Friday Gameday Countdown: Can La Serna get to another CIF-SS final? Lancers face another stiff challenge


La Serna again is the last area team standing, and tonight the Lancers look to knock off their second consecutive undefeated team when they face Crescenta Valley at Glendale High School. I’ll be at the game and provide scoring updates. You can follow me on Twitter at @SteveRRamirez. You can also get SGV scoring updates on our high school scoreboard page, and don’t forget to join in the live chat on Scribble Live. We’ll wrap it up at 11 p.m. on PrepXtra Live.

The mantra for the La Serna High School football team is pretty simple: The CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division championship belongs to the Lancers until someone takes it away.
They take that attitude to Glendale High School Friday when they face No. 4 seed Crescenta Valley at 7:30 p.m. The game will be live-streamed on’s Prep Zone.
“Coach (Margarito) Beltran always talks about the platform that has been laid for us by the previous teams,” quarterback Enrique Pacheco said. “We kind of feed off them, the hard work, the blood, sweat and tears they put in, and we try to keep it going and keep the strong tradition alive.”
It will be another big challenge for the Lancers (10-2), who knocked off No. 1 seed St. Francis, 38-35, last week. The host Falcons are having one of their best seasons in recent memory. Crescenta Valley is 12-0 and has barely been touched in playoff wins over Harvard-Westlake (42-14) and Paramount (35-14).

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Enrique Pacheco earning his own place for La Serna High School

By Stephen Ramirez
WHITTIER >> There’s an old adage that says you never replace the legend, you replace the guy who replaced the legend.
La Serna High School quarterback Enrique Pacheco is disputing that belief this season.
While former Lancer Frankie Palmer, who led La Serna to the school’s only CIF-Southern Section football title last season, will likely never be forgotten, Pacheco has made a strong accounting for himself while still living in a legend’s shadow.
pachecoHe’s been a big key for the Lancers, who face Crescenta Valley in a CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division semifinal game at 7 p.m. on Friday at Glendale High School.
Enrique Pacheco: “Frankie was one of the greatest quarterbacks that this school has ever seen. He taught me a lot, he taught me about the game. He taught me a lot about this offense, showed me the ropes. He prepared me, knowing when he was gone, I’d be the next guy. I just try to take everything that he gave me and incorporate it into my style. I was always told there was big shoes to fill, but I didn’t try to outplay my own abilities. I just tried to keep it simple and lead the team as best as I can.”
La Serna coach Margarito Beltran: “You will never replace Frankie. He was a special talent who took us to the championship game three years. Going into the year, (Pacheco) knew what he was up against. He had been back up the last couple of years, but they are different type of quarterbacks.Enrique does a great job of running our offense and being a leader out there. He has presence, and that’s what we expected from him. We knew we had a very good quarterback in the waiting. We knew he was going to perform, and he’s met and exceeded our expectations.”

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Girls Volleyball: St. Paul sweeps Elizabeth, travels to Alta Loma on Saturday

St. Paul's Hannah Tostado scores against Elizabeth in the first game of a CIF State volleyball playoff game at St Paul Catholic High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

St. Paul’s Hannah Tostado scores against Elizabeth in the first game of a CIF State volleyball playoff game at St Paul Catholic High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. (Photo by Keith Birmingham/ Pasadena Star-News)

By Stephen Ramirez

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> St. Paul High School felt it left a little bit on the table when it lost in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4AA semifinals last week.
The Swordsmen were determined not to make the same mistake twice.
Riley Kelly had 13 kills and Cheyanne Little had 10 as host St. Paul rolled to an easy 25-9, 25-16, 25-18 victory over Elizabeth Learning Center in a CIF State Division IV first-round game on Tuesday.
Hannah Tostado and Marissa Aguilar had six kills each and libero Katie Engle was nearly perfect in receiving percentage for the Swordsmen, who improved to 31-7 and will travel to region top seed Alta Loma for Saturday’s regional semifinals. The Braves swept Kingsburg of the Central Section.
Valerie De la Cruz had five kills for the Bulldogs, who finished 26-8.
“When we lost in the semifinals, we thought we were done with our season,” Kelly said. “So when we got the news that we were in the state playoffs, we were pretty excited. We want to win and go all the way. We wanted to play that way tonight.”

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So who is player, coach of the year?


Well, we are down to two remaining football teams in the Whittier area, so it’s probably the right time to ask: Who is the Coach of the Year, and who is the Player of the Year?

Here’s a list of candidates
Margarito Beltran, La Serna –
The Lancers are one of two football team still playing. Yes, they finished second to El Rancho in the Del Rio League, but isn’t playoff success the final judge?
Mike Moschetti, La Mirada – The Matadores had a remarkable turnaround, going from 4-7 the previous season to 9-2 and Suburban League champs. They also beat a decent Tesoro team earlier in the year.
Vinnie Lopez, El Rancho – Lopez has changed the culture at The Ranch. This year, he unseated La Serna’s reign in the Del Rio League. Yes, the Dons lost in the first round, but winning a league title is a good first step for this program.
Kim Taylor, Cantwell Sacred Heart – The Cardinals also enjoyed a solid turnaround and shared the South Catholic League title.
Pete Gonzalez, Montebello – While Moschetti and Taylor enjoyed turnarounds from season to season, Gonzalez was able to do it within season. The Oilers, with a tough schedule, started equally slow, but have rebounded to win the Almont League and are in the Mid-Valley Division quarterfinals.
Andrew Perea, El Rancho –
Accounted for 2,671 yards and 29 touchdowns in leading the Dons to the Del Rio League title.
Christian Lara, La Mirada – The Santa Fe transfer threw for nearly 2,200 yards and 28 touchdowns in helping the Mats to the Suburban League title
Tony Brown, La Mirada – Had 38 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 scores.
Eric Barriere, La Habra – Ranked among the leaders in several offensive categories in helping the Highlanders to the Freeway League title.
Jacob Maier, St. Paul – Accounted for 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Jean-Luc Dauphiney, Cantwell – Rushed for nearly 1,200 yards and seven TDs in leading the Cardinals to a share of the South Catholic League.

