High School Football: La Mirada coaches give tireless effort to get players noticed by colleges

By Aram Tolegian, Staff Writer

La Mirada High School is not usually the first name that rolls off the tongue when people talk about Southern California prep football recruiting hotbeds.

Until this year, that is.

While most local teams are doing the usual offseason weightlifting and conditioning in preparation for the upcoming season, La Mirada is doing that and entertaining heavy interest in several top recruits who lured a who’s who of college football coaching personalities to their campus this winter.

“What we try to do here as a coaching staff, athletic department and administration is split the season into three different parts,” La Mirada head coach Mike Moschetti said. “You’ve got summer and spring football, you’ve got your season, then you’ve got your recruiting season.

“These kids at La Mirada, on the field and in the weight room, they give you their heart and soul. So, in return as an administration and a coaching staff, we try to give them back our heart and soul when it comes to recruiting.”

La Mirada has been no stranger to sending players to the next level in recent years, but this year is different. The Matadores feature two of the top recruits in the country in linebacker/tight end Tyler Luatua and receiver Dallis Todd. Pick a college football powerhouse and odds are that both Luatua and Todd have an offer from it.

Then, there’s Class of 2015 quarterback Kevin Dillman, who already had nine offers in tow in between his freshman and sophomore season. Dillman was injured during his sophomore season, but the interest has picked right back up. Also getting interest is junior-to-be lineman Anthony Cirillo, who had an offer from Colorado as a freshman before ever playing a down of varsity football.

Keep in mind, this is La Mirada we’re talking about. Not Servite. Not Mater Dei. Not Bishop Amat. Not La Habra. But La Mirada, a team that was bounced from the CIF-Southern Section playoffs last fall in the second round by Santa Fe.

The trick is in the marketing, according to Moschetti. He and his staff work tirelessly to get out the names and highlight tapes of their players.

And they send them not just to Division I schools, but also to Division II, III and NAIA colleges as well. In addition to being proactive with the colleges, Moschetti is also relentless with the media. It’s not uncommon for media members and recruiting experts on his list to receive several text messages a day updating the recruitment of his players.

“A lot of schools have players, it’s just that nobody knows about them,” Moschetti said. “When our football season is over, we make all our kids highlight tapes and start sending them out to every school in the country. We have guys who are relentless. Not just sending the film out, but you’ve got to email. We have 10 to 12 different coaches who are making phone calls every single day making sure the tape gets watched.

“But I think what makes me proud about La Mirada is that our coaches will keep calling schools, whether it’s Auburn or Adams State or an NAIA school in Ohio. We will keep calling and calling and calling until they say `We’re not interested.’ ”

La Mirada is surrounded on all sides by private schools, some of which have top-flight programs. The competition just to keep the local talent home is also fierce, but Moschetti is clearly winning the battle. When a well-known private school program recently made several overtures at his players, Moschetti responded by getting on the phone and making it clear to that coaching staff that they were barking up the wrong tree.”I’m not going to get into schools’ names, but I can name one that’s close that’s actively recruiting our kids right now,” Moschetti said. “I’m not going to give names, but I get on the phone and I’m not going to back down to them.”Tyler Luatua’s been recruited by a certain school for two years. They say `You should want to play against the best and for a private Catholic school.’ But Tyler’s argument back is `My brother (Isaac) played at La Mirada and he’s now at Alabama and they’ve won two national championships, so I don’t need to play for a private school.’ ”

As a player, Moschetti was a fiery competitor who quarterbacked La Mirada to a CIF-SS championship in 1992. He later played at Colorado by way of Mt. SAC.

That same bulldog spirit that helped him overcome any size limitations and led him to a successful college career seems to reemerge when he talks about maintaining a neighborhood football program at his alma mater, which very well could be pillaged for talent by bigger-name schools in the absence of Moschetti’s ownership.

“You can go to Mater Dei and pay tuition, but you can come to La Mirada where it’s free and still get recruited by Florida, Notre Dame, USC and Alabama,” Moschetti said. “The big misconception is `I have to go to Servite. I have to go to Bishop Amat. I have to go to Crespi to play Division I football.’

“I’ve never had a college coach once ask me `What division do you guys play in?’ If you make plays on film and take care of business in the classroom, you’re going to get recruited if you get your film out there.

“That’s my big argument. That’s our selling point. Why go to Servite? Why go to St. John Bosco when you can come to La Mirada and still get recruited? You can still play at an Ivy League school. You can still have a Steve Sarkisian or a Brian Kelly or Alabama’s offensive coordinator on our campus. And they’re not asking about what division you’re in or who you played against.”

Moschetti’s detractors will point to the fact that even with all that talent, the Matadores were bounced from the Southeast Division playoffs by a nondescript Santa Fe team. Prior to that, though, La Mirada gave a strong account of itself during nonleague play by beating St. Paul, La Habra, St. Francis and even giving Bishop Amat a good run before losing by 10.

