Linemen: football’s unsung heroes

How many times you left a football game raving about the performances
of the running backs or quarterbacks, or receivers, or return guys, all
high profile positions.

How often have you come away marveling at the effort of a lineman? Better
yet, do you remember or even know the name of someone who stood out in the trenches?

We’re looking for names of returning high school players who
open (or close) holes for the speedy guys toting the ball, or who
provide time for the quarterback, or put pressure on him.

Guys like La Habra’s offensive trio of guards Jake Garvey and Willie
Mayoral sandwiched around center Nick McDermott, or Santa Fe’s up-front,
two-way standouts Nick Finney and Ray Pinedo.

Who else, from tackle to tackle, should be on this season’s list of
must-see candidates along the line? And maybe a short comment of why.

.

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Wide receiver openings in abundance at area schools

At first glance, due to what figures to be an inordinate lack of
players returning who can catch the football, it appears area schools
will have to develop their wide receivers early this fall if they are to
have any type of a deep passing game come league play.

Several schools have returnees who have displayed receiving ability,
but they’ll come from tight end or out of the backfield to do it.

La Habra has Ronnie Hillman, who lines up either at running back or
in the slot, Whittier has tailback Daniel Enriquez, La Mirada has
running back Devon Tracy, Pioneer returns tailback Matt Botello and
Whittier Christian has tight end Mark Edwards.

This group represents, at least statistically, their team’s best bet
to catch the ball.

The top returning wide out is Cantwell senior Jeffrey Taylor, a
6-foot-2, 205-pound speedster reportedly being coveted by several D-I
schools. Taylor had 31 catches last season, tops among numbers available
for returning players, and he averaged nearly 20 yards per reception and
scored seven touchdowns.

Several coaches have indicated they have newcomers up from lower
level programs who are having impressive summers but they qualify any
judgment concerning their potential until the pads go on and the game
becomes a contact sport again in the fall.

Anyone have names of players to watch for before the teams begin
practice following the “dead period?”

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One-and-done, or go for the $$ ??

Brandon Jennings, the recently-graduated high school basketball phenom,
who attended Compton Dominguez and then Oak Hill Academy (Virginia),
signs a letter of intent to attend the University of Arizona.

It figures the McDonald’s All-American will be a “one-and-done”
Wildcat, leaving after his freshman season for the NBA draft.

However, the lure of getting paid for displaying his considerable
talents becomes the priority and he opts to escape to Europe where he
can enjoy being rewarded handsomely with a playing contract and
opportunities for lucrative endorsement deals while he reaches the NBA’s
mandatory age minimum of 19 and fulfills the association’s
one-year-removed-from-high school rule.

Good idea?
Bad idea?

The educational purist will argue that it is important for a young
athlete to participate in the college experience as part of his
maturation process, even if only for a year, and ultimately, begin
building an educational foundation on which to prepare for a career
after basketball.

However, it is difficult even for the purist to ignore the amount of quick
money available, even if it is European-born, to the young athlete – in
Jennings’ case reportedly an unconfirmed multimillion-dollar deal over
three years – that can be a major step toward financial security.

Those who suggest the $$ side of the argument always mention the
possibililty of injury. If suffered while playing in college, it could
end any hopes of playing professionally, but if it occurs as a
professional (think Clippers point guard Shaun Lingston), the money
already is in the bank to provide financial peace of mind.

A tough decision for the young athlete, or is it really?

Jennings’ situation begs the question whether an 18-year-old just out
of high school is mature enough to deal with the opportunities (both
socially and financially, both good and bad) society has to offer. Or is
that really relevant when there are a plethora of advisors available
just waiting to provide guidance not only in any direction he chooses,
but in helping him make the choice.

A tough decision for today’s young athletes, or is it really?

NOTE: It is important to consider Jennings’ situation also may have
been affected by the NCAA Clearing House’s decision to question his SAT
scores, thereby putting in jeopardy his opportunity to play for Arizona as a freshman .

