Los Angeles Preps: Ellis McCarthy

Vista Murrieta's Jeremy Castro switches pledge to UCLA

January, 23, 2012
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UCLA and new football coach Jim Mora continue to reel in top recruits from the Inland Empire and other Southland regions.

The latest high senior to pledge to the Bruins is Vista Murrieta defensive lineman Jeremy Castro, who had originally committed to Oregon but switched to UCLA after taking a visit to the Westwood campus over the weekend.

Castro, a 6-3, 250-pound pass rusher, had 11 sacks last season while helping the Broncos to the Southern Section Inland Division title. He also had 11 sacks as a junior. He was teammates with strong safety/running back Su’s Cravens, who is expected to be one of the top recruits in the nation next year.

Castro originally committed to Washington over the summer, switched to Oregon in October and has now apparently settled on UCLA. National Sighing Day is Feb. 1.

“UCLA just felt like home,” Castro told Greg Biggins of ESPN Insider. “Originally, I didn't even want to take this visit. My mom is the one who wanted me to because she loves UCLA. Right away, I just felt so comfortable and loved it there. UCLA is the school I grew up rooting for and being on campus was pretty special for me.”

Castro said he was enamored by the new coaching staff, particularly defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin, who recruited Castro while Martin was coaching the secondary at Washington.

Mora hired Martin in Decemeber.

“Academically, you can't beat UCLA, and I love the fact that it's close to home,” Castro said. “The defense is a great fit for me too. They're running a 3-4 defense and like me as an outside linebacker. I'll be blitzing and running around making plays so I'm really excited.”

UCLA has also received commitments this month from Upland fullback/defensive lineman Christian Powell and Monrovia defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy.

South: Football All-CIF honors

January, 18, 2012
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A list of players and coaches from south Los Angeles County who garnered top honors on All-CIF teams, sorted by division:

MID-VALLEY DIVISION

Offensive player of the year: QB Steven Rivera (senior, Arroyo)
Defensive player of the year: LB Brett Walsh (junior, Monrovia)
Coach of the year: Ryan Maddox (Monrovia)

Thoughts: No one was more valuable than Rivera, who capped his stellar four-year career by passing for 3,400-plus yards and 38 touchdowns and leading the Arroyo Knights to the Mission Valley League title. By all indications, Walsh beat out teammate Ellis McCarthy, one of the state's most highly recruited players, for top defensive honors. Walsh, a junior, was second in the entire Southern Section with 192 tackles, thriving behind McCarthy's havoc up front. Maddox was recognized for the second straight year after leading the Wildcats to their second straight title.

NORTHEAST DIVISION

Offensive player of the year: RB Alex Tayco (senior, Rio Hondo Prep)
Defensive player of the year: LB Jake Holguin (junior, Rio Hondo Prep)
Coach of the year: Ken Drain (Rio Hondo Prep)

Thoughts: A deserved sweep for the divisional-champion Kares. Holguin, a 6-foot-3 linebacker who led a defense that allowed just over 10 points per game last season, returns next year.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

Offensive player of the year: RB Chris Solomon (senior, West Covina)
Defensive player of the year: LB Dorrin Turner (senior, West Covina)
Coach of the year: Mike Maggiore (West Covina)

Thoughts: The back-to-back divisional champs swept for the second straight year, with Maggiore and Solomon repeating in their respective slots. Backup tailback Jimmy Frazier, who had more yards and touchdowns than Solomon in less carries, could have easily shared the offensive player of the year award. Solomon, who is being recruited as a defensive back, recently took an official visit to Colorado.

McCarthy commits to UCLA

January, 16, 2012
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In somewhat of a surprise move, Ellis McCarthy from Monrovia (Calif.) verbally committed to UCLA on Monday night, according to his father, Ed McCarthy.

The 6-foot-4 and 305-pound defensive lineman and member of the ESPN150 recently pledged to Cal during the U.S Army All-American Bowl a couple of short weeks ago. All signs point to his decision to join the Bruins being a direct result of Golden Bears defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi leaving his position Monday morning to join the staff at Washington.

