Los Angeles Preps: Dallas Cowboys

I.E.: A closer look at the Inland Valley League

August, 13, 2011
8/13/11
7:27
PM PT
INLAND VALLEY LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Moreno Valley Rancho Verde (13-1, 7-0); Riverside Arlington (9-3, 6-1); Moreno Valley Valley View (6-5, 5-2); Riverside La Sierra (6-5, 4-3); Moreno Valley (3-7, 3-4); Moreno Valley Vista del Lago (4-6, 2-5); Moreno Valley Canyon Springs (2-8, 1-6); Ramona (0-10, 0-7).

Players to watch: As they say at Rancho Verde, the Mustangs don’t rebuild, they reload. They showed their skill in June during a seven-on-seven passing tournament at UCLA, finishing 8-0 behind senior quarterback Carlos Hernandez. He’ll have a pair of solid receivers to look to in senior Breon Redman, a returning first-team all leaguer, and junior Demorea Stringfellow, who already has a scholarship offer from UCLA. Kevin Shelton is a potential Division 1 recruit on the offensive line and he’ll be re-joined by all-leaguer Robert Rodriguez. The defense should be well anchored by all-Central Division linebacker Blair Brown and defensive backs DeVonte Collier and Leroy Holt. Rancho Verde should face some stiff competition from La Sierra, which boasts the league’s best front seven on defense. A.J. Fanene had a league-leading 18 sacks last season, ninth-most in the Southern Section, and piqued the interest of USC during spring combines. Noel Quiones led the IVL with 156 tackles, including seven sacks, and fellow linebacker Tim Mummert also produced seven sacks. Offensively, the Eagles will be directed by junior quarterback Johnny Salazar, a returning starter. Valley View features the league’s top returning running back. Michael Harrison racked up 1,120 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns last season. He surpassed the 100-yard mark in the final five regular-season games. The defense will be led by all-league linebacker Michael Khoury. Moreno Valley will also likely rely on its running game. Ieremia Talia ran for 971 yards last season, averaging 7.3 yards a carry en route to earning all-league honors. Canyon Springs should also improve with the return of its top two receivers, senior Jeff Hernandez and junior Kendrick Newburn. Arlington is expected to face a rebuilding year this season but the Lions have a strong pass defender in senior Alex Garcia, a first-team all-league selection.

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

Key games: Sept. 2 – Perris Citrus Hill vs. Canyon Springs @ Moreno Valley; Sept. 16 – Valley View vs. Riverside Patriot @ Riverside Rubidoux HS, Moreno Valley @ Palm Springs; Sept. 23 – Rancho Verde @ Romoland Heritage, Arlington @ La Quinta; Sept. 30 – Arlington vs. Valley View @ Ramona; Oct. 7 – Rancho Verde @ Valley View; Oct. 14 – Rancho Verde vs. La Sierra @ Riverside Norte Vista HS; Oct. 21 – La Sierra @ Valley View; Nov. 11 – Arlington @ Rancho Verde.

Alumni in the NFL: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Rancho Verde ’08); D’Aundre Reed, Minnesota Vikings (Rancho Verde ‘06); Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers (Rancho Verde ’05); Derrick Ward, Houston Texans (Valley View ’98).

Fast fact: Rancho Verde has won 31 consecutive regular-season games but that success hasn’t carried into the postseason. The Mustangs did not advance past the semifinals in 2008 and 2009, and were upset by Colton in the Central Division finals last season, despite entering the playoffs as the top-seeded team in the division.

On the clock: Mt. Baldy League.

I.E.: A closer look at the Citrus Belt League

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
10:53
PM PT
CITRUS BELT LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Redlands East Valley (8-3, 5-0); Redlands (7-3-1, 3-2); Yucaipa (6-5, 3-2); Fontana A.B. Miller (5-5, 3-2); Rialto Eisenhower (1-9, 1-4); Fontana (0-10, 0-5)

Players to watch: Redlands East Valley will have the luxury of a 1-2 punch in the backfield. Jesse Riley was a first-team all-league selection as a junior last season, playing a key role in a 24-22 victory against rival Redlands by rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll be joined by junior Taylor Thompson, who brings a more bruising running style. REV also returns quarterback Austin Decoud and a dominant offensive lineman in Dominique Robertson, who reportedly has an offer on the table from Arizona State. Edmund Faimalo also returns up front, as well as junior tight end Blake Braun, both first-team all-league picks a year ago. Defensively, the Wildcats will lean on defensive lineman Justin Sedivy and outside linebacker Trevor Douglass. Redlands figures to provide the biggest obstacle for REV again this season. The Terriers also return their quarterback, senior Mike Stallone, and a gifted ball carrier in junior Darryl Miller, who left an impression at the end of last season by rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a first-round playoff loss to Norco. The most heralded newcomer to the CBL is Reshawn Hooker of A.B. Miller. Hooker, a senior linebacker who transferred from San Bernardino Arroyo Valley in the offseason, is rated as the 49th best player in the state by Rivals.com. He reportedly has scholarship offers from six Pac-12 schools, including UCLA. Boise State is also high on his preference list. Yucaipa made the playoffs last season as the league’s third-place team and the Thunderbirds will be counting on junior quarterback Clayton Leach-Mead to continue his improvement. Nate Pascale led their defense with six sacks last season.

Projected order of finish: Redlands East Valley, Redlands, A.B. Miller, Yucaipa, Eisenhower, Fontana.

