Happy Thanksgiving!

Hi all:
I just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!
I hope you all have a great day as we celebrate this great day and look forward to the thrilling Friday night at awaits!

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CIF-SS Playoffs: La Serna is back for more

Above: La Serna’s OJ Medina, who has rushed for 1,346 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, leads the Lancers in Friday’s CIF-SS Southeast Division quarterfinal playoff game against Los Altos. (Photo by Chris Burt / Correspondent)

There were those who believed La Serna High School’s run to its first CIF-Southern Section football semifinal in more than 40 years last season was more of an aberration than the beginning of something special.
The Lancers, who basically returned only standouts OJ Medina at running back and Craig Jones at linebacker, believed otherwise and hope to prove it when they travel to Los Altos for a CIF-SS Southeast Division quarterfinal at 7:30 p.m.
“We thought going into the year we had a chance to be successful,” said La Serna coach Margarito Beltran, whose Lancers tied for second in the Del Rio League behind champion Santa Fe and defeated Mayfair 47-34 in the first round of the playoffs. “We didn’t know what the won-loss record would be at the end of the year. But we thought if we could get to the playoffs, we would have a chance to put some victories together.”
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Girls Basketball: Cardinals Rule

Above: Whittier High’s Jeana Magana, left, and Yazmin Acosta help make the Cardinals an area power this season. (Leo Jarzomb / Staff Photographer)

The race for the Del Rio League girls basketball title has been painted Whittier High School red the past few seasons, and that’s not expected to change this winter.
The Cardinals, who have won the league title each of the past four seasons – including a perfect 10-0 league mark twice since 2008-09 – are expected to stay atop their perch in the battle for league and area supremacy.
But Whittier, which returns two of its top three scorers, including one first team All-Area player, is expecting to receive challenges from St. Paul, which advanced to the division semifinals, and La Habra, which hovered around .500, to lead the pack of hopefuls.
El Rancho, Schurr, Cantwell and Whittier Christian also are expected to be improved.
The leader out of the gate will be the Cardinals, who went 21-7 and 10-0 last season to win a league title before exiting the CIF-Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs with a loss to West Ranch of Valencia.
The Cardinals hope to be back for more.
“We just want to continue what we’ve been able to establish (in recent years),” Whittier coach Willie Pittman said. “We have some key returners back and the girls know (after the past few seasons) expectations are much higher for them.”
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Boys basketball: Patience is a virtue – La Habra should shine late

Above: Ryan Hall, left, and Alex Imhof are two of the top players for La Habra High School this season. The Highlanders are the preseason No. 1 pick by the Daily News. (Keith Durflinger / Staff Photographer)

For the La Habra High School boys basketball team, it’s not how the Highlanders start but how they finish.
It was like that last season for La Habra, which started slow and closed like a freight train in going 9-1 in the Freeway League and advancing to the CIF-Southern Section Division 3AA quarterfinals.
The same is expected in 2011-12. The Highlanders, like last year, are not expected to be super until they incorporate football players, including stars Aaron Porter and Brett Bartolone, who are expected to be busy during the football playoffs through the middle of December.
“We want to keep our head above water in December,” La Habra coach Mark Stewart said. “When we get the football players back and get them up to speed, we should be really good.”
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WDN Touchdown Table: Your Predictions and ours

This season, I will give my predictions for all the area games from week to week. Want to play? Just add your projections and keep your tally and see how you match up.
Record (season total, last week): Ramirez (75-41, 3-4)
Last Week: Last week was my worst week of the season, missing on Muir over Santa Fe; La Serna over Mayfair, Cantwell over El Segundo and Pasadena over California.
This week: We have five teams left, with two games that are very intriguing. We get a Mid-Valley championship rematch when Whittier Christian entertains 2010 champ Monrovia at Whittier College. The Wildcats won easy last season, and while I expect a closer game, the advantage still goes to Monrovia, which still has 5-star recruit Ellis McCarthy in the middle. In the Southeast, the game of the week is La Mirada traveling to the 626 to face Arcadia, which some believe is the No. 2 team in the division behind West Covina. I wouldn’t sell the Mats short this week. La Mirada has looked solid since starting 1-4 and should be up for the challenge. The question is how well they can handle Arcadia’s speed. I’m going with the host Apaches, but it will be close.
Here are this week’s predictions:
Friday, Nov. 25

