Some changes in Whittier Prep Sports to include Fred Robledo, Aram Tolegian, Keith Lair and Steve Ramirez

fjsandimasAs most of you know, the Whittier Daily News is part of the San Gabriel Valley newspapers coverage and its team of reporters, local sports editor Fred Robledo, football writer Aram Tolegian ( and reporters Steve Ramirez ( and Keith Lair ( Former prep editor Dave Felton is now on the sports desk, leaving it to the four of us to provide prep news in Whittier and the San Gabriel Valley. Look at us as one team that serves three newspapers, the Whittier Daily News, Pasadena Star-News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune. We don’t view local news as just what’s happening in Whittier, we view local news as what’s going on in Whittier and the surrounding areas. The digital world is evolving and so is your taste for local news coverage. Whittier teams are part of leagues and CIF-SS playoffs divisions that compete against teams in the San Gabriel Valley and beyond, so why limit your prep news to JUST Whittier. While Aram will cover most football he also will keep Whittier readers entertained with his SGVN “In the Huddle” football blog. Aram will provide most of the football content for you, so feel free to email him anytime with tips. Keith Lair and Steve Ramirez will focus on other sports like girls volleyball, water polo, cross country, etc. Feels free to contact them anytime. We’re all here for you and hope to make this another fun and entertaining season. Feel free to reach out to any of us with tips or story suggestions. Also, if you’re a high school sports fan interested in covering high school football games in Whittier, send Fred Robledo an email to chat about it

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Prep Xtra 2014 Football Season Preview is online: Columns, video, rankings, league breakdowns


trevonsidneyLEAGUE PREVIEWS: League previews for every team in the Star-News, Tribune and Whittier Daily News areas, as well as rankings in Whittier and Pasadena.

COVER STORY: Bishop Amat’s Trevon Sidney, Muir’s Taeon Mason and La Mirada’s Tony Brown lead way

ARAM’S SEASON PREVIEW COLUMN: CIF football playoff groupings set the stage for new rivalries, champions

BEST GAMES: Fred Robledo’s week-by-week look at the areas best games

RECRUITING RANKINGS: Bishop Amat football’s Trevon Sidney heads list of area’s top recruits

TRIBUNE PRE-SEASON ALL-AREA TEAM: Find out who made the pre-season all-area team

TRIBUNE RANKINGS: No Surprise, Bishop Amat starts at No. 1

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ALS #IceBucket challenge a cool way for coaches to spread the word about a great cause


By Aram Tolegian
At 68 years old, the last thing Charter Oak High football coach Lou Farrar needed was a bucket of ice water dumped over his head.
But there the veteran coach was last week, surrounded by his team and in front of cell phone cameras, documenting his acceptance of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that’s sweeping the country.
“It was shocking,” Farrar said of the experience. “My assistant coaches were joking that they had the paddles ready to go in case my heart stopped. But I think the cause is important. If that means getting doused by some football players on a hot afternoon to raise awareness, then it’s a very small thing to do. I was very happy to bring some awareness to the issue.”
Awareness and the subsequent donations are the ultimate goal of the challenge, which has gone viral thanks to social media. Quite simply, the challenge is getting a bucket of ice water poured over your head, then posting video of the ceremony on social media and extending the challenge to somebody else.

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Bishop Amat’s John Johnson an inspiration to all


By Aram Tolegian
John Johnson might be 52-years-old, but he often feels like he was born in 1984.

That was the year when Johnson’s life changed completely. Some would say for the worse judging by the wheelchair he now calls home. Most would say for the better judging by the thousands of kids whose lives he has touched.

It was March and Johnson was some place not uncommon for him to be back in those days — in the air over the San Gabriel Valley hang gliding. Johnson’s journey that day started at Mount Wilson went over Glendora and ended tragically on the ground at Royal Oaks Elementary School in Duarte.

“I was in the air for about four hours,” Johnson said. “I had landed at that school a half-dozen times. I was having a little trouble getting down close enough to the ground because it was, I don’t want to say turbulent, but we used to call them poppy days.

“And when I came down, I obviously made a mistake and cartwheeled in. I broke my neck. I don’t remember the last few seconds of the crash. What I remember is that my right wing tip hit the ground and that made me cartwheel and I made contact with my forehead with some part of the glider. Albeit I had all the equipment I should be wearing, I hit the glider so hard with my head that it caused my neck to hyper-extend.”

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La Serna, Santa Fe, El Rancho all host summer FB competition this week

Summer football continues this week, with La Serna hosting a pair of area teams tonight and Santa Fe and El Rancho hosting big tournaments Saturday.
La Serna will host Whittier Christian, Santa Fe and Gahr on its practice field at 5 p.m. tonight in 7-on-7 drills. A week ago, the Lancers didn’t compete to coach Margarito Beltran’s expectation level when they passed against Sonora, Corona Santiago, Mark Keppel and Mountain View.
On Saturday, Santa Fe will host its annual Tournament of Champions, which will include 7-on-7 drills and lineman competitions. Approximately 30 schools, including some from Arizona and Utah, will participate in the all-day event, which will begin at 9 a.m. at Mahlsted Field. The same day, El Rancho will host the Rumble at the Ranch, which will feature approximately 25 teams.
Also tonight, Montebello will host Rosemead in passing drills. Schurr will visit Arroyo on Thursday and Mission Viejo on Saturday.