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Boys Basketball Preview: Another banner year expected for Cantwell

By Stephen Ramirez
Since George Zedan’s arrival at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary High School four years ago, the Cardinals boys basketball program has enjoyed an upward spiral.
The success has included the school’s first CIF-Southern finals appearance in 2012 and three consecutive trips to the CIF State playoffs, including a run to the Division IV regional final.
The trend is expected to continue this season, where Cantwell could be one of the top teams in the Southern Section, led by inside players Gligorije Rakocevic and Balsa Dragovic. The duo, who averaged 22 and 20 points per game, respectively, last season, signed with Oregon State and Harvard, respectively, last week.
“Our goals are always the same, “ said Zedan, who is 70-15 in his three previous seasons at Cantwell. “We set the bar really, really high. Our objective is to try to win league, try to win CIF and try to win a state championship. We’ve come up short the last few years, but I like the way we’ve progressed. We’ve had some serious successes over the last few years.
“This year, obviously we have size and experience with the two bigs (Dragovic and Rakocevic), but the rest of our team is basically brand new. There’s going to be some ups and downs this year. Our goal is to be ready for playoffs. Hopefully we can have success in the CIF and state playoffs.”

1. Cantwell
2. Sonora
3. La Mirada
4. California
5. Whittier
6. La Habra
7. Pioneer
8. Whittier Chr.
9. Montebello
10. Schurr

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Friday Final: La Serna shocks St. Francis; Montebello’s season ends in loss to Northview

Anthony Garcia (24) of the La Serna Lancers celebrates with a teammate after scoring a touchdown during Friday's CIF football playoff game against the St. Francis Golden Knights at Cal High School. (Photo by Robert Huskey for Whittier Daily News)

Anthony Garcia (24) of the La Serna Lancers celebrates with a teammate after scoring a touchdown during Friday’s CIF football playoff game against the St. Francis Golden Knights at Cal High School. (Photo by Robert Huskey for Whittier Daily News)


WHITTIER — La Serna High School may have finished second in the Del Rio League and wasn’t considered one of the favorites for the CIF-SS Southeast Division football championship, but the Lancers, who won it last season, believe the title is theirs until someone takes it away from them.
They continued to live by that motto on Friday.
Enrique Pacheco threw for 112 yards and two scores, including the game-winner in the fourth quarter, and La Serna advanced to the division semifinals for the fifth consecutive season with a 38-35 victory over top seed St. Francis at California High School.
Anthony Garcia rushed for 143 yards and a touchdown and Ruben Rios had 77 and a score for the Lancers, who improved to 10-2 and will travel to Crescenta Valley for next week’s semifinals.
Miles Bryant, in place of injured Jeremiah Martin, threw for 267 yards and four touchdowns, and Dylan Crawford had five receptions for 136 yards for St. Francis, which finished 11-1.

– Stephen Ramirez
MONTEBELLO >> 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.

– John Sherrard

La Serna vs. Crescenta Vally, site TBA, 7:30 p.m.

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Boys Water Polo: La Serna’s season ends with 16-11 loss to Los Altos in Division 5 Semifinals

La Serna goalie Andrew Herberts (1A) blocks a Los Altos shot as teammate Steven Marcy (12) looks on in the first 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

La Serna goalie Andrew Herberts (1A) blocks a Los Altos shot as teammate Steven Marcy (12) looks on in the first 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 either 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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Cantwell Sacred Heart duo Balsa Dragovic and Gligorije Rakocevi sign Divsion I scholarship letters

Balsa Dragovic and Gligorije Rakocevi were two keys to the Cantwell boys basketball team earning a spot in the open division last season, and they were rewarded for that success Wednesday, each signing Division I scholarship letters.
Dragovic signed with Harvard, with Rakocevi inking with Oregon State.
Here is the video of their signing day:

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Girls Volleyball: St. Paul loses in four games to La Reina in 4AA semifinals

By Stephen Ramirez
THOUSAND OAKS >> La Reina High School won its only CIF-Southern Section girls volleyball title in 2000.
The Regents will get a chance on Saturday to add to that.
Carolena Huseby had 17 kills to lead La Reina to a 25-22, 28-26, 25-27, 25-21 victory over visiting St. Paul in a Division 4AA semifinal match on Tuesday.
Alexandra Polk also had nine kills for the Regents, who improved to 29-8 and will face Alta Loma in the finals, either Friday or Saturday at either Cerritos College or Fullerton College. The site, venue and time will be announced by the CIF office on Wednesday.
Riley Kelly had 17 kills for the Swordsmen, who slipped to 30-7. St. Paul is still eligible for an at-large selection to the state playoffs. Those brackets will be announced on Sunday.

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