Seemingly with the window of opportunity open, UCLA defensive backs coach Demetrice Martin reportedly had the chance to visit with McCarthy and his family on Monday night. Martin's strong ties to Southern California likely played a role in McCarthy changing his mind.

“Coach Jim Mora came to UCLA and started doing all the right things, hiring all the right people, that's what made the decision to commit to the Bruins easy for Ellis,'' Ed McCarthy said. “We're happy he is staying close to home, we get to see him play in college. As a family, we always wanted him to go to UCLA. Once he wanted to go there, things fell into place.''

Sean Ceglinsky covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Monrovia's McCarthy commits to Cal

January, 7, 2012
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Monrovia defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, the fifth-ranked player in the state, verbally committed to Cal on Saturday at the U.S Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

He is ranked No. 43 among all national prospects, according to ESPNU Recruiting. McCarthy led Monrovia to its second consecutive CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship last season. The 6-foot-5, 311-pound McCarthy considered USC and Oregon.

"I like the program a lot," McCarthy said during an in-game interview. "I built a relationship with the team. ... We'll try to get a BCS bowl berth or make it to the Rose Bowl."

Oaks Christian receiver Jordan Payton, a former USC pledge, also committed to Cal during the game.

"We're going to do great things up there," Payton said.

Payton joins local receivers Bryce Treggs (Bellflower/St. John Bosco) and Darius Powe (Lakewood) among those committed to play their collegiate ball in Berkeley.

National signing day is Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

L.A. South: List of bowl game participants

December, 30, 2011
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Here's a list of the south Los Angeles County senior football players participating in All-American bowl games.

THE U.S. MARINE CORPS SEMPER FIDELIS ALL-AMERICAN BOWL GAME
Chase Field in Phoenix, Ariz.
Tuesday, Jan. 3 at 3 p.m. PT

LB Jeremiah Allison (Dorsey)
WR Malik Gilmore (Lakewood/verbal to Oregon State)
WR Jaydon Mickens (Dorsey)
WR Bryce Treggs (St. John Bosco/verbal to Cal)
K/P Conrad Ukropina (Loyola)

UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICAN GAME
Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Thursday, Jan. 5 at 4:30 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN

WR Darius Powe (Lakewood/verbal to Cal)

U.S. ARMY ALL-AMERICAN BOWL
The Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas
Saturday, Jan. 7 at 10 a.m. PT
TV: NBC

DB Brandon Beaver (Dominguez)
DT Ellis McCarthy (Monrovia)
LB Jabari Ruffin (Downey/verbal to USC)
DB Kevon Seymour (Muir)
WR Derrick Woods (Inglewood/verbal to Oklahoma)

L.A. South: All-region football teams

December, 20, 2011
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Here’s an all-encompassing look at the top performers in south Los Angeles County for the 2011 prep football season.

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Troy Williams, Narbonne, Junior -– Williams was superb in managing Narbonne's no-huddle spread attack. He did it with his arm (3,247 passing yards, 34 touchdowns), he did it with his legs (587 yards, 11 scores), and he made the right decisions with the football. The junior quarterback guided the Gauchos to the City Section Division I title.

OFFENSIVE MVP

Robert Lewis, South East, Senior -– Opposing coaches schemed to stop Lewis but the electrifying tailback still averaged 10 yards per carry and amassed 2,023 yards and 30 touchdowns for the City Section Division II champs. Coach Derwin Henderson pegged him as the city's best all-around talent. Lewis has verbally committed to Southern Methodist.

DEFENSIVE MVP

Ellis McCarthy, Monrovia, Senior -– The mind-boggling numbers aren't quite there because the big guy faced double- and triple-teams on a weekly basis. Coach Ryan Maddox built his defense around the 305-pound defensive tackle and it paid off with Monrovia capturing its second straight Mid-Valley Division championship. McCarthy has offers from all over, including Cal, USC, Florida, Oregon and Washington.

