College football’s national signing day sometimes can feel like a cross between Black Friday and Christmas.
It felt more like the latter for six area football players who did as expected Wednesday and signed national letters of intent with schools they previously had given oral commitments.
The head of the class was La Habra High School linebacker Aaron Porter, who signed with UCLA, but also includes Highlanders teammates Brett Bartolone and Sean Wale, who signed with Washington State and Boise State, respectively. The La Mirada trio of Spencer Fox, Devon Hall and Jesse Gonzalez signed with South Dakota, North Dakota and Western New Mexico, respectively.
Porter, the 2011 Daily News Player of the Year, was one of the major pieces to UCLA’s recruiting class under new coach Jim Mora Jr., who replaced Rick Neuheisel in December. The senior, who also was CIF-Southern Section Southwest Division Player of the Year, was one of the top recruits in California and ESPN.com’s No. 16 inside linebacker prospect.
“UCLA’s a great school, great education and it’s close to home,” Porter said. “The new coaches are excellent. I think they are way better than (the previous coaches).”
LA HABRA – La Habra High School’s Ryan Hall and Troy’s Taylor Maughan are two of the better boys basketball players in the Freeway League.
The duo showed how good Friday.
Hall won the personal battle, scoring 37 points to to Maughan’s 28.
But the Warriors senior didn’t mind after Ben Stiver hit two free throws with 8.9 seconds left to clinch a 63-61 victory in a league matchup.
La Habra’s Brett Bartolone intercepted an in-bounds pass with two seconds left, but his halfcourt shot glanced off the top of the glass at the buzzer.
Troy, also getting 11 points from Mo Jomaa, improved to 16-6 overall and 3-3 in league play. The Highlanders, also receiving 14 from Alex Imhof, slipped to 14-9 and 3-3.
“(Maughan’s) a great player,” La Habra coach Mark Stewart said. “I thought we did a great job guarding (Maughan). But he elevated over our guys and scored, even though we were guarding them.”
Dave Pierson is coming home.
The veteran football coach, a graduate of Santa Fe High School, was named Friday to take over the Chiefs football program from Jack Mahlstede, who retired after 34 seasons.
“Dave Pierson is a well-respected teacher and coach and we’re thrilled to have him come home to Santa Fe High School as our new head football coach,” Santa Fe principal Kevin Jamero said in a statement released by the Whittier Union High School District. “He has great experience, having worked alongside some of our best coaches in the district, and has strong ties not only to our school but also to the Whittier Union High School District and community.
“Under his guidance we are confident that we will continue our long-standing tradition of athletic excellence and sportsmanship in the football program here at Santa Fe.”
Pierson has been a football coach the past 17 seasons, including the previous seven as head coach at Jurupa Valley. He was 22-48-1 for the Jaguars, including 6-3-1 last season.
He also was an assistant under Mahlstede in 1995-96 and was Kevin La Vigne’s assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at La Serna from 1997-2004.
“Our work begins now,” Pierson said in a statement released by the district. “Obviously this is a great challenge and a great opportunity. It’s like coming full circle, having grown up playing football in the community and at Santa Fe High School.
“There are a lot of great people in the community who mentored me and supported me throughout my life and this is a wonderful opportunity to give back by teaching and coaching the students and athletes at Santa Fe High.”
By Red Williams
LA MIRADA – The pin is the name of the game in high school wrestling.
And Norwalk put six of them on the board to defeat La Mirada 38-35 on Thursday.
With the victory, Norwalk improved to 5-0 in the Suburban League while La Mirada fell to 4-1.
Norwalk took a 6-0 lead when its first two wrestlers, Gonzalo Vargas and Jethro Llamido, scored pins over Alex Powers and Alfonso Aguilar at 106 and 113 pounds, respectively.
“Pins certainly did us in,” Matadores coach Robert Lipeles said. “We put five sophomores and two freshmen on the mat, and it showed.”
By Steve Ramirez
WHITTIER – As far as Santa Fe High School girls basketball coach Matt Zamora is concerned, the success of the Chiefs is all about defense.
Santa Fe showed why Thursday night.
The Chiefs used a solid effort on the defensive end to break away in the second half en route to a 51-41 victory over host La Serna in a key Del Rio League game.
Santa Fe, getting 14 points from Jackie Saiza and 11 rebounds and seven points from Dijonnae Murphy, improved to 13-9 overall and 4-1 in league play. The Chiefs, who travel to El Rancho on Monday, are at league-leader Whittier on Wednesday.
La Serna, which had won six out of its last seven before Thursday, slipped to 9-12 and 3-2. Nannette Beightol had 14 points and Ruby Nichols had 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Lancers, who host Whittier on Monday.
Santa Fe, which has won six out of its last eight games, held its seventh opponent in its last eight under 40 points. The exception being Whittier, which scored a 40-33 over the Chiefs on Jan. 13.
“As much as I love offense, we’re just a great defensive team,” Zamora said. “That’s what we’re better at. In the beginning, we started out a little slow.
“But once we started getting settled in, and locked in, I thought our defense took over the game for us in the second half.”
Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb
By Red Williams
WHITTIER – It wasn’t even close.
The California High School’s wrestling team took a firm grip on the Del Rio League leadership with a dominating 47-11 victory over visiting La Serna on Wednesday.
