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Inland Empire: Preseason Top 10

1. Temecula Chaparral (Southwestern League)

The Pumas earned the right to strut after winning the Inland Division title last season, and they have the goods to back it up with the return of last season’s Inland Division co-offensive player of the year, Antoine Arnold, and co-defensive player of the year, Darius Guillory.

2. Vista Murrieta (Southwestern League)

Can we just fast forward to Oct. 14? Of course, that’s when the Broncos are scheduled to host Chaparral in their Southwestern League opener. Quarterback Derrick Brown, a three-year starter, has been eyeing that date since last December.

3. Corona Centennial (Big VIII League)

The 2008 Division I state bowl champions aren’t accustomed to looking up at others in the rankings. At least they’ll have a chance to do something about it, traveling to Chaparral for a nonleague game Sept. 24. Centennial is also led by a fleet-footed returning quarterback, senior Michael Eubank.

4. Upland (Baseline League)

Fresh off a Central Division title run, the Highlanders will bank on the depth of their running game and the health of quarterback Justin Nunes to make noise in the newly joined Inland Division. Two key transfers from Alta Loma won’t hurt either.

5. Norco (Big VIII League)

Norco has a Gerhart and another talented running back headed to Stanford. A few years ago, it was state career rushing leader Toby Gerhart. This season it’s senior running back Kelsey Young and freshman quarterback Coltin Gerhart, the youngest brother of Toby.

6. Riverside Arlington (Inland Valley League)

That double-overtime loss to Norco in the quarterfinals of the Inland Division playoffs last season should serve notice that Arlington believes it’s one of the elite programs in the IE. Besides, you’ve got a like a team led by a running back named Superiorr Reid.

7. Eastvale Roosevelt (Big VIII League)

The Mustangs were a strong passing team last season, which means they should be quite remarkable in the months ahead. That’s because junior quarterback Aaron Crone returns, as does two experienced receivers in Robert Savoy and Sam Boyd.

8. Palm Springs (Desert Valley League)

DVL special teams player of the year Nephi Garcia might be asked to carry the offensive load for the Indians, who lost star quarterback Michael Karls after last season’s Eastern Division title run. Dustin Jackson returns to anchor the defense after posting 139 tackles last season.

9. Colton (San Andreas League)

Greg Bray plans to tweak the offense in his first season as head coach, but expect Colton to stick with the run, especially with the return of running back Tyler Ervin, who rushed for 1,408 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Rodney Hardrick is the man on defense.

10. Moreno Valley Rancho Verde (Inland Valley League)

Junior Pomee is the top-ranked tight end in the state, according to at least one recruiting website, and cornerback Ryan Henderson might be the state’s best all-around athlete after winning the inaugural SPARQ national championship over the summer.