Warning: My one-week vacation starts next Friday

Not that I would ever get married because, lets face it, I like my freedom. And no way I’m ever letting anyone redecorate my house like so many have tried. But if I were to EVER get married I would like to do a similar entrance like in the video. OK, maybe not because I still have to hold my head high when I walk onto a football field. But I must admit, that entrance is very unique. And if that was just the wedding ceremony can you imagine the reception? Now THAT’S a party I would love to attend. By the way, the video has gotten 1.8 million views on YouTube.

Anyway, things have been quiet here, I know. Blame it on me. But then again, teams are on dead period and this usually is the time when we take our very own time off before we go full throttle starting August when we put out the preview section, which by the way I can already tell will have more in-depth analysis and interviews. Not so much that our section is getting more space, but rather the fact I’ve been here almost a year (damn, time flies FAST!) and know the teams a lot better than last year when I came into this job and hit the ground running.

I take off on vacation starting next Friday. I’ll be back Aug. 10. Still not sure on where I’m going. Could go to Vegas, Cabo or, heck, why not go international and invade France, Italy or Spain, three of my favorite destinations. See, if I was married I’d be spending my vaca working around the house. Not in my lifetime.

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Football: Dead period begins, what to do for two weeks?

Those hungry for high school football information might have to wait another two weeks.

Most schools are now taking the so-called “Dead Period” which means there will be no practice at all for the next two weeks. Most schools will resume in the early weeks of August.

Arcadia and Maranatha high schools are two of those schools.

Both teams met last week in a three-team passing game that included San Marino.

Arcadia went on its dead period Thursday and resumes the dreaded “Hell Week” starting Aug. 18.

The Apaches have some restructuring to do on the defensive side. They lost their leader in Todd Golper, who is now at UCLA.

While there are some questions surrounding Arcadia’s defense, it’s quite the opposite for the Apaches’ offense.

Arcadia returns quarterback Garret Tuck, who had a stellar year on the baseball team, earning first-team All-Area honors.

Tuck’s responsibilities increased exponentially after Golper went down early in the season with a broken toe. Suddenly, the Apaches (4-6 last year) went from a run-pass team to basically leaving Tuck to muster whatever offense he could.

Arcadia coach Jim Dimalante, who recently added former Temple City coach Randy Backus to his staff, said Tuck will be prepared and is ready to shoulder more responsibility this season.

While the Apaches have newcomers hoping to earn a starting spot this fall, it’s safe to say Taylor Lagace will be there.

The sophomore-to-be has not only impressed Dimalante but also opposing coaches.

“I’ll tell you what, Garret’s going to have a great guy to throw to this year,” said Maranatha coach Joel Murphy while observing Lagace from the sidelines.

Speaking of the Minutemen, Maranatha is on dead period, too, and resumes camp Aug. 9. That’s when the entire team and coaching staff spends a week together on campus. They’ll eat, drink, and sleep football.

A typical day starts around 6 a.m. and ends late in the evening, learning the playbook and building strong chemistry.

Maranatha, which made an impressive run to the semifinals last year, arguably has its best team yet. The addition of transfer Cody Keith (North Carolina) at quarterback solidifies the Minutemen’s offense after the departure of Matt Schilz, who is now at Bowling Green.

San Marino, which got off to an 8-0 start last season, could see its offense intact with the return of Joe Forgatch at quarterback.

Forgatch took over midseason and started a few games after Steven Wright broke his collar bone.

Forgatch’s improved passing on the run is an added dimension the Titans will take advantage of, and the return of Stevie Yortsos gives Forgatch a solid go-to receiver.

“(Forgatch) did a great job for us last year and improved immensely from last season,” San Marino coach D.R. Moreland said. “I think he had that game-playing experience so he’s not coming in as a junior that backed up last year but as a junior who started a few games and a well-seasoned quarterback who’s been there and done that.”

San Marino’s dead period begins today. The Titans resume camp Aug. 17.

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Football: Todd Golper settling in nicely at UCLA

Photo courtesy of UCLA Media Guide

Click here to read Todd’s bio on UCLA’s official athletic site

When Todd Golper broke his toe, then subsequently tearing up the knee, he wasn’t sure how quick he would recover and whether he would report to spring camp in shape. Golper healed quicker than expected through hard work and strong words of encouragement from UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, family and friends. When he reported to camp, Golper was first out of all the incoming linebackers in best shape. While at Arcadia, Golper wore No. 18. Much to his pleasure, Golper will continue wearing that number at UCLA. From The Sidelines recently took some time to catch up with Golper to see how things are “Up On The Hills of Westwood,” his thoughts on UCLA football this season and teams and players to look out for in the WSGV.

