Los Angeles Preps: Daniel Rodriguez

I.E.: Games of the Week

November, 3, 2011
11/03/11
3:37
PM PT
As the regular season winds down to the last couple of weeks, reality begins to set in for a lot of teams. Some can see the finish line in the race to a league title, while others are just hoping to hang on to that last automatic playoff spot. Here are the games that have the most meaning in the I.E. this week.

A-Game

(Inland Empire rankings included)

Heritage (7-1, 3-0) at Elsinore (7-1, 3-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – Heritage beat Elsinore for the Sunbelt League title last season, 40-19, but it was Elsinore that went on to win the Eastern Division title, the program's first Southern Section championship in 83 years. Elsinore relies heavily on its run game and is loaded with players who occupied key roles in the latest postseason run. Tight end/linebacker Nolan Peralta was the league's defensive MVP last season and running backs/defensive backs Allan Stubbs and Daniel Rodriguez have combined for 2,067 rushing yards. Heritage has its own 1,000-yard rusher in junior Jamal Morrow, and one of the area's most punishing two-way players in fullback/linebacker Tony Hifo.

Calpreps.com computerized projection: Heritage 27, Elsinore 26

ESPNLA: Elsinore 24, Heritage 21

B-List

Murrieta Valley (7-1, 3-0) at No. 3 Vista Murrieta (3-5, 3-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – Though this rivalry is just a few years old, it has already produced some memorable upsets on both sides. In just its second season in the Southwestern League, Vista Murrieta beat the Nighthawks in 2005 to deny them the league title. Three years later, Murrieta Valley returned the favor with a 10-3 upset, its only victory against the Broncos in six meetings. The Nighthawks will need a huge game from quarterback Andrew Blake. He delivered last week, throwing for 402 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-6 victory against Murrieta Mesa. Of course, Vista Murrieta is no Murrieta Mesa and Su'a Cravens isn't your typical team MVP. Cravens is a junior strong safety and running back who's a game changer for the Broncos on both sides of the ball, and Oregon-bound defensive end Jeremy Castro holds down the line.

Calpreps.com: Vista Murrieta 34, Murrieta Valley 7

ESPNLA: Vista Murrieta 35, Murrieta Valley 20

Los Osos (6-2, 3-0) at No. 2 Upland (8-0, 3-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – Los Osos is the last hurdle for Upland in its bid to win win the Baseline League title outright and secure a top four seeding for the postseason. Don't expect the Grizzlies to roll over and play dead, however. They might be one of the most underrated teams in the I.E.. Los Osos beat Etiwanda by seven points two weeks ago, the same margin that Upland defeated Etiwanda and better than Vista Murrieta, Rancho Cucamonga and Norco. Look for some good battles in the trenches between Los Osos offensive tackle Dylan La Frenz, who committed to Arizona State last week, and Upland defensive lineman Christian Powell, who is scheduled to take an official recruiting trip to Nebraska this weekend.

(Read full post)

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

August, 22, 2011
8/22/11
9:07
PM PT
SUNBELT LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Romoland Heritage (11-1, 5-0); Elsinore (12-2, 4-1); Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon (6-5, 3-2); Menifee Paloma Valley (4-6, 2-3); Lake Elsinore Lakeside (1-9, 1-4); Perris (1-9, 0-5).

Players to watch: After knocking off Fontana Summit last December in the SS-Eastern Division final to win the program’s first section title in the school’s 83-year history, Elsinore is in good position to make it two in a row. The Tigers return four of their best defenders from last season, led by senior tight end and linebacker Nolan Peralta, the Eastern Division defensive player of the year. Peralta, the son of coach Tony Peralta, was the team’s second-leading tackler and receiver last season. Also returning are a pair of all-Eastern Division defensive backs, Allan Stubbs and Daniel Rodriguez, and the team’s leading tackler, linebacker Jose Banda. Rodriguez also emerged as a valuable running back late last season, combining for 303 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the final two playoff victories. After beating the Tigers in Sunbelt League play, Heritage lost to Summit in the section semifinals. Heritage returns senior quarterback Chad Virgil and junior running back Jamaal Morrow, who rushed for 731 yards and eight touchdowns while spelling Scott Benson last season. Morrow will be asked to do a lot this season, as he was also one of the team’s top defensive players while patrolling the secondary a year ago. He’ll team nicely with one of the division’s top defensive players, senior linebacker Tony Hifo, a returning all-Eastern Division pick. The next biggest challenger for the league title is Paloma Valley. The Wildcats return the Eastern Division’s second-leading passer last season, senior Logan Tutwiler, who threw for 2,022 yards and 18 touchdowns. He should benefit from having his two favorite targets back this season. Anthony Johnston led the league with 937 receiving yards and scored nine touchdowns, and Patrick Santhavisouk was second in the league with 461 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, Nico Caramella led the league with six interceptions. Temescal Canyon will try to win games on the ground behind running back Michael Shepherd, who rushed for a league-leading 1,887 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. Lakeside also returns their top rusher in Ryan Byrd, who totaled 1,112 yards and 13 touchdowns, as well as junior quarterback Dakota Wilson.

Projected order of finish: Elsinore, Heritage, Paloma Valley, Temescal Canyon, Lakeside, Perris.

