Los Angeles Preps: Colton

Soccer players will skip playoffs

February, 14, 2012
Six players on the Camarillo girls soccer team said they will not play in the CIF Southern Section playoffs in protest of the way their coach has treated them, according to a story in the Ventura County Star.

Camarillo coach Chris Lawler denies the allegations by the players and parents of verbal abuse and has the support of the school administration to continue coaching the team.

The Camarillo girls soccer team has enough players for its first-round game against Colton on Friday in the Division 5 playoffs, according to the Ventura County Star.

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.


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.


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.: Boys' basketball Top 10

December, 6, 2011
With the boys' basketball season a week under way, some teams have already proved they're a force to be reckoned with, while a few others have started a step slow. Here's a look at the teams and players to watch in the coming months, and where you can see them play.

1. J.W. North, 4-0

The Huskies return their top two scorers from last season’s 19-11 team. Aaron Peck, a 6-4 senior forward, was an all-Division 2A selection after averaging a team-high 17.5 points and nine rebounds. He forms a dangerous trio up front with 6-5 junior forwards Marcus Baugh (10.0 ppg, 7.5 rpg) and Dorian Butler (7.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg). Rancho Verde transfer DeShon Taylor, a sophomore guard, more than shores up the back court.

2. Etiwanda, 3-1

The Eagles graduated their top five scorers from last season’s team that advanced to the Division 1AA semifinals but should regroup well behind their next superstar, sophomore guard Jordan McLaughlin. The 5-11 ball handler scored 20 points Saturday night in a 72-61 loss to LaVerne Lutheran in the Rose City Classic championship game in Pasadena. Etiwanda will also count on 6-4 junior forward Sheldon Blackwell and 6-3 senior guard Dominique Walker.

3. Murrieta Valley, 5-0

The Nighthawks graduated their top two scorers from a team that finished 24-4 last season but appear to have filled the gaps in a hurray, evident by their 58-54 victory last weekend against Rancho Verde in the final of the Big Daddy tournament at Citrus Hill High. Darius Butler, a 6-3 senior forward, and Reid Shackelford, a 5-11 senior guard, appear willing and able to step into scoring roles. Butler is averaging 21 points through the first five games after averaging 8.7 last season, and Shackelford has bumped his scoring average up from 3.6 last season to 18.8. Jackson Helms, a 6-7 senior forward, is also rounding into one of the region’s better big men.

4. Rancho Verde, 3-1

Jordan Grace, a 6-2 senior guard, is a returning Division I-AA selection. He’ll team up nicely with 6-foot senior guard Kendall Schmidt, who transferred from Woodcrest Christian after averaging 25 points a game last season. Sophomore guards Jalen Hall and Tre Nottingham and 6-3 junior forward Lance Jones give the Mustangs additional depth, while 6-6 newcomer Khalil Fuller, the brother of Vanderbilt guard Kyle Fuller, will push to join the rotation.

5. Colony, 3-1

The Titans return their two best players from last season’s team, which finished 20-10, including 11-1 in the Mt. Baldy League, and advanced to the Division 2AA quarterfinals. Miles Poullard, a 6-2 senior guard, and Everett Turner, a 6-foot junior guard, were all-Division 2AA selections last season. With no player taller than 6-4 on the roster, the Titans will need to maintain an up-tempo pace to be successful.

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IE: Colton head coach quits at halftime, according to reports

September, 4, 2011
What a bizarre year it has been at Colton.

On Friday night, the football program took its wildest turn yet when head coach Rick Bray resigned at halftime of his team’s opening game against visiting San Diego Torrey Pines, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Bray, who led the Yellowjackets to the SS-Central Division title last season in his first year at the helm, was apparently unhappy that his son, B.J. Bray, an assistant coach, was asked to leave the sideline during the second quarter against Torrey Pines.

According to the San Bernardino Sun, the younger Bray was being disciplined for his actions at a district board meeting in May, when his father’s contract was renewed. The position had briefly been opened to other applicants, generating strong emotion from Bray's supporters and a few who thought otherwise. According to the Sun, the younger Bray yelled at the parents of a former player who had criticized Rick Bray during the open meeting.