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A couple of things ….

Following its very successful Tournament of Champions passing and
linemen competition won by Lakewood two weekends ago, Santa Fe High
School held its “Young Guns” passing tournament Saturday for junior
varsity and freshmen programs. It was passing only, with no linemen
competition. Twenty schools participated, with St. Bonaventure defeating
Banning for the title. Santa Fe’s freshmen’s only loss was to Banning.

St. Paul’s three-day youth football camp drew 425 participants, a number
that surprised/pleased some observers and helped make the endeavor a
rousing success. Cantwell’s “full contact” camp for boys and girls ages
10-14 drew 150 registrants for the first session and more than 100 for
this week’s second session. The National Football League’s Junior Player
Development program provided the equipment.

While there are some observers who choose to suspect ulterior motives
and personal agendas by those involved in the administration of youth
athletic camps, it must be acknowledged that from the athletes’
standpoint, there is much to be gained.

And that makes the events worthwhile. Accept them for that and be
thankful.

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Cantwell HS joins with NFL in youth football camp

Cantwell Sacred heart of Mary High School will be the site for the second of two week-long sessions of the free full contact football skills camp sponsored and paid for by the National Football League’s Junior Player Development (JPD) program Sunday (July 20) with equipment issue at noon.

The camp, in its fifth year at Cantwell, is for boys and girls ages
10-14, and the two forms necessary for registration can be downloaded on
www.cshmfootball.com (click on NFL JPD Camp in left column).

Physicals are required for participation. For those who have not
had one recently, they will be offered at Salazar Park in East Los
Angeles from Noon to 4 p.m. The cost is $20.

The equipment used is provided by the NFL.

The camp will feature fundamentals and techniques at all positions.
Instructors will include former East Los Angeles College head coach Rich
Gamboa and Cantwell head coach Pete Smolin and his staff.

“This is a great opportunity for youngsters to learn more about the
game, and a great opportunity for our players to interact with the
community,” Smolin said. The Cardinals players will provide support for the
coaches during drills.

The camp was initiated by the NFL as an introductory/developmental
youth tackle program designed to teach every particpant, every position,
through a step-by-step progression of skill instruction packaged in a
re-adaptive, fun and entertaining manner.

In addition to an NFL practice jersey, a football, a bag and a
participation certificate, all participants receive counseling through a
life skills/character development curriculum to be incorporated
throughout all on-field activities, with instructors making connections
between life skills as they are applied to football as well as other
areas of life, especially school, at home and in the community.

Smolin said that last week’s initial session drew 150 participants.
As of Saturday, he said there are were about 80 registrants for this
week’s session.

For more information, call (323) 877-2066, ext. 31.

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Baseball, football camps for area youths

Hit and Run Baseball will host a youth baseball camp at Bishop Amat High School for children ages 5-14 (K-8th grade). The camp runs from Aug. 4-7, with sessions lasting from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The registration fee is $200. Checks should be made payable to Hit and Run Baseball.
Camp director Andy Nieto, head baseball coach for two-time defending CIF Southern Section, Division V champion Bishop Amat, said all phases of the game would be covered. For more information call Nieto at (626) 818-3142, or email zuni24@charter.net

The Pete Gonzalez Youth Football Camp at St. Paul High School is scheduled Friday through Sunday for boys and girls ages 6-14.
Friday will feature testing (height, weight, agility) from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday sessions will stress fundamentals in all phases of the game.
The registration fee is $50 and includes a t-shirt and lunch Saturday and Sunday. Participants should bring suitable footwear.
Gonzalez is head coach of CIF-SS, Western Division champion St. Paul. For more information, call Teresa at (562) 698-6246, Ext. 713.

