 63, Azusa 0
Northview 42, Montebello 24
Pomona 41, San Dimas 14
Sierra Canyon 33, Rosemead 12
Paraclete vs. Northview at San Dimas
Sierra Canyon at Pomona

Southeast Division
La Serna 38, St. Francis 35
Semifinals: La Serna at Crescenta Valley

Northwest Division
Arrowhead Christian 43, Maranatha 28
Pasadena Poly 20, Linfield Christian 11

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PrepXtra Postgame: Aram’s tune has changed since writing “Bishop Amat doesn’t belong in the Pac-5.” … SGV looking good with six teams in semifinals

Aram column in September: From 2006 to 2013, Bishop Amat has one playoff win and several thousand fans and coaches who think the Lancers still belong in the Pac-5 Division, SoCal’s elite playoff grouping.
Following last Friday’s loss to Crespi, the Lancers face an uphill battle just to make the postseason with tough Mission League games left against Serra, Chaminade and Alemany.
If the Lancers don’t make the postseason, it will mark the fourth time in the past nine years that Amat didn’t even go dancing. Considering Amat was in a four or five-team league for most of the past decade, that’s saying something.
Heck, in one of the years Amat did make the playoffs, the Lancers needed the stars to align and a coin flip in their favor on the final night of the season just to make the dance.
This year was supposed to be different. Amat has one of its most-talented teams in quite some time, with three players receiving college offers from some of the top college football programs on the West Coast.

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Football Notes: Glendora QB Matt Fink might play; Bishop Amat not revealing who starts at QB Friday; Bonita coach Adrian Medrano apologizes for mixing it up with fans


NOTEBOOK: St. Francis quarterback Jeremiah Martin is out for the season after breaking the collarbone on his non-throwing side in last Friday’s win over Mayfair in the first round of the Southeast Division playoffs. Sophomore Miles Bryant is likely to start Friday’s quarterfinals game against La Serna.
Martin was hoping to put the finishing touches on a breakout season in which the first-year starter had thrown 29 touchdown passes and no interceptions in leading the Knights to an 11-0 record. He suffered the injury while scrambling toward the sideline on St. Francis’ first drive of the third quarter. The score at the time was 35-14, Knights.
“I feel terrible for Jeremiah,” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “It’s a storybook season that he’s had. He exceeded all expectations the coaches had for him.”
MATT FINK GAME-TIME DECISION: Glendora quarterback Matt Fink continues to receive treatment on his injured ankle and has an outside shot to play on Friday against Colony in the quarterfinals of the Central Division playoffs. Tartans coach Jerry Lewallen is considering his star quarterback at a game-time decision.
Fink injured himself in the first half of Glendora’s loss to South Hills two weeks ago. He missed last week’s win over Summit, but may have a chance of playing against Colony if his rehab continues to go well. If not, Ryan DeGuzman will start.

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Bishop Amat QB Damian Garcia says he’s cleared to play on twitter

Bishop Amat QB Damian Garcia posted on twitter that he’s been cleared for practice from his rib injury. With Ryder Ruiz playing well the past three weeks and with JSerra up next, Amat has big decisions to make. But either way, they’re in good hands.


Watch Bishop Amat’s next opponent, JSerra, in a thriller over Santa Margarita earlier in the year at Saddleback College.

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Tribskin Pick’em: Will Bonita get revenge on West Covina? Will Pomona smack San Dimas? Will Matt Fink play for Glendora? Can Bishop Amat beat power JSerra?

Aram Tolegian (Last Week: 20-9; Season Total: 352-107)
Fred Robledo (Last Week 21-8; Season Total: 352-107)


Below: The question of the week is will Glendora QB Matt Fink return from his high ankle sprain to take on top-ranked Colony? Tartans

Last Week: My oh my, after 11 weeks and more than 400 predictions, Aram and I tied with three weeks go. We both missed last week taking La Puente over Montebello, Kaiser over Bonita, El Rancho over Burbank, La Mirada over Salesian and La Habra over Capistrano Valley. But I got Aram on four games taking Azusa over El Monte, Glendora over Summit, Crescenta Valley over Harvard Westlake and Pasadena Poly over Morro Bay. Aram got me on three, taking La Serna over Dominguez, Arrowhead over Cantwell and San Marino over Claremont.