From The Sidelines: You reported to camp early and enrolled early than other recruits, what was that experience like, being the last of your siblings to leave the nest?

Todd Golper: Originally it was tough leaving all my friends because i was the first to leave. In my family especially, I’m family oriented. It was tough making the transition. The classes were a lot harder than I anticipated; the amount of work we have to do. In the summer, we’re only taking two classes and in the fall three classes and in spring then I’ll be taking four. It’s definitely going to be tough, but I’m starting to get the hang of everything. Football wise I’m doing well. We’re testing currently.

FTS: Were you surprised at how quick you recovered from your injury and how quick you were not only able to get back into shape but be first out of all the incoming linebackers to come back in top shape?

TG: Yeah, definitely. I had the surgery here at UCLA so the doctor that performed it did a great job. Especially with how bad it was I was shocked how well my body progressed. But that comes with the rehab done at Arcadia and just how hard I’ve been trying to work. it definitely surprised me. They said it would be 6-12 months before I was fully ready to go and I was ready in 6 1/2 months to go and play a football game.

FTS: What’s it been like since you moved in to campus?

TG: It’s fun. The schedule is pretty ridiculous. We have eight hours of tutoring a week. We get up at 7 every day and not back in our dorms til 10 p.m. Just the amount spent in our rooms and tutoring classes, meetings is pretty amazing. They’re investing money in us to be here so they’re giving us all the opportunity to succeed.

FTS: You were one of Rick Neuheisel’s first recruits. Has his approached changed since his pursuit for you to sign now that you’re finally there?

TG: Not really. We don’t really get to see him much because in the summer they’re out with their families. But he’s still real funny with us. Every time he sees us he says hello. They normally say coaches recruit you and when they do you’re their friend when you’re a recruit, but once you’re here you’re their dogs. But for him it’s not like that at all, which didn’t surprised me at all.

FTS: The UCLA following is strong in the WSGV, particularly Pasadena. What can we expect from the Bruins this season?

TG: Seriously, there’s so much young talent here, it may take a year but this year will be huge in regards the experience everybody will be getting and the talent that will be put on the field. We’re light years of where we were last year and it really shows in practice. Our entire team has made PR’s in every facet, which you would expect from a college program but that’s not how it was the last couple of years. Just changing the culture is what everybody is trying to do. In the last couple years UCLA’s had kind of the perception we’re soft but we want to change that. There’s no showing signs of weakness.

FTS: Your dad, John, went to UCLA law school, your brother, Brian, is also attending law school there. What’s it like continuing the tradition of donning Blue & Gold?

TG It was my dream growing up to play here and now that I’m here it’s kind of like you’re floating the whole time. Nothing every really bothers me when I’m here. i just kind of throw the bad stuff aside and realize how fortunate I am to be here. This truly is a great university. You can’t beat it.

FTS: How do you juggle class, studying, practice and social life?

TG Thankfully they give us eight hours of tutoring. If we didn’t have it it would be tough. We live in a suite with three guys. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays we get all our work done. Monday through Thursday and half of Friday we’re football and class-oriented. They give us the opportunity to do well.

FTS Switching gears here. Rosemead proved to be the best team left standing in the WSGV last season. Any team you think will take upon that role this upcoming season?

TG: It’s hard to say. I really do think St. Francis is going to be a really good team. Dietrich Riley is the best football player I’ve played against other than (strong safety) Lance Mitchell (Muir High, Oregon State). Dietrich is far and beyond better than he was at his level. Dietrich is just a game-changer, period. St. Francis returns three or four lineman and Justin Posthuma is coming back at QB. Posthuma played towards the end of last year and he has the experience. They’ll be a tough team to beat this year, and they do play in a very tough league. I wouldn’t be shocked if Monrovia does well. Josh Loweden is a good kid. Nick Bueno is very very quick. Everything about (running back) Deshawn Ramirez is good, and he’s only a sophomore. Arcadia should be solid. our offensive line will be good. Taylor Lagace will play Division I football. I took him under my wing this year and pretty much tried to teach him everything I knew about football and how to approach it.

FTS: You attended the Hall of Fame Game. What was your impression of the game overall but particularly the West?

TG: I just thought we were small. it just looked like there was a huge size difference, both on the offensive and defensive line. They were just getting pushed around. I liked one of the linebackers. He played with some fire and leadership but I didn’t feel there was any leadership on the field. They just got manhandled.

