Los Angeles Preps: Brandon Carter

Football: No. 16 Rancho Cucamonga

August, 23, 2011
Rancho Cucamonga didn’t experience many growing pains after moving up to the SS-Inland Division last season. Two years after winning a Central Division title, the Cougars reached the semifinals of the Inland Empire’s most competitive playoff bracket, losing to Vista Murrieta on a goal-line stand in double overtime.

With six first-team all-Baseline League players returning for their senior year, Rancho Cucamonga is optimistic it can better last season’s finish.

Here’s a closer look at the Cougars.

Team: Rancho Cucamonga.

Coach: Nick Baiz, sixth season.

2010 Record: 11-2. Lost to Vista Murrieta in double overtime of an Inland Division semifinal.

Returning starters: 14 total. Eight on offense, six on defense.

Key players on offense: QB Dimitri Morales, WR J.T. Huggins, OL Cameron Turner, OL Brandon Carter, TE Metuisela Unga.

Key players on defense: LB Steven Mujica, DL Chase Morris, DB Toure Boyd, DB Tahaan Goodman.

Difference maker: J.T. Huggins is one of those offensive players who requires a GPS just to keep track of him. He might be at wide receiver on one play, in the slot the next and then lined up at fullback in a short-yardage situation. Oh yeah, and he returns punts and holds for the place kicker. The Cougars should be able to churn out drives with their huge, battle-tested offensive line, but Huggins gives them that much-needed big-play ability, which is necessary to prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box.

Newcomers: WR Jermel Walker, DB Chris Hawkins.

Not to be missed: Oct. 28, vs. Etiwanda at Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos High. Etiwanda appears to have surpassed Upland as the team for Rancho Cucamonga to beat in order to secure a second consecutive Baseline League title. Both the Cougars and Etiwanda will have played Upland by the time they meet in this game, so the pecking order should be settled when the final whistle blows.

Coach’s comment: “Our offense should be able to possess the ball and move the ball down the field,” coach Nick Baiz said. “If we take care of the ball and play solid defense, we should be in most games.”

Final analysis: Due to injuries, the Cougars used seven offensive linemen last season and five are back, including two three-year starters, carrying an average weight of 295 pounds. Throw in a returning quarterback and big-play receiver in Huggins, and Rancho Cucamonga enters the season as second-best team in the Inland Empire behind Corona Centennial. If the Cougars can stay healthy and build momentum as the season unfolds, they could realistically end up as the top team in the I.E. this season.

LA North: Perseverance paying off for Arbuckle

April, 30, 2011
LOS ANGELES -- What would the game of football be, regardless of the level, without one of those good ol' fashioned quarterback controversies?

Rest assured, Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure's Nick Arbuckle desires a starter's role, similar to most of his peers. However, it appears as if the 2012 prospect is destined to begin his senior season as the backup to teammate Marc Evans.

[+] EnlargeNick Arbuckle
National Underclassmen CombineNick Arbuckle, the backup QB at St. Bonaventure, took home MVP honors for his position at the recent National Underclassmen Combine in Pasadena.
It's a quandary, there's no doubt about it. But for those who actually think Arbuckle is completely content with his current situation, think again.

Suppose that best explains why he was diligently working toward improving at the recent National Underclassmen Combine in Pasadena. Arbuckle performed so well, in fact, the 6-foot, 200-pound signal caller took home MVP honors for his position.

“It doesn't matter where I'm at, it can be a combine or at my high school, my goal is to get on the field and separate myself from the other quarterbacks,'' Arbuckle said. “Taking advantage of an opportunity when you have one has always been important to me.''

When given the chance to step to the forefront during the NUC Combine at Pasadena High, Arbuckle did not hesitate. He rose to the challenge. He thrived.

In the early morning session, players such as Troy Rose (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne), Jordan Thiel (Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley) and Mitchell Shelby (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) were considered as the main attractions during timed drills.

Arbuckle managed to hold his own.

Shortly thereafter, the strength testing portion of the combine started up and all eyes were on Brandon Carter (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), Orion Awa-DuBose (Oxnard, Calif./Rio Mesa) and Ryan McDaniel (Torrance, Calif./North Torrance).

Still, Arbuckle proved to be no slouch.

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