SPECIAL TEAMS MVP

Jack Schneider, Charter Oak, Junior -– With 89 total points, Schneider was the region's top scorer among kickers. In 12 games he made 65 extra points for the Sierra League champions.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Manual Douglas, Narbonne –- By the end of the season, Douglas had his Gauchos playing as well as any team in the area. Narbonne finished 11-3 and reached its third City Section title game in the last four years. Douglas scheduled tough with games at Long Beach Poly and Tesoro, and the strategy paid dividends.

FIRST TEAM OFFENSE

QB – Steven Rivera, Arroyo, Sr. –- Rivera capped his stellar four-year stay at Arroyo by passing for 3,408 yards and 38 touchdowns, leading the Knights to the Mission Valley League title.

RB – Tray Boone, Narbonne, Sr. –- The shifty back rushed for six touchdowns in the City Section Division I title game to finish with 1,400 yards and 22 touchdowns. He did all of this in an offense that primarily throws the ball.

RB – Marquise Bias, Monrovia, Sr. -– The powerful Bias pounded his way to 260 yards and three touchdowns in the Mid-Valley Division title game, and finished with more than 1,500 yards for the season.

WR – Bryce Treggs, St. John Bosco, Sr. –- The Cal commit made Trinity League defenses look foolish, hauling in 11 touchdowns to go along with 1,377 receiving yards.

WR – Darreus Rogers, Carson, Sr. –- Rogers, a USC commit, was the City Section's leading receiver with 1,251 yards. He had a monster performance in the title game but it wasn't enough for the Colts.

WR – Alex Villalobos, San Gabriel, Sr. -– The slot-type Villalobos was the state leader with 2,001 receiving yards. He added 21 touchdowns for the Mid-Valley Division runner-up Matadors.

OL - Beau Leati, Narbonne, Sr. -- City Section coaches selected Leati as the lineman of the year and for good reason. He anchored a line that opened gaping holes for Boone and protected Williams.

OL – Lacy Westbrook, Dominguez, Sr. -– The UCLA commit was out when the Dons started the season with two losses, but his added a major spark to their ground attack.

OL – Beau Boyster, St. John Bosco, Sr. -– The Braves averaged more than 400 yards of offense per game and the Arizona commit was in the middle of it, with his protection of strong-armed Rene Medina.

OL – Gerrad Kough, Pomona, Sr. -– The Colorado commit spearheaded a Pomona running game that averaged more than 215 yards per game.

OL – George Castro, West Covina, Sr. -– West Covina was 25th in the state in rushing yards per game (332) and Castro was a big reason why.

PK – Mason Bryant, Monrovia, Jr. -– Bryant did it all for the back-to-back champion Wildcats as a receiver, defensive back and kicker, totaling 117 total points.

P - Conrad Ukropina, Loyola, Sr. –- Six of Ukropina's 25 punts were downed inside the 20-yard line, and he averaged 43 yards per punt, the best in the Pac-5 Division.

SECOND TEAM

QB – Travis Santiago, Charter Oak, Sr.
RB – Jimmy Frazier, West Covina, Sr.
RB – Kurt Scoby, Charter Oak, So.
WR – Richard Smith, Long Beach Poly, Sr.
WR - Antoine Anderson, Narbonne, Sr.
WR – Hunter Duran, Arroyo, Sr.
OL – Chase Eldredge, Palos Verdes, Sr.
OL – Chad Wheeler, Santa Monica, Sr.
OL – Justin Johnson, Dorsey, Sr.
OL – Alec Zenner, San Dimas, Sr.
OL – Nico Falah, St. John Bosco, Jr.
PK - Ret Tilman, Culver City, Sr.
P – Hayden Hunt, Long Beach Poly, Sr.

FIRST TEAM DEFENSE

DL – Demetric McKinney, West Adams, Sr. -– McKinney recorded a state-leading 26 sacks in only 12 games.

DL – Jeremiah Allison, Dorsey, Sr. -– Allison will be used as a linebacker in college but he was fierce coming off the three-point stance for Dorsey. Allison had 14 sacks for the Coliseum League champions, giving him 34 over his last two seasons.