Southwest Division
La Habra (8-3) at Brea Olinda (9-2), 7:30 p.m. — La Habra
Southeast Division
La Mirada (7-4) at Arcadia (9-2), 7:30 p.m. – Arcadia
La Serna (8-3) at Los Altos (8-3), 7:30 p.m. – La Serna
Mid-Valley Division
Monrovia (8-3) vs. Whittier Christian (7-4) at Whittier College, 7 p.m. – Monrovia
Northwest Division
Lompoc Cabrillo (9-2) at Cantwell-Sacred Heart (8-3), 7:30 p.m. — Cantwell

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CIF-SS Quarterfinal Football Schedule

Here is the schedule for next week’s quarterfinals. But which came should be the Game of the Week? I know which came I’m leaning toward, but what do you think?


Southwest Division
#1 Villa Park (11-0) at Tustin (8-3)
#4 Cypress (9-2) at Foothill (7-4), site/date tbd
Yorba Linda (10-1) vs. #3 El Toro (10-1) at Trabuco Hills HS
#2 La Habra (8-3) at Brea Olinda (9-2)
Southeast Division
#1 West Covina (10-1) at Pasadena (6-5)
#4 La Mirada (7-4) at Arcadia (9-2)
La Serna (8-3) at Los Altos (8-3)

Diamond Ranch (6-5) at Muir (7-4)
Mid-Valley Division
#1 Covina (10-1) vs. Alhambra (8-2) at Moor Field (Alhambra)
#4 Monrovia (8-3) vs. Whittier Christian (7-4) at Whittier College
#3 San Dimas (9-2) vs. Azusa (8-3) at Citrus College
San Gabriel (7-4) at #2 Arroyo (10-1)
Northwest Division
Lompoc/Verbum Dei winner at Compton Centennial (8-3)
#4 Nordhoff (7-4) vs. Torrance (7-4) at Zamperini Stadium (Torrance)
#3 Lompoc Cabrillo (9-2) at Cantwell-Sacred Heart (8-3)
South Torrance (6-5) at Templeton (6-4)
All games are scheduled for Friday, tentatively at 7:30 p.m.

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Friday Recap: The Final Five…La Habra, La Mirada, La Serna, Whittier Christian and Cantwell all win; Santa Fe and Cal lose

Just call them the Final Five.
It’s down to the final five among area football teams after the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, with La Habra, La Mirada, La Serna, Whittier Christian and Cantwell all winning. Santa Fe, despite being the No. 2 seed, proved to be no match for speedy Muir, and Cal couldn’t get up witih Pasadena, losing 57-43, in one of the more shocking scores of the night. La Habra won in a cakewalk over 4-6 Kennedy, with La Serna and Cantwell winning on the road.
Here’s a brief look at Friday’s games:
La Habra 47, Kennedy 14 – The Highlanders used their usual three of Aaron Porter, Brett Bartolone and Sean Sparling to roll in a Southwest Division first round. It should be just as easy next week with a return trip to Brea Olinda. I don’t expect the Highlanders to be tested until the finals when Villa Park is the obvious opponent.
La Serna 47, Mayfair 34 — The Lancers have been one of the better teams in the Southeast Division all season, and showed it Friday with a solid win over the Monsoons. OJ Medina, the usual leader, rushed for 194 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead the Lancer into the second round, where they will be at traditonal-power Los Altos for a shot to advance to the semifinals for the second consecutive season. I wouldn’t bet against the Lancers.
Muir 39, Santa Fe 7 – The Chiefs, hoping to give long-time coach Jack Mahlstede a nice retirement gift, were no match for the Mustangs, who looked like a bunch of thoroughbreds, jumping out to a 26-7 halftime lead and we’re never threatened.
Pasadena 57, California 43 – Jim Arnold would have probably been satisfied with a 43-point effort from the Condors’ offense, ,but it wasn’t enough to stop the Bulldogs’ Brandon Cox, who threw for 402 yards and six TDs.Cal’s running back trio of Lawrence Gomez, Gabriel Lozano and Justin Dankert combined for 408 yards rushing and six TDs.
La Mirada 35, Crescenta Valley 30 – Quarterback Gerry Myres continued his solid second half, throwing for 229 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Mats into the second round. it’s gets tougher in round two with a road trip to Arcadia, which might be the division’s second-best behind West Covina.
Whittier Christian 40, El Monte 16 – The Heralds look like they are ready to make another trek to the finals after routing the up-start Lions. QB Daniel Chacon continued a solid season by throwing for 233 yards and three scores. We now get a 2010 championship rematch as the Heralds host Monrovia — and 5-star prospect Ellis McCarthy — in the second round.
Cantwell 35, El Segundo 30 — Senior Adam Aguirre, who had played second fiddle to fellow senior Corey Collins this season, stepped up at the right time, catching six passes for 205 yards and three scores to lead the Cardinals to a much-needed win on the road. Cantwell will now play for a second consecutive trip to the semifinals next week.

