Los Angeles Preps: Carter

DESERT VALLEY LEAGUE

League openers: Tonight – La Quinta @ Palm Springs; Xavier Prep @ Cathedral City; Indio # Palm Desert. Friday – Coachella Valley @ Palm Desert.

Last year’s finish: Palm Springs (12-0); Palm Desert (10-2); La Quinta (7-5); Indio (7-5); Cathedral City (3-9); Xavier Prep (3-9); Coachella Valley (0-12).

Players to watch: Quintin Taylor (Palm Springs), 6-2, Jr., G; Nick King (Palm Springs), 6-1, Sr., G; Xavier Thomas (Indio), 6-4, Sr., F; Abram Montoya (Indio), 6-2, Sr., G; Jonathan Serven (Palm Desert); 6-3, Sr., G; Robert Romero (Palm Desert), 6-5, Sr., F; Mike Releford (Cathedral City), 5-10, Sr., G; Taylor Pope (La Quinta), 6-0, Sr., G; Nathan Hill (La Quinta), 6-4, Jr., G; Creighton Chaney (Xavier Prep), 6-0, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: Palm Springs, Indio, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Cathedral City, Xavier Prep, Coachella Valley.

INLAND VALLEY LEAGUE

League openers: Tonight – Arlington @ Moreno Valley; La Sierra @ Ramona; Canyon Springs @ Rancho Verde; Vista del Lago @ Valley View.

Last year’s finish: Rancho Verde (11-3); Canyon Springs (11-3); Arlington (8-6); Ramona (8-6); Valley View (7-7); Vista del Lago (5-9); La Sierra (3-11); Moreno Valley (3-11).

Players to watch: Jordan Grace (Rancho Verde), 6-2, Sr., G; Kendall Schmidt (Rancho Verde), 6-0, Sr., G; Lance Jones (Rancho Verde), 6-3, Jr., F; Rajshah Head (Canyon Springs), 6-0, Sr., G; Joseph Esthers (Valley View), 5-10, Sr., G; Devonte Klines (Valley View), 5-11, So., G; Stephen Scroggins (Moreno Valley), 5-11, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: Rancho Verde, Canyon Springs, Valley View, Arlington, Vista del Lago, Ramona, La Sierra, Moreno Valley.

SAN ANDREAS LEAGUE

League openers: Tonight – San Bernardino @ Rialto, Arroyo Valley @ Colton, Cajon @ Pacific. Saturday – Rialto @ Carter. Monday – Arroyo Valley @ San Bernardino.

Last year’s finish: San Bernardino (14-0); Cajon (11-3); Rialto (9-5); Arroyo Valley (9-5); Colton (5-9); San Gorgonio (4-10); Carter (3-11); Pacific (1-13).

Players to watch: Khleem Perkins (San Bernardino), 6-3, Jr., G; Javone Rabon (San Bernardino), 6-4, Sr., F; Jamie Jenkins (San Bernardino), 5-8, Sr., G; Richie Ragoo (Colton), 5-11, Sr., G; Devin Jones (Cajon), 6-0, Sr., G; Stephen Marshall (Arroyo Valley), Sr., G; Antonio Clemmons (Pacific), 6-0, Sr., G.

Predicted order of finish: San Bernardino, Cajon, Arroyo Valley, Rialto, Colton, Pacific, San Gorgonio, Carter.

Next up: Big VIII, Mojave River and Mt. Baldy leagues (open league play Wednesday).

I.E.: The final Top 10

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
12:18
AM PT
Well, that’s a wrap on the 2011 high school football season. The Inland Empire is certainly more respected than ever for what it accomplished this fall, beating Pac-5 Division foes Mission Viejo, Alemany, Crespi, Loyola, Tesoro and Mater Dei. They also staged a few memorable matchups against each other, none better than Vista Murrieta’s 35-28 come-from-behind victory against defending champion Corona Centennial in the Inland Division championship game. Here’s a look at the final top 10 of the season.