wctitleThis week: This is one of the best local match-up weeks I can remember. Let’s start with Glendora, I’m hearing that QB Matt Fink is likely to play at Colony, so I’m going with Glendora. And if Fink is fit, they become my new favorite to win it all. I like Charter Oak in an easier than expected win at San Marino. I’m taking West Covina over Bonita in a rematch of West Covina’s 2011 title over the Bearcats, which to this day is still the best championship game I’ve been part of. The pictures tell it all. Will Bonita get its revenge? I don’t think so because Bonita has rarely put together two solid weeks in a row, and West Covina is just better. Monrovia flirted with disaster and will probably pour it on at Los Altos. Pomona is the Mid-Valley favorite in my opinion. Even if the administration stinks and they’re without their head coach on administrative leave, players win games bonitaloss so Pomona will beat San Dimas. Northview will win a tougher than expected game at Montebello, St. Francis will rout La Serna and undefeated Maranatha and Pasadena Poly will move a step closer to a highly anticipated championship in the Northwest. Azusa and Rosemead have no shot at Paraclete and Sierra Canyon, respectively. As for Bishop Amat, time to put on their big boy pants and show they’re capable of beating anyone in the Pac-5. But the question is, who starts on Friday at QB, Damian Garcia or Ryder Ruiz. Glad that’s not my choice to make. Either way, Amat advances.

CIF-SS High School Football Playoffs
Friday’s predictions
Pac-5 Division

Bishop Amat vs. JSerra at Saddleback College, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (BAmat); Aram (JSerra)
Central Division
Glendora at Colony, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Glendora); Aram (Colony)
Charter Oak at San Marino, 7 p.m. — Robledo (COak); Aram (CO)
West Covina at Bonita, 7 p.m. — Robledo (WCovina); Aram (WestCo)
Monrovia at Los Altos, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Monrovia); Aram (Monrovia)
Mid-Valley Division
Azusa vs. Paraclete at Antelope Valley College, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Paraclete); Aram (Clete)
Northview at Montebello, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Northview); Aram (Nview)
Pomona at San Dimas, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Pomona); Aram (Pomona)
Rosemead vs. Sierra Canyon at Granada Hills HS, 7 p.m. — Robledo (SCanyon); Aram (SC)
Southeast Division
St. Francis vs. La Serna at CalHi, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (St. Francis); Aram (SF)
Northwest Division
Maranatha at Arrowhead Christian, 7:30 p.m. — Robledo (Maranatha); Aram (Natha)
Linfield Christian vs. Pasadena Poly at South Pas, 7 p.m. — Robledo (PPoly); Aram (Poly)

Highlights, interviews and crowd shot of Los Altos’ playoff victory over South Hills on Friday.

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Covina and Bishop Amat aiming for CIF-SS cross country team titles in Saturday’s finals at Mt. SAC

HubertAll Erik Starkey can tell people is that both of his Covina High School cross country teams are in Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section finals.
How they got there?
“It’s hard to explain,” the longtime Colts coach said. “I do not have an explanation for what the kids are doing. Maybe they could explain it. They are highly motivated and I try to not screw it up by watching from the sidelines and pointing them to make the right decisions.”
The girls team is racing in the finals for the first time. The boys team is back in the finals for the first time since 1993.
“They have been highly motivated,” Starkey said. “It’s just been great all year and they have trained really well.”
Saturday’s meet at Mt. SAC starts at 7:45. Seventeen San Gabriel Valley area teams and 12 area individuals are vying for CIF-SS titles in five divisions and berths in next weekend’s CIF State meet at Fresno’s Woodward Park.
Both Covina teams have their work cut for them in trying to win a CIF-SS Division 4 title and earn a berth in the CIF State Division IV meet, which has never happened for either. Bishop Amat is the clear favorite to win both races. The Lancers are the top-ranked team in the state.
“For the boys we’ve been getting closer and closer every year and I felt this year we’d finally gotten there,” Starkey said. “For the girls, this is historic. They have never really been close.”

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Duarte girls volleyball hoping to ride momentum to a Division 4A championship Friday against Cate


What: CIF-SS Division 4A girls volleyball championship
Where: Cerritos College, 5 p.m.
Who: Duarte vs. Cate
Preview: Duarte High School has had to scramble in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4A girls volleyball playoffs. Cate of Carpinteria has had a relatively easy time.
The top two seeds of the tournament enter Friday 5 p.m., championship match at Cerritos College on very divergent paths.
“I know we’re capable of beating Cate,” Duarte coach Irene Sunabe said.
The second seeded Falcons (26-8) rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Anaheim in five games in the quarterfinals and then rallied from two games down to defeat Desert in five games in the semifinals on Tuesday. Duarte also played a five-game Montview League match against Azusa, also a victory.
Cate has not even got to four games this season. The Rams (22-1) have won every one of their non-tournament matches without dropping a game. That is a 48-game run. Their lone loss was in the semifinals of their own tournament, 2-1, to Laguna Blanca.