FTS: What are your thoughts on Ryan Press being named full-time athletic director and the hiring of former Temple City coach Randy Backus as linebackers/running backs coach?

TG: Personally, I’ve known Ryan Press since I was a little kid. I can tell you there’s not a better man for the job just based on his personality, work ethic and intellect and just how much he cares about the Arcadia program. Arcadia has 4,000 kids yet we fielded 22 players for football, which is absolutely ridiculous for a school that size. With an athletic director that cares about the sports side other than just …. trying to survive, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arcadia’s athletic programs pick up while he’s there. Randy Backus … I had the opportunity to coach along side him and got to see how he was. He was quiet at the beginning because he felt a bit out of place, which is to be expected when you start coaching at a rival school. But once he started getting comfortable he opened up. He’s actually a pretty funny guy and he loves the game. He’ll have a good influence.

FTS: Any chance we’ll be seeing you at some Arcadia games this season?

TG: Yeah. I’m definitely going to try to make it back for the St. Francis game. The entire (UCLA) team travels to Tennessee. I’ll find out in August if I’m playing. My goal is to play. But if I’m free I’m going to try to make it as many games as I can. Right now we have a lot of linebacker depth so at this point I’m going to guess I’ll redshirt based off the depth alone. But injuries come up. College football is a tough game. But if they need me, I’ll be ready.

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Stevie Yortsos at QB for Titans? Don’t count on it!

I went to check out a passing game last Thursday involving host San Marino, Arcadia and Maranatha high schools. My notepad is full of notes which I’ll divulge here in a bit, but for now I want to leave you with some tidbits on San Marino (Arcadia and Maranatha notes to follow later in the day; I’m heading over to a press conference in L.A.). There was some flirting with having the extremely talented Stevie Yortsos at quarterback. In fact, he had a few snaps there throughout the course of these Summer Dog Days. But it’s becoming quite clear, especially after Thursday, that the quarterback spot will belong to Joe Forgatch. In Forgatch the Titans virtually get a returning starter at quarterback. If you remember, Forgatch filled in for Steven Wright halfway through the season after Wright broke his collarbone. Yortsos is a very talented athlete who can play center, as coach D.R. Moreland jokingly said last week, but the Titans are better suited having him at receiver. Forgatch’s experience starting last year will benefit San Marino. Is it likely the Titans will go unbeaten heading into Rio Hondo League play? Doubtful. Here’s the season’s first football prediction: San Marino will be 4-1 heading into its league-opener vs. Monrovia. San Marino’s lone loss: San Gabriel.

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BREAKING NEWS: Backus officially on Arcadia’s staff

It’s official. Randy Backus will join the Arcadia High coaching staff where he’ll serve as the team’s linebackers and running backs coach. Backus spent 14 years at Temple City serving in one capacity or another and almost completed his second season as head coach last season before he was put on leave and ultimately relieved from his duties as head coach after an altercation with a student on campus. Backus continues to teach English at Temple City High. The addition of Backus was in the works since at least May but nothing was official. Arcadia coach Jon Dimalante continually was asked throughout the spring about Backus possibly joining his staff but could not officially confirm. Dimalante said Thursday evening during a passing game against Maranatha and San Marino at San Marino High that the hiring was “pretty much official.” Dimalante said the process took longer than expected because the school had yet to hire an athletic director; the school functioned with an interim A.D. most, if not all of last year. Ryan Press, who last week assumed duties as the school’s athletic director, said that Backus’ prolonged hiring process took longer for other reasons he could not talk about. “It’s great for us,” said Press of Backus’ hiring. “He obviously has a lot of experience and is a great football coach. He did great things at Temple City and we’re excited to have him on staff.” Press previously was a special education teacher at Arcadia and will give up that role to be the school’s full-time A.D. Press is also in his second season as Arcadia’s assistant head football coach. Back in May when asked about Backus’ announcement, Dimalante said: “We should know by the summer time. As far as I’m concerned he’s 100 percent more than welcomed to be with us and we’ll be happy once that’s finalized.” Dimalante said Thursday that Backus volunteered in the summer program as well. Arcadia and Temple City will battle it out in the “Brawl for the Mall” in Week 3. Backus could not be reached for comment.


Melendez: Kudos to Temple City, PHS

Temple City fires Randy Backus as coach

Melendez: Backus saga has dragged on much too long

BREAKING NEWS: Backus involved in alleged incident

BREAKING NEWS: Temple City promotes defensive coordinator Randy Backus, making him the ninth head coach in Rams history

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