Ex-Dons QB Toscano to face No. 1 Florida

A.J. Toscano, who was a standout in at least three positions – WB, TE, LB – for El Rancho High School before recording a stellar two-year (2006-07) performance at Cerritos College, steps into the big time Saturday afternoon.
Toscano will start at quarterback for Charleston Southern University when the Buccaneers play defending BCS champion and No. 1-ranked Florida in Gainesville.
Last season, the 6-foot-2, 208-pound red-shirt junior played in a little more than one quarter in one game (against Savannah State), completing seven of 11 passes for 74 yards and one touchdown, then took a medical redshirt.
Toscano will be the fourth starting quarterback in four years for the Bucs.
“I have been very pleased with A.J.’s performance,” coach Jay Mills said after naming the ex-Don the starter. “He has steadily progressed since arriving here, and not just with his mechanics, but in establishing himself as a leader on the team.”
Toscano, who passed for 1,874 yards and 21 touchdowns while at Cerritos College, including 1,446 yards and 15 TDs as a sophomore, says he’s ready for his next challenge.
“I feel very confident about what we are doing offensively,” said the former first team, Daily News all-area selection. ” We had a great summer, with everyone working hard. I think we all have really high expectations this year.”
The game is scheduled to be shown on Fox Sports Net beginning at 4 p.m. (PDT)

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Morales named St. Paul athletic director

Casey Morales, a member of St. Paul High School’s 1981 CIF Southern Section championship football team and 1982 graduate of the school, has been named the Swordsmen’s athletic director.
Morales, (age) replaces Marc Hernandez, who resigned Thursday to take a position with a firm outside the teaching profession.
“It was something I knew that before I finish (retire) I wanted to be an A.D.,” Morales said after Monday afternoon’s football practice. “I know what it takes and the kind of guys to get in place to coach and run a program.
“I always wanted an opportunity like this, I just didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. It’s a little earlier than I figured, but I’m ready and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
As for immediate goals, Morales said, “Of course, we’re trying to increase enrollment, and we still want to put out an A-plus athletic program.
“We’ve had a lot of success over the years, and I want us to continue that success. And, of course, it’s got be academics tied to athletics.”
Morales, who was an offensive guard on that 1981 championship team, moved on to play football and baseball at the University of San Diego before graduating from the school in 1986.
He actually began his coaching career in 1985 at University of San Diego High School.
He had coaching positions at St. John Bosco, Santa Fe, Glen A. Wilson (Hacienda Heights) and La Serna high schools before returning to St. Paul in 2005.
He has coached softball and track & field at St. Paul and is currently an assistant football coach and head baseball coach for the Swordsmen.
A release from the school cites Morales’ “vast coaching experience and positive relationship with the school and surrounding community that will serve him well as he embarks on this new challenge.”
Morales has had a long connection with St. Paul. He was the first of four members of his family (a brother and two sisters) to graduate a Swordsman, and his wife Julie and daughters Cassie (’02) and Christina (’03) and son Daniel (’08) are St. Paul graduates, and daughter Katrina will be a Swordsman senior this year.

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Football correspondents needed …

We’re looking for correspondents to cover football games this season.
It will involve writing short stories for the Daily News and/or
online, and sometimes just calling in the box score with a recap of
the game. A press pass will be provided that will get you into the
game and access to the sideline or the press box (if available). You
will be paid a small fee for your time and efforts. This is an ideal
situation for journalism majors or football junkies who have
knowledge of the game and can spell. To be considered, please send an
email with your contact information to roger.murray@sgvn.com to set
up an interview.

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Flores, Willson select colleges

Adrian Flores, a main cog in St. Paul High School’s boys basketball league championship season this past winter, has signed with Northland College, an NCAA Division III affiliate in Ashland, Wis.
Flores averaged a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds) in helping the Swordsmen to a 22-6 record overall and a 10-0 mark atop the Camino Real League.
In a story by Garett Greenwald, associate sports editor for the Ashland Daily Press, coach Ron Robinson cited the 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward’s potential.
“He moves very well for a guy of his size,” Robinson said, comparing Flores favorably to former Lumberjack standout Dallas Goodman (1996-97).
Chris Willson, a pitcher/first baseman for the Swordsmen, has committed orally to Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Willson, a 6-5, 230-pound senior, batted .325 with six home runs and 23 runs batted in this past season. In 13 appearances on the mound, he posted a 6-5 record with one save, struck out 62, walked 30 and had a 2.96 earned run average in 52 innings in helping the Swordsmen to an 18-13 record overall and 9-3 in the Del Rey League.
Willson currently is contending for St. Paul’s starting quarterback’s job.

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Swordsmen Athletic Director resigns

Marc Hernandez, who served as St. Paul High School’s athletic director the past four years, resigned his position Thursday morning to accept a managment position “outside the teaching profession.”
“I was offered a situation that was too good to turn down,” Hernandez explained. “It is an opportunty that will change my family’s situation.” Hernandez also cited a desire to spend more time with his family.
“The hours are much more conducive for family life,” Hernandez said. “I have only one son, and (Thursday )was his fifth birthday. Watching him made me realize how much of his growth I have missed. This job gives me the opportunity to be around him more and enjoy his growing up.”
Hernandez joined St. Paul’s football staff in year 2000 and served as the Swordsmen’s defensive line coach for five years. He also was the school’s Dean of Discipline in 2001.

