About Steve Ramirez

Steve Ramirez has covered prep sports for San Gabriel Valley Newspapers since 1989.

Friday Gameday Countdown: La Mirada, La Habra and El Rancho look to take care of business; St. Paul faces major task vs. St. Francis

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Welcome to Week 8, which can take the tune of Takin’ care of Business, because that’s what La Mirada, La Habra and El Rancho need to do tonight as they chase their respective league championships. Meanwhile over at St. Paul, the Swordsmen have a major task at hand, facing Southeast Division No. 1, which sees the Swordsmen as one of its stepping stones toward league, division and state championships. I’ll provide live updates via @SteveRRamirez on Twitter. You can also join our live chat, here, or on the Daily News preps webpage. At 11 p.m., we’ll wrap it up on PrepXtra Live.

HIGH SCHOOL SCOREBOARD
GAME OF THE WEEK
ST. FRANCIS AT ST. PAUL, 7 P.M.

The week after an emotional win can rattle the nerves of most football coaches.
That’s exactly the sentiment of St. Francis High School football coach Jim Bonds heading into Friday’s road game at 7 p.m. against St. Paul.
“It’s hard, with high school kids you never know what you’re going to get,” Bonds said. “They read the paper and they’re pretty intelligent guys. This is kind of why we try to approach it one week at a time and try to avoid a huge letdown after a win like we had last week.”
St. Francis used a big second half last Friday to get past Cathedral in what was a battle of undefeated teams. It was one of the biggest games of last weekend in the Southern Section and the Knights (7-0, 2-0) now control their own destiny in the Angelus League.
For St. Paul, things are a bit more complicated. The Swordsmen are 4-3 overall and one of four teams in the Angelus with a 1-1 record in league. Needless to say, that makes them a dangerous opponent for St. Francis.
“They’re 3-0 at home (this year) and we have to go there,” Bonds said. “They haven’t lost a game at home yet, so we’re concerned about that.”

FEATURED GAMES PREVIEWS
La Mirada, La Habra and El Rancho look to take care of business

TODAY’S SCHEDULE, PREDICTIONS
Almont League
Alhambra at Keppel, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Alhambra); Aram (Keppel)
San Gabriel at Montebello, 7 p.m. — Robledo (MontebellO); Aram (Monte)
Schurr at Bell Gardens, 7 p.m. — Robledo (BG); Aram (BG)
Angelus League
St. Francis at St. Paul, 7 p.m. — Robledo (St. Francis); Aram (SF)
South Catholic League
St. Bernard at Cantwell Sacred Heart, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Cantwell); Aram (Cant)
Del Rio League
Pioneer vs. El Rancho at La Mirada, 7 p.m. — Robledo (El Rancho); Aram (ER)
Whittier at California, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Cal); Aram (Cal)
Freeway League
Sunny Hills at La Habra, 7 p.m. — Robledo (La Habra); Aram (LH)
Olympic League
Heritage Christian at Maranatha, 7 p.m. — Robledo (Mara); Aram (Natha)
Whittier Christian vs. Village Christian at Whittier College, 7 p.m. — Robledo (VC); Aram (VC)
Santa Fe League
St. Anthony at Bosco Tech, 7 p.m. — Robledo (St. Anthony); Aram (SA)
Suburban League
La Mirada vs. Mayfair at Bellflower HS, 7 p.m. — Robledo (La Mirada); Aram (LM)

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Thursday Final: La Serna stays in the hunt, routs Santa Fe, 52-31

La Serna's Anthony Garcia (24) tries to avoid a Santa Fe defender in their Del Rio League game at California High School in Whittier on Thursday October 23, 2014. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

La Serna’s Anthony Garcia (24) tries to avoid a Santa Fe defender in their Del Rio League game at California High School in Whittier on Thursday October 23, 2014. (Photo by Keith Durflinger/Whittier Daily News)

By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter

WHITTIER >>
Don’t count out La Serna High School just yet.
Ruben Rios rushed for 143 yards, Anthony Garcia scored three touchdowns and the Lancers stayed in the hunt for the Del Rio League title with a 52-31 victory over Santa Fe on Thursday at California High School.
Kevin Ramos also had 114 yards rushing and two touchdowns for La Serna, which improved to 6-2 overall and 2-1 in league play. Eli Ledesma threw for 189 yards and a touchdown and Edward Cisneros had two touchdown receptions for the Chiefs, who slipped to 2-6 and 1-2.
La Serna, after leading 31-17 at halftime, put it away in the third quarter on two touchdown runs by Garcia for A 45-17 advantage.
The first half lived up to the tradition of the rivalry, with the teams trading scoring drives before La Serna settled on a 31-17 advantage.
Early on, it looked like the Lancers might run away with it.
La Serna, which got 73 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Ramos during the first two quarters, scored on its first two drives. Ramos, following a 63-yard kickoff return from Jonathan Wise, scored on a 7-yard run at 9:43 of the first quarter before Garcia completed an 80-yard drive with a 4-yard run at 2:38 for a 14-0 lead.
Santa Fe, getting an 83-yard pass from Ledesma to Gabriel Cisneros and a 1-yard run by Ledesma, stayed close at 31-17 at halftime.

