Tradition: Just how important is it?

The subject of high school tradition was discussed here about this
time last season, and while folks talked readily about the strengths of
their high school football programs, only El Rancho and St. Paul seemed
really adamant about including tradition as a major part of the program.

This week, El Rancho first-year coach Rick Zepeda was asked if he was
aware of the strong feelings the Dons’ faithful expresses about “Blue
Pride.” His reaction was as much realistic as it was idealistic.
In no way was it to be interpreted as disrespectful or uncaring as he
smiled and acknowledged it, but then he spoke mostly of laying a
foundation of fundamentals and execution and motivation and
participation in building the program.

While he didn’t say it specifically, it is important to remember that
tradition is important as a motivational tool, but commitment and
performance in the arena, including talent and coaching, are what
sustain tradition’s legend.

As was Gene Parsons in his brief stint last season as head coach,
Zepeda sounds like he has the Dons headed in the right direction.

While not all schools are as vocal about their tradition as are some,
all schools have some kind of it by which they stand.

Which area schools are the most aggressive concerning their
“tradition?” From here, it looks like El Rancho, St. Paul, Schurr, Santa
Fe and La Mirada.

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Keep the accomplishment in proper perspective

Remember when football players scored a touchdown, merely dropped the
ball in the end zone and returned to the sideline ready to do it again?

Remember all the fuss about the first player who crossed the goalline
and then in grande gesture wound up and slammed the ball to the ground
after scoring in a celebratory reaction to the accomplishment.

Or the first basketball player who backed down the court with arm and
finger extended after scoring from 3-point range?

Or on a more personal level, the football defender who rises from a
crushing tackle by stepping over the fallen foe instead of stepping
around him and struts chest expanded, arms outspread and staring down
the opposing sideline?

Has celebration (including what often becomes taunting) gone too far?
Or is it something we must live with because, according to a recent
study by scientists from the University of British Columbia and San
Francisco State University, that such action is more human nature than
merely learned.
Interest in this behavior seemingly has been awakened after watching
Michael Phelps and his teammates react to setting a world record en
route to winning the 400 freestyle relay Sunday in the Olympic Games.

Granted, their display of excitement and satisfaction of what had
just happened might be called excessive, but in this case, it seems
warranted due to the level of accomplishment.

Such behavior is acceptable if there is descretion as to when it’s
applied. And that shouldn’t include routine activity. In other words,
keep the accomplishment in proper perspective.

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Whittier staff to run basketball camp

Whittier High School basketball coach Michael Varos will conduct a
“performance training camp for boys and girls ages 6 though 14 that will
run Aug. 18-20 at Whittier High School.
The camp sessions are from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. and will be feature
emphasis on fundamentals, technique, footwork, agility, ball handling
and shooting.
In addition to Varos, instructors will be members of his high school
staff plus several college players.
The registration fee is $150 and includes a camp t-shirt. Registration can
be made online at Walkups also may register
Aug. 18 at the site. Inquire about a discount for additional family members.

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Area teams: Beware of pitfalls

Joshua Quezada returns to key La Habra’s always potent ground game

The majority of area high school football teams begin their seasons Sept. 12 in Week 1, but five local schools open play a week earlier, Sept. 5, in Week 0.
Getting the quick jump on the season are El Rancho (at West Covina), La Mirada (against visiting Tesoro), Montebello (which travels to face Norwalk), St. Paul (with a crucial opener against Servite at Cerritos College), and Whittier Christian (playing host to Alberta Canada’s Cochrane High School).
Four of those games begin at 7 p.m., with St. Paul playing at 7:30.
In putting together the schedules that will run in this newspaper’s annual football editiion that will be published later this month, some interesting points came to light.
– Defending Del Rio League champion California plays four Thursday night games, giving coach Jim Arnold and his staff an opportunity for first-hand scouting future opponets, while providing those opponets equal opportunity to check out the Condors.
Cantwell Sacred Heart plays four of five non-Camino Real League games on the road, including a major test against St. Paul Sept. 26.
El Rancho might prefer to have its bye week (Oct. 03) after facing St. Francis rather than meeting the Black Knights (Oct. 10) just before opening league play.
La Habra faces a huge challenge in Week 2 against host South Hills, gets a ‘breather’ against Westminster, then takes on visitiing Los Alamitos before traveling to San Clemente.
La Mirada begins against Tesoro, which has become a perennial Orange County contender.
La Serna opens with four games at home, then is on the road for four before facing biggest arch California in Week 9.
Montebello’s biggest challenge is whether the Oilers can rebound from a two-win season, but their schedule appears better suited to make it easier than more difficult.
Pioneer has four road games among five nonleague games, and the fifth is against playoff contender Cypress. No break there.
Santa Fe has four road games in league play, although the one with Pioneer is on their common field which is like a home game for both.
Schurr’s six road games include three in Almont League, one of them against co-preseason favorite Alhambra, against crosstown rival Montebello, and then always-scary Bell Gardens.
St. Paul, nothing new here: With Servite, St. John Bosco, Loyola and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame leading up to the Mission League opener with visiting St. Francis, the Swordmen’s road is the area’s most treacherous.
Whittier’s schedule takes on added import with the replacement of Firebaugh by San Gabriel Valley member Paramount, which should help prepare the Cardinals for a league stretch that finishes with three road games.
Whittier Christian opened last season with an eight-hour trip to play Mammoth. This year, the Heralds will prep on the road against division champion St. Margaret’s and San Luis Obispo’s Mission Prep before making the jump from the Alpha League to the more difficult Olympic League, where they’ll face Cerritos Valley Christian, LA Baptist and Village Christian.