Another son, Rick Bray Jr., who coached the second half of the 35-7 loss to Torrey Pines, is also likely leaving the staff, the elder Bray told the Press-Enterprise. There's no word on who will run the program, but a likely candidate would be the school's athletic director, Harold Strauss, who has amassed 229 career victories at Colton and two other stops.

Colton’s run to its first section title in 32 years was one of the uplifting stories of last season. After serving as an assistant coach at Colton for 21 of the previous 25 years, Bray was handed the reigns when Strauss stepped aside after the 2009 season to concentrate on his duties as athletic director.

It didn’t come easy, as Bray had to wait six months for the district board to approve his hiring.

Despite leading the Yellowjackets to the Central Division crown, Bray’s position was re-opened in the offseason as the district sought to appease the Rialto Rule, which gives hiring preference for coaching positions to on-campus teachers. Don Markham, a legendary coach in the Southland and a teacher at Colton, reportedly accepted the position, then turned it down 24 hours later when he was guaranteed a teaching position at Compton High, where he had been hired as head coach two months earlier.

Bray, a security guard at Colton, was then retained as head coach.

Until this weekend, at least.

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

August, 16, 2011

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.

I.E.: Top games for the upcoming football season

August, 9, 2011
With the start of the high school football season just around the corner, now's a good time to ink the calendars with the best games involving Inland Empire teams.

9/1 – Victorville Silverado vs. Rancho Cucamonga @ Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos HS

9/2 – San Bernardino Cajon @ Temecula Chaparral; Fontana Summit @ Etiwanda

9/8 – Perris Citrus Hill @ Moreno Valley; Upland @ Tustin

9/9 – Los Angeles Crenshaw @ Norco; Summit @ Redlands; Vista Murrieta @ Etiwanda

9/16 – Corona Centennial vs. Mater Dei @ Santa Ana Stadium; La Quinta @ Mission Viejo

9/22 – Summit vs. Colton @ Fontana A.B. Miller HS

9/23 – Upland @ Norco; Chaparral @ Corona Centennial; Riverside North @ Fontana Kaiser; Moreno Valley Rancho Verde @ Romoland Heritage

9/29 – Riverside Poly vs. Corona Centennial @ Riverside Ramona HS

9/30 – Norco @ Eastvale Roosevelt; Rancho Cucamonga vs. Redlands @ Los Osos; Redlands East Valley @ Chino Hills

10/7 – Riverside Poly vs. Roosevelt @ Ramona; Corona Santiago @ Norco

10/14 – Vista Murrieta @ Chaparral; Riverside North vs. Riverside Poly @ Riverside College

10/21 – Norco @ Corona Centennial; Rancho Cucamonga @ Upland; Redlands East Valley @ Redlands

10/27 – Santiago vs. Riverside North @ Riverside College

10/28 – Riverside Poly @ Norco; Chino @ Ontario Colony

11/4 – Heritage @ Elsinore; Palm Springs @ La Quinta

11/10 – Redlands @ A.B. Miller; Santiago @ Roosevelt

11/11 – Kaiser vs. Summit @ A.B. Miller; Riverside Arlington @ Rancho Verde

Inland Empire: Key first-round baseball games

May, 18, 2011

Division 1

Corona Santiago at No. 1 Huntington Beach Edison, Friday, 3:15 p.m.

Santiago has scored one-sided victories this season against second-seeded Mater Dei and third-seeded Vista Murrieta, but the Sharks weren’t facing the type of fastball they’ll see against Edison lefty Henry Owens, a consensus first-round pick in the upcoming major league draft. The game will also feature two of the Southland’s premier senior shortstops in Christian Lopes of Edison and Brandon Martin of Santiago. Lopes has committed to USC and Martin to Oregon State, but both are expected to go high in the draft as well.

Simi Valley Royal at No. 3 Vista Murrieta, Friday, 3:15 p.m.

Royal won its 12th consecutive game Tuesday, a 4-2 victory at Villa Park, earning an even longer bus ride to Southwestern Riverside County. The Highlanders finished fifth in the exceptionally deep Marmonte League and have four starters back from last season’s Division 1 semifinalists. The Broncos will ask sophomore right-hander Tyler Russell (8-1, 1.03) to defend their home turf.