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Burbank’s Moroldi sets record straight

[BYNAME]By Roger Murray
Staff Writer
[BODY]Nobody was certain what the record was, or for that matter, if any record had ever been posted for the event.
Justin Moroldi made sure there is no question now.
The Ninth Annual Tournament of Champions passing and linemen competitions were held Saturday at Santa Fe High School. Lakewood dominated the action, winning the passing competition by beating Narbonne, 29-23 in the championship game.
The Lancers then capped the day by taking home the linemen trophy, too.
The question about that absent record was about weight lifting in the linemen competition.
Burbank’s Moroldi stole some of Lakewood’s thunder when he topped the power clean category by lifting 185 pounds 91 times.
Ninety-one times!
Afterward, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Moroldi, a two-way senior tackle who will be a third-year varsity player this fall, said he heard someone else had done 68 reps earlier in the day, and he wanted to top that.
Mission definitely accomplished.
Although Santa Fe coaches Jack Mahlstede and Bob Costa couldn’t come up with a number even in a general area that might have been the former record, they both were adamant that it couldn’t have been anywhere close to Moroldi’s performance.
Burbank coach Ted Amorosi was there to help tally the count.
“I watched the whole thing,” Amorosi said. “The amazing thing about it is that he was 40, 50 pounds lighter than a lot of the other guys doing it. Obviously, he’s one of the strongest kids in our program, and probably the strongest, pound-for-pound.”
“He has a great work ethic, and he showed great heart because at around 50 to 70 (repetitions), his body was telling him to ‘stop this stuff.’
“I know all this doesn’t mean anything this fall, but it was one of those moments you’re proud to be a coach when you get to watch a kid give the absolute maximum effort to achieve success. We as coaches stress giving effort and making commitment, and this was the epitome of that concept.”
Just a footnote: Moroldi hoisted a combined weight of 16,835 pounds.

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Lakewood rules SFe’s TofC passing/linemen competitions

Lakewood dominated play en route to winning the passing championship in
Saturday’s Ninth Annual Tournament of Champions passing and linemen
competitions at Santa Fe High School.

The Lancers were one of four teams (the others Glendora, California
and Narabonne) that rolled unbeaten through four games in pool play,
posting a remarkable +94 points differential to earn the No. 1 seed for
the afternoon session that was broken into championship and consolation
flights.

Lakewood finished with an 8-0 record after defeating Narbonne, 29-23,
in the title game. Cypress won the consolation crown by defeating
Palmdale Highland, 30-14. The Centurians also won the tug-o-war, beating
Lakewood in the finals.

Lakewood captured the linemen competition with 260 points to outdistance
Glendora, 250, Santa Fe 240, West Torrance 239, Peninsula 234 and
California 229.

Whittier finished with 157 points and Santa Fe’s second squad totaled
146.

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Stage set for Santa Fe’s TofC competition

A full field is ready for the Ninth Annual Tournament of Champions
passing and linemen competitions at Santa Fe High School. The action
begins at 9 a.m. Saturday and will wind up with the team
tug-o-war somewhere around 3:30 p.m. Here’s a complete list of the
entries:
Arcadia
Bellflower, The Bishop’s (San Diego), Brea Olinda, Burbank, Burroughs
(Burbank)
California, Carson (defending champion), Cerritos, Chadwick, Colony,
Contreras, Cypress
Franklin
Glendora
Highland, Hollywood
Jurupa Valley
Lakewood, La Quinta/La Quinta, Lynwood
Marina, Monrovia, Morningside, Mountain View
Narbonne, North Torrance
Paraclete, Peninsula
Redondo Union
St. Margaret’s, Santa Fe
West Torrance, Whittier

Keep in mind there are no pads and, relatively speaking, no contact, but the caliber of talent that will be on display throughout the day, in both the passing and linemen competitions, can be spectacular and certainly entertaining. And naturally, it provides great fodder, however insignificant in the long run, for summer evaluations, comparisons and prognostication.

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Running back: Area high schools rich in ball carriers

With a plethora of returning running backs in the area, this could be
the season that most area high school football teams will move their
offense primarily on the ground.

And it’s not just that nine schools have returning starters, or
players who played significant roles a year ago, nearly every school has
talented individuals around whom to build an offense.