DL – Jesse Ojeda, San Dimas, Sr. -– He only measures 5-feet, 7-inches but Ojeda was a force for the Saints, getting to the quarterback 17 times.

LB – Brett Walsh, Monrovia, Jr. -– Walsh was second in the entire Southern Section with 192 tackles, thriving behind McCarthy's havoc up front. He added eight sacks, and figures to garner attention during the offseason.

LB – Sergio Gonzalez, Ganesha, Jr. -– The outside linebacker led the Mid-Valley Division with 17 sacks.

LB – Nuoye Clemmons III, West Adams, Sr. -– Clemmons ranked second in the City Section with 146 tackles.

LB – Salamo Fiso, Long Beach Poly, Sr. -– The Arizona State commit spearheaded a strong Jackrabbits defense with 117 tackles.

DB – Kevin Page, Dorsey, Sr. -– Page intercepted six passes, including a big one on the road to clinch a victory at Alemany.

DB – Tyrone Taylor, Torrance, Sr. -– The Cal State Fullerton baseball signee had 190 tackles from the safety position.

DB – Shane Baumann, St. John Bosco, Sr. -– Baumann was in the middle of every defensive play, it seemed. He ranked fifth in the Pac-5 Division with 126 tackles and also had five interceptions.

DB – Mark Wright, Rolling Hills Prep, Sr. –- Wright had 10 interceptions in nine games, good for a tie for second place in the state.

SECOND TEAM

DL – Alonzo Williams, Long Beach Poly, Sr.
DL – Robbie Haines, Arcadia, Sr.
DL – Daniel Rios, Rosemead, Jr.
LB – Keishawn Haley, Culver City, Jr.
LB – Matt Rowe, Long Beach Poly, Sr.
LB – Jabari Ruffin, Downey, Sr.
LB – Thomas Brown, Gardena Serra, Sr.
DB – Trayvon Watson, West Adams, Sr.
DB – Gabriel Marks, Venice, Sr.
DB – Naijel Hale, Lakewood, So.
DB – Chris Solomon, West Covina, Sr.

L.A. South: Recruiting roundup

December, 19, 2011
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With the high school football season completed, we give you a list of the top 50 prospects in south Los Angeles County for the class of 2012, according to ESPNU recruiting rankings. (Notes: player's verbal college commitment in parentheses, and the list is sorted by ESPNU grades).

ATH Jabari Ruffin, Downey (USC)
DT Ellis McCarthy, Monrovia
WR Darius Powe, Lakewood (Cal)
WR Derrick Woods, Inglewood (Oklahoma)
WR Bryce Treggs, St. John Bosco (Cal)

ATH Kevon Seymour, Muir
RB Robert Lewis, South East (Southern Methodist)
WR Richard Smith, Long Beach Poly (Arizona State)
WR Alex Jackson, Culver City
LB Salamo Fiso, Long Beach Poly (Arizona State)

CB Randall Goforth, Long Beach Poly (Arizona State)
CB Brandon Beaver, Dominguez
LB Matt Rowe, Long Beach Poly (Arizona State)
WR Cameron Countryman, Beverly Hills (Penn)
ATH Jaydon Mickens, Dorsey

WR Darreus Rogers, Carson (USC)
WR Malik Gilmore, Lakewood (Oregon State)
WR Josiah Blandin, Long Beach Poly (Arizona State)
OL Lacy Westbrook, Dominguez (UCLA)
DL Alonzo Williams, Long Beach Poly (Texas A&M)

WR Gabriel Marks, Venice (Southern Methodist)
LB Jeremiah Allison, Dorsey
LB Khalil Pettway, Culver City
WR Dwayne Washington, Gahr (Washington)
WR Delshawn McClellon, Gahr (Utah)

ATH Taylor LaGace, Arcadia (UCLA)
CB Alphonso Marsh, Dominguez
WR Kodi Whitfield, Loyola (Stanford)
DL Damion Turpin, Dominguez (Washington)
ATH Chris Miller, Diamond Ranch (Oregon State)