Moschetti won a CIF-SS Southern Division title as a coach in 2009 when La Mirada was 13-1. But anything less than another division title in 2013, given all the talent on hand, will be considered a major disappointment.

Moschetti knows all the recruiting buzz will lead to high expectations and put a target on his team’s chest. The area will quickly know just what to make of La Mirada and all its talent because the Matadores have a nonleague schedule that includes Servite, Tesoro, La Habra and St. Francis.

“It was a disappointing season for us,” Moschetti said about 2012. “I’m as hard on myself as anybody. I’ve got to coach better. We want to win just like everybody else.

“I think the excitement now is not necessarily about recruiting, it’s about getting better. Spring ball is right around the corner. That’s what the kids are excited about.”

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High School Baseball Notebook: California ready to begin Del Rio League title defense

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

The Del Rio League baseball season begins Friday, with all six teams in action.

California High School will start defense of its league crown with a visit to archrival La Serna.

The Condors, who posted an 11-4 record in league play last season, are off to a 3-3 start. California defeated Los Altos 3-2 on Monday at USC after going 2-3 in last week’s El Segundo Tournament.

California won two of its three games against the Lancers in 2012. La Serna won the first meeting 5-3 before the Condors came back to beat the Lancers 4-1 and 4-2.

The Condors return key seniors that include pitcher Jimmy Olguin, catcher Daniel Marquez, shortstop Anthony Von Slomski, second baseman Dominick Rodriguez and first baseman Jesse Oropeza.

The junior trio of designated hitter Ruben Pinedo, outfielder Fermin Beza and third baseman-pitcher Robert Barraza are also key players for California.

Olguin was named last season’s league pitcher of the year, while Marquez, Von Slomski and Pinedo each earned first-team all-league honors.

La Serna, which tied for third with El Rancho with a 9-6 record, ended its preseason by going 3-3-1.

After dropping a season-opening doubleheader to La Mirada 9-4 and 7-1, the Lancers put together a good showing recently at the 30th Annual Newport Elks Tournament. The Lancers, who went 3-1-1 at the tournament, reached the finals of the event’s OC Pool where they fell to Garden Grove 9-3 on Friday.

La Serna features key senior returners in infielders Ryan Cordova and Austin Johnson, along with outfielders Kyle Goethe and Mike Zimmer. Cordova and Goethe earned first-team all-league honors last season.

Whittier (1-3), which posted a second-best 10-5 league mark in 2012, opens its Del Rio slate against Pioneer at York Field. The Titans (0-5) are looking to rebound from a 1-14 league showing.

The Cardinals, who played a Wednesday doubleheader against Kennedy before they open league play, are looking forward to the Del Rio race.

“We’ll see how (Wednesday) goes – I think we’re ready,” Whittier coach Eric Ramirez said. “Anybody can win every week, especially in league. It will be fun to see what happens.”

Santa Fe (2-4), coming off a 7-1 triumph Tuesday over Whittier Christian, opens at El Rancho (2-2). The Chiefs hope to improve from last season’s 5-10 league mark.

All games are scheduled to start at 3:15 p.m.

Swordsmen start strong

Things have started in promising fashion for St. Paul (5-2).

After posting a 3-1 record at the Newport Elks Tournament, the Swordsmen kept up their fine form by defeating Workman 12-1 on Monday.

St. Paul will face a staunch preseason test with today’s doubleheader against Acalanes of Lafayette, Calif., which is the defending CIF-North Coast Section Division 2 champion.

“It’s going to be a good matchup,” St. Paul coach Casey Morales said. “We’re looking forward to it.”


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High School Baseball: Santa Fe’s offense erupts in 7-1 victory

Santa Fe High’s Jacob Ortiz is tagged out at home by Whittier Christian catcher Cooper Hughes during the sixth inning of Tuesday’s nonleague game at Biola University. (Leo Jarzomb / Staff Photographer)

By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer

Photo gallery: Santa Fe-Whittier Christian baseball

LA MIRADA – After experiencing a rough start in which it dropped four of its first five games, the Santa Fe High baseball team put on a stellar hitting display during Tuesday’s nonleague game against Whittier Christian.

The Chiefs pounded out 17 hits en route to a 7-1 victory over the Heralds at Biola University.

Sophomore catcher Eddie Fournier paced the Santa Fe attack by going 3 for 4, which included two doubles and two RBIs.

Eli Ledesma, Jacob Ortiz, Alex Casillas and Austin Yeoman also contributed by each delivering a run-scoring single for the Chiefs, who improved to 2-4. Harley Messenger added three hits.

Santa Fe starting pitcher Martin Serna scattered six hits in six innings to earn the victory.

“They have a good ballclub,” Santa Fe coach Pierre Romo said of the Heralds. “They came at us with one of their guys and we were ready for them. We put it all together.

“Harley got an opportunity to start (on Tuesday) and he took advantage. Serna was kind of a late start for us. He really stepped up. We’re moving up little by little and getting our confidence.”