1. Vista Murrieta, 9-5 – The Broncos went undefeated on the field, beating state-ranked J.W. North, Upland and Centennial in the final three rounds of the Inland Division playoffs. Vista Murrieta self-reported an ineligible player prior to Southwestern League play -- a player who would quickly become eligible --leading to the forfeiture of all five nonleague victories. Many believe the Broncos deserved a state bowl bid but were passed up in favor of two-loss Santa Margarita, largely due to their forfeits. Vista Murrieta will be an early favorite to make the trip next season, as its best player, running back/strong safety Su’a Cravens, is set to return, as well as quarterback Nicholas Stevens and middle linebacker Bryce Smith, the Inland Division’s leading tackler.

2. Corona Centennial, 12-2 – Before the season, Centennial coach Matt Logan said the Huskies would need four or five games to find their footing. Try six quarters. The Huskies won 12 straight after their season-opening loss to St. Bonaventure, all but one by a wide margin. They quickly developed chemistry between a veteran offensive line and first-year senior starters Hayden Gavett at quarterback and Romello Goodman at running back and churned out yardage like past seasons. They came up one drive short against Vista Murrieta, however.

3. Upland, 12-1 – For most of the season, the Highlanders seemed like the front runner to unseat Centennial, but they ran into the same Vista Murrieta storm as the Huskies and saw their run end with a 39-18 semifinal loss. Still, they opened plenty of eyes with a 38-23 nonleaguue victory against L.A. private-school power Loyola and another one-sided victory against Baseline League foe Rancho Cucamonga.

4. Rancho Cucamonga, 11-2 – With 14 starters back from a team that lost in double overtime of the 2010 Inland Division semifinals, the Cougars came into this season ranked No. 2 in the ESPNLA Inland Empire preseason rankings. They weren’t as prepared as Upland and lost that clash, but got off the mat to beat fourth-seeded Redlands East Valley in the Inland Division quarterfinals and then put a scare into top-seeded Centennial in the semis before ultimately losing, 41-21.

5. Redlands East Valley, 11-1 – Give the Wildcats credit for turning the national spotlight on the I.E. in Week 5 with their 10-7 victory against nationally ranked Mission Viejo. They went on to finish the regular season undefeated but fell back into their habit of losing early in the playoffs. A nonleague victory against City Section-power Dorsey also stands bright on their resume.

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I.E.: The Top 10

November, 27, 2011
11/27/11
10:47
PM PT
The top three teams put up 50-plus points in their Inland Division second-round victories, while Rancho Cucamonga found a way to win with just nine. Should make for some interesting semifinal action in the Inland Division.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 11-1 – Romello Goodman accomplished something no other Centennial running back has, scoring eight touchdowns in a 56-21 victory Friday night against visiting Chaparral in an Inland Division second-round game. Goodman has rushed for more than 300 yards in each of the playoff victories. Next: vs. Rancho Cucamonga at Los Osos HS, Friday.

2. (2) Upland, 12-0 – Upland wide receiver Kenny Lawler continues his postseason parade to the end zone, snaring three touchdown passes in a 51-13 victory Friday night against Charter Oak in the Inland Division. Lawler, who has committed to Arizona State, has five of his eight touchdowns this season in the playoffs. Next: at Vista Murrieta, Friday.

3. (3) Vista Murrieta, 7-5 – Su’a Cravens continues to show that the offensive side of the ball might just be his best side, rushing for a career-high 205 yards in 10 carries and scoring on three long touchdown runs to lead Vista Murrieta to a 58-13 victory Friday night against J.W. North in an Inland Division game at Riverside College. Next: vs. Upland, Friday.

4. (5) Rancho Cucamonga, 11-1 – The Cougars demonstrated they know a thing or two about defense too, holding fourth-seeded Redlands East Valley to two field goals in a 9-6 victory Friday night in an Inland Division game at Citrus Valley High. Next: vs. Corona Centennial at Los Osos HS, Friday.

5. (4) Redlands East Valley, 11-1 – Offense has been a question mark for most of the season and the fourth-seeded Wildcats didn’t have an answer for Rancho Cucamonga, suffering their third straight early-round playoff exit after going unbeaten in Citrus Belt League play.

