Los Angeles Preps: Damontae Kazee

Lawler signs with Cal, ending big day for I.E.

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
3:35
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Upland wide receiver Kenny Lawler, the last major unsigned recruit from the Inland Empire, made it official Wednesday afternoon, announcing he will sign with California.

Lawler took a last-minute recruiting trip over the weekend to California after visiting Oregon State and Washington State the two prior weekends. Heading into Wednesday’s national signing day, he was reportedly down to California and Oregon State.

The Bears return leading receiver Keenan Allen, but second-leading receiver Marvin Jones has exhausted his eligibility. A spot opened up for Lawler in Cal's recruiting class after Oaks Christian wide receiver Jordan Payton, who had committed to the Golden Bears in early January, switched to Washington last week before ultimately signing with UCLA.

Lawler said on Fox Sports Prime Ticket that a major factor in his decision was California hiring one of his longtime coaches, Charlie Collins, as a staff member.

“I know he’s going to have my back up there,” Lawler said.

The 6-3, 185-pound senior committed to Arizona State shortly after last year’s national signing day, the first school to offer him a scholarship. He stuck by the commitment until late November, shortly after the Wildcats fired coach Dennis Erickson.

Lawler caught 53 passes for 1,267 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, including nine scores in the final four games. His size and reach allows him to out-jump most defensive backs.

Lawler is one of four Upland players to sign a letter of intent Wednesday. Running back Donte Abron, Jr., defensive back Marques Mosley and fullback Christian Powell signed with Colorado earlier in the day.

Here's a full list of signings from Wednesday:

(Read full post)

Powell switches from UCLA to Colorado

January, 31, 2012
1/31/12
3:34
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Less than 24 hours before national signing day and high school football recruits from the Inland Empire continue to sway on their decisions, or learn that a previous offer is no longer on the table.

UCLA and Colorado are two schools in the middle of some down-to-the-wire movement involving I.E. recruits.

Christian Powell, the third-ranked fullback recruit in the nation, committed to UCLA earlier this month but switched to Colorado on Monday night, reports several outlets, including Greg Biggins of ESPN Recruiting Nation.

He would be the third player from Upland to be part of the Buffaloes' recruiting class, joining running back Donte Abron, Jr., and wide receiver/defensive back Marques Mosley. Powell, at 6 feet, 250 pounds, also played defensive line for the Highlanders, recording 15 sacks last season, but is expected to play fullback in coach Eric Bienemy's offense.

Corona Santiago offensive lineman Isaiah Folasa, also once a UCLA commit under former coach Rick Neuheisel, will reportedly sign with New Mexico State on Wednesday, according to Santiago coach Jeff Steinberg.

Folasa took a recruiting trip to Colorado the weekend of Jan. 21, but the Buffaloes were unable to accept his commitment because they had ran out of available scholarships for this class, Biggins reported. In addition to the Upland trio, Arlington defensive lineman Samson Kafovalu and Citrus Hill running back Davien Payne have also pledged to Colorado.

Here’s the latest list of recruits from the I.E.

(Read full post)

I.E.: Top football recruits for class of '12

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
9:46
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Now that the high football season has ended, the recruiting period is in full swing. The Inland Empire, which has stockpiled a number of collegiate conferences over the years, has its share of blue-chip recruits again this season. Here’s a list of seniors who have made non-binding verbal commitments to schools in advance of the national signing day in early February, followed by a list of those who are still undecided.

COMMITTED RECRUITS

QB -- Matt Morin, Chaparral (San Diego State); Austin Decoud, Redlands East Valley (Idaho).

RB -- Donta Abron, Jr., Upland (Colorado); Davien Payne, Citrus Hill (Colorado).

ATHLETE -- Damontae Kazee, Cajon (San Diego State); Bryan Harper, Colony (Washington); Jamaal Williams, Summit (BYU).

OL -- Lio Lafaele, Corona Centennial (Utah); Dylan LaFrenz, Los Osos (Arizona State); Isaiah Folasa, Corona Santiago (UCLA); Kyle Hart, Ridgecrest Burroughs (San Jose State).

DL -- Jeremy Castro, Vista Murrieta (Oregon); Teddy Queen, Chaparral (San Diego State); Samson Kafovalu, Arlington (Colorado).

LB -- Scott Starr, Norco (USC); C.J. Dozier, Chaparral (Arizona State); Darnell Murray, Citrus Hill (UTEP).

DB -- Donte Deayon, Summit (Boise State); Corbin McCarthy, Norco (Duke); Marques Mosley, Upland (Colorado).

UNDECIDED

ATHLETE -- Reshawn Hooker, A.B. Miller (Boise State, UCLA).

WR -- Kenny Lawler, Upland (UCLA, Oregon State, California, Michigan State).

DL -- Milo Jordan, Corona Centennial (USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Nebraska, Washington); Christian Powell, Upland (Washington, Nebraska, Texas A&M).

LB -- Joe Robinson, Chaparral (Nebraska, Arizona); Robert Wagner, Colony (Arizona, San Diego State); Nolan Peralta, Elsinore (Fresno State, San Jose State).

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.