Mike Rafter delivered two hits and drove in the lone run for Whittier Christian (4-2).

Heralds coach Brent Lavoie gave praise to Santa Fe’s performance.

“You got to give credit to a good ballclub,” Lavoie said. “They executed and got the timely hits when they needed it.”

Santa Fe, holding a 3-1 lead, broke the game open by scoring three runs in the top of the sixth.

After Yeoman loaded the bases with a single to left, Casillas came through with a RBI single that drove in Messenger. The Heralds’ defense, however, managed to throw out Ortiz at home during the play.

The Chiefs didn’t lose their momentum though as Fournier and Ledesma produced back-to-back run-scoring singles that closed the inning’s scoring.

Santa Fe added one last run in the seventh when Chris Mancilla scored on a wild pitch.

Fournier put the Chiefs on the board when he drove in Yeoman with a double to left during the first inning.

The Heralds quickly responded in their half of the first when Rafter delivered his run-scoring single that drove in J.J. Farrell, who led off with a base hit.

The 1-1 deadlock didn’t last long, however, when Ortiz put the Chiefs ahead for good with his second-inning RBI single.

Santa Fe then took a 3-1 lead when Yeoman delivered his RBI hit in the fourth.

Both teams start league play on Friday.

Whittier Christian opens its Olympic League schedule at Village Christian.

Lavoie is hoping the Heralds’ nonleague schedule can benefit them in the long run.

“You always want to get tested outside your league,” Lavoie said.

“It helps you get better. We’re excited about the opportunity to get a win on Friday.”

Santa Fe will start Del Rio League play at El Rancho.

eric.terrazas@sgvn.com 562-567-7534


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High School Softball: South Hills edges Montebello

By John Sherrard, Correspondent

WEST COVINA – South Hills High sophomore pitcher Caitlyn Van Hemelryck scattered four hits and singled in two runs to lead the Huskies to a 3-2 victory over Montebello on Tuesday in their opening game of the 32nd Annual Charger Softball Classic in a game shortened to six innings due to a time limit.

South Hills (7-2) will face LaSerna, a 6-5 winner over Northview, today in a championship quarterfinal game, while Montebello (3-1) will face Northview in a consolation quarterfinal game today.

Other championship quarterfinal games today include Monrovia vs. La Habra, Centennial vs. Schurr and Bonita vs. Charter Oak. All games are at 3:30 p.m.

After the Oilers threatened in the first inning but failed to score, South Hills took advantage of two Montebello throwing errors in the second inning, highlighted by Van Hemelryck’s two-run single to left field that scored shortstop Lexi Robles and center fielder Abry Moreno.

Junior third baseman Marissa Thornburg, who was on third, scored the first Huskies run in the inning after Moreno reached on a fielding error.

Montebello responded in the bottom half of the inning when senior left fielder Stephanie Quintero was hit by a pitch and went to second on an illegal pitch by Van Hemelryck. Quintero went to third on a passed ball and scored when South Hills catcher Natalie Moran threw to third baseman Marissa Thornburg, who mishandled the throw.

Van Hemelryck was called for four illegal pitches in the game on a move known as “crow-hopping,” as she raised her back foot off the ground.

“I know what I’m doing, but I have a long stride, so my toe comes up a lot,” Van Hemelryck said of her pitch. “As long as we fix it and we get through the game and win, then it’s good.”

Montebello junior pitcher Evelyn Hernandez (3-1) settled down after the three-run fifth and retired 13 of the next 15 batters to keep the Oilers in the game.

Montebello made it 3-2 in the sixth inning on a leadoff solo home run down the left-field line by junior first baseman Alyssa Soneff.

La Serna 6, Northview 5

With Northview leading 3-1 in the fifth inning, La Serna (4-1) scored five runs on five hits to take a 6-3 lead. Highlighting the inning was a two-run home run by junior Molly Bourne, who went 3 for 3.

Lancers sophomore pitcher Jamie Wren pitched a complete game and also had a double and a solo home run.

Other tournament scores on Tuesday: Montclair 5, Covina 1; San Dimas 11, Alhambra 1; Los Altos 7, Claremont 1.


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Saturday’s CIF State playoff roundup: El Rancho boys win soccer regional crown; St. Paul, Cantwell Sacred Heart girls basketball fall in second round

El Rancho High School’s boys soccer team capped an historic season yesterday with its 3-0 triumph over top-seeded San Clemente in the CIF Southern California Regional Division I championship game.  It marked the second championship in as many weeks for the Dons, who earlier captured the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 title.
The season, however, ended for both St. Paul and Cantwell Sacred Heart girls basketball in the second round of the CIF State Division 4 tournament. St. Paul, the event’s No. 5 seed, lost to fourth-seeded JSerra 55-32 while the Cardinals fell to Camino Real League rival St. Monica 52-43. It was Cantwell’s fourth loss to the Mariners this season.

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