In no particular order:
La Habra - The defending CIF-SS Southeast Division champions return
all-CIF selection Ronnie Hillman, a 5-11, 180-pound versatile senior who
was one of the area’s best running backs and receivers as a slotback
last season. Also returning is Joshua Quezada (jr., 6-0, 185), who
figures to pick up for graduated standout Jason Davis.

Whittier – Daniel Enriquez, a three-sport starter who rushed for
1,213 yards and 13 touchdowns while sharing the spotlight with graduated
Jonathan Quezada (1,039 yards, 16 TDS). Also back is Cody Westfall (sr.,
5-9, 160), who averaged 8 yards a carry in limited action.

Santa Fe – Arguably the area’s best running back, Aaron Turner (sr.,
6-0, 190) is a two-sport all-area selection who rushed for 932 yards,
averaged nearly 7 yards per trip and scored 11 touchdowns. Also back for
the Chiefs are Nikolai Crouch (sr., 6-1, 215, 9.5 ypc) and speedster
Aaron Black (sr., 5-8, 150)

California - After sharing the load last year, Matt Urquiza (sr.,
5-8, 170, 940 yds, 5.5 ypc, 12 TDs) is a tough, hard-nose runner with
speed who figures to be the Condors’ main threat over land.

El Rancho - The Dons’ Marcus Aldecoa (sr., 5-8, 185) averaged 5.6
yards a carry and teams with Marcus Galan (sr., 5-7, 160, 4.5 ypc) to
provide one of the area’s best one-two punches.

La Mirada - Senior Devon Tracy (5-9, 180, 500 yards, 5 TDs) struggled
at times but he had moments of brilliance that bodes well for the
Matadores this season. Also back are Zach Salerno (sr., 5-11, 180) and
Justin Torres (jr., 5-10, 210).

Pioneer – Matt Botello (sr, 5-7, 175, 643 yards, 5.2 ypc, 8 TDs) will
be a third-year starter and with returner Victor Renteria (sr., 5-11,
170), will complement the Titans’ very mobile QB, Ronnie Palacios, in
perhaps the area’s most explosive offense.

St. Paul - The area’s most underrated performer, Luis Garcia (sr.,
5-8, 165, 685 yds, 4.5 ypc, 9 TDs), has been mainstay who plays bigger
than his size might indicate. Will team with transfer Darius Bratcher,
along with Deion Williams (jr., 6-0, 165) and receiver Donte Webb (jr.,
5-9, 170) to give the Swordsmen a potentially potent ground game.

Whittier Christian – The Heralds figure to ride versatile Mark
Edwards (sr. 6-1, 220, 946 yds, 7.5 ypc, 11 TDs), who has been a
standout performer at RB, TE, LB, just about anywhere coach Jon Caffrey
has needed him, for two seasons. This also could be a breakout season
for tailback Nick Camarillo (sr., 5-8, 160), who has been plagued by
injuries the past two years. Garrett Fulbright (jr., 5-7, 150) also is
in the mix.

Cantwell – Steve Levin (jr., 5-9, 180) was a backup a year ago, but
he figures prominently in coach Pete Smolin’s plans this year. The
Cardinals will get a big boost if Joseph Loera (sr., 5-10, 185) can stay
healthy. Loera was a sparkplug as a sophomore, then spent last season on
the injured list.

La Serna – Coach Margarito Beltran has some big holes to fill
considering Rudy Jordan, whose 180 carries were more than the rest of
the team’s combined, as were his 1,127 yards and 14 touchdowns, is gone.
QB Ben Burke is the leading returning rusher with 309 yards and 5.2 ypc,
but much will be expected of returnees Louie Lozano (sr., 5-11, 175, 8.9
ypc) and Kyle Gluck (sr., 6-1, 175, 5.8 ypc), who combined for 328 yards
and five scores).

(Note: No information available on Montebello or Schurr)

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