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RBs list thin in numbers but not in quality

As running backs go, 2008 was a tough year to follow, what with nearly every team in the area having at least one bonafide ball carrier and many of the locals boasting of having two .
This season, the numbers have thinned a bit but not necessarily the quality.
Again, without statistics, here is a look at a potential Top 5 list:.
1. Joshua Quezada, La Habra, 6-0, 209, senior. A dozen or so of the country’s top colleges want him, and that says it all. The complete package. Can run inside, outside and/or over people. Can catch the ball. Could also be one the area’s best defensive backs if the Highlanders needed him.
2. Terris Jones, California, 5-8, 165, senior. Outstanding speed and soft hands for catching passes. Another of the area’s outstanding two-way players and also ranks among the area’s most dangerous special teams guys.
3. Alex Gonzalez, Whittier, 5-11, 190, senior. Was matching Cardinals’ all-area selection Daniel Enriquez yard-for-yard last season before suffering a knee injury early on. People tend to forget about him when remembering Enriquez, but Gonzalez is special in his own right. Speed, size and attitude, all good stuff.
4. Jonathan Pinedo, Santa Fe, 6-2, 205, junior. Appears ready for a break-out season. Shouldered the load when all-area pick Aaron Turner was sidelined with an injury late in the season. Has added some weight without losing any speed. Will help make Chiefs’ efficient passing game more effective.
5. Joseph Marron, Montebello, 5-9, 185, senior. A legitimate big-play guy, the speedy tailback’s versatility provides first-year coach Pete Gonzalez additional options and will key a ground game that will be critical in giving the Oilers’ passing game time to develop.

Among others deserving of close attention are California’s Dudley Gamino and Schurr’s Nick Castillo.

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Area’s Top 5 QBs could be a Top 7

No statistics involved here, but taking a look at arguably the area’s top five quarterbacks.

1. Paul Lopez, St. Paul, 6-3, 200, senior. Perhaps not the most skilled physically of the group, but has been doing his thing against the area’s toughest schedule. His biggest question marks are his receivers. Can any of them go deep, and can they catch it when they get there?

2. Steven Del Villar, Pioneer, 5-11, 195, senior. Easily could be ranked No. 1. Has perhaps shown the area’s most improvement over his three seasons of high school football. The Titans will go as he goes.

3. Daniel Poncedeleon, La Mirada, 6-3, 190, senior. Has toiled in a program that has struggled, with performances that have been both impressive and questionable. Needs to be more consistent, but reported improvement in the Matadores’ overall program may be the catalyst to bring out his best. Clearly, the potential is there.

4. Alex Flores, Santa Fe, 5-9, 165, senior. Like Del Villar, has grown into the role of a team leader. Like Poncedeleon, has been both impressive and questionable. His priority will not necessarily be to win the game for the Chiefs, but rather not to lose it.

5. Joshua Perea, El Rancho, 5-10, 165, senior. The question here is how much of his big numbers last season were the result of his efforts or were they due more to the performance of receiver Anthony Ayala. In any case, he’ll have a chance to answer that because Ayala returns to form one of the area’s most explosive offensive combinations.

Others who could cause a change in this ranking are La Habra’s Cody Clements and Whittier Christian’s Stephen Anderson.

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St. Paul’s Medina transfers to St. John Bosco

It is that time of the year, and it comes with the territory. Good athletes with bright futures decide the grass is greener eleswhere and transfer to programs they assume will offer more opportunity to achieve their dreams.
Case in point: St. Paul High School’s Rene Medina, who performed so impressively this past school year in both football (quarterback) and baseball (pitcher) as a freshman, has transferred to St. John Bosco.
There will be the usual assumptions as to why he made that decision, but the most practical reason is this: With at least two QBs ahead of him on football’s depth chart, and probably three quality pitchers returning in baseball, it appears perhaps youthful impatience may have been a major influence.
Apparently it was of little consequence to Medina that the Swordsmen’s quarterback spot will be wide open in 2010, and a year from now, two of this season’s top three pitchers also will be gone, providing golden opportunities for a hard-working, potential-laden young student/athlete such as himself.
Clearly, St.Paul’s loss is St. John Bosco’s gain, but as always in cases like this, the program that lost the player will move on, hopefully as though nothing happened.

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It’s early, but easy to tab La Habra as area’s No. 1

Keeping in mind ranking high school football teams at this time of the year is foolhardy at best, here’s an early, preseason ranking of the area’s Top 5 high school teams:

1. La Habra: This one is easy. Coach Frank Mazzotta’s got a good thing going, and despite losing key players like RB Ronnie Hillman (San Diego State) and QB Randall Nygren (Southern Utah University), for the Highlanders, each season seems to be more a matter of reloading than rebuilding.

From here on, you can just about take your pick:
2. Santa Fe: The Chiefs regained their Del Rio League title in 2008, and figure to be better this year with QB Alex Flores a year older, wiser and faster, WR Andrew Jackson a legitimate post-season honors candidate, and up-and-coming RB Jonathan Pineda showing the way.

3. La Mirada: No question the Matadores will throw the ball, most likely with QB Daniel Poncedeleon at the controls, but can they complement him with a ground game? A new attitude and enthusiasm overall are a big plus, but will they carry over to the field and be enough?

4. St. Paul: Another surprise here. Most observers expect the Swordsmen to struggle because of their very challenging schedule, but it would be foolish not to respect coach Marijon Ancich’s return to the program. No team will play harder than will the Swordsmen, and being undersized on a weekly basis is nothing new for them.

5. Schurr: Although inexperienced at quarterback, nevertheless, still it is difficult to ignore the Spartans, who seem to be filling holes every preseason, then winning the Almont League title (six in a row, seven in eight years) and challenging in the CIF-SS’ postseason tournament (2006 champion). They are 27-3 in league the past six seasons.

For the sake of argument, ranking the remainder of the area teams:
6. California, 7. La Serna, 8. Pioneer, 9. El Rancho, 10. Montebello, 11. Whittier, 12. Cantwell, 13. Whittier Christian.

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