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Boys Water Polo: Los Altos to get second chance, beats La Serna to advance to second consecutive final

Los Alto’s Guillermo Ocasio reacts after scoring his second goal in a row against La Serna in the second half of a prep water polo semifinal at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. Los Altos won 16-11. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

Los Alto’s Guillermo Ocasio reacts after scoring his second goal in a row against La Serna in the second half of a prep water polo semifinal at Diamond Bar High School in Diamond Bar, Calif., Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014. Los Altos won 16-11. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/Pasadena Star-News)

By Stephen Ramirez

DIAMOND BAR – All the Los Altos High School boys water polo team, after losing in the CIF-Southern Section finals last season, was a second chance.
The Conquerors will get it.
Justin Contreras scored six goals and George Millard had five to lead Los Altos to a 16-11 victory over La Serna in a Division 5 semifinal at Diamond Bar High School.
Guillermo Ocasio had three goals for Los Altos, which improved to 21-8 and will face Claremont in Saturday’s final at William Woollett Aquatic Center in Irvine. The time will be announced Thursday morning. The Conquerors lost to Glendale in last season’s title game.
George Mooney had three goals for La Serna, which finished 20-12. The Lancers also got two goals each from Perry Louwers, Elias Acosta and Steven Marcy.
The key moment came early in the fourth quarter when it used back-to-back turnovers to score three consecutive goals for a 13-9 advantage. Contreras followed with two back-hand shots to push it to 15-10.
Los Altos’ Justin Contreras: “I said in the beginning of the year we’re going back to the finals to get that ring. I mean it. I really wanted to get back to the finals. It’s my senior year, and I’m going out with a bang.”
Los Altos co-coach Bobby Contreras: “I told the kids before the game that we’re going to make mistakes. But its what we do to fix the mistake. Getting down 3-0, it was a mistake. As long as we kept making the effort to correct the mistake, we were going to be OK. I thought the boys played a very good defensive game against (La Serna’s) attackers.”
La Serna coach Jim Armstrong: “We knew that even though we beat than twice this year we were going to see a different energy out of them tonight. We saw it. Sad part, from our perspective, is that we had them down 3-0, and, after falling behind, came back to lead 7-6 and had momentum. But we had some untimely mistakes and bad passes and they took advantage.”

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South Hills students give us the spoof, mocking PrepXtra Live …

You have to give these fellas at South Hills credit, from mocking Aram’s slow and deliberate walk to his seat to Steve Ramirez’s silence and my constant mentions of Bishop Amat, they had a lot of fun on our behalf and get an A+ for creativity. Great job boys, it’s just too bad South Hills’ season is over just like we predicted. The Prep Xtra spoof starts at the 8:00 minute mark on the video.

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Pomona football coach Aaron Jamieson on adminstrative leave over allegations of inappropriate conduct with a student

While Pomona prepares for its rematch at San Dimas in Friday’s CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division quarterfinal, it will be without its head coach Aaron Jamieson, who was placed on administrative leave last week over allegations of inappropriate conduct with a student. Pomona, one of the favorites to win the division, easily beat McAuliffe 65-0 in the opening round of the playoffs. San Dimas beat Pomona 49-6 in last year’s Valle Vista league championship game, then went on to win the title. Pomona has wanted the rematch ever since …

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Volleyball semifinal matchups: Duarte and Arcadia home, St. Paul hits the road


TUESDAY’S SEMIFINAL PREVIEW: St. Paul High School began the season as one of the top girls volleyball teams in the area, and the Swordsmen have lived up that billing and the pressure of being the No. 3 seed in the 4AA Division playoffs.
Now, they’ll look to add to it when they travel to No. 2 La Reina for a CIF-Southern Section semifinal match at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
St. Paul (30-6), which won the Camino Real League, have hardly been touched in the playoffs, needing just 10 sets in three victories to advance to the division final four. The Swordsmen should get a tougher challenge on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s semifinals, 7 p.m.
Division 2A

Palm Springs at Arcadia
Troy at Windward
Finals: Saturday at Cerritos College, 10 a.m.
Division 4AA
St. Paul at La Reina
Alta Loma at Garden Grove
Finals: Friday or Saturday, TBD
Division 4A
Desert Duarte
Summit at Cate
Finals: Friday or Saturday, TBD

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PrepXtra Postgame: Los Altos, Bonita, Glendora, Charter Oak all win and Bishop Amat advances to quarters for first time since 2009

SCOREBOARD: The scoreboard page provides scoring updates of tonight’s playoff games


Los Altos knocks out South Hills: Perhaps desperation brings out the best in the Los Altos High School football team. The Conquerors needed wins in the final two weeks of the regular season just to make the postseason and on Friday night they played like a team with a purpose to post a 28-10 win over South Hills at Walnut High in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Central Division playoffs.