Temecula Great Oak at No. 4 San Juan Capistrano JSerra, Friday, 3:15 p.m.

Another I.E. team that hopes to represent well against an O.C. powerhouse is Great Oak, which played Vista Murrieta tough in their three Southwestern League games. Great Oak shortstop Austin Bailey, who signed with San Diego, hit three home runs last week in the regular-season finale against Murrieta Mesa, giving him six on thes season. The most watched player will be JSerra catcher Austin Hedges, considered the best defensive prospect in the nation, high school or college.

Division 2

Yucaipa at West Torrance, Thursday, 3:15 p.m.

When it comes to pitching, the Thunderbirds have the type of 1-2 punch that can carry them back to the finals for the second straight year. Justin Lewis (8-1) threw a two-hitter Tuesday in a 3-0 wild-card victory against visiting Rancho Cucamonga. Now it’s Kevin Davidson's turn. The senior right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.10 ERA and helps himself out at the plate with a .511 batting average. West Torrance won the Bay League.

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Inland Empire: Spotlight on baseball league races

May, 10, 2011
As the final week of the regular season winds down, a number of league titles in the I.E. are still up for grabs. Here's a look at the major races still left to be settled.


Glendora (10-3), Wed. @ Upland, Fri. vs. Upland

Los Osos (9-4), Wed. @ Rancho Cucamonga, Fri. vs. Rancho Cucamonga.