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I.E.: Central Division second-round previews

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
7:06
PM PT
CENTRAL DIVISION

Second round, Friday

No. 1 Rancho Verde (11-0) at San Gorgonio (6-5), 7 p.m.

How they got here: Rancho Verde defeated visiting Don Lugo, 44-0; San Gorgonio won at La Quinta, 44-41.

Matchup to watch: San Gorgonio quarterback Monroe Offield (294 total yards last week) vs. Rancho Verde defense (hasn’t allowed a point in last 12 quarters)

Fast fact: These teams already met this season, with Rancho Verde winning, 37-10, against the visiting Spartans in Week 1. San Gorgonio also started and ended last season with losses to the Mustangs.

Prediction: Rancho Verde 34, San Gorgonio 14.

No. 4 Colony (10-1) at Moreno Valley (5-6), 7 p.m.

How they got here: Colony eliminated visiting Valley View, 28-14; Moreno Valley surprised host Cajon, 43-16.

Matchup to watch: Colony middle linebacker Eddie Martinez (7.6 tackles per game) vs. Moreno Valley running back Imeria Talia (867 rushing yards, nine TDs last four games).

Fast fact: Moreno Valley last won a playoff game in 2007, the same postseason that ended with a 29-14 loss to Colony in the Central Division semifinals.

Prediction: Moreno Valley 24, Colony 21.

No. 3 La Sierra (10-1) at Carter (10-1), 7 p.m.

How they got here: La Sierra defeated Chaffey, 23-6, at Norte Vista; Carter eliminated visiting Palm Desert, 48-22.

Matchup to watch: La Sierra defensive lineman A.J. Fanene (12 solo tackles last week, 24 sacks last two seasons) vs. Carter running back Gaylon Maxie (1,835 rushing yards, 24 TDs)

Fast fact: Carter won its first playoff game in school history last week while hosting its first postseason game.

Prediction: La Sierra 28, Carter 21.

No. 2 Palm Springs (11-0) at Chino (9-2), 7 p.m.

How they got here: Palm Springs shut out visiting Rialto, 35-0; Chino defeated visiting Arlington, 26-14.

Matchup to watch: Palm Springs linebacker Kyle Lass (13.2 tackles per game, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries) vs. Chino running back Xavier Browne (1,511 rushing yards, 16 TDs)

Fast fact: After finishing 0-10 in the 2009 season, Chino is 20-3 over the last two.

Prediction: Palm Springs 42, Chino 21.

I.E.: Top games for Thursday

November, 9, 2011
11/09/11
2:54
PM PT
A clash of unbeaten teams highlights the final week of the regular season, but there’s plenty on the line in several other leagues. Here’s a look at the top games Thursday, when many teams have chosen to play to give their players an extra day to rest up and prepare for the playoffs.

A-Game

(Inland Empire rankings included)

No. 4 Redlands East Valley (9-0, 4-0) at Yucaipa (9-0, 4-0), Thursday (7 p.m.) – It’s not often you see a matchup of undefeated teams in Week 10, but that’s what’s happening this week in the Citrus Belt League. Yucaipa has flown under the radar this season, benefiting from a fairly light nonleague schedule and a couple of close calls in league play to reach this point. Redlands East Valley shocked the Southland with a 10-7 victory against nationally ranked Mission Viejo a month ago but also had some close calls in CBL play. Yucaipa junior quarterback Clayton Leach-Mead has thrown for 867 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 1,206 and 14 scores. He has turned the ball over just three times. He’ll be up against a defense that has 23 sacks and forced 21 turnovers.

Calpreps.com computerized projection: Redlands East Valley 28, Yucaipa 7

ESPNLA: Redlands East Valley 21, Yucaipa 14

B-List

Cajon (8-1, 5-1) at No. 10 Carter (9-0, 6-0), Thursday (7 p.m.) – Cajon gets another chance to reclaim the San Andreas League title and earn the league’s No. 1 seeding for the Central Division playoffs, but they’ll have to do it without quarterback Edwin Martinez, who suffered a knee injury two weeks ago. The Cowboys still have Washington-bound wide receiver/defensive back Damontae Kazee and his brother, running back/linebacker Deontrae Kazee. Cajon has had success using the Kazee’s in a Wildcat formation this season, so don’t be surprised if they go with that look against Carter. Look for the Lions to lean heavily on senior running back Gaylon Maxie, the No. 2 rusher in the Central Section who has totaled 1,458 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.