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CIF-SS Playoffs Outlook: We break down each division knowing that one thing is all about guaranteed – La Habra will be the only champion

We should see this again this year, with La Habra winning another CIF-SS Southwest Division championship.

Playoffs? Playoffs?
Well ask and you shall receive, so here here is our breakdown for the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, where we look at the divisions involving area teams:

Area teams: Santa Fe, California, La Serna and La Mirada.
Projected final four: West Covina, La Mirada, Mayfair and Santa Fe.
Finals: West Covina over Santa Fe.
Steve’s take: This is basically West Covina’s to lose. The Bulldogs are the 2010 champion and have no apparent weaknesses, at least when you match them up with the rest of the bracket. But they should get test in the semifinals, where we have them matched up with La Mirada. The switched turned on for the Mats during the middle of last month and will be a tough out. On the bottom half, how can you not like Santa Fe? Joey Davis is the it factor and will make a difference Friday against Muir, and against Diamond Ranch in the second round and Mayfair in the semifinals. It would nice to predict a first title for Jack Mahlstede, who is retiring after 41 years at the end of the season. But West Covina is just too good.
Area teams:
Whittier Christian
Projected Final Four: Covina, Monrovia, San Dimas and Arroyo.
Finals: San Dimas over Covina.
Steve’s take: This is another division that looks like a one-team party, which that being a Covina coronation. But things are not always as they appear. Whittier Christian is the lone area team,and while I like the Heralds to beat El Monte on Friday, I can’t see them taking out Monrovia and 5-star recruit Ellis McCarthy in the quarterfinals. Covina looks to have too much in the upper bracket, although McCarthy will make it close in the semifinals. The bottom half is San Dimas’ to lose, and should walk into the finals with ease, and I like the Saints in a rematch over the Colts. I’ve always believed the losing team has the advantage in a rematch. Besides how can you not like Coach Z?
Area team:
La Habra
Projected Final Four: La Habra, Villa Park, Cypress and Troy.
Finals: La Habra over Villa Park.
Steve’s take: The road is set in La Habra’s battle for five. The Highlanders, seeking their fifth consecutive CIF-SS title, and their seventh overall, is pretty simple, at least until the finals. I don’t think anyone can match the Highlanders’ Aaron Porter, who Servite couldn’t block, and Brett Bartolone, who is La Habra’s big-play variable. The other half of the bracket is No. 1 seed Villa Park’s to lose. Expect another 1 vs. 2 in the final, with La Habra having too much for Villa Park.
Area team:
Cantwell of Sacred Heart
Projected Final Four: Lompoc, Nordhoff, Cabrillo/Lompoc and St. Bernard.
Finals: Lompoc over St. Bernard.
Steve’s take: I believe Cantwell has the talent to compete in this division. But I need to see the Cardinals develop a bit more consistency and that’s been their biggest problem this season, so I have them going out against El Segundo. The rest of the tournament should see the seeds go true to form with Lompoc beating St.Bernard in the final.

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