Happy Thanksgiving: Here’s a little Monrovia-Schurr tidbit to go along with the turkey and pumpkin pie…

Chris Gutierrez, who’s one of the first on the copy desk to look over my daily scribbles I call a story, sent over a tidbit Wednesday afternoon. Monrovia and Schurr were members of the Mission Valley League together from 1972 until Monrovia departed after the 1976-77 school year. Monrovia won all five football meetings against Schurr. However, Monrovia, San Gabriel and Schurr shared the MVL title in 1975 with 4-1 league records. That season Schurr earned its first-ever football playoff berth. Schurr visits Monrovia on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

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BREAKING NEWS: Maranatha’s Josh Jones has “possible tear in ACL, which could require surgery.”

In Thursday’s paper you’ll read that Maranatha senior Josh Jones’ status remains uncertain for Friday’s Mid-Valley Division quarterfinal game at San Dimas, but the latest update sent moments ago in an e-mail from Minutemen coach Joel Murphy doesn’t look good.

“Looks like there is a possible tear in JJ’s ACL which could require surgery,” he wrote. “It’s a huge loss for us but we have to focus on his hearling and preparing for Friday’s game.”

Jones (806 yards, 12 touchdowns) underwent an MRI on Monday for a knee injury suffered in last week’s win over La Puente.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Jones’ status was uncertain. The senior appears to be walking with no pain or with the help of crutches. He can jog and bend the knee because there’s no swelling and good movement.

“The doctors are kind of baffled because the knee is soft, but they can’t get a clear read of it,” said Murphy early Wednesday. “And because JJ still wants to play after this (San Diego State or Northern Arizona) we’re taking the necessary precaution. If this was his last hoorah he’d play, but right now we don’t know.”

If Jones is gone for the season, that’s a huge huge loss for Maranatha. But JJ’s hopes is to continue playing at the next level, and, as tough as it is, it’s in his best interest to recover from injury if in fact he’s torn an ACL and requires season-ending surgery.

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Football: Maranatha will play biggest game in history

Maranatha’s played for the CIF-Southern Section East Valley Division championship and numerous semifinal games. Still, it pales in comparison to the task the Minutemen face Friday when they travel to visit defending Mid-Valley Division champion San Dimas.

“We’re not making light of this: This is the best school and biggest game in our school’s history. We’ve played in some big games before, but nothing like the competition or the level we’re in right now.” Joel Murphy, Maranatha coach.

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Football: No-huddle working wonders for Monrovia

Ryan Maddox isn’t set in his ways. If it means improving an already-explosive offense with seemingly no weaknesses, the third-year Monrovia High School football coach won’t hesitate adding finishing touches.

Such is the case this season for a Wildcats (9-2) team that averages nearly 40 points per game. Maddox this season added a new concept to the Wing-T offense that’s proven to test the endurance of every opponent – a no-huddle offense.

The concept was applied after Monrovia lost to San Dimas in Week 3, and the Wildcats haven’t lost a game since. They are riding an eight-game winning streak heading into Friday’s game against Schurr (7-4) in the quarterfinals of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

“Last year we were more about ball control and we threw the ball a ton,” Maddox said.

“We spread it out so that we can run the ball, but in doing that we had too many people going both ways.”

The no-huddle offense accomplishes several things, including fewer players playing both ways. In fact, only two players are doing so now: senior Jay Henderson and sophomore Anthony Craft, both of whom play wide receiver and defensive back.

Junior Ellis McCarthy started the season at offensive tackle, a new role for him after he play tight end last season. In the no-huddle offense, the 6-foot-5, 295-pounder switches back to tight end in special packages, but overall he concentrates solely on anchoring the defensive line at tackle, making the defensive specialist with 11 sacks an even better weapon.

“He’s humongous,” Maddox said of McCarthy. “He’s a man, really. He’s starting to really understand how to use his frame.

“He’s just so hard to block. It’s definitely a team game, but when you have somebody special like that you have to find ways to account for him, and that allows our other defensive ends and linebackers to make big plays.”

That will be Schurr’s biggest concern, given senior quarterback Aaron Cantu (2,272 yards, 18 touchdowns) likes to sit in the pocket and allow plays to develop. Cantu, however, may not have that luxury against Monrovia.

“For a true pocket passer, you want to put pressure on them,” Maddox said. “That disrupts their timing and flow of the game. They’re not going to beat you with their feet.