Ryder Ruiz leads Bishop Amat: After a night like this, you can stop calling Bishop Amat’s Ryder Ruiz the back-up quarterback. Ruiz, starting his third straight game in place of injured Damian Garcia (sore ribs), completed 26 of 33 passes for 416 yards and four touchdowns in leading Bishop Amat to a 47-18 victory over visiting Lakewood in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs.
Ruiz had one of the best opening quarters in school history, going a perfect 10 for 10 for 246 yards and three touchdowns to stake the Lancers to a 21-6 lead and they never looked back.

Bonita knocks off Kaiser: In the first 3:01 of Friday night’s game, Bonita had seven first downs and 14 points. The Bearcats posted 20 first downs in the first half and scored a 45-14 victory over third-seeded Kaiser in the first round of the CIF Central Division playoffs. “They are the exact opposite of what we are,” said Bonita coach Adrian Medrano. “They grind and they pound it. And if we wanted to get in that game with them, that would have been a problem for us. So we wanted to jump on them early so we could take them out of their game a little bit and force them to have long drives. They have some really good football players there. They had two big runs, and that’s what we didn’t want. We didn’t want them to have big plays. We wanted to force them to drive the field and jump on them early, to get them out of their game.”

San Dimas crushes Baldwin Park: Defending CIF Southern Section Mid-Valley Division champion San Dimas took its first step toward a second consecutive title with a convincing 59-20 victory over Baldwin Park on Friday night.
The Saints will face No. 3 Pomona next Friday at a site to be determined.
The Saints (8-3) jumped on top 14-0 before the Braves ever ran a play from scrimmage, and kept their foot on the gas pedal all the way to a running clock in the second half.

Rosemead INT helps beat Covina: Luis Luna’s interception with 34 seconds left put a halt to Covina’s bid to upset Rosemead in the first round of the CIF Mid-Valley Division playoffs Friday night and gave the Panters a 31-27 victory. Luna added 138 receiving yards as well.

High School roundup of other games: Read about Glendora’s win over Summit, Charter Oak’s blowout win over Colton, West Covina’s close call over Chaffey and Montebello’s win over La Puente.

CIF-SS Playoffs, First Round Results
Pac-5 Division
St. John Bosco 50, Long Beach Cabrillo 0
Norco 71, St. Bonaventure 70
Crespi 38, Santa Margarita 13
Long Beach Poly 34, Servite 33
Corona Centennial 68, Serra 64
Mater Dei 28, Westlake 7
Bishop Amat 47, Lakewood 18
JSerra 55, Corona Santiago 16
St. John Bosco at Norco
Long Beach Poly at Crespi
Corona Centennial at Mater Dei
Bishop Amat at JSerra

Mid-Valley Division
Paraclete 44, Bassett 0
Montebello 24, La Puente 17
Pomona 65, Christa McAuliffe 0
San Dimas 59, Baldwin Park 20
Rosemead 31, Covina 27
Sierra Canyon 43, Bell Gardens 14
Azusa at Paraclete
Northview at Montebello
Pomona at San Dimas
Rosemead at Sierra Canyon

Central Division
Colony 48, La Canada 0
Glendora 24, Summit 14
Charter Oak 49, Colton 0
San Marino 49, Claremont 28
Bonita 45, Kaiser 14
West Covina 18, Chaffey 15
Los Altos 28, South Hills 10
Monrovia 26, Don Lugo 20, OT
Glendora at Colony
Charter Oak at San Marino
West Covina at Bonita
Monrovia at Los Altos

Southeast Division
St. Francis 49, Mayfair 14
La Serna 24, Dominguez 21
Paramount 18, Norwalk 14
Crescenta Valley 42, Harvard-Westlake 14
Cathedral 36, Muir 22
Downey 51, California 20
Burbank 38, El Rancho 34
Salesian 24, La Mirada 18
St. Francis at La Serna
Crescenta Valley at Paramount
Downey at Cathedral
Burbank at Salesian

Southwest Divison
Capistrano Valley 44, La Habra 42

Northwest Division
Maranatha 47, Mission Prep 21
Arrowhead Christian 48, Cantwell Sacred-Heart 19
Pasadena Poly 7, Morro Bay 0

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Water polo semifinal matchups

Wednesday’s semifinals
Division 3
At Irvine HS, 3:30 p.m.
Capistrano Valley vs. Laguna Beach
Montebello vs. Murrieta Valley
Division 5
At Diamond Bar HS
Los Altos vs. La Serna, 5:30 p.m.
Claremont vs. Redlands, 7:30 p.m.
Division 7
At Mt. SAC
Rowland vs. Don Lugo, 3 p.m.
San Dimas vs. Rio Mesa, 4:30 p.m.

