St. Paul’s Matt Lopez looks for running room in last year’s victory over St Francis.
It’s still too early, but here’s a midsummer view of area football teams, based upon limited
visual and/or verbal examination.
The teams are broken into three groups, none of which is considered much
above or below the others, and listed in no particular order:
LA HABRA — One of the area’s best quarterbacks will be
complemented by the usual outstanding corps of receivers and an improved
running game featuring at least three bonafide ballcarriers.
SANTA FE — Chiefs have question marks, perhaps a few more than
usual, but as usual the talent pool is too plentiful to ignore. The road to the Del Rio League title still goes through Santa Fe, and as usual, it figures to be uphill.
ST. PAUL — The Swordsmen will be better than last season’s Western
League semifinalist team, although some observers feel they won’t be as
big up front. The schedule — including Servite, Bishop Amat, Crespi and
Chaminade, and staying healthy, again will be their biggest challenges.
WHITTIER CHRISTIAN — Roster size probably precludes the Heralds from
playing out of their division successfully on a weekly basis, but the
program’s rapid development over the past two seasons deserves
PIONEER — The sleeper here. The Titans are solid at QB and have
probably the area’s two most underacknowledged running backs – Matt Bottelo and
Tony Hernandez. It is said the line is much improved and a
large group of talented newcomers offer much to work with and brighten
CALIFORNIA — Condors have one of the summer’s most pleasant surprises
in QB Cameron Zaharioudakis, who backed up Drew Harris last season and
stepped up impressively when Harris sat out this summer’s work to take
care of personal issues. Harris is set to return this fall, and the
Condors didn’t lose as many linemen as is rumored.
SCHURR — Spartans lost a number of good players at key positions, the same as it was a year ago before they rallied to win a division champioonship. Good programs do that.
LA SERNA — New coach, revamped staff, huge transfer in RB Rudy Jordan
(from Schurr) put Lancers in the wait-and-see category. The QBs will be
a year older/wiser and if the line holds up, potential for success is
WHITTIER — Cardinals coming off one of their best seasons in several
years. Returning speed at running back and experience at QB make the
offense potent. Defense always a question mark until the contact begins,
but program has never been considered wimpy physically.
LAMIRADA — Matadores showed perhaps the most improvement over the
summer, and a slight adjustment in offensive philosophy (less wide open)
and an improved running game give them reason for optimism.
EL RANCHO — Only one way to go from an 0-10 season — up. New coach and
staff reportedly have established renewed vigor and commitment, and
expectations are high among the faithful.
CANTWELL — Like Whittier Christian, number of participants (and not
a lack of heart or commitment) limits the Cardinals in comparisons with
some of the area’s larger schools. A returnee at QB and increased
numbers are good places to build on.
MONTEBELLO — Not for lack of interest or effort, but not much
information available on the Oilers. They’ll be playing their home games
at crosstown rival Schurr while new artificial turf is installed at
home. Does that eliminate any home-field advantage they might have
California running back Matt Urquiza turns the corner in last season’s game against Schurr.
Thirty-four southland high schools will participate in the ninth annual Tournament of Champions football tournament that features passing and lineman competitions scheduled Saturday (7/21) at Santa Fe High School.
Check-in is 8 a.m. Competition begins at 9 a.m. and continues to about 4 p.m., according to Santa Fe coach Jack Mahlstede.
Championships in both categories will be determined. Last years winners, John W. North (passing) and Corona Centennial (linemen) are not competing, and neither is three-time champion St. Bonaventure (2004-2006), but the field is loaded with quality programs ready to challenge strong opponents.
In addition to the Chiefs, Whittier area schools competing are California, St. Paul, Whittier and Whittier Christian.
Among other CIF Southern Section teams entered are Arcadia, Arroyo, Don Bosco Tech, El Monte, South El Monte, CIF-SS, Northern Division and state champion Canyon Country Canyon, former TofC champion Mira Costa, and Western Division finalist Chaminade and semifinalist Chaminade.
There are those who would argue that it wasn’t so long ago St. Paul
couldn’t find a quarterback on its roster.
This season, it appears there will be at least three, none of them
seniors, two of them sophomores and possibly a fourth, who will be
competing for playing time, and all of them reported to be blessed with
The players who have been working out with the Swordsmen are junior
Andrew Canales and sophomores Paul Lopez and Gabriel Encinas.
The fourth is sophomore Chris Willison, a transfer from South Hills who
was taking care of the necessary admissions paperwork at St. Paul
Canales is a returning letterman who was a reserve and split time early
before taking over the starting role in midseason. Lopez, Encinas (who
transfer from Santa Fe) and Willison were standouts for their freshman
To halt — or at least slow — the rumor train, Willison reportedly also
considered Bishop Amat and at least two other schools. One of the main
reasons given for picking St. Paul was “the educational opportunities
and the overall program.”
There is no reason to believe otherwise.
Saturday’s Fiesta Bowl All-Star high school football game at East Los Angeles College arguably was the better of two all-star games played over the weekend (the San Gabriel Valley Hall of Fame game was Friday at Bassett High School, won in lack-luster fashion by the East, 14-13).
Section and Schurr quarterback Joe Orduno continued to sparkle following his superb effort that led the Spartans to the CIF-SS Division VII championship in early December. This time, his touchdown passes to Julian De La Hay and Anthony Pines helped the Section stars to a 21-7 halftime lead, but a revised City defense produced too much pressure in the second half and set up the victory.
Was the City team really better? Did the Section team give it away? Did a seemingly change in the Section’s offensive philosophy (more conservative) after the first half make it easier for the City’s comeback? And who was the game’s outstanding player?
It is both surprising and disappointing the seemingly lack of interest among those who post here concerning the recent flap about possible use of steroids among high school athletes.
There has been talk for several years about testing high school athletes for drug abuse, but lately the focus seems to have shifted, however slightly, to steroids.
Testing high school athletes for steroids? Good idea or an infringement of privacy?
Or is it all really just much ado about little?
How about high school representatives recruiting eighth-grade athletes?
Or college coaches placing a claim, however vaguely, on middleschool standouts?
Perhaps such action might encourage the student/athlete who is borderline academically to approach his or her studies with a new interest and renewed vigor.
Aside from minor downsides that could involve potential for negative attitude swings, in reality is it really necessary to mess with their heads at such an early stage of their career, especially considering it is a nonbinding situation?
How about just dropping by to watch and enjoy their talent and showing some sensitivity — and patience.