*Glendora owns tiebreaker vs. Los Osos


J.W. North (9-3), Tues. vs. Santiago, Thurs. vs. King

King (9-3), Tues. vs. Roosevelt, Thurs @ North

Santiago (7-5), Tues. @ North, Thurs. vs. Poly

Norco (7-5), Tues. vs. Poly, Thurs. @ Corona

*North won first meeting vs. King, 3-0


Redlands (10-3), Tues. vs. Fontana, Thurs. @ Fontana

Yucaipa (9-4), Tues. @ Eisenhower, Thurs. vs. Eisenhower

Redlands East Valley (8-5), Tues. vs. Miller, Thurs. @ Miller

*Redlands owns tiebreaker vs. Yucaipa


Palm Desert (9-1), Tues. vs. Palm Springs, Thurs. @ Palm Springs

Indio (8-2), Tues. vs. La Quinta, Thurs. @ La Quinta

La Quinta (8-2), Tues. @ Indio, Thurs. vs. Indio

*Palm Desert’s only league loss vs. Indio


Canyon Springs (10-3), Wed. @ Arlington

Vista del Lago (10-3), Wed. vs. La Sierra

La Sierra (9-4), Wed. @ Vista del Lago

*Canyon Springs owns tiebreaker vs. Vista del Lago


Hemet (11-2), Wed. @ Tahquitz, Fri vs. Tahquitz

Tahquitz (11-2), Wed. vs. Hemet, Fri. @ Hemet

*Hemet won first meeting vs. Tahquitz, 6-2


Citrus Valley (12-1), Wed. @ at Notre Dame, Thurs. @ Notre Dame

Notre Dame (10-3), Wed. vs. Notre Dame, Thurs. vs. Notre Dame

*Citrus Valley won first meeting vs. Notre Dame, 3-2


Colony (9-2), Wed. vs. Ontario

Chino (9-2), Wed. @ Don Lugo

Don Lugo (8-3), Wed. vs. Chino

*Colony owns tiebreaker vs. Chino


Colton (12-1), Wed. vs. San Gorgonio

Rialto (11-2), Wed. vs. Pacific

San Gorgonio (10-2), Wed. @ Colton, Friday @ Pacific

*Colton and Rialto split season series


Chino Hills (10-3), Tues. @ Ayala, Thurs. vs. Ayala

South Hills (10-3), Tues. vs. Charter Oak, Thurs. @ Charter Oak

Damien (8-5), Tues. @ Claremont, Thurs. vs. Claremont

*Chino Hills owns tiebreaker vs. South Hills


Temescal Canyon (10-3), Tues. vs. Lakeside, Thurs. @ Lakeside

Paloma Valley (8-5), Tues. vs. Elsinore, Thurs. @ Elsinore

Lakeside (7-6), Tues. @ Temescal Canyon, Thurs. vs. Temescal Canyon

Heritage (7-6), Tues. vs. Perris, Thurs. @ Perris

*Paloma Valley owns tiebreaker vs. Temescal Canyon


Kaiser (10-3), Tues. vs. Summit, Thurs. @ Bloomington

Summit (8-5), Tues. @ Kaiser, Thurs. @ Patriot

Patriot (7-6), Tues. vs. Jurupa Valley, Thurs. vs. Summit

Bloomington (7-6), Tues @ Norte Vista, Thurs. vs. Kaiser

*Kaiser and Summit split previous two meetings

Inland Empire: The Top 10

December, 21, 2010
1. (1) Corona Centennial, 14-1
The Huskies blew past one opponent after another this season, but couldn’t overcome the wet, slippery conditions in the Division I state bowl game against Palo Alto.

2. (2) Vista Murrieta, 12-2
The Broncos returned to the Inland Division final for the second consecutive season, but are still looking for their first title as they fell to Centennial, 45-21.

3. (7) Chino Hills, 10-3
The Huskies trailed by just five points early in the fourth quarter of their Inland Division semifinal against Centennial, but lost their grip and were beaten, 42-23.

4. (9) Rancho Cucamonga, 11-2
In the most thrilling game of the season in the Inland Empire, the Cougars were stopped by Vista Murrieta on the one-yard line and lost the Inland Division semifinal in double overtime, 35-28.

5. (3) Eastvale Roosevelt, 9-3
The Mustangs defeated Norco in Big VIII League play and proved to be the second-best team in the I.E’s toughest league behind Centennial. They eventually lost to Rancho Cucamonga in a division semifinal.

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Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

December, 13, 2010
1. Corona Centennial completed an undefeated regular season and playoff run Friday with a 45-21 victory against Vista Murrieta in the Inland Division championship game. The Huskies were rewarded with a berth in the Division I state bowl game Friday night against Palo Alto at Home Depot Center. Barrinton Collins rushed for 286 yards and five touchdowns, and quarterback Michael Eubank continues to be the grease that spins the machine, throwing for 188 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 73.

2. From sidelines to message boards, many have debated whether Centennial deserved the open bowl berth over Servite based on common opponents. Exhibit A in the evidence file is Mater Dei. Centennial led the Monarchs, 44-0, after three quarters Sept. 17 before calling off the dogs and winning, 44-13. Servite beat Mater Dei a month later, 21-14. Exhibit B would be Temecula Chaparral. A week after defeating Mater Dei, the Huskies blew out the Pumas, 45-12, in their stadium. A week later -- and with the Pumas missing their two best players -- the Friars won, 28-7, at Santa Ana Stadium.

3. Centennial won its sixth section title since the school opened in 1997. Quite a contrast to Elsinore High, which over the weekend won its first section title in the school’s 83-year history. The Tigers played a gritty, mistake-free game in the 21-7 victory against Fontana Summit in the Eastern Division final. The celebration seemed even more special because the game was played at Elsinore High.

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Inland Empire: Colton 17, Rancho Verde 7

December, 11, 2010

MORENO VALLEY -- In the week leading up to Friday night's highly anticipated Colton-Rancho Verde CIF-SS Central Division championship game, Colton coach Rick Bray told his running back, senior star Tyler Ervin, that he was going to have him run the ball 50 times against the Mustangs to keep the talented Rancho Verde offense off the field.

Bray didn't quite get to his goal -- Ervin only had 42 carries for 168 yards -- but the plan worked to perfection, as underdog Colton controlled the pace of the game from start to finish and topped host Rancho Verde, 17-7, to hand the Mustangs their first loss of the season and win the school's first CIF title in 32 years.

"We knew that if we smacked them in the mouth and ran hard on every single play, nothing can stop us," Ervin said afterward. "We are a force to be reckoned with."

A good portion of Ervin's 42 carries appeared to be on a very similar play the Yellowjackets called again and again. Colton quarterback Jordan Mixon didn't delay and got to the line of scrimmage quick, where he would pitch to Ervin -- sometimes left, sometimes right -- a guard or tackle would run out and pull for the 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedster, and Ervin would get five or so yards a pop.