IE: Five things from the weekend

September, 4, 2011
9/04/11
11:30
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1. Riverside Ramona is already the front runner for the comeback story of the season. The Rams won their opener Friday night against Riverside King, 28-7, their first victory since Oct. 30, 2009. Zack Lewis, fourth in the state in the 300 hurdles last June, scampered for 136 yards and two touchdowns, and quarterback T.J. Miller threw for two more. Ramona lost to King, 30-0, in last season’s opener, setting the tone for an 0-10 season.

2. Corona Santiago also showed it’s a much better team than a year ago. The Sharks disposed of visiting Dana Hills, 53-17, a far cry from last season’s opener, when they lost to the Dolphins, 49-20. The biggest difference is likely the maturation of junior quarterback Michael Darr, who made his varsity debut in last season’s game against Dana Hills. In the rematch, Darr was calm, cool and collected, rushing for 182 yards and a touchdown in 17 carries and throwing for 255 yards and three scores.

3. It’s safe to say that San Bernardino Cajon out-coached Temecula Chaparral on Friday night. The Cowboys surprised the Chaparral coaching staff and players with a variety of offensive formations in the 30-14 victory, including the quarterback-less Wildcat. Damontae Kazee, who has committed to Washington, did most of the damage out of the Wildcat and finished with 169 yards rushing, including a 43-yard touchdown. Ryan Tukua was making his head coaching debut for the Pumas.

4. Kickers usually don’t get much attention until it’s time to win or tie a game. Matthew Sandoval of Moreno Valley Valley View came through when his team needed it most Friday night, booting a 38-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to lift his team to a 17-16 victory at Beaumont. Ontario Colony, meanwhile, was the beneficiary of a missed point-after attempt in the final seconds against West Covina South Hills, allowing the Titans to escape with a 30-29 victory.

5. One of the more surprising blowouts of the weekend was a 49-7 victory by Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos against visiting La Quinta. The Nighthawks are usually one of the better teams in the Coachella Valley, while Los Osos is trying to break in a number of new players. “We weren’t ready to play,” La Quinta assistant coach Dave Gurbada told The Desert Sun. “We have young guys we thought would play better and didn’t.” Isn’t that the responsibility of the coaching staff?

I.E.: Summit-Etiwanda highlights opening week

August, 31, 2011
8/31/11
7:27
PM PT
Through out this season, ESPNLA plans to highlight the Inland Empire's top matchups of the week, whether it's two undefeated teams going head to head in league play, a beefy offensive line against a swarming defensive front, or an offseason transfer meeting up against his former team. And what's a good preview without a prediction?

Here's what to look for this weekend.

A-GAME

Fontana Summit vs. Etiwanda at Fontana A.B. Miller HS, Friday (7 p.m.) -- One of the top passers in the Southern Section last season goes up against one of the best ball hawks. Larry Cutbirth of Etiwanda threw for 2,996 yards and 32 touchdowns last season, both stats among the top 10 in the state’s biggest section. He'll have to contend with Boise State-bound senior corner Donte Deayon, who hauled in 10 interceptions as a junior, which tied for second in the section. The game was expected to mark the long-awaited return of Etiwanda senior linebacker Chandler Scott, who sat out last season because of a knee injury after leading the Baseline League in tackles as a sophomore, but he suffered another knee injury over the summer and is expected to miss the first two games.

Prediction: Summit 26, Etiwanda 21.

B-LIST

San Bernardino Cajon at Temecula Chaparral, Friday (7 p.m.) -- Chaparral would very much like to spring from the blocks and start the season on a positive note for new coach Ryan Tukua. The matchup to watch here is also quarterback vs. cornerback. Matt Morin returns behind center for Chaparral and the San Diego State-bound left-hander will be trying to beat a Cajon secondary that includes Damontae Kazee, who has committed to Washington but has a brother, Walter, who plays running back for San Diego State. Kazee is also Cajon’s biggest offensive threat at receiver, and he’ll face a defense led by Chaparral strong safety C.J. Dozier, who has committed to Arizona State.

Prediction: Chaparral 20, Cajon 17.

Pomona Diamond Ranch at Chino, Friday (7 p.m.) -- If nothing else, this game should be interesting to watch from a coaching perspective. Chino’s balanced offense will stare down a defense coached by former Riverside North, USC and NFL defensive end Chris Claiborne, in his first season as defensive coordinator at Diamond Ranch. He'll have to find a way to stop Chino quarterback Sean Molles, who threw for 2,343 yards and 29 touchdowns last season, and running back Xavier Browne, who totaled 1,275 yards and 20 touchdowns. Claiborne was defensive coordinator the last two seasons at Corona High, where he developed defensive end DeVante Wilson, now at USC.

Prediction: Chino 28, Diamond Ranch 10.

La Quinta at Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos, Friday (7 p.m.) -- Taylor Pope might have to be a one-man band for La Quinta. The senior quarterback is the lone returning all-Desert Valley League selection from last season’s team, and one of the key pieces on defense and special teams for the Blackhawks. Los Osos missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2004 and returns just eight starters, but the Grizzlies have one of the area's better offensive guards to lean on in 6-4, 280-pound senior Dylan La Frenz.

Prediction: La Quinta 14, Los Osos 13.

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.

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