Players to watch: Hard to imagine it was just two years ago that Chino finished 0-10. The Cowboys rebounded last season in their first year in the Mt. Baldy League and appear even more stacked this season. Chino returns six first-team all-league players, led by senior quarterback Sean Molles, a three-year starter who passed for 2,343 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. He had at least one touchdown pass in every game and was intercepted just six times. Chino should also be well balanced with the return of the league’s leading running back, senior Xavier Browne, who totaled 1,275 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. Matt Pantell is a returning two-way lineman for the Cowboys, and Ronnie Velarde, Anthony Adamo and Isaiah Brenes provide valuable experience on defense. Colony’s chances of dethroning Chino increased twofold with the addition of offseason transfer Bryan Harper, who played quarterback and defensive back during his injury-shortened junior year at Fontana Carter. Harper, ranked the 94th-best recruit in the state by Rivals.com, has committed to Washington as a cornerback. He played just four games last season before breaking a collarbone but still led Carter with 427 passing yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore, he threw for 1,302 yards and combined for 15 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. Harper will have the league’s top returning receiver in his sights, senior Chaz Nelson, who also had three interceptions as a defensive back. Also returning on defense is first-team all-league linebacker Eddie Martinez, who led the Titans with 86 tackles, and linebacker/tight end Robert Wagner, another first-team all-leaguer. Don Lugo might have the Inland Empire’s best-kept secret in linebacker Milton Williams III, a 6-1, 210-pound senior. With his 4.7 speed and 30.5-inch vertical leap, Williams is drawing interest from USC and a handful of other Pac-12 schools. Chaffey hopes to improve on last season’s results with the return of running back Carnell Spencer, who averaged 119 yards in his last four games, and leading tackler Matthew Boice, a junior linebacker.
Projected order of finish: Chino, Colony, Don Lugo, Chaffey, Garey, Montclair, Ontario.
Key games: Sept. 1 – Colony @ West Covina South Hills; Sept. 9 – Fontana Carter @ Chaffey; Sept. 16 – Chino @ Oak Park; Sept. 23 – Azusa @ Don Lugo; Sept. 30 – Chino @ Don Lugo; Oct. 7 – Don Lugo @ Colony; Oct. 21 – Colony @ Chaffey; Oct. 28 – Chino @ Colony; Nov. 4 – Chaffey @ Don Lugo.
Alumni in the NFL: Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints (Chino ’03); Greg Salas, St. Louis Rams (Chino ’06); Jarron Gilbert, New York Jets (Chino ’05); R.J. Stanford, Carolina Panthers (Chino ’06).
Fast fact: Ontario said good-bye to coach Steve Randall in the offseason. In just five years, Randall compiled more wins than any other coach in school history, but couldn’t pass up an assistant coaching offer at Citrus College in Glendora. Randall was replaced by Ronald Stocking, Jr., who spent the last two seasons as linebackers coach at Mira Loma Alta Loma High and prior to that was an assistant coach at Colony for five years.