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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