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Lancers’ effort in passing league barely makes the grade for coach

Ever the teacher, Margarito Beltran gave his team a “C” for its performance in 7-on-7 passing drills Tuesday evening after Corona Santiago, Sonora, Mountain View and Mark Keppel visited the Friendly Hills campus.
Beltran felt the Lancers didn’t compete at the level he’d like to see, making the same mistakes on a consistent basis and not correcting them. Last week, he felt La Serna did a much better job competing when it faced teams like Serra, Dorsey and Westlake at Saugus High.
“We should have done better (Tuesday),” Beltran said. “This team is trying to find its own identity from last year’s team, and it’s a process. … But I wasn’t very happy with the way we competed.
“We made too many mistakes, and we didn’t correct those mistakes. … Overall, I wouldn’t give u more than a ‘C.’”
Cantwell-Sacred Heart will continue its summer-long Wednesday 7-on-7 drills when Montebello visits tonight, and Whittier will host Villa Park at 5 p.m. Thursday. On July 12, El Rancho will host its Rumble at the Ranch, which will feature St. Bonaventure, San Clemente, Bonita, Palmdale and others.
On the same day, Santa Fe will host the 25-team Tournament of Champions, which will feature 7-on-7 passing and lineman competitions as well. Teams from across Southern Californa, Arizona and Utah will compete.

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St. Paul’s Orozco, Maier take home top honors in CIF Division 3

The postseason just keeps getting better for St. Paul’s Koreen Orozco.
After leading the Swordsmen to the CIF Division 3 softball title, Orozco was selected this week as the Division 3 Player of the Year. She finished the season with a 20-2 record, and she went 5-0 during the playoffs, holding four opponents to one run or less. In the final against rival La Serna, Orozco limited the Lancers to just two hits.
“She really did peak (in the postseason),” said St. Paul coach Jim Maier, “and it was all due to her confidence. She really peaked at the right time.”
CIF didn’t forget about Maier, who was selected Division 3 Coach of the Year after leading St. Paul to the title in the first season of his second stint with the school. The Swordsmen finished with a 28-4-1 record and closed the season on a 15-game winning streak.
Other Whittier-area players honored by CIF:
Division 2

Annie DiPillo, La Mirada, Senior
Division 3
Lovie Lopez, St. Paul, Senior
Taylor Becerra, La Serna, Junior
Jamie Wren, La Serna, Junior
Division 5
Alyssa Soneff, Montebello, Senior
Division 6
Amanda Garcia, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Senior
Anissa Loera, Cantwell-Sacred Heart, Senior
Division 2

Blake Wilson, La Mirada, Senior
Division 3
Aaron Pinto, St. Paul, Senior
Division 4
Daniel Alvarez, Cal, Junior

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Evans, Barriere shine in 7-on-7 workout at La Habra

A pair of the Whittier area’s brightest football prospects were on display Thursday when Whittier Christian traveled to La Habra for some 7-on-7 work.
Whittier Christian senior receiver Noah Evans and La Habra junior quarterback Eric Barriere were both outstanding during the drills, which also included Los Amigos High. Evans, at 6-4 and 230 pounds, showed off his sure hands and excellent routes throughout the workout. With his superior size, Evans kept defenders at bay while rising high for several balls over his head, and only dropped one pass that he had a reasonable chance to bring in.
“It’s hard (for defenders) to get around him,” Whittier Christian coach Sergio Gradillo said.
Herald quarterbacks Cooper Hughes and Joe Hernandez alternated series, and both looked good at times as the team worked a few wrinkles into its offense.
“We’re still running the spread and no-huddle,” Gradillo said, “but it’s a little different.”
Barriere consistently made excellent throws downfield and spread the ball around to Edrick Flores, Prince Ross and Amon Fellows. He also showed good patience by finding receivers on shorter routes when the deep pass was covered.
Sophomore backup Joey Gutierrez was also impressive while working with the second stringers.
“He’s battling with Eric, as he should be,” La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta said. “All I ask him to do is compete.”

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Cantwell, Schurr coaches find positives in 7-on-7 meeting

Cantwell-Sacred Heart’s football team showed off some serious speed while Schurr had several skill position players perform well when the teams met in 7-on-7 play Wednesday on Cantwell’s campus.
Cardinal senior Jean Lue Dauphiney displayed some serious separation speed during drills, taking several short passes around the corner and pulling away from defenders. For the Spartans, senior receivers Tristan Rojas and Andrew Rosales made several nice catches against the defense of Cantwell and Marshall Fundamental, which also participated.
“Our timing is improving slowly,” said Schurr coach Marco Ramirez, “and Tristan and Andrew played well. They’re taking (forward) strides every day.”
Dauphiney was on the receiving end of several Matthew Valencia passes Wednesday, and CSHM coach Kim Taylor hopes an improved passing attack will loosen up defenses that routinely used nine run-stopping defenders against the tailback last season.
“That’s gonna be a big factor for us,” Taylor said.
Taylor was disappointed, however, by a brief dust up between the Cardinals and Spartans following a play when Schurr was on offense. It began with two players but soon involved the majority of each team and coaching staff, although it was quickly difused. Following the drills, Taylor apologized to Ramirez.
“(The 7-on-7) went well for us, but what I didn’t like was the (skirmish) with Schurr,” Taylor said.
Cantwell will host different schools each Wednesday in 7-on-7 play.

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Summer football heating up for area squads

Summer football preparations will continue this week for several Whittier-area teams with passing league and 7-on-7 competition.
At 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Schurr will make the short drive across Montebello to visit Cantwell-Sacred Heart. On Thursday, another short road trip will take Whittier Christian across Beach Boulevard to La Habra for summer competition. Also Thursday, Cal will visit Mayfair and Whittier will host Bellflower. On Saturday, La Serna will travel to Saugus.
Later this summer, El Rancho will host the Rumble at the Ranch on July 12, which will feature teams from across Southern California, including St. Bonaventure, San Clemente, Bonita and Palmdale. St. Paul will visit defending state Open Division champion St. John Bosco on July 15 and La Mirada will host Long Beach Poly in a combined practice that will feature 1-on-1 drills, 7-on-7 passing and 11-on-11 work as well.

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