"We saw it all coming," said Rancho Verde defensive end/tight end Junior Pomee. "We knew they were going to run it with the same person, same play, over and over again.

"The defense just couldn't stop it."

Mixon wasn't asked to throw the ball very often, but when he was, he was on target. He twice connected with receiver Rodney Hardrick for scoring passes in the second half, including a 79-yard catch-and-run that broke the game open with 10 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Rancho Verde (13-1) came into the game averaging 48 points per game as the undefeated champions of the Inland Valley League and hadn't scored fewer than 28 points all season.

After a shaky, scoreless first quarter, the Mustangs appeared to get it together a bit and took a 7-3 lead into the halftime break on a touchdown grab by Breon Redman. But quarterback Travis Champion was clearly troubled by consistent pressure from the Colton defensive line in the second half and wasn't able to deliver much of anything of substance. When Champion threw two picks late in the game as the Mustangs tried to put together desperation drives, he was replaced by backup Jordan Jones, who didn't fare much better.

Colton (12-3) didn't even win its league this season, finishing third behind Cajon and San Gorgonio in the San Andreas League, but the Yellowjackets turned it up in CIF postseason play, beating Colony and Palm Springs to start off the run and then sneaking away with a one-point overtime victory over Cajon last week in the semifinals.

Bray, in his first season as head coach after serving as an assistant for 21 years, was elated with his team's performance -- especially against what he considered to be superior competition.

"That team has a bunch of great athletes," Bray said. "We're good athletes."

Rancho Verde played its season in memory of fallen linebacker Emil Smith, who died in a car accident in July. Pomee said he and his teammates were proud to have made it as far as they did.

Said Pomee: "We're just really happy that we played our hearts out for him."

Inland Empire: Championship game previews

December, 9, 2010
Corona Centennial and Vista Murrieta, who have emerged as two of the Inland Empire’s strongest football powers in the last decade, will meet for just the second time Friday night in the Inland Division championship game at Centennial.

Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

The only other time the teams played was two years ago in the semifinals. Centennial won, 41-14, behind three touchdown passes and two rushing by quarterback Taylor Martinez, now at Nebraska. That team went on to defeat Concord De La Salle in the CIF-Division I state bowl game and finish 15-0.

Offensively, the top-seeded Huskies (13-0) are very similar this season. They also feature a talented dual-purpose quarterback in Michael Eubank, a senior who has thrown for 2,532 yards and 21 touchdowns this season, with just three interceptions. On the ground, he has amassed 1,092 yards and 18 touchdowns, averaging 10.1 yards per carry.

The biggest difference between this season's offense and the 2008 version is running back Barrinton Collins, whose quick feet and explosiveness prevents defenses from focusing on Eubank. Collins has rushed for 2,026 yards (11.3 avg.) and scored 37 touchdowns.

Defensively, they’re a plus-23 in turnover ratio. Ryan Jack, a San Diego State-bound linebacker, is the team’s leading tackler.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

December, 6, 2010
1. No question top billing goes this week to Elsinore High, which pulled off one of the biggest shockers of the season Friday night, making the long trip to Fontana Kaiser and knocking off the top-seeded and previously unbeaten Cats, 20-12, in an Eastern Division semifinal. Elsinore coach Tony Peralta told reporters after the game the Tigers played rope-a-dope with Kaiser, staying close and then delivering a knockout punch at the end. In terms of high school football upsets, this was Buster Douglas vs. Mike Tyson.

2. Corona Centennial quarterback Michael Eubank admitted the Huskies were a bit overconfident heading into their Inland Division semifinal Friday night against host Chino Hills. That could have been why Centennial couldn’t put away the “other” Huskies until late in the fourth quarter. Centennial (13-0) produced its lowest point total of the season in the 42-23 victory, but still moved into seventh on the list of highest-scoring football teams Southern Section history (713). Fourth-place is only 27 points away, so the Huskies might get there by halftime in Friday’s championship game against visiting Vista Murrieta. More to come on that during the week.