Key games: Sept. 2 – Fontana A.B. Miller @ Lakeside; Sept. 16 – Perris vs. Moreno Valley Canyon Springs @ Moreno Valley HS; Sept. 23 – Moreno Valley Rancho Verde @ Heritage, Temecula Valley @ Elsinore; Sept. 30 – Paloma Valley @ Temecula Valley; Oct. 14 – Temescal Canyon @ Heritage; Oct. 21 – Heritage @ Paloma Valley, Temescal Canyon @ Elsinore; Oct. 28 – Paloma Valley @ Temescal Canyon; Nov. 4 – Heritage @ Elsinore; Nov. 10 – Elsinore @ Paloma Valley.

Fast fact: The new coach at Lakeside this season is Kitrick Taylor, who previously assisted at Lakeside, Pomona High School and Chaffey College. He's probably best known, however, for catching Brett Favre's first game-winning touchdown pass in the NFL. Taylor was a member of the Green Bay Packers in September 1992, when he caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Farve with 13 seconds left, lifting Green Bay to a 24-23 victory against the Cincinnati Bengals. It was also the first victory for Mike Holmgren as an NFL head coach.

On the clock: Sunkist League.

Inland Empire: Corona Centennial highlights Inland Division selections

January, 27, 2011
1/27/11
8:34
PM PT
The All-Southern Section 11-man football teams were released Thursday and, as expected, Corona Centennial had several players representing the Inland Division.

The Huskies had five players selected to the 22-man offensive team, including quarterback Michael Eubank, the division’s offensive player of the year.

Eubank, who is expected to sign with Arizona State next week, threw for 2,831 yards and 22 touchdowns while leading Centennial to the Inland Division title and a Division I state bowl berth. Eubank also ran for 1,329 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Centennial defensive back Chris Gonzalez was named the division’s defensive player of the year over San Diego State-bound teammate and leading tackler, linebacker Ryan Jack. Gonzalez led the Huskies with seven interceptions and was second on the team in tackles. Milo Jordan, a junior lineman and top recruit for next year, was the other Centennial player selected to the defensive team.

Matt Logan completed the sweep for Centennial, winning coach of the year honors.

Inland Division runner-up Vista Murrieta had six selections and semifinalists Rancho Cucamonga and Chino Hills had five each.

Among the notable players not selected was Chaparral receiver Antoine Arnold, last season's co-offensive player of the year. Arnold played in all but two games this season but his numbers dropped significantly as the offense struggled to get him the ball. Corona defensive end DeVante Wilson, who is expected to sign with USC next week, did not return to the defensive team.

(Read full post)

LA South: Five things from the weekend

January, 11, 2011
1/11/11
3:45
PM PT
1. It was rather surprising to see Crenshaw football star and USC-bound De'Anthony Thomas play on the defensive side of the ball at the U.S. Army All-America Game on Saturday. Thomas, who had an interception in the game, could probably start for many college teams right now -- at any position. Last month he said he planned on playing tailback for the Trojans, but he missed an opportunity to get experience against top prospects on Saturday.

2. Fairfax guard Landon Drew, who transferred from Woodland Hills Taft, was selected as the Abbotsford Collegiate Snowball Classic tournament MVP, as the Lions cruised to the championship with three wins over Canadian competition. Senior center Laik Carter was named a second-team all-performer. Fairfax (9-3) won games by 57, 27 and 22 points.

3. It's been a tale of two halves thus far for the Bishop Amat basketball team. After starting the season 8-1, the Lancers have split their last eight games, the latest a 64-50 home loss Friday to semi-surprise Chino Hills. Del Rey League play -- which begins Wednesday -- couldn't come at a better time for Amat and Daniel Rodriguez (20.2 points per game). Pasadena La Salle (11-5) and Torrance Bishop Montgomery (9-6) figure to vie for the league crown.

4. Westchester (13-5) stumbled in the semifinals of the Allstate Sugar Bowl National Prep Classic in New Orleans, La., losing to eventual champion Kimball (Dallas, Texas), 58-52. It was productive trip, though, as the Comets won three of their four games, bouncing back from the lone loss with a 40-38 win over Peabody (Alexandria, La.) in the consolation round. Brilliant scheduling by coach Ed Azzam, as Westchester has played in virtually every top tournament.

5. Can anyone stop St. John Bosco's Cezar Guerrero? The guard had 38 points in a 71-68 overtime win over Servite on Friday and a career-high 46 points against Mater Dei two nights earlier. On Friday Guerrero hit a free throw to put the Braves (16-3) up three before Cody Pittman's last-second long heave rimmed out.

Eastern Division: Elsinore 21, Summit 7

December, 11, 2010
12/11/10
11:50
PM PT


ELSINORE--Football players have come and gone at Elsinore High, 82 years worth to be exact.

None had won a Southern Section title until Saturday night.

The Tigers regrouped after a slow start and toppled Fontana Summit, 21-7, in the Eastern Division final at Elsinore High, setting off an emotional celebration unmatched in the Inland Empire this season.

Grown men danced like teenagers. Teenagers fell to their knees and cried like toddlers. Moms who knew little about the Xs and Os of football rushed on the field. Dads stayed behind and shared hugs with others around them.

It was a celebration long in the making.

“I’m just so happy,” said running back Daniel Rodriquez, who carried the ball 24 times for 131 yards and two touchdowns. “I just really haven’t taken it all in yet.”

The game turned midway through the second quarter. The SkyHawks were leading, 7-0, when they inexplicitly tried a fake punt from their own end zone and punter Jameel Erving was tackled on the four-yard line.

(Read full post)

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