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Daily News Top 10 Football Rankings: No change at the top, La Mirada leads the way

la m over bell

DAILY NEWS TOP 10 FOOTBALL RANKINGS
1. La Mirada (6-1) –
The Mats, back from a respite, have yet to be challenged since early in the season, and it won’t happen this week against rival Mayfair.
2. La Habra (4-3) – The Highlanders, after struggling with a tough schedule, are back in their comfort zone. They’ve dominated their first two Freeway League games, and no reason it won’t continue.
3. El Rancho (6-1) – No trap game last week for the Dons, who followed up the win over La Serna, with an easy win over Whittier. It’s not if El Rancho wins the Del Rio League title, but when.
4. La Serna (5-2) – The Lancers showed the heart of champion last week, coming back late to beat California. After splitting with their stiffest competitors, they should win out and take no worse than second in the Del Rio.
5. California (4-3) – The Condors, after losing to La Serna, still has designs on a share of the league title, meaning it must take care of business this week.
6. St. Paul (4-3) – The Swordsmen’s playoff hopes were dealt a major blow with the loss to Salesian. It could get even worse, with St. Francis coming into town this week.
7. Cantwell Sacred Heart (6-1) – The Cardinals, after dominating the past few weeks, enters league play this week as the favorite. Nothing changes that view.
8. Montebello (2-5) – Maybe the tough schedule hardened the Oilers for an Almont League title run. This looks like a different team from the one we saw in nonleague play. Will it continue?
9. Santa Fe (2-5) – The real Chiefs finally showed up last week. But to make the postseason, they have to take down either La Serna this week, or El Rancho to close the season. I’m not sure they can do that.
10. Pioneer (3-4) – The Titans were dealt a dose of reality with a big loss to Santa Fe. You can expect more of the same this week vs. El Rancho.

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Friday Night Rewind: La Serna takes Battle of Whittier; El Rancho, La Habra win; Santa Fe breaks through

Kevin Ramos of La Serna (11) is stopped by Thomas Vielma of Cal (33). Ramos scored a 2-yard touchdown run with 30 second left in the game to give the Lancers a 25-19 win on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. (Photo by Chris Burt/Whittier Daily News)

Kevin Ramos of La Serna (11) is stopped by Thomas Vielma of Cal (33). Ramos scored a 2-yard touchdown run with 30 second left in the game to give the Lancers a 25-19 win on Friday, Oct. 17, 2014. (Photo by Chris Burt/Whittier Daily News)


GAMES OF THE WEEK
LA SERNA 25, CALIFORNIA 19

La Serna High got a 2-yard touchdown run by Kevin Ramos with 30 seconds left to get past rival California 25-19 on Friday night.
The Lancers, who won the Southeast Division last season, were mere seconds away from being upset for the second straight week in the Del Rio League. Instead, quarterback Enrique Pacheco found receiver Curtis Ashton on a 48-yard pass with under a minute to play to set up the winning score.
“It wasn’t necessarily a deep shot, it was a pattern that had someone deep and Enrique made a good throw and Ashton a good catch and we’re fortunate to get that play,” La Serna head coach Margarito Beltran said. “That’s our kids. They’re resilient. We were fortunate to come out with a victory, but we’ll take it.”
La Serna, which lost to El Rancho last week, improved to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in league. California fell to 4-3 overall and 1-1 in league, but the Condors were oh so close to season-changing win.

– Aram Tolegian
EL RANCHO 42, WHITTIER 6
After an emotional win over La Serna High last week, there was no let down Friday night as El Rancho easily defeated visiting Whittier 42-6 in a Del Rio League game.
Dons quarterback Andrew Perea, who passed for a school-record last week, threw for two touchdowns and 158 yards on 7-of-11 passing. He also ran for 51 yards and a 6-yard score. Perea now has more than 2,000 yards of total offense to lead the Dons (5-2, 2-0).
– John Sherrard
ROUNDUP
LA HABRA 42, FULLERTON 7

La Habra High School extended its Freeway League winning streak by taking a 42-7 victory over visiting Fullerton on Friday night.
Carlos Martin rushed for 145 yards and touchdowns of 11 and 53 yards and caught an 18-yard TD pass for the Highlanders (4-3, 2-0). Quarterback Eric Barriere completed 12 of 20 passes for 189 yards and two scores and rushed for two other TDs.