All finals Saturday at Irvine HS

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Volleyball quarterfinal results

Division 2AA
Village Christian 3, Pasadena Poly 1:
The Crusaders rallied from a near-2-0 deficit to defeat the Panthers (24-6), 20-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-12 victory.
Esperanza 3, Mayfield 0 The Cubs’ bid for a second consecutive title game ended in Orange County. Mayfield (20-8) fell 25-23, 25-21, 25-22. Sarah Johnson led the Cubs
Division 2A
Arcadia 3, Viewpoint 1
Hannah Kennedy had 18 kills, Lexi Resch had 17 kills and Kelly Dopke added 16 kills in a balanced effort to lead the Apaches to a 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-20 victory to knock out No. 4 Viewpoint.
The Apaches (22-5) play host to Palm Springs in Tuesday’s semifinal match.Troy 3, Glendora 1 The Tartans (20-7) won the first game, 25-21, but the third-seed Warriors won the final three games in the 2A quarterfinal.
Division 3AA
Quartz Hill 3, La Mirada 2
The second seeded Rebels rallied from a 2-1 deficit to defeat the visiting Matadors, 25-27, 25-18, 22-25, 25-12, 15-8. La Mirada finishes 23-5.
Division 3A
La Sierra 3, San Gabriel 2
The Matadors (18-5) rallied from two games down to force a fifth before falling 25-19, 25-15, 21-25, 13-25, 15-8.
“We played a horrible first two and then two really good games,” San Gabriel coach Larry Kanow said.
The Eagles built a big lead in the final game.
Division 4AA
St. Paul 3, Pacifica Christian 1
Riley Kelly had 20 kills and Katie Engles 24 digs to lead the fourth-seeded Swordsmen to a 25-22, 25-13, 24-26, 25-11 victory at a match played at St. Bernard High.
St. Paul (31-6) plays at second seeded La Reina on Tuesday.
Division 4A
Duarte 3, Anaheim 2
The second seeded Falcons rallied for a 25-16, 21-25, 22-25, 25-19, 15-13 victory.
“It was an unbelievable game,” Duarte coach Irene Sunabe said. “I’m extremely proud. I think the girls know now what we are capable of.”
Duarte (25-8) led 6-1 in the fifth game. The Falcons will play

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Northview steps on the gas in second half for 49-21 victory over Brentwood; Azusa hangs on, beats El Monte 33-26


SCOREBOARD: The scoreboard page provides scoring updates of tonight’s playoff games

Thursday’s first-round games and predictions
Mid-Valley Division

Azusa 33, El Monte 26 -- Lions trailed big but scored three consecutive TDs in fourth to make it a game. But Aztecs recovered final onside kick and will likely face top-seed Paraclete next.

Northview 49, Brentwood 21
COVINA – There was nothing complicated about the Northview High School football team’s offensive game plan Thursday.
But Brentwood was still unable to stop it.

Elijah Grijalva rushed for 163 yards and five touchdowns to lead Northview to a 49-21 victory over the Eagles in a CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division first round game at Charter Oak High School.
Alex Camacho rushed for 168 yards and two scores for the Vikings, who improved to 10-1. Northview, the division’s No. 4 seed, advanced to face either La Puente or Montebello, who play Friday, in next week’s quarterfinals. The Vikings last won a CIF-SS title in 1987.
Eli Stern accounted for 388 yards and three scores for Brentwood, which finished 8-3.
Northview’s Elijah Grijalva: “Our offensive coordinators had a plan coming into the game and that was to pound the ball. Our offensive linemen were helping us out. We were able to run the ball down their throat. I was just trying to do what I could do. I couldn’t do it without the offensive line. I just ran behind them and got all my yards.”
Northview coach Marcel Perez: “Our offensive line and switching our running backs wore them down in the second half. We made a couple nice plays on defense, and it was good night.”
– Stephen Ramirez

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