Calpreps.com: Cajon 24, Carter 19

ESPNLA: Carter 27, Cajon 24

No. 5 Rancho Cucamonga (8-1, 3-1) at Los Osos (6-3, 3-1), Thursday (7 p.m.) – This game will determine the runner up in the Baseline League behind Upland and drop a pretty good team into third place heading into the playoffs. Rancho Cucamonga quarterback Dimitri Morales hasn’t been as productive as last season, when he threw for 22 touchdowns and was intercepted just once in the last seven games, but he has the experience to guide the Cougars deep into the postseason. Los Osos knows who to play their inner-city rivals tough. The Grizzlies have lost four straight against Rancho Cucamonga, but all four were settled by a touchdown or less, and two went into overtime.

Calpreps.com: Rancho Cucamonga 27, Los Osos 19

ESPNLA: Rancho Cucamonga 28, Los Osos 21

2 more to C

Charter Oak (8-1, 4-0) at Chino Hills (6-3, 4-0), Thursday (7 p.m.)

Chaparral (5-4, 3-1) at Murrieta Valley (7-2, 3-1), Thursday (7 p.m.)

Last week’s picks:

Calpreps: 4-0.

ESPNLA: 3-1.

Overall:

Calpreps: 26-7.

ESPNLA: 22-11.

I.E.: The Top 10

November, 6, 2011
11/06/11
11:39
PM PT
The Inland Empire top 10 went unbeaten last week. In fact, nine teams won by at least 20 points and seven clinched at least a share of a league championship.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 8-1 – The Huskies faced an injury-depleted Roosevelt team Friday night and didn’t show any mercy in the 45-24 victory, which all but sewed up another outright Big VIII League title. Next: at Riverside King, Thursday.

2. (2) Upland, 9-0 – The Highlanders found themselves tied late in the second quarter Friday against Los Osos, then stepped on the gas and scored five consecutive touchdowns in the 49-21 victory, clinching at least a share of the Baseline League title. Next: vs. Alta Loma, Thursday.

3. (3) Vista Murrieta, 4-5 – The Broncos also wrapped up at least a share of the Southwestern League title and a likely top four seeding for the Inland Division playoffs with a 23-14 victory against Murrieta Valley. Next: vs. Murrieta Mesa, Thursday.

4. (4) Redlands East Valley, 9-0 – The Wildcats finally put some distance between themselves and their opponent in a 49-0 victory Friday against Fontana. Now they need to prepare for another tough battle in their Citrus Belt League finale. Next: at Yucaipa, Thursday.

5. (5) Rancho Cucamonga, 8-1 – Dimitri Morales and Jermel Walker hooked up on two long touchdown passes Friday night in a Baseline League game against Glendora, and the Cougars needed every yard in the 34-13 victory. Next: at Los Osos, Thursday.

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I.E.: The Top 10

October, 30, 2011
10/30/11
11:47
PM PT
There was no letting up for the top seven teams in last week’s rankings, but there was some turnover at the bottom. Two additional undefeated teams make their debut after winning key league games last week. Meanwhile, a Big VIII League team dropped out of the top 10 for the second consecutive week.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 7-1 – For the third consecutive game, the Huskies punted the ball just once, and for the sixth straight game they scored at least 48 points in a 49-6 victory Friday at Corona. Next: vs. Roosevelt, Friday.

2. (2) Upland, 8-0 – Upland fullback/defensive lineman Christian Powell landed a scholarship offer from Washington last week, then went out Friday night and scored a touchdown on both offense and defense in a 49-3 victory against Glendora at Citrus College. Next: vs. Los Osos, Friday.

3. (3) Vista Murrieta, 3-5 – The Broncos forfeited five games last week for using an ineligible player but returned to winning games on the field in a 45-24 victory Friday against Great Oak. Su’a Cravens rushed for three touchdowns in the victory. Next: vs. Murrieta Valley, Friday.