OL Gerrad Kough, Pomona (Colorado)
ATH Dalis Bruce, St. John Bosco
OL Chase Eldredge, Palos Verdes (Oregon State)
ATH Trayvon Watson, West Adams (UCLA)
DL Kristopher Cooper, Gardena Serra

RB Tairen Owens, Muir (Washington)
LB Thomas Brown, Gardena Serra (Nebraska)
OL Chad Wheeler, Santa Monica (USC)
FB Ryan McDaniel, North Torrance (Washington)
CB Raymond Ford, Gardena Serra (UCLA)

ATH Diamonte Wiggins, Lynwood
OL Justin Johnson, Dorsey
CB Chaz Anderson, Loyola (Boise State)
QB Myles Carr, Arcadia
S Devian Shelton, Inglewood

DL Dejon Allen, Dominguez (Arizona State)
S Patrick Wooten, Gardena Serra
ATH Chris Solomon, West Covina
DB Ajee Montes, Bishop Amat
DL Darien Barrett, Inglewood (San Diego State)

Mid-Valley: Monrovia 53, San Gabriel 14

December, 11, 2011
12/11/11
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MONROVIA -- Marquise Bias swung the flag pole feverishly as the final seconds ticked off the scoreboard. Back and forth, back and forth he swayed until the flag wrapped around itself and became tangled, the large Monrovia logo no longer readable.

It was about the only thing Bias did wrong Saturday night.

The senior running back rushed for 260 yards and three touchdowns, propelling Monrovia to its second straight CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division championship with a 53-14 drubbing of San Gabriel. After falling short in their previous eight finals appearances, the Wildcats have gone back to back.

"Marquise has done that all year," coach Ryan Maddox said. "He keeps his feet moving and doesn't stop."

Like at every Monrovia home game, ceramic fire pots aligned in the shape of the letter M flickered high on a hill adjacent to the renovated field. On this night, it could have very well stood for Marquise.

Bias' six-yard touchdown run on a gutsy fourth-and-1 call early in the second half was the go-ahead score. The fourth-seeded Wildcats (11-3) scored 39 unanswered after the break and capped their season by winning 10 in a row.

"Coach gave a little speech," Bias said. "He told us to pick it up and play the way we've been playing."

Versatile back De'Shawn Ramirez added 150 total yards and three touchdowns, including a 66-yard romp in the final minutes that was the exclamation point on a game that got out of hand quick.

Unseeded San Gabriel (9-5), which started the season 1-4, squeaked by to reach the final, beating its three opponents by a combined nine points. The Almont League champions beat Maranatha (9-3), second-seeded Arroyo (40-38) and third-seeded San Dimas (29-28). The Matadors, making only their second finals appearance in school history, were in it at halftime when receiver Alex Villalobos hauled in his second touchdown.

"They did not surprise us," Maddox said. "They did what they do well."

(Read full post)

Monrovia on the verge of repeat

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
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Monrovia coach Ryan Maddox was in the process of explaining his team's success when he glanced over at mammoth-sized defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, who was sitting at a nearby table Monday at the annual CIF-Southern Section championships luncheon in Long Beach.

No need to say much else.

"He makes your defense, you build your defense around him," Maddox said of his highly touted player. "His presence frees up your linebackers to fly around and make plays. Ellis and our other defensive lineman demand blocks. Teams have to scheme for them."

McCarthy and the fourth-seeded Monrovia Wildcats (10-3), winners of nine straight, have allowed an average 17 points per game. They look to defend their Mid-Valley Division championship Saturday night against visiting San Gabriel (9-4) after knocking off top-seeded Covina in the semifinals.

"It's a tougher road because you become the target," Maddox said of defending the 2010 title, "but we've battled and played great football."

There's been growth, especially at the crucial quarterback position.

Junior linebacker George Frazier doubled as the team's signal caller to start the season, before Blake Heyworth was cleared to play. Heyworth has passed for 2,276 and 24 touchdowns, filling the void left by the graduation of dual-threat Nick Bueno, the reigning Mid-Valley player of the year.

