Los Angeles Preps: Deontae Cooper

I.E.: 5 questions to ponder after Week 8

October, 31, 2011
1. Next best comeback in the I.E. this season? This might be up for debate, since just four weeks ago La Quinta rallied from a 34-0 deficit at the start of the second half to defeat Ridgecrest Burroughs, 41-34. But a similar improbable comeback occurred Friday night in the Sunkist League, when Norte Vista rallied from a 21-point hole midway through the fourth quarter against Jurupa Valley and won, 43-42. The final points came with 1:01 remaining. Daniel Duronslet tossed a 16-yard touchdown strike to Samuel Cena, and Gabriel Pena ran in the two-point conversion. The Braves (4-4, 2-1) recovered two onside kicks while scoring 22 points in 3 minutes 46 seconds. Jurupa Valley dropped into fourth place at 5-2-1, 1-2.

2. Who will be the next I.E. running back to average 200 yards a game? Despite missing a game earlier this season because of a hip pointer, Chaffey senior Devon Samuels is fourth in the Southern Section with 1,423 rushing yards. His average of 203.2 yards a game is second best. If he can maintain that average, he would join an elite list of ball carriers that include Kenjon Barner of Riverside Notre Dame (now at Oregon), Deontae Cooper of Citrus Hill (Washington) and Ryan Bass of Corona Centennial (Idaho).

3. Which is the most surprising undefeated team in the I.E.? The latest meeting between Yucaipa and Redlands didn’t have nearly the excitement level of four years ago, when Yucaipa went for two points after scoring a touchdown in double overtime and beat the Terriers, 22-21, in a Citrus Belt League game. On Friday night, Yucaipa beat the Terriers for the first time since that night and in a much more convincing fashion, rolling to a 23-6 victory. The win kept the Thunderbirds undefeated at 8-0, including 3-0 in league play. By comparison, league co-leader Redlands East Valley (8-0, 3-0) needed overtime to beat the Terriers a week earlier. REV should try to avoid looking ahead to the playoffs when they travel to Yucaipa for the league finale Nov. 10.

4. Which team that started 0-5 is in the best position to make the playoffs? Moreno Valley survived a torturous nonleague schedule and didn’t get any breaks once Inland Valley League play began. The Vikings (3-5, 3-2) lost to Rialto, Citrus Hill and Palm Springs in nonleague play, and Rancho Verde and Arlington in league openers. Rancho Verde is ranked No. 1 in the SS-Central Division and Palm Springs is No. 2. Citrus Hill is ranked No. 2 in the Eastern Division. Moreno Valley has come alive the last three weeks, however, beating Canyon Springs, Ramona and Valley View to move into a tie for third in the eight-team league. The Vikings have another big test Friday against visiting La Sierra (7-1, 4-1).

5. Who’s the latest quarterback in the I.E. to suffer a significant injury? According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, Cajon quarterback Edwin Martinez will be sidelined a minimum of three weeks because of a knee injury. Martinez was injured during a 31-13 victory Friday against Colton while scrambling to recover a fumble that Colton eventually returned for a touchdown. Cajon (7-1, 4-1) has a key San Andreas League game Nov. 10 at Carter (8-0, 5-0). A loss would likely drop the Cowboys into third place and give them a tough first-round draw. Other teams that have seen their league title and playoff hopes jeopardized by injuries to the quarterback position are Roosevelt and Paloma Valley.

Inland Empire: All is not melancholy on this range

September, 22, 2010
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)

Inland Empire: Athletes of the Week

September, 14, 2010
Davien Payne, Citrus Hill, Jr.

Payne continues to fill the cleat marks left behind Deontae Cooper, now at Washington. The junior running back amassed 235 rushing yards in 30 carries and scored five touchdowns Friday night in a 41-13 victory against visiting Moreno Valley. Payne now has a Southern Section-leading 560 rushing yards and nine touchdowns through two games.

Krista Vansant, Redlands East Valley, Sr.

Vansant, a standout for the girls’ volleyball team, had 16 kills in a 3-1 season-opening victory Thursday against Murrieta Valley. Vansant is the top-ranked senior in the nation, according to prepvolleyball.com, and the Wildcats are No. 6 in the country, according to maxpreps.com.