The series between these neighborhood rivals has been decided by 10 points or less in the last eight years, and most of the sizeable crowd expected the same.
This time, however, Cal (5-2, 4-0) won the first six matches to take a commanding 27-0 lead and put the meet out of reach for the Lancers (8-4, 2-2).
Included in that onslaught was a pin in the second match (132 pounds) by the Condors’ Nate Espinoza. He had a 4-0 lead over Brian Gracie and finally earned the fall at :29.4 in the second period.
Teammate Omar Lopez was even quicker for the Condors at 154 pounds, where he pinned Matt Mendoza at just 53 seconds of the first period.
In all, California had four pins in the match. Anthony Espinoza dispatched Niko Swengart at 162 with 1:14 left in the second period, and Chris Garcia pinned Gerardo Valenzuela at 115 with just 32.8 seconds left in the first period.
“Our kids stepped up with some heart,” California coach Doug Loo said. “This is the best we’ve performed all year.
“A lot of matches could have gone either way. This was rewarding because our coaches and kids have been really working hard.”
Charles Willig, who has more than 25 years experience coaching high school football, including assistant stints at St. Paul and Salesian, is Pioneer’s new football coach, principal Monica Oviedo announced today.
Willig played for and coached under legendary St. Paul coach Marijon Ancich. He recently coached at St. Anthony in Long Beach and also owns and operates a sports academy with his brother, Greg, who will be his offensive coordinator.
“I am more than pleased with our selection,” Oviedo said in a statement released by the Whittier Union High School District. “(I) have every belief that, with coach Willig’s experience and positive work with kids, we will soon see a major constructive shift in the culture of athletics at Pioneer.”
Willig replaces Ramon Juarez, who was 65-88-1 in 15 seasons with the Titans. He was fired after the Titans went 1-9 this season.
“I have watched Dr. Oviedo and the administration do amazing things to improve Pioneer’s academic standards and the school’s infrastructure,” Willig said in a statement released by the district. “I am looking forward to offering my experience to Pioneer’s student-athletes in order to help build a winning tradition on the field and champions off the field as well.
“I believe that our staff of coaches, the parents, alumni and the Pioneer community will be proud of the character and enthusiasm, which we will bring to our football program. We want everyone involved to think, train, act and play like champions.”
Staff photo by Keith Durflinger
Here are this week’s area rankings. There was no movement at the top of each sport, although there has been some shuffling beneath.
DAILY NEWS RANKINGS
1. Cantwell (18-3) — Rolling in Camino Real
2. La Habra (14-8) — Hall providing spark
3. California (13-7) – Took a step back vs. Santa Fe
4. Whittier (11-9) – Share’s DRL with Cal
5. La Mirada (13-9) – So far, so good in Suburban
1. Whittier (18-3) – Two steps above the rest
2. La Habra (15-5) – Big week lies ahead
3. Santa Fe (12-9) – Won 4 of its last 5
4. St. Paul (13-8) – Free falling in Del Rey
5. La Serna (8-10) – Here come the Lancers
1. El Rancho (15-0) – One of the nation’s best
2. Montebello (10-4-4) – Setting the pace in Almont
3. La Serna (10-3-4) – Looked good in loss to Dons
4. La Habra (9-3-6) — Team to beat in Freeway
5. Whittier (5-5-1) – Stating a case in DRL
1. La Serna (10-5-4) – Getting offensive
2. La Mirada (11-5-3) – Rematch with Mayfair looms
3. Santa Fe (8-8-3) – Gets La Serna on Thursday
4. El Rancho (8-4-1) — Lost its last two
5. Montebello (7-6-3) – Rolling in Almont
Staff photo by Leo Jarzomb
LA HABRA – Whittier Christian High School knew all about Los Angeles Baptist’s quickness, athleticism and pressure defense.
That didn’t make stopping the Knights any easier Tuesday night.
Senior Monet McNally scored 26 points and had seven steals and L.A. Baptist forced 24 turnovers en route to a 68-56 victory over the host Heralds in an Olympic League girls basketball game.
The Knights, ranked No. 6 in CIF-Southern Section Division 4A, improved to 17-2 overall and 4-0 in league play. Los Angeles Baptist also got 10 points from Jaime Schuster and 16 rebounds and five points from Katelyn Ortiz.
Whittier Christian, getting 23 points from Angelina Arreola and 12 from Jaden Louie, slipped to 12-10 and 2-2. The Heralds are ranked No. 13 in Division 4A.
“Whatever we countered with, (McNally) is such a really good athlete and she was able to get her hand on the ball and create some easy layups for them,” Whittier Christian coach Richard Villeza said. “That was the key – our turnovers off their press and they got easy baskets with them.
“If you take that away, it’s a good game. But we couldn’t counter that.”
I just got the official word that Whittier has hired Visko Ancich, as its new football coach, succeeding Walter Scott, who retired from coaching at the end of the season.
Ancich is the son of area legend Marijon Ancich, who retired from St.Paul this past season. Visko was his offensive coordinator for the Swordsmen, who went 7-3.
Whittier rebounded from an 0-10 season in 2010 to finish 5-5 and just miss the playoffs.
I’m off this week, but we will have a story from our SGVN football writer Aram Tolegian.