"It's Blake's first year of varsity football," Maddox said. "He's a completely different player than Nick, more of a pocket quarterback who does a good job of distributing the ball to our athletes, spreading the field and creating holes for our running game."

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Preview: San Gabriel at Monrovia

December, 8, 2011
12/08/11
9:50
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MID-VALLEY DIVISION CHAMPIONSHIP

San Gabriel Matadors (9-4) vs. No. 4-seeded Monrovia Wildcats (10-3)

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Monrovia High School

Broadcast: Live on FoxSportsWest.com

How they got here: Unseeded San Gabriel, the Almont League champion, beat Maranatha (9-3), second-seeded Arroyo (40-38) and third-seeded San Dimas (29-28). Defending division champion Monrovia beat Pomona (24-7), Whittier Christian (67-21) and top-seeded Covina (41-27).

School history: The Matadors are making their second finals appearance in school history. They lost in the 2003 title game. This is Monrovia's third consecutive title game appearance and 10th overall. The Wildcats finally won a championship last year after losing in their eight previous attempts.

Key players: San Gabriel has dual-threat quarterback Andy Guerrero (230 passing yards per game) and defensive back Alex Villalobos. Monrovia is led by highly touted defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy, linebacker George Frazier, quarterback Blake Heyworth and tailback Marquise Bias.

Matadors' take: "We've grown and matured with that adversity [of starting the season 1-4]. Things have changed. We're a new team. All year we've been underdogs, so I guess we're used to it by now. We're taking it just as any other game we've played this season." - offensive lineman and team captain Brian Lopez

Wildcats' take: "We have that playoff experience and it helps. The kids aren't as apt to get nervous and have been there. For some of them it's their third time at a championship game. They know what to expect and that helps calm the nerves." - coach Ryan Maddox

Prediction: Monrovia 34, San Gabriel 27

Dorsey-Narbonne: strength vs. strength

November, 30, 2011
11/30/11
9:09
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DorseyBlair Angulo/For ESPNLA.comDorsey gets its chance for respect Friday when it takes on Narbonne in the City semifinals.

On a Saturday earlier this month, the Dorsey Dons were in the film room when coach Paul Knox walked in ready to share two bits of information. The good news: Dorsey had received one of four seedings for the City Section Division I football playoffs. The bad: The Dons were seeded third despite winning their league and losing just once, on the road to highly regarded Redlands East Valley.

Adding salt to the wound was the fact that Narbonne, the Marine League runner-up to top-seeded San Pedro and loser of three games, received the No. 2 seeding.

Coliseum League champion Dorsey (11-1) gets a chance to state its case under the lights Friday in Harbor City.

Allison
Allison
"We want to make skeptics believers," Dons defensive end Jeremiah Allison said.

It doesn't promise to be an easy task. Narbonne (9-3) averages 48 points per game behind dual-threat quarterback Troy Williams, one of the city's top junior prospects. Williams touts single-game highs of 385 passing yards and 124 rushing yards this year.

"I know he has a pretty good feet on him," said Allison, who has been credited with 14 sacks.

But Williams is aware of what he and the explosive Gauchos offense is up against. The Dons are quick defensively and haven't given up more than 26 points in a game this season. On average they give up only 10.

Williams
Williams
"It's the best defense we've see all year," Williams said.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., with the winner advancing to the Dec. 10 championship game at East L.A. College. Marine League foes San Pedro (12-0) and Carson (7-5) square off in the other semifinal.

Here are four other top third-round playoff games in south Los Angeles County on Friday (with ESPN Los Angeles prep football Top 25 rankings):

City: Carson (7-5) at No. 11 San Pedro (12-0), 7 p.m. -- The top-seeded Pirates won 21-0 when these two met in Carson on Oct. 28. Senior quarterback Kenny Potter looks to lead San Pedro to its first title-game appearance since 2008. The Colts, meanwhile, hope to get back to the championship game after losing to Crenshaw at the Coliseum last year.

Western: No. 20 Santa Monica (11-1) at No. 22 Culver City (9-3), 7:30 p.m. -- A chance at redemption for Culver City, which wasn't even expected to make it past Gardena Serra in the opening round. The Centaurs lost to Santa Monica, 17-14, during the regular season. The Vikings pulled that one out thanks to a pair of late-game takeaways.

Southeast: Muir (8-4) vs. La Serna (9-3) at California High, 7 p.m. -- What resolve the Muir Mustangs have shown without coach Ken Howard, who has been on administrative leave since Week 4 following an on-campus incident with a student. Muir has won its two playoff games by scores of 39-7 and 48-0.

Mid-Valley: Monrovia (9-3) vs. Covina (11-1) at Covina District Stadium, 7 p.m. -- After this one is over, either defending division champion Monrovia or top-seeded Covina will be eliminated. The Wildcats, behind big defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, have been playing their best football lately and could give the Colts a serious scare.

L.A. South: Top first-round playoff games

November, 18, 2011
11/18/11
9:30
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It's win or go home now. Here are Friday night’s top first-round playoff games in south Los Angeles County:

Pac-5: Huntington Beach (8-2) vs. No. 16 Loyola (8-2) at L.A. Valley College, 7 p.m. — The Loyola Cubs have some momentum after coming back from a 15-point deficit in the Serra League finale against Crespi. Loyola tailback Wyatt Bradford could eclipse the 1,000-yard mark, and senior quarterback Nick Cotton is coming off his best game of the season (17 of 28 for a season-high 208 yards and four touchdowns). The impressive thing about the Cubs is that if opposing teams want to grind it out, they will too.

Inland: Corona Santiago (7-3) at No. 19 Charter Oak (9-1), 7 p.m. — The Sierra League champion Charter Oak Chargers might be the league's only hope for a playoff win, given that third-place Damien plays at Vista Murrieta and runner-up Chino Hills heads to Rancho Cucamonga. An attractive matchup against undefeated Upland looms in the second round, but senior quarterback Travis Santiago (2,629 passing yards and 21 touchdowns) will have to steer his group clear of overlooking Corona Santiago.

Southeast: Bonita (6-4) at Arcadia (8-2), 7 p.m. — The defending Southeast Division runner-up Bonita Bearcats capped the regular season with four consecutive wins, so they've got a bit of swagger heading into this one. It's not the same team coach Eric Podley had last year but running backs Cameron Griffin and Reggie Turner and receiver Garrett Horine were capable weapons during the season. And speaking of weapons, Arcadia has its share in quarterback Myles Carr, the top-rated signal caller in the area according to ESPNU Recruiting, and Washington-bound receiver Taylor Lagace.

Mid-Valley: Pomona (6-4) at Monrovia (7-3), 7 p.m. — Will defending Mid-Valley Division champion Monrovia take its first step toward a repeat? Highly touted defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy, rising linebacker prospect George Frazier and the rest of the Wildcats defense appears to have found its groove in Rio Hondo League play, allowing under six points per game on average. Monrovia might be on upset alert, though: Three of Pomona's four losses were by a combined 10 points, and the Red Devils gave top-seeded Covina all it could handle.

Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter.

CIF-SS playoffs: Mid-Valley Division

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
4:05
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The Covina Colts received the top seeding Sunday, a mere formality considering that they'd been the division's top-ranked squad for quite some time. Valle Vista League winner Covina (9-1) opened the season with a six-point loss to rival and defending Southeast Division champion West Covina but rolled the rest of the way. Coach Darryl Thomas has his group in good position. Here’s a breakdown of the division:

The seeds: No. 1 Covina, No. 2 Arroyo, No. 3 San Dimas, No. 4 Monrovia.

Best first-round matchup: Pomona (6-4) at Monrovia (7-3) -- Pomona, which lost to the top seed by only two points, could very well leave Monrovia with a victory if the Wildcats don't play inspired.

