Los Angeles Preps: Dimitri Morales

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.

No. 12 Upland 31, No. 9 Rancho Cucamonga 17

October, 21, 2011
10/21/11
11:55
PM PT


UPLAND—Upland took a lot tougher road to its Baseline League showdown Friday night against visiting Rancho Cucamonga.

The Highlanders took on Loyola, Serrano and Tustin -- programs that are just as used to winning as themselves.

The experience seemed to pay off against the Cougars, as Upland played well in every facet of the game and came away with a 31-17 victory in a match up of unbeaten teams.

“The schedule paid off,” said Upland wide receiver Kenny Lawler, who caught a 65-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to help his team maintain a 14-point lead.

The Highlanders (7-0, 2-0) took a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter and never lost their edge.

The Cougars (6-1, 1-1) appeared on the verge of tying the score with just under four minutes remaining in the first half, but they botched a hand off at the Upland four-yard line and linebacker Bennie Robinson recovered for the Highlanders.

Upland regained its two-score advantage, 17-7, on a 46-yard field goal by Sean Aspinall as the first half expired.

(Read full post)

ESPNLA prep football Top 25: Week 4

September, 26, 2011
9/26/11
4:43
PM PT
In arguably the biggest week of the season in terms of matchups, there were major shifts in the latest ESPN Los Angeles prep football Top 25 rankings, including a couple of newcomers and a few who dropped out. In all, there were six matchups involving top 25 teams and seven teams from the list who lost. Here are our rankings heading into Week 4:

1. Servite (4-0)
All the Friars do is keep winning, making it 30 in a row over teams from the Southland, including a victory last week over the last team from this region to hand them a loss -- Edison in 2009. Last week: beat Edison, 27-14. Next: at Bishop Gorman, Fri., 7 p.m.

2. Santa Margarita (4-0)
Junior QB Johnny Stanton shows his value with his arm and his legs by surpassing 100 yards in both passing and rushing, including three TDs on the ground in a rout of a good Carson team. Last week: beat Carson, 39-21. Next: vs. Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium, Thu., 7:30 p.m.

3. Mission Viejo (3-1)
Prep football Twitter wars? Well, not exactly, but the Diablos responded to Snoop Dogg's disparaging tweets during the week in the best way any team can, by being able to point to the scoreboard.
Last week: beat Long Beach Poly, 17-12. Next: at Carson, Fri., 7:30 p.m.

4. Crespi (4-0)
The Celts take advantage of all the week's power matchups by doing what they're supposed to do: overpower an overmatched opponent to jump up three spots in the rankings. Last week: beat Palisades, 40-0. Next: vs. Vista Murrieta, Fri., 7 p.m.

5. Oaks Christian (2-1)
The night the lights went out in ... Westlake Village? The Lions take the early lead in the Marmonte League race after a contentious victory over the league's other private school power. Last week: beat St. Bonaventure, 36-24. Next: vs. Calabasas, Fri., 7 p.m.

6. St. Bonaventure (2-1)
The Seraphs had all the momentum when a power outage at Oaks Christian stalled the game in the fourth quarter for nearly 25 minutes. In the end, Bonny dug too deep a hole. Last week: lost to Oaks Christian, 36-24. Next: vs. Simi Valley at Ventura HS, Fri., 7 p.m.

7. Corona Centennial (2-1)
We know on the surface it seems unfair for the Huskies to have dropped a spot after a one-sided win, but we couldn't in good conscience rank them ahead of a team -- St. Bonaventure -- they already had lost to. At least not yet. Last week: beat Chaparral, 49-14. Next: vs. Riverside Poly at Riverside Ramona HS, Thu., 7 p.m.

8. Long Beach Poly (3-1)
If it wasn't clear already, the defense is going to keep the Jackrabbits in every game this season. But the offense will need to catch up if a sustained postseason run is in order. Last week: lost to Mission Viejo, 17-12. Next: at Compton, Fri., 7 p.m.

9. Alemany (3-1)
So was the loss to J.W. North an aberration? The Warriors answer in a most definitive way with an impressive display against a strong Chaminade team behind Steven Mitchell's two touchdown catches.
Last week: beat Chaminade, 38-14. Next: vs. Dorsey, Fri., 7 p.m.

10. Bishop Amat (3-1)
It was the Jalen Moore show for the second week in a row. A week after rushing for 303 yards, the senior gets 191 and two touchdowns to lift the Lancers to a big second half. Last week: beat Damien, 28-7. Next: vs. Cathedral, Fri., 7 p.m.

(Read full post)

ESPNLA prep football Top 25: Week 3

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
4:18
PM PT
Alemany and Mater Dei were the only ranked teams to lose last week, so there aren't any newcomers to the latest ESPN Los Angeles prep football 25. There are six matchups between ranked teams this week, making for an intriguing slate of games as nonleague action winds down across the Southland. Here are our rankings heading into Week 3:

1. Servite (3-0)
Cody Pittman had 230 passing yards -- 147 going to favorite target Sam Hunt. But not all went well for the Friars, who will be without running back Charlie Etiaki (collarbone) for over a month. Last week: Beat La Habra, 24-16. Next: vs. Edison at Huntington Beach HS, Fri., 7 p.m.