HOW THE TOP 10 FARED
1. La Mirada (6-1), idle
2. La Habra (4-3) def. Fullerton, 42-7
3. El Rancho (6-1) def. Whittier, 42-6
4. California (4-3) lost to La Serna, 25-19
5. La Serna (5-2) def. California, 25-19
6. St. Paul (4-3) lost to Salesian, 21-7
7. Cantwell Sacred Heart (6-1) def. Carpinteria, 28-0
8. Montebello (2-5) def. Keppel, 23-0
9. Pioneer (3-4) lost to Santa Fe, 38-13
10. Santa Fe (2-5) def. Pioneer, 38-13
OTHER SCORES
Cerritos Valley Christian 67, Whittier Christian 44
Schurr 55, San Gabriel 0

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Jacob Maier is putting the St. Paul back on the map


By Stephen Ramirez
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter

SANTA FE SPRINGS >> St. Paul High School, after going 1-9 each of the previous two seasons, is enjoying a resurgence so far this season, winning four of its first six, including opening Angelus League play with an overtime victory over La Salle.

A big key for the Swordsmen has been senior quarterback Jacob Maier, who as a multiple threat is the focal point of St. Francis’ offense that opposing defenses must figure how to stop.

But his biggest value to the Swordsmen is not something that can be charted on a stat cheat.

“We regrouped after last year,” St. Paul coach Rick Zepeda said. “We went to work right away and Jake was one of the focal guys to get everyone ready to go. For the most part, it’s showing.

“He’s one of the big leaders on campus. Only a couple of times as a junior been elected captain of the team here at St. Paul, and he’s one of them. He’s been reelected as a captain this year as a senior, so yes, absolutely, he’s a great leader.”

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Daily News Top 10 Football Rankings: La Mirada’s still the one; El Rancho moves on up

la m over bell
DAILY NEWS TOP 10 FOOTBALL RANKINGS
1. La Mirada (6-1) – Cruising in the Suburban
2. La Habra (4-2) – The Freeway’s best
3. El Rancho (5-1) – We’re believers now
4. California (4-2) – Getting rival La Serna at right time
5. La Serna (4-2) – Can the Lancers regroup?
6. St. Paul (4-2) – Big win over La Salle
7. Cantwell Sacred Heart (5-1) – Outscored last four, 210-6
8. Montebello (1-5) — Undefeated in Almont
9. Pioneer (3-3) – Won the game it had to win
10. Santa Fe (1-5) – When do the real Chiefs stand up?

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Upset Friday: El Rancho shocks La Serna, St. Paul does the same to La Salle; Montebello beats Schurr

St. Paul defeats La Salle 28-21 in overtime during Friday night's game, on October 10, 2014 at La Salle High School in Pasadena. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

St. Paul defeats La Salle 28-21 in overtime during Friday night’s game, on October 10, 2014 at La Salle High School in Pasadena. (Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz/Pasadena Star-News)

GAMES OF THE WEEK
St. Paul 28, La Salle 21, OT

PASADENA — St. Paul High School football coach Rick Zepeda believed this could be a season of resurgence for his football team.
The Swordsmen showed why Friday night.

Jacob Maier accounted for 185 yards and four touchdowns, including throwing the game-winning pass in overtime and St. Paul opened Angelus League play with a 28-21 victory over host La Salle.
St. Paul, which had been outscored, 96-0 the last two weeks, improved to 4-2. La Salle, getting 164 yards passing and two touchdowns from Will Pyburn, slipped to 3-3.
The Lancers, who joined the Angelus League after winning the Del Rey the past two seasons, tied with less than a minute to play when Pyburn lofted a pass in the left corner to Isiah Spencer to knot it at 21.
But Maier, who rushed for a touchdown, came through on third and 22 in overtime, tossing 26 yards to Damian Escobedo for a 28-21 lead.
La Salle, which got 87 yards rushing from A.J. Akobian, drove inside St. Paul’s 5 on its possession, but on fourth and goal from the 3, Pyburn dropped the shotgun snap from center and was sacked at the 5 to end the game.

– Stephen Ramirez
El Rancho 42, La Serna 35
El Rancho, for the first time in five years, defeated reigning CIF-SS Southeast Division champion La Serna, 42-35, in an all-out shootout in a Del Rio League opener at Don Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
The Dons (4-2, 1-0) got a school-record performance from quarterback Andrew Perea and two touchdowns from senior running back Isiah Copado (14 carries, 52 yards) in the second half and held off La Serna down the stretch.
Perea, in his first year as a starter for the Dons, threw for a record 418 yards, completing 27 of 47 passes, and four touchdowns. The previous record was held by Joey Sanchez (387 yards in a win over California) in 2012.