“He can step around and moves decently within the pocket. He is good about checking receivers, whereas somebody like Nick (Bueno) is able to get himself out of trouble.”

McCarthy’s prowess calls for double- and even triple-coverage, which allows defensive ends Adrian Velasco and Jerome Brown to wreak havoc of their own, and they have. Brown, a senior, is second in sacks with six while Velasco’s quickness and physicality off the block often allows for the pocket to collapse and leaves little room for quarterbacks.

Lorenzo Casas is the other junior defensive tackle along with McCarthy. Casas has taken advantage: he’s third on the team in sacks with four.

Monrovia last season had a strong stable of running backs with varied styles. Bueno has shouldered most of the responsibility on the ground this season with 1,314 yards and 11 touchdowns. Christian Blanco, Michael Harris and Marquis Bias still provide variety in the backfield, which means Derrick Johnson, who spent a lot of time sharing carries last year, can concentrate on anchoring the defense at linebacker.

In a sense, the no-huddle offense also improved the already-stout Monrovia defense, giving the perception that the Wildcats have no weakness. Penalties, miscues and turnovers are battles Monrovia strives to win, and when it does, it means opposing teams struggle to keep up with the Wildcats’ up-tempo pace.

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Football: Bonita’s Podley knows all about Muir’s prowess

By Fred J. Robledo, Staff Writer

Bonita High School football coach Eric Podley doesn’t need a history lesson when it comes to the Bearcats’ opponent on Friday, Muir.

After crushing California 51-6 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division playoffs, the Bearcats (10-1) play at Muir (6-4) in the quarterfinals Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Mustangs knocked off La Mirada 33-14 for their sixth consecutive victory.

Podley was the offensive coordinator on the Mustangs’ 1989 Division II co-championship team that tied Santa Barbara 7-7 under head coach John Tyree, a championship that came shortly after Muir’s storied back-to-back championships in 1985 and ’86 under legendary coach Jim Brownfield.

“This is our toughest game since West Covina (55-21 loss on Oct. 29),” Podley said. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence, they beat their league champion (Burroughs) and haven’t lost in over a month, so they believe in what they’re doing and what their coaches are telling them.”

Muir coach Ken Howard is in his seventh season, which is the longest tenure at the school since Brownfield was there.

In those seven years, the Mustangs have won four Pacific League titles and are making their fourth quarterfinal appearance, although they’ve never been beyond that.

When the Mustangs advanced to the quarterfinals in 2003 and ’04, they were in Division III, where they lost each time to powerhouse Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.

In 2006 the Mustangs moved to Division V but lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champ Colony.

The Mustangs suffered their first losing season under Howard last year, 4-7, but they still gave eventual Southeast Division champ Charter Oak their toughest game of the playoffs before losing in the first round 20-19 after getting stopped on a game-winning two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds.

That’s Muir, a team that always has a ton of talent, which is why they’re so upset-prone.

“There has been sort of a revolving (coaching) door since Brownfield, but he’s (Howard) done a great job,” Podley said.

“Having been there, I have the utmost respect for him. It’s not the easiest place to work and sustain a program.”

The area surrounding Muir always has been known for producing great football talent, but that talent hasn’t always remained there, with players leaving to neighboring schools more than ever.

Even Muir great Saladin McCullough’s son, Saladin McCullough Jr., is at Alemany, along with quarterback Vernon Adams, who both live in the Muir school district.

The east San Gabriel Valley has benefitted from several players who would have gone to Muir, such as Charter Oak legends Will Harris and Patrick Fuller, and there are so many more.

“That’s why I give (Howard) so much credit. He’s done a great job in a tough football environment,” Podley said. “Football means everything to those kids.”

Players don’t leave Muir because of football. They leave because of academics and safety concerns brought on by neighboring gangs.

Podley, however, never remembered anything negative happening during his only season there. He felt that was out of respect for football.

“There might be trouble swirling around the practice or during the game sometimes, but when it came time to play football it’s a community that respects the game,” Podley said.

“The kids in the community know when it comes to football, it’s all business.”

That’s why Podley’s so concerned with Friday’s game.

Muir is as healthy as it’s been all year, and quarterback Jeffrey Davis might be the most dangerous run and pass threat in the division.

Davis suffered a concussion earlier in the season that forced him out of two games – both losses – and is 7-2 as a starter.

“I’m not sure how we prepare for that,” Podley said of Davis.

“I don’t have anyone to simulate what he does, so it’s hard to predict how we’re going to handle him.”

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