3. The Vista Murrieta vs. Rancho Cucamonga double-overtime semifinal Saturday night was as close and exciting of a game as they come. Well, unless you were around in 2002, when Terrell Jackson scored eight touchdowns in the triple-overtime Division V final and Centennial beat Riverside North, 57-55. The game was intense and hard-hitting, but the players showed dignity and class when it finally ended in a pile of bodies at the goal line.

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Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

November, 29, 2010
1. Let’s head straight to the Central Division for the best game of the weekend. La Quinta trailed host Chino by 28 points in their quarterfinal game, then scored 42 in the second half to win, 42-41. The fourth-seeded Blackhawks took a 42-35 lead on a 37-yard touchdown run by Chyl Robinson with 51 seconds remaining, followed by a two-point conversion. Chino answered 19 seconds later on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Sean Molles to Promise Amadi. Needing just the point-after to tie the score, La Quinta deflected the kick and it fell short of the crossbar. The comeback also included two successful onside kick recoveries. La Quinta moves on to Friday’s semifinal, where it will host top-seeded Moreno Valley Rancho Verde.

2. Thanks to a pair of upsets in the bottom half of the Central Division bracket, the other semifinal will feature a San Andreas League rematch Saturday between San Bernardino Cajon and host Colton. Cajon knocked off third-seeded Riverside Arlington in convincing fashion, 35-7. The Yellowjackets did the same to second-seeded Palm Springs, 35-14. The Cowboys defeated Colton, 29-20, in SAL play this season, but the Yellowjackets didn’t have running back Tyler Ervin for that game. Ervin, who missed three games because of an ankle injury, rushed for a season-high 189 yards in 30 carries and scored two touchdowns against Palm Springs.

3. The competition must be getting stiffer because Corona Centennial had its closest game of the season Friday night – only beating Upland by 29 points. In fact, for only the second time this season, top-seeded Centennial actually trailed in a game. That lasted for all of 2 minutes before the Huskies stormed away in the second half for a 52-23 victory in an Inland Division quarterfinal at Upland. Probably most impressive were the numbers put up by Centennial running back Barrinton Collins, who rushed for a career-high 305 yards in 27 carries and scored five touchdowns, despite dislocating a shoulder during practice earlier in the week. Centennial will play at fourth-seeded Chino Hills in Friday’s semifinal.

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Inland Empire: Games of the week

November, 23, 2010
The schedule shows Norco is hosting Vista Murrieta in an Inland Division second-round game Friday night, but this match-up has all the appearances of a semifinal.

Norco (9-2) finished third in the Big VIII League, however, the Cougars might just be the second-best team in this division. They also tend to peak this time of year, owning a 19-5 postseason record since 2003, including Inland Division titles in 2006-07.

Norco freshman quarterback Coltin Gerhart has his favorite receiver back, tight end Joshua Long, who missed seven games with a shoulder injury. Stanford-bound running back Kelsey Young has been one of the top ball carriers in the Southland this season.

Vista Murrieta (10-1) is seeded second after winning the Southwestern League. The Broncos are led by Utah-bound quarterback Derrick Brown, who threw a 32-yard touchdown pass with about two minutes left in last season’s semifinals against Norco, lifting Vista Murrieta to a 34-33 victory.

What differentiates these teams is the strength of their schedules this season. The Broncos only played two teams that are still alive in the playoffs. Norco has played five.

Another Inland Division game to see:

Rancho Cucamonga (10-1) at Eastvale Roosevelt (9-2), Friday – These teams don’t feature any star recruits, they just play a hard and fast brand of football.

Rancho Cucamonga running back Sateki Finau has rushed for at least 147 yards in six consecutive games, and quarterback Dimitri Morales has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the last five games for the third-seeded Cougars.

Roosevelt quarterback Aaron Crone has been similarly efficient, throwing 21 touchdown passes while being intercepted just four times. In the last four games, he has completed 68% of his passes. Sam Boyd has been his No. 1 target, hauling in 43 receptions for 802 yards and nine touchdowns.

Both teams played Murrieta Valley this season with similar results. Roosevelt beat the Nighthawks, 33-12, in Week 2. Rancho Cucamonga knocked off Murrieta Valley, 37-13, in the first round of the playoffs.

ESPNLA.com’s pick: Roosevelt 31, Rancho Cucamonga 27.

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