Key games: Sept. 9 – Compton Dominguez vs. Redlands East Valley @ Perris Citrus Hill HS, Fontana Summit @ Redlands; Sept. 16 – A.B. Miller @ Arroyo Valley; Sept. 23 – Los Angeles Dorsey vs. Redlands East Valley @ Citrus Hill, Etiwanda @ A.B. Miller; Sept. 30 – Redlands vs. Rancho Cucamonga @ Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos HS, Redlands East Valley @ Chino Hills; Oct. 7 – Mission Viejo vs. Redlands East Valley @ Univ. of Redlands; Oct. 21 – Redlands East Valley @ Redlands; Oct. 28 – Yucaipa @ Redlands; Nov. 4 – A.B. Miller @ Yucaipa; Nov. 10 – Redlands East Valley @ Yucaipa, Redlands @ A.B. Miller.

Alumni in the NFL: Nick Barnett, Buffalo Bills (A.B. Miller ’99); Victor Butler, Dallas Cowboys (Eisenhower ’05); Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos (Eisenhower ’04).

Fast fact: The Inland Empire has developed some intense rivalries in recent years but none have quite reached the level of Redlands East Valley and Redlands. It was one-sided at first, with Redlands winning the first five meetings between 1998 and 2002 by a combined score of 237-6. Since then, Redlands East Valley has taken control, winning six of the last eight, including four straight.

On the clock: Desert Valley League.

I.E.: A closer look at the Baseline League

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
4:54
PM PT
ESPNLA plans to spend the next 10 days or so previewing the top leagues from the Inland Empire. First up, the Baseline League.

BASELINE LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Rancho Cucamonga (11-2, 5-0); Upland (8-4, 4-1); Etiwanda (6-6, 3-2); Los Osos (5-5, 2-3); Glendora (5-5, 1-4); Alta Loma (0-10, 0-5).

Players to watch: Two of the league’s top three passers return for their senior seasons. Larry Cutbirth of Etiwanda threw for a league-leading 2,996 yards last season, ninth best in the Southern Section, and 32 touchdowns. He led the Eagles to the team title last month at the Claremont seven-on-seven passing tournament. Rancho Cucamonga quarterback Dimitri Morales also returns after throwing for 1,828 yards and 22 touchdowns while helping the Cougars reach the SS-Inland Division semifinals. Morales was intercepted just once in the final seven games. Kenny Lawler of Upland, who has committed to Arizona State, is the top returning receiver after hauling in 42 passes for 887 yards and nine touchdowns. Up front, offensive tackle Cameron Turner of Rancho Cucamonga is a returning first-team all-Inland Division selection. Defensively, senior middle linebacker Chandler Scott returns for Etiwanda after sitting out last season with a knee injury. As a sophomore, Scott was a first-team all-Baseline League selection after leading his team in tackles. Scott will team with fellow senior linebacker J.J. Everard, who led the league in tackles last season.

Projected order of finish: Rancho Cucamonga, Etiwanda, Upland, Los Osos, Glendora, Alta Loma.

Key games: Sept. 9 – Etiwanda vs. Vista Murrieta @ Ontario Colony HS; Sept. 16 – Etiwanda vs. Norco @ Colony; Sept. 23 – Upland @ Norco; Sept. 30 – Los Angeles Loyola @ Upland, Rancho Cucamonga vs. Redlands @ Los Osos; Oct. 14 – Etiwanda vs. Upland @ Colony; Oct. 21 – Rancho Cucamonga @ Upland; Oct. 28 – Rancho Cucamonga vs. Etiwanda @ Los Osos.

Alumni in the NFL: Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers (Alta Loma ’03); Kenyon Coleman, Dallas Cowboys (Alta Loma ’97); Patrick Chung, New England Patriots (Rancho Cucamonga ’04); Terrell Thomas, New York Giants (Rancho Cucamonga ’03); Gerald Alexander, Carolina Panthers (Rancho Cucamonga ’02); Vincent Brown, San Diego Chargers (Rancho Cucamonga ’07)

Fast fact: Alta Loma comes in riding a 20-game losing streak after allowing an average of 48 points a game last season. There’s reason to be hopeful for a turnaround, however. The Braves return their top two tacklers from last season, senior middle linebacker Phillip Fisher and junior safety Andrew Pacheco.

On the clock: Big VIII League.

Inland Empire: All is not melancholy on this range

September, 22, 2010
9/22/10
3:38
PM PT
At least one team is celebrating in Romoland.

That would be Heritage High School, which opened three years ago on a 65-acre lot between Perris, Hemet, Lake Elsinore and Murrieta, better known as Romoland.

The Patriots are 3-0 for the first time in their short history, posting an impressive season-opening victory against San Jacinto and then knocking off Riverside Patriot and Beaumont.

If only the Dallas Cowboys and quarterback Tony Romo were so fortunate.

Heritage has been leaning on its running game this season and Scott Benson has been holding up. Most recently, the senior rushed for 205 yards and four touchdowns Friday night in a 35-14 victory against visiting Beaumont. It was his third straight 100-yard rushing game.

Here are some highlights of Benson doing his thing.

Without a doubt, the most impressive victory came in the season opener against San Jacinto, when Heritage rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and then blocked a last-minute field-goal attempt to win, 34-31.

The Patriots, who moved to the Sunbelt League this season along with Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon, will attempt to notch another win in their belt when they travel to Hemet Tahquitz on Friday night.

(Read full post)

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