4. (4) Redlands East Valley, 8-0 – The Wildcats had five more sacks in a 34-14 victory Friday against Eisenhower, raising their season total to 23. REV surged to a 27-0 halftime lead. Next: vs. Fontana at Citrus Valley HS, Friday.

5. (5) Rancho Cucamonga, 7-1 – The Cougars returned two kickoffs for touchdowns Friday in a 30-27 victory against Etiwanda, the second coming by Chris Hawkins with 3:30 remaining, providing Rancho Cucamonga its final three-point edge. Next: vs. Glendora at Los Osos HS, Friday.

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I.E.: Games of the Week

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
5:22
PM PT
The Central and Eastern divisions highlight the games of the week this time around. The key matchups on the schedule Friday night will likely determine first place in the Mojave River, San Andreas and Mt. Baldy leagues. Second place in the Big VIII League looks to be on the line Thursday.

A-Game

(Inland Empire rankings included)

No. 9 Oak Hills (7-0, 1-0) at Serrano (5-2, 2-0), Friday (7 p.m.) -- There hasn’t been any growing pains for Oak Hills. The school opened onlyt two years ago, but the varsity football team has yet to post a losing record, owning a 23-7 overall mark heading into the biggest game in the program’s history. Serrano is the two-time defending Mojave River League champion with a 27-7 record over the last 2 seasons. The Diamondbacks ramped up for league play with a strong nonleague schedule that included a 10-point loss to Upland, the second-ranked team in the Inland Empire. They’ve allowed a truck load of points this season, however, and Oak Hills has the talent to get into the end zone. Expect a lot of touches by Oak Hills senior running back Marshaun Coprich, who has rushed for 1,374 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. Serrano running back Adarius Hogan is 27 yards shy of the 1,000-yard barrier.

Calpreps.com computerized projection: Serrano 26, Oak Hills 20

ESPNLA: Serrano 28, Oak Hills 27

B-List

No. 7 J.W. North (6-1, 3-1) vs. No. 8 Corona Santiago (5-2, 3-1) at Riverside College, Thursday (7 p.m.) -- Both of these teams have already lost to Corona Centennial -- as has Norco -- so the Big VIII League title is no longer a realistic goal. That said, who would have thought the battle for second place in the Big VIII would involve these teams? Norco was thought to be a shoe-in as bridesmaid to Centennial, but then J.W. North scored a huge upset vs. Alemany in nonleague play and Santiago pounded Norco three weeks ago. Both teams feature savvy, elusive quarterbacks. Justin Gheorghe of J.W. North has thrown 15 touchdown passes and hasn’t been intercepted this season. Santiago junior Michael Darr is the team’s leading passer and rusher, though running back Roosevelt Monk has boosted the run game since joining the team four weeks ago.

Calpreps.com: J.W. North 38, Santiago 31

ESPNLA: Santiago 34, J.W. North 30

No. 10 Rialto (6-1, 4-0) at Carter (7-0, 4-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – These teams had mixed success after joining the San Andreas League last season, and this match up didn’t exactly stand out on the must-see list heading into the season, but that changed when Rialto stunned Cajon last weekend, 27-25. Rialto relies heavily on two-way skill players Michael Romero, Tyler Telphy, Paul Cortez and Nicholas Seiuli. Carter gets most of its offense from senior running back Gaylon Maxie, who has rushed for 1,073 yards and 16 touchdowns. Senior defensive back Kris Brown has a league-leading four interceptions for Carter.

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I.E.: The Top 10

October, 23, 2011
10/23/11
11:25
PM PT
Two ranked teams dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten last weekend and another needed overtime to keep its perfect record intact. Nine unbeaten teams remain in all from the Inland, Central and Eastern divisions, including one top 10 newcomer.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 6-1 – The Huskies passed their final true test of the regular season with flying colors Friday night, using the tandem of quarterback Hayden Gavett and running back Romello Goodman to dismantle Norco, 45-18. Next: at Corona, Friday.

2. (2) Upland, 7-0 – The Highlanders once again proved they might be the only Inland Division team capable of staying with Centennial come playoff time, delivering another solid all-around performance in a 31-17 victory Friday against visiting Rancho Cucamonga. Next: vs. Glendora at Citrus College, Friday.

3. (5) Vista Murrieta, 7-0 – The Broncos are another team that has the defense to compete with anyone in the Inland Division, they just need to find a bit more offense. They held Temecula Valley to 64 total yards Friday night in a 41-3 victory. Next: at Great Oak, Friday.

4. (3) Redlands East Valley, 7-0 – The Wildcats had to rally late against Redlands to avoid being part of the second-biggest upset in the Inland Empire this season. They scored a touchdown with five minutes remaining Friday to tie Redlands and then won in overtime, 21-14. Next: at Eisenhower, Friday.

5. (4) Rancho Cucamonga, 6-1 – The Cougars finally got a chance to play a top 25 opponent and they likely learned a few things in the 31-17 loss to Upland. Mainly, win the turnover battle and you have a much better chance to win the game. Next: vs. Etiwanda at Los Osos, HS, Friday.

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I.E.: The Top 10

October, 16, 2011
10/16/11
10:14
PM PT
The dawn of league play for most Inland Empire teams meant better chess matches between coaching staffs who've grown familiar with one another over the years. Upland, Redlands East Valley and Vista Murrieta each had their unbeaten records put to the test by league rivals, but each managed to sneak away with victories. Meanwhile, Corona Centennial continued to run laps around any team in its path, familiar or otherwise.

1. (1) Centennial, 5-1 – The Huskies big-play ability was on display in a 56-34 victory Friday against host Corona Santiago, as they scored on six plays of 28 yards or more to take sole possession of first place in the Big VIII League. Next: vs. Norco, Friday.

2. (3) Upland, 6-0 – The Highlanders overcame an early 10-point deficit to defeat Etiwanda, 24-17, behind 227 yards passing and two touchdowns from quarterback Nick Romine. Upland was out-gained, 409-304, in total yardage. Next: vs. Rancho Cucamonga, Friday.

3. (2) Redlands East Valley, 6-0 – A week after upsetting Mission Viejo, the Wildcats nearly suffered a similar fate, rallying from a one-point halftime deficit Friday and holding on to beat A.B. Miller, 21-13. Miller had its chances, but a pass slipped through a receiver’s hands in the end zone in the closing seconds. Next: at Redlands, Friday.

4. (4) Rancho Cucamonga, 6-0 – Junior running back Tyan Washington topped 100 yards for the third straight game in a 41-17 victory Friday against Alta Loma. Washington finished with 115 yards and three touchdowns in the Baseline League opener. Next: at Upland, Friday.

5. (5) Vista Murrieta, 6-0 – The Broncos escaped with a win Friday night at Chaparral after forcing a red-zone turnover late in the game while leading by four points and then returning two interceptions for touchdowns in the final two minutes in the 27-10 victory. Next: vs. Temecula Valley, Friday.

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I.E.: A closer look at the San Andreas League

August, 16, 2011
8/16/11
10:02
PM PT
SAN ANDREAS LEAGUE

Last season’s results: San Bernardino Cajon (10-3, 7-0); San Bernardino San Gorgonio (7-5, 6-1); Colton (11-3, 5-2); Rialto Carter (6-4-1, 4-3); San Bernardino Arroyo Valley (4-6, 3-4); Rialto (5-5, 2-5); San Bernardino (3-7, 1-6); San Bernardino Pacific (0-10, 0-7).

Players to watch: The San Andreas League made a strong impression during last season’s SS-Central Division playoffs, finishing 6-3 and sending two unseeded teams to the semifinals, including eventual champion Colton. While the Yellowjackets will need to replace most of their leaders, the SAL features a busload of other returning talent. The most decorated athlete is Damontae Kazee of Cajon, a first-team all-league selection as a wide receiver and defensive back last season, and an all-Central Division selection on offense. Kazee committed to Washington last spring. Rialto and San Gorgonio also have a strong group of returners. Tyler Telphy of Rialto is the league’s top returning rusher after totaling 970 yards and seven touchdowns last season. He’ll be joined on offense by fellow first-team all-league offensive lineman Julian Ramos. On defense, Bernabe Orozco had 11 sacks for the Knights last season, and junior defensive back Bryan Davis had four interceptions. Rialto will also feature one of the top kickers in the I.E., senior John Pena, an all-Central Division pick. San Gorgonio features a returning all-Central Division player in wide receiver Brandon Charles, and running back Jamie Snowten made great strides in the second half of last season. On defense, the Spartans will lean on defensive end Ryan Hunter-Simms, who produced 13 sacks en route to making last season’s all-Central Division squad. Hunter-Simms won a SS-Masters meet title in the discus last spring and finished third in state. Pacific went winless last season but should improve with the return of 6-5 senior receiver Haneef Hill, a first-team all-leaguer, as well as a number of other players with varsity experience. Another player to watch is Kris Brown of Carter, who swiped five interceptions last season.

Projected order of finish: San Gorgonio, Cajon, Rialto, Colton, Carter, Pacific, Arroyo Valley, San Bernardino.

Key games: Sept. 2 – Cajon @ Temecula Chaparral, San Bernardino @ Upland; Sept. 9 – San Gorgonio @ Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, Rialto @ La Quinta, Colton vs. Riverside North @ Riverside College, Arroyo Valley @ Palm Springs; Sept. 16 – Fontana Kaiser @ Cajon; Sept. 22 – Colton vs. Fontana Summit @ Fontana A.B. Miller HS; Sept. 30 – Rialto @ Colton; Oct. 7 – San Gorgonio @ Cajon; Oct. 21 – Cajon @ Rialto; Oct. 28 – Colton @ Cajon; Nov. 4 – Rialto @ San Gorgonio; Nov. 10 – San Gorgonio @ Colton.

Alumni in the NFL: Jimmy Smith, Baltimore Ravens (Colton ’06); Shareece Wright, San Diego Chargers (Colton ’06); Allen Bradford, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Colton ’06); Lonyae Miller, Dallas Cowboys (Rialto/Fontana Kaiser ’06).

Fast fact: Three players who were seniors on the 2006 Colton team were selected in the NFL draft in June, the most players from the same high school in this year’s draft. Jimmy Smith, a cornerback out of Colorado, is a safe bet to make the Baltimore Ravens. Shareece Wright, a cornerback out of USC, is in camp with the San Diego Chargers, and college teammate Allen Bradford is trying to secure a back-up running back role with Tampa Bay.

On the clock: Southwestern League.

Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

November, 15, 2010
11/15/10
4:02
PM PT
1. The best Inland Empire team not to make the playoffs is Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos. The Grizzlies were officially eliminated Friday when they lost to second-place Upland, 41-38, on a 29-yard field goal by Jake Van Ginkel with 3.9 second remaining. Earlier this season, Los Osos lost in overtime, 29-28, against league champion Rancho Cucamonga. It’s the third consecutive season that Upland has ended the Grizzlies’ season. The Highlanders beat Los Osos in the Central Division championship game last season and in a semifinal the year before.

2. Temecula Great Oak had a 14-point halftime lead and its playoff future in hand Friday night, but then Temecula Valley turned the tables in the Southwestern League finale and scored 27 unanswered points to win, 34-21, spoiling the Wolfpack’s postseason hopes. Great Oak’s loss was Murrieta Valley’s gain, however, as the Nighthawks got a second life after blowing a chance to control their own playoff destiny the night before in a 27-20 loss to Temecula Chaparral.

3. Coming into the season, Victorville Victor Valley had been a combined 5-23 the last seven seasons in the Desert Sky League, earning one trip to the playoffs in that span. Last season, the Jackrabbits finished 7-3 overall but failed to make the playoffs after losing to Ridgecrest Burroughs in the regular-season finale. On Friday, the Jackrabbits had a chance to win the league title with a victory against Burroughs and this time they pulled it off, 25-24, thanks to a 26-yard field goal by Isaiah Kepley with 1:14 left.

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