ROUNDUP
California 20, Santa Fe 10
California High School scored twice in the second quarter and held on to defeat visiting Santa Fe 20-10 in the Del Rio League opener for both teams on Friday night.
California rushed for 238 yards.

HOW THE TOP 10 FARED
1. La Mirada (6-1) def. Glenn, 59-15
2. La Serna (4-2) lost to El Rancho, 42-35
3. La Habra (2-3) def. Buena Park, 42-35
4. California (3-2) def. Santa Fe, 20-10
5. El Rancho (5-1) def. La Serna, 42-35
6. St. Paul (4-2) def. La Salle, 28-21, OT
7. Cantwell SH (5-1) def. Animo South L.A., 70-0
8. Whittier (3-3) lost to Pioneer, 26-21 (Thursday)
9. Santa Fe (1-5) lost to California, 20-10
10. Schurr (1-4) lost to Montebello, 17-14

– John Sherrard

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Pioneer rallies late to beat Whittier

LA MIRADA >> Pioneer High School senior running back Jakob Williams scored on a 15-yard run with 8:31 left in the game and the Titans made it stand up and defeated visiting Whittier, 26-21, in a in a Del Rio League opener Thursday night at La Mirada High.
With Whittier threatening to take the lead with 1:12 remaining in the game, senior defensive back Ricky Sanchez intercepted Cardinals sophomore quarterback Dylan Salcido at the Titans 17-yard line to secure the victory.
Leading the way for Pioneer (3-3) was junior quarterback Phillip Hernandez with a season-high 341 yards passing, He completed 11 passes on 17 attempts and threw two touchdowns.
Pioneer senior Ray Flores led all receivers with four receptions for a season-high 213 yards and a touchdown. Flores had an 85-yard catch for a touchdown and another big reception for 77 yards.
Whittier was led by senior running back Anthony Pina with a game-high 172 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Senior fullback Eddie Orta rushed for 105 yards and two TDs on 15 carries.

– John Sherrard

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Girls Volleyball: Pioneer opens Del Rio League win four-set win over El Rancho


By Stephen Ramirez
steve.ramirez@langnews.com
@SteveRRamirez on Twitter

Pioneer High girls' volleyball vs El Rancho High Sept. 7, 2014. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Whittier Daily News)

Pioneer High girls’ volleyball vs El Rancho High Sept. 7, 2014. (Photo by Leo Jarzomb/Whittier Daily News)


WHITTIER >> Pioneer High School wasn’t considered one of the favorites to win the Del Rio League before the season, but the Titans look like a good choice now.
Leslie Jimenez and Nataly Reynoso had nine kills each and host Pioneer opened league play with a 25-20, 25-13, 22-25, 26-24 victory over El Rancho on Tuesday.
Annai Jimenez had eight kills for the Titans, who improved to 7-2. Destini Johnson and Crystal Rodriguez had 10 kills each for the Dons, who slipped to 10-6.
Leslie Jimenez: “I thought we were kind of iffy when we started (the season). But not that we have a (league) win under our belt, I feel very confident.”

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Daily News Top 10 Football Rankings: La Mirada stays on top

lm v bell

DAILY NEWS TOP 10 FOOTBALL RANKINGS
1. La Mirada (5-1) – The Matadores had no trouble giving Bellflower its first loss. The next challenge comes in November when they face Norwalk. Suburban League champs? It’s looking that way.
2. La Serna (4-1) – The Lancers are the clear favorite in the Del Rio League, after a nonleague resume that featured wins over Los Osos and Rancho Cucamonga. They get El Rancho, which might be their stiffest competition in league, this week, but all signs point to a cakewalk.
3. La Habra (2-3) – The Highlanders still look like the favorite in the Freeway League. But the defense has to get better, especially this week when they travel to undefeated Buena Park.
4. California (3-2) – The Condors look like the league darkhorse. The win over San Marino showed a lot, and I have the feeling they will show a lot more in the coming weeks.
5. El Rancho (4-1) – How good are the Dons? El Rancho has looked solid in nonleague, but the real test comes Friday vs. La Serna. Are they ready?
6. St. Paul (3-2) – If the Swordsmen, who are riding a two-game losing streak after winning their first three, have any designs for a playoff spot, they have to beat La Salle this week.
7. Cantwell Sacred Heart (4-1) – The Cardinals have taken care of business in recent weeks, routing their last two opponents, 99-0. A South Catholic League title looks to be in their future.
8. Whittier (3-2) – The Cardinals needed overtime to dispose of Schurr last week. They should have an easier time vs. Pioneer this week. But can they contend for a playoff spot. They’ll need to show a little more.
9. Santa Fe (1-4) – The Chiefs are hard to read, mainly because the schedule has been challenging. But we should get a good education this week when they visit Cal.
10. Schurr (1-4) – Schurr struggled in nonleague play. But on paper, should be the favorite in the Almont League.

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