Toughest road: Monrovia (7-3) -- It appears as if defending Mid-Valley champion Monrovia will have to go through top-seeded Covina in the third round. That's a lofty task.

Potential shocker: Maranatha (8-2) at San Gabriel (6-4), first round -- The possibility for an upset is there any time an elite-level quarterback is involved. The Maranatha Minutemen have that in junior Andrew Elffers.

Darkhorse: Azusa (7-3) -- The Montview League champion Aztecs have won seven straight and have already seen their potential second-round opponent, San Dimas.

Final analysis: It's hard to imagine anyone beating the Colts, especially if quarterback Billy Livingston stays healthy. They will likely have to go through defending champion Monrovia but the Wildcats, despite the presence of top lineman Ellis McCarthy, have been very beatable in 2011. Second-seeded Arroyo, behind record-setting signal caller Steven Rivera, should have no problem advancing out of the lower bracket.

Championship prediction: Arroyo vs. Covina -- The Colts will sneak past Monrovia in one semifinal and ride that momentum. Arroyo's high-powered attack will find difficulty against Covina's tough defensive front. Final score: 31-20, Covina.

Link to the Mid-Valley Division bracket on CalPreps.com

Kyle Murphy is a man among boys

November, 8, 2011
11/08/11
6:02
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video
SAN CLEMENTE -- It's the same routine each and every time. Like clockwork.

Kyle Murphy makes his way toward the line of scrimmage and the highly-touted offensive tackle from San Clemente checks out the opposing defense shuffling directly in front of him.

Locating where the pass-rushing specialist on end is positioned is the first order of business. Glancing nearby in the direction of the nose guard follows. Getting an all-important read on what the linebacking corps have in store, accurate or not, essentially prepares him for what comes next.

Murphy proceeds to set up in his standard three-point stance.

The snap awaits, mere seconds way. He lives for these moments.

“It gets ugly out there on the football field sometimes, because if you get in the way of Kyle Murphy, you're just asking for trouble,'' San Clemente coach John Hamro said.

With the ball set in motion, Murphy explodes from his customary crouch. Anyone standing in his way at the point of attack is left irrelevant. A devastating pancake block at the second level brings the crowd to its feet and clears a wide-open path for a teammate's run to the end zone.

It's the same routine each and every time. Like clockwork. Murphy's preparation is key. The senior rarely, if ever, takes a play off. And his determination this season has enabled him to emerge as one of the most sought-after unsigned recruits in the country.

“I play the game at full speed, all the time, it's the only way to get things done,'' Murphy said. “I have worked to get to this point, and with my size and strength, I feel like I can do things other players can't. I want to prove that I can go hold my own every time I step out on the field.''

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Football: Monrovia's Ellis McCarthy is the man

September, 27, 2011
9/27/11
6:56
PM PT

MONROVIA -- As Ellis McCarthy approaches the line of scrimmage, he notices all eyes are on him. The quarterback makes sure to shoot a glance in the direction of the high-profile defensive tackle from Monrovia before looking over to the sidelines for instruction from the coaching staff.

Adjustments are made according to where McCarthy is lined up, on the right or left side, presumably in an effort to make sure the proper protection is implemented before the snap.

McCarthy, mind you, demands this type of attention ... on a consistent basis.

Opponents typically know what's coming next, but rarely can do anything to stop him.

The 6-foot-4, 300-plus pound senior adjusts his massive shoulder pads first. A quick check of his leg pads immediately follows. Buckling his chin strap is next before he digs his oversized cleats firmly into the turf and setting up in his customary three-point stance.

More often than not, McCarthy is calm, cool and collected. He is prepared mentally and physically for the ball to be finally set in motion and the proverbial battle in the trenches to ensue.

McCarthy is immediately met by the center and guard, each seemingly determined to keep him out of the backfield. Colliding with the tackle pulling off the end to help out doesn't deter him in the least. An undersized fullback serves as the last line of defense but offers little resistance as McCarthy achieves his goal: Sacking the quarterback for a loss. Just another momentum-changing play.

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