2. Long Beach Poly (3-0)
The crowd's exhale at Veterans Stadium was clearly audible after the Jackrabbits survived a late charge by a City Section favorite Friday night. Coach Raul Lara had his defense to thank. Last week: Beat Narbonne, 19-16. Next: at Mission Viejo, Fri., 7:30 p.m.

3. Santa Margarita (3-0)
Ryan Wolpin carried 20 times for 133 yards and scored four touchdowns, and the Eagles picked off four passes to beat a neighboring school for the second straight week. Last week: Beat Trabuco Hills, 35-14. Next: at Carson, Fri., 7 p.m.

4. Mission Viejo (2-1)
The Diablos were obviously glad to be back in town following their humbling trip to New Jersey. Alex Bridgford, Jahleel Pinner and D.J. Wilson got the explosive offense back on track. Last week: Beat La Quinta, 47-21. Next: vs. Long Beach Poly, Fri., 7:30 p.m.

5. St. Bonaventure (2-0)
Give the Seraphs credit for not lollygagging through their Marmonte League opener. They could have easily overlooked Royal, instead setting their sights on this week's highly anticipated game. Last week: Beat Royal, 59-0. Next: at Oaks Christian, Fri., 7 p.m.

6. Corona Centennial (1-1)
There's no questioning the Huskies' heart, that's for sure. Hayden Gavett led a late charge to erase two-touchdown deficit, helping Centennial avoid what would have been a demoralizing 0-2 start. Last week: Beat Mater Dei, 28-20. Next: vs. Chaparral, Fri., 7 p.m.

7. Crespi (3-0)
Serra League coaches might have been jumping for joy after the graduation of Kenny Stenhouse, but Cody Cordell might cause some headaches this fall. The junior threw for five touchdowns in Fresno. Last week: Beat Clovis West, 42-28. Next: at Palisades, Fri., 7 p.m.

8. Oaks Christian (1-1)
Sophomore Brandon Dawkins threw the ball only six times in his varsity debut but half went for scores. Ishmael Adams added 121 rushing yards to help the Lions bounce back from their season-opening loss. Last week: Beat Agoura, 50-11. Next: vs. St. Bonaventure, Fri., 7 p.m.

9. St. John Bosco (3-0)
As expected, the Braves are spreading the ball around on offense, averaging nearly 38 points through three games. Cal-bound Bryce Treggs either beats defenses by himself or serves as a decoy. Last week: Beat Santa Fe, 51-0. Next: vs. Loyola at L.A. Valley College, Fri., 7 p.m.

10. Alemany (2-1)
In the biggest shocker so far, the Warriors blew a 14-point lead on the road Friday and lost, snapping their 15-game regular-season winning streak. The schedule doesn't get easier, either. Last week: Lost to J.W. North, 36-35. Next: at Chaminade, Fri., 7:30 p.m.

(Read full post)

Football: No. 16 Rancho Cucamonga

August, 23, 2011
8/23/11
7:48
PM PT
Rancho Cucamonga didn’t experience many growing pains after moving up to the SS-Inland Division last season. Two years after winning a Central Division title, the Cougars reached the semifinals of the Inland Empire’s most competitive playoff bracket, losing to Vista Murrieta on a goal-line stand in double overtime.

With six first-team all-Baseline League players returning for their senior year, Rancho Cucamonga is optimistic it can better last season’s finish.

Here’s a closer look at the Cougars.

Team: Rancho Cucamonga.

Coach: Nick Baiz, sixth season.

2010 Record: 11-2. Lost to Vista Murrieta in double overtime of an Inland Division semifinal.

Returning starters: 14 total. Eight on offense, six on defense.

Key players on offense: QB Dimitri Morales, WR J.T. Huggins, OL Cameron Turner, OL Brandon Carter, TE Metuisela Unga.

Key players on defense: LB Steven Mujica, DL Chase Morris, DB Toure Boyd, DB Tahaan Goodman.

Difference maker: J.T. Huggins is one of those offensive players who requires a GPS just to keep track of him. He might be at wide receiver on one play, in the slot the next and then lined up at fullback in a short-yardage situation. Oh yeah, and he returns punts and holds for the place kicker. The Cougars should be able to churn out drives with their huge, battle-tested offensive line, but Huggins gives them that much-needed big-play ability, which is necessary to prevent opposing defenses from stacking the box.

Newcomers: WR Jermel Walker, DB Chris Hawkins.

Not to be missed: Oct. 28, vs. Etiwanda at Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos High. Etiwanda appears to have surpassed Upland as the team for Rancho Cucamonga to beat in order to secure a second consecutive Baseline League title. Both the Cougars and Etiwanda will have played Upland by the time they meet in this game, so the pecking order should be settled when the final whistle blows.

Coach’s comment: “Our offense should be able to possess the ball and move the ball down the field,” coach Nick Baiz said. “If we take care of the ball and play solid defense, we should be in most games.”

