Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

As the presents are unwrapped this holiday season, there are a few gifts I’d love to see under the tree next football season.

Here’s Andrew Campa’s 2008 Christmas Football Wishlist:

1. A St. Paul v. Santa Fe game

Those who were around when this was an annual city championship game remember how special the matchup was. Besides, other than La Habra, what other program has been as dominant as St. Paul this past decade than Santa Fe. But I doubt this game will happen anytime soon.

2. St. Paul v. La Habra

Talk about a battle of two great programs and two fantastic fan bases. It would have been awesome had both teams met this season, but a 2008 game wouldn’t be bad. Could the Swordsmen defense, which will lose several players, stop Highlanders back Ronnie Hillman?

3. Whittier Christian v. Cantwell

Both teams have taken great strides over the past couple of seasons. The Heralds had a great victory over Whittier in 2006 and Cantwell stepped up and scheduled St. Paul in 2007. It would be interesting to see how these schools would fair against each other.

4. La Habra v. Schurr

Okay, so maybe the game wouldn’t have as much meaning next season as it would have had this year or as it did in 2006. But the 2006 semifinal game was still one of the best area matchups in quite some time and it would be interesting to see if the Spartans can rebound after the loss of coach Elvin Dick.

5. La Serna v. Schurr

Again, another matchup that would have been great this season, especially given the Rudy Jordan-Joey Jordan transfer. In fact, the Lancers were a victory over Fullerton away from having set this game up in the Southeast Division semifinals. It was surprising to see how negative the Schurr fans were toward the elder Jordan at the Fullerton game and how happy they were to see Rudy. Both teams will also have returning senior quarterbacks in Ben Burke and Ricky Mendez.

6. Schurr v. Whittier

Would be an explosive matchup of two of the area’s top returning backs in Schurr’s Edwin Molina and Whittier’s Daniel Enriquez. Both backs split duties in 2007 and will likely be called upon for more action in 2008.

7. Montebello v. Cantwell

The other battle for the city of Montebello. The Montebello-Schurr matchup hasn’t been quite so competitive recently and this would be an opportune time for Cantwell to step and show they are no longer the forgotten child. Despite struggling, the Oilers would love to be able to punish the Cardinals.

8. La Mirada v. La Habra

Don’t think about the 2007 version of each team but the 2008 possible matchup. Seniors Devon Tracy and Ronnie Hillman have the possibility of tearing up the field before halftime. La Mirada has shown no fear in scheduling big-time games such as in 2007 when the Mats played Fullerton, Charter Oak and St. Paul.

9. El Rancho v. Whittier Christian

It’s the battle for respect. The Heralds have not been afraid of stepping up and challenging teams from the Del Rio League while the Dons had a tremendous bounce back season in 2007 that included an upset of Cal-Hi.

T10. Pioneer v. St. Paul

It’s the matchup of one of the trickiest offensive minds in the area in Pioneer’s Ramon Juarez against one of the great defensive minds in area in St. Paul defense coordinator, coach Gil Jimenez. Would be interesting to see how the Swordsmen deal with so many different formations and looks.

T10. Cal-Hi v. La Mirada

It’s the Condors’ stifling run defense against a power-rush offense of the Mats. On offense, both teams will try to establish the run and control the ball. It could be one of those 7-3 games.

What’s on your wishlist?

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Girls Soccer Top Five

First Regular Season Top 5 Girls Soccer Poll

Who says soccer is a non-contact sport?

La Serna’s Nicole Reed (#8) and La Habra’s Kayla Tamayo (#17) collide after a head shot during their girls soccer game at La Serna High School on Thursday December 20, 2007. (Staff Photo by Keith Durflinger/Sports)

1. Santa Fe 8-0
Preseason Ranking: 4

Forgive me for believing coach Fernie Fernandez when he said this would be a rebuilding year. The Chiefs have come out undefeated after surviving Sonora on Tuesday, 3-2, despite being outshot 19-10. Kudos to goalie Shelby Magallon, who is having a great season.

2. La Serna 8-2
Preseason Ranking: 1

Okay, it might not seem fair that the Lancers have dropped to No. 2 after blasting La Habra 7-3, but co-coach Amanda Broussard did hint that her defense has not been up to par lately. Still, when you have a scoring machine you don’t need too many stops.

3. El Rancho 4-0-2
Preseason Ranking: NR

Shh… The Dons have quietly knocked off a few solid opponents this season including Bonita (2-0) and previously undefeated Kaiser (1-0), which is currently 6-1-1. Let’s see how El Rancho does in this week’s Sunny Hills Tournament.

4. La Habra 5-3-3
Preseason Ranking: 2

Even good teams have tough losses. Such was the case in the Highlanders 7-3 stumble to La Serna. The good news from that game is that the La Habra offense looked good…for the first 25 minutes as they scored three goals. The bad news is that La Habra made few adjustments after that point while La Serna did. The Highlanders defense was overwhelmed. Injuries have also bitten a Highlanders squad that has yet to play its best ball.

5. Whittier Christian 4-4-1
Preseason Ranking: T5

A two-game losing streak has really hampered a strong start for the Heralds, especially without coach Natalie Roth. Whittier Christian has posted good wins over Hacienda Heights Wilson and St. Paul but has had bad games, including a loss to Garden Grove (2-6-3) and a tie with Montclair (1-4-7).

On the bubble:

Cantwell, La Mirada

What’s your opinion?

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There is life after football …

It was a fine football season, and now it’s time to give some thought to the winter sports.
That doesn’t mean to stop posting football, but a lot of what is coming now is rehashing old stuff that’s already been rehashed – several times.
It would be nice to hear some thoughts from basketball, soccer, water polo and wrestling folk.
Just a suggestion.

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Week 15: SoCal wins two of three state championships, but does it prove anything?

Concord De La Salle rallied late to ruin an impressive comeback by
Corona Centennial and take a 37-31 victory to win the Division I bowl

Oceanside finished big for a come-from-behind 28-14 victory over
Marin County Novato to win the Division II bowl championship.

St. Bonaventure struggled before defeating Modesto Central
Catholic, 35-31, to capture the Division III bowl championship.

These were the results in what is considered by most observers to be the
state championship playoffs which were held Saturday at the Home Depot
Center in Carson.

Good games all, and worthy of special recognition. But are they enough
to really determine state championships (although the CIF readily
emphasizes they are not designed as state championship contests, but rather bowl games).

They were exercises in the second year in a two-year plan to test the interest and
capabilities of such games, and the plan is expected to be extended another
two years. There is even talk of expanding the number of games, perhaps
to five or as many as eight, but that still is in the rumor stage.

Whaever the number or games might be, isn’t it the method of determining
the participants most in question? Is selection by committee better, or
more time element/financially prudent, than earning a spot by playing
qualifying games?

Or do we even need “state” playoffs games?

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Calpreps Ranks the Whittier Area

THE FINAL POLL IS IN!!!! (Well, sort of), a football website that makes predictions and polls for California, recently released its rankings for the Whittier area. Guess who’s No. 1?

1. St. Paul (10-4)

2. La Habra (13-0)

3. Cal-Hi (11-2)
T4. La Serna (8-4)
T4. Schurr (8-5)

and the rest…
6. Pioneer (6-4), 7. Whittier (6-4), 8. Santa Fe (5-6), 9. Whittier Christian (6-6), 10. La Mirada (4-7), 11. El Rancho (5-6), 12. Cantwell-Sacred Heart (7-4), 13. Montebello (2-8).

Agree with the rankings? Disagree? Should four-loss St. Paul get the nod for No. 1 because they play in a more difficult division than undefeated La Habra? Was Whittier Christian really stronger than La Mirada, El Rancho and Cantwell? What about Pioneer? The Titans didn’t make the postseason but were ranked higher than playoff squads Santa Fe and El Rancho?

Maybe most importantly, do the rankings mean anything?

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Week 14: La Habra! St. Paul! … CHAMPIONS!!

La Habra rolls over Fullerton, 16-6, to clinch the Southeast Division title, and at the same time, cleared up the Freeway League’s co-championship situation.
St. Paul left no doubt in dominating Palmdale, 42-14, in winning the Western Division crown.

Four teams – La Habra, California, Schurr and St. Paul, reached their division’s semifinals.
Ten area teams qualified for the CIF-SS divisional playoffs.
Area teams won outright or shared the championship in four of the seven leagues which have area representatives.

Not too shabby, especially considering that two of the area teams that reached the semifinals, California and La Habra, played each other, meaning only one of them would advance to the championship game.

The Del Rio League was the most balanced it has been in at least a decade. Five of the six teams had legitimate shots at making the playoffs going into the last week of the season, and the underdogs in all three regular season finales came up with an upset.

Interestingly enough, one of the two teams that were perhaps playing the best football at the time, Pioneer, was the odd man out in the chase for a playoff berth. Santa Fe, the other team, drew into the tournament as the league’s at large entry.

And most of the teams’ accomplishments were made without marquee players, rather it was a matter of blue-collar efforts from hard-working individuals who bought into their coaches’ programs and developed within the team concept.

And isn’t that what it’s all about.
It’s time fo forget all the stuff about transfers and recruiting and who’s stealing who’s players, the sour grapes and the chest-thumping and the rumors and responses, and get back to some semblance of reality.

It has been a good season all the way ’round. Enjoy it for what it was.
And look forward to what lies ahead, those who return and those who will join next season’s festivities.
And wish them well.

Continue reading

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WEEK 14: Area teams’ playoff sites set … finally.

The site for the CIF Southern Section, Southeast Division football championship game between Freeway League co-champions La Habra and Fullerton has been switched to the Santa Ana Bowl. The contest will be held Friday beginning at 7 p.m. Fullerton will be the home team.

The teams were to have played for the title at Cal State Fullerton, but reportedly a mutual financial arrangement could not be agreed upon.

With current weather reports forecasting possible heavy rains (1 to 3 inches) for Friday through Saturday morning, the recently refurbished Bowl’s artificial turf playing surface should not be a factor.

The site for the Palmdale-St. Paul Western Division championship game will be played at St. Paul Friday. Game time is 7:30 p.m. The agreement on the location was finalized Wednesday morning, according to St. Paul athletic director Marc Henandez.

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Week 13: and then there were three.

Fullerton’s impressive 26-0 over Schurr in Friday night’s CIF-SS, Southeast Division water-logged semifinal playoff Mgame reduces the number of area participates in the tournament to three – La Habra and California, which play each other tonight, and St. Paul, which will face Gahr in the Western Division tonight.

Not exactly sure what was proven in Schurr’s loss, other than Fullerton played better than the Spartans in the slop. Fullerton’s Michael Allain was impressive, with his agillity and refusal to go down, but it appeared the Spartans defenders, who often had in him their grasp, had difficulty closing the deal as they slipped off his body. And that’s not an excuse, rather just an observation.
The difference in the game was at the line of scrimmage. Fullerton’s line appeared to adjust to the the slippery footing more easily in giving Allain an opening just big enough (it didn’t take much, he’s listed at only 5-10, 165 pounds), and he did the rest once he got into the secondary.
Schurr’s Raul Pintado was met too often at the LOS by Fullerton defenders, and that took a toll.
To his credit, despite the pounding he was taking, he never quit trying on even one of his 21 carries (for 68 yards).
As for which is the best team, tough to say. Need to see them in dryer conditions. Fullerton adjusted to the conditions more easily and clearly was better Friday night.
More to come on this later.

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