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Artificial turf: Something to be concerned about?

At first glance, Whittier College’s installation of artificial turf on
its football field figured to update the facility and provide a
multitude of benefits for the college and its students.
Apparently, not everyone agrees, nor is happy about the
There is a feeling among some members of the community that the
artificial turf poses a threat to health due to the chemical makeup of
the paint used to color the “blades” (grass), and the recycled tires
used in making the rubber crumbs that help cushion the field.
Listed in an email from “Ivanosokin7″ as potential problems for
athletes performing on the surface are being “abnormally dehydrated,
suffer heat exhaustion, cramps, and worse, be burned.” Also included are
“inhaling and absorbing pollutants which also will be washed into the
soil and ground water and be blown through the air.”
Apparently the naysayers choose not to give much, if any, credibility
to a report on artificial turf fields released July 30 by the U.S.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) that concludes young children,
as well as all athletes that use these fields, are not at risk from
exposure to lead in these fields.
However, the report also acknowledged that lead present in pigments
of some synthetic turf products gives the turf its various colors and
that conditions (age, weathering, exposure to sunlight, and wear and
tear) might change the amount of lead that could be released from the
turf. Use and exposed over time to sunlight, heat and other weather
conditions, the surface of the turf may start to become worn and small
particles of the lead-containing synthetic grass fibers might be
The CPSC staff evaluation showed that newer fields had no lead or
generally had the lowest lead levels. Although small amounts of lead
were detected on the surface of some older fields, none of these tested
fields released amounts of lead that would be harmful to children.
And while the evaluation found no harmful lead levels, as a way of
addressing any future production of synthetic turf, and to set standards
for any newcomers to the manufacture of the product, the CPSC is asking
that voluntary standards be set.

Anybody out there had any discomforting experiences while playing on
artificial turf, other than the heat that radiates from the surface
everyone talks about?

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Wait was worth it for two St. Paul graduates

Daniel Reyes, who played defensive back in football and pitched for St. Paul High school is headed for New Mexico State University on a baseball scholarship.
Matt Carrillo, a starter in three sports for the Swordsmen, signed to play tight end for Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va.

Both credit their time spent preparing at a community college this past year as making it all possible.

While Reyes and Carrillo received letters of interest from prospective colleges during their senior year, neither received bonafide offers.
Reyes walked on at Cal State Los Angeles but transferred to Whittier College and finished his freshman year with two innings of game time.
He switched to Fullerton College his sophomore year and became the Hornets’ closer, working 28 innings in a school record 22 appearances and recording 24 strikeouts, a team-leading 3.21 earned run average and a 1-3 record.
“The work ethic taught at St. Paul combined with the coaching I got in college helped make a big difference,” said Reyes, a 5-foot-9, 188-pound right-hander. “I learned how to pitch, beginning at Whittier College and then developing it last year at Fullerton.
“(Fullerton) is in such a tough conference (Orange Empire), every game was a learning experience. I should have gone to JC right out of high school. I’d probably have gotten better opportunities.”

New Mexico State University competes in the NCAA Division I Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

Carrillo said San Jose State asked him to walk on but he decided Mt. San Antonio College offered him better scholarship prospects for the future.
He saw limited playing time for the Mounties as a freshman, then earned All-Mission Conference and All-State honors as Mt. SAC won the Southern California championship before losing to San Francisco City College, 31-28, in the state title game.

The 6-5, 250-pound sophomore, who played football, basketball and baseball for St. Paul, averaged 15 yards on eight receptions and was considered an outstanding blocker.

Carrillo said what he got most out of the community college experience “was learning more about the importance of academics, about making myself go to class.”

Carrillo is in a unique situation. He was recruited by a university that has not played football for 68 years, but is going full bore to reestablishing a progam in the 2009 season.

The school is renovating many of its facilities, including locker and weight rooms, and the on-campus stadium that was built in 1936. The community’s renewed interest in resuming football is evidenced by the 24 suites atop the stadium that already are sold out.

Carrillo says the wait to play an official game was not a deterrent. Not at all,” he said. “It will be a redshirt year for me. I’ll be able to handle it. I’ll continue to focus on the classroom and grades, and I’ll concentrate on conditioning, improving my speed and footwork.” Carrillo said there also will be a regular Monday-through-Friday schedule of workouts and practices run by the coaching staff.

Old Dominion will be a member of the Colonial Athletic Association, considered one of the NCAA’s toughest mid-major conferences and including perennial national honors candidates Delaware, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

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