Final analysis: Due to injuries, the Cougars used seven offensive linemen last season and five are back, including two three-year starters, carrying an average weight of 295 pounds. Throw in a returning quarterback and big-play receiver in Huggins, and Rancho Cucamonga enters the season as second-best team in the Inland Empire behind Corona Centennial. If the Cougars can stay healthy and build momentum as the season unfolds, they could realistically end up as the top team in the I.E. this season.

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: Games of the week

December, 2, 2010
12/02/10
5:26
PM PT
One of the most impressive efforts of the postseason was delivered by Vista Murrieta in a 45-6 victory last Friday against Norco in an Inland Division quarterfinal.

On defense, the Broncos played like they knew what was coming before the ball was snapped. On offense, they attacked Norco’s weaknesses.

Well coached might be the best way to describe Vista Murrieta.

Third-seeded Rancho Cucamonga (11-1) is likely a little faster and more athletic than the second-seeded Broncos (11-1), so the visiting Cougars should make for a great semifinal opponent Saturday night.

Rancho Cucamonga senior running back Sateki Finau carved up Eastvale Roosevelt for a career-high 276 rushing yards and four touchdowns last week in a 51-36 quarterfinal victory. Quarterback Dimitri Morales threw another touchdown pass, giving him 12 touchdowns and no interceptions in the last six games.

They’ll have their work cut out for them against the Broncos' defense, however.

San Diego State-bound defensive lineman Jonathan Sanchez holds down one end of the field for Vista Murrieta, often filtering runners inside to leading tacklers Jeremy Castro and Manuel Moreno. The other key cog is sophomore safety Su’a Cravens, who already has scholarship offers from UCLA and Hawaii.

The Cougars played two Southwestern League opponents this season, beating Temecula Great Oak, 34-17, in Week 1, and eliminating Murrieta Valley, 37-13, in the first round of the playoffs. Vista Murrieta beat Great Oak, 45-18, and Murrieta Valley, 38-15, both in league play.

Three more to see:

In the other Inland Division semifinal:

Corona Centennial (12-0) at Chino Hills (10-2), Friday -- Is Chino Hills just a bump in the road in Centennial’s run for a section title? Or can the Huskies manage to put up a roadblock, something no other team has accomplished against Centennial this season?

Chances are, the former is much more likely to occur.

Chino Hills, seeded No. 4, has good athletes on the offensive side of the ball in running backs Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Nate Harris, and an opportunistic defense led by the Oregon-bound defensive back Ekpre-Olomu and nose guard Auston Johnson, who has 19 sacks, but top-seeded Centennial has great athletes at every position.

Centennial quarterback Michael Eubank will likely surpass 1,000 rushing yards and 2,500 passing yards in the game, running back Barrinton Collins is inching up on the 2,000-yard barrier and receiver Larry Scott, who received a scholarship offer from Oregon State last week, is 100 yards away from topping 1,000 for the season.

Chino Hills has taken on two Big VIII League teams with mixed results. The Huskies lost to Corona Santiago, 24-12, in Week 1, but played much better in a 70-42 victory against Corona in the first round of the playoffs.

Centennial, well, the Huskies beat both teams by a combined score of 151-34.

ESPNLA.com’s pick: Centennial 54, Chino Hills 24.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire: Games of the week

November, 23, 2010
11/23/10
10:19
PM PT
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.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

October, 18, 2010
10/18/10
8:00
AM PT
1. After the season started with three consecutive losses, it was pretty clear Etiwanda wasn’t as bad as its record indicated. After all, the Eagles averaged 32 points in the losses. Defensively, they were still adjusting to the absence of junior linebacker Chandler Scott, who led the Baseline League in tackles as a sophomore but suffered a season-ending knee injury before the start of the season. Etiwanda is now riding a three-game winning streak after knocking off Glendora, 39-27, in a Baseline League opener Thursday night at Ontario Colony High. The Eagles’ high-octane offense was on display in the second quarter when they put up 27 points to erase a 14-point deficit. Larry Cutbirth continues to look like one of the Southland’s top quarterbacks in the class of 2012, throwing three more touchdowns to give him 17 on the season.

2. Gutsy call of the week belongs to Rancho Cucamonga coach Nick Baiz, who elected to go for two points during overtime in a Baseline League opener Friday night against host Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos. The roll of the dice paid off when quarterback Dimitri Morales found J.T. Huggins in the end zone for a two-point pass that sealed the 29-28 victory. Oregon State took the same chance Saturday night against Washington and the gamble didn’t pay off so well.

3. The Smudge Pot is all but obsolete these days, but the annual Smudge Pot game between Redlands and Redlands East Valley is alive and well. REV won the Citrus Belt League opener, 24-22, on Friday night at the University of Redlands, getting the final points on a 24-yard field goal by Cody Madsen as time expired. REV has now won four straight against its cross-town foe. The Terriers had taken their final lead on a 71-yard touchdown run by quarterback Mike Stallone on fourth and one with 6:33 remaining, followed by a successful two-point conversion.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES