Los Angeles Preps: Jared Baker

LA North: Five things from the weekend

November, 1, 2010

1. Alemany coach Dean Herrington was a bit critical of his team after a 31-14 win over Loyola. His offense turned the ball over three times and came out a little flat to start the second half. Fortunately for Alemany, Loyola wasn’t able to capitalize on the turnovers. But Loyola running back Jared Baker broke off the biggest play of the game, scoring on an 88-yard run on the second play of the second half. Herrington did say after the game that he is happy with the way his defense is playing. Alemany gave Loyola a chance to get back in the game late in the fourth quarter when Kyron Defour fumbled at midfield. Alemany defensive linemen Akeem Gonzales and Sergio Figuerora came up with big plays on the ensuing drive. They each sacked Loyola quarterback Nick Cotton and sent Loyola back to its own 40 yard line. On Loyola’s last play of the game, Alemany chased Cotton out of the end zone for a safety. The defense for undefeated Alemany turned it up when it mattered against Loyola.

2. Valencia has shown a couple chinks in its armor against its past two Foothill League opponents. In the game against Hart, Valencia was trailing 14-3 at halftime. Running back Steven Manfro scored on two long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter and the Valencia defense held Hart to three points in the second half. Against Canyon two weeks ago, Valencia trailed three times in the first half before finally pulling away in the fourth quarter. The lapses have given Saugus some confidence, or perhaps delusions of grandeur. Saugus has yet to play Valencia and at 2-1 in league play, they have a shot at winning the Foothill League championship. It would take an upset win over Valencia when the two teams meet on Nov. 11. Saugus has to play West Ranch before its game with Valencia. There’s no chance Saugus is looking past West Ranch. No chance.

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VAN NUYS -- Big plays came in bunches in the football game between undefeated Alemany and injury-plagued Loyola at L.A. Valley College on Friday night.

Alemany, the No. 7 team in the ESPNLA.com top 25 rankings, made the most of its opportunities, stretching the field with long passes and coming up with clutch defensive plays, in a 31-14 Serra League win over Loyola.

Alemany quarterback Vernon Adams threw for 225 yards and three touchdowns. One of his touchdowns was a 65-yard pass to Kyron Defour. Adams also hit Corey Sims with a 50-yard pass that set up Alemany’s first touchdown of the game.

“We got some big plays with the passing game,” said Alemany coach Dean Herrington. “They were pretty aggressive on defense. We made some big plays on them.”

Loyola running back Jared Baker scored on an 87-yard run in the third quarter. The Loyola defense forced three turnovers, two on interceptions but could not turn them into scoring opportunities.

“We didn’t capitalize on the turnovers,” said Loyola coach Mike Christensen. “We didn’t do anything with them after we got them.”

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LA North: Game of the week: No. 7 Alemany vs. Loyola

October, 28, 2010
The Alemany football team, No. 7 in the ESPNLA.com top 25 rankings, will be shorthanded when it takes its undefeated 7-0 record to L.A. Valley College for a Serra League game against Loyola on Friday night.

Receiver Major Armstead broke his collarbone in last week’s game against Crespi. Armstead, a junior, is Alemany’s starting slot receiver and one of quarterback Vernon Adams’ favorite targets.

Alemany coach Dean Herrington did not have a timetable for Armstead’s return.

“Luckily we’re really deep in that position,” Herrington said.

Herrington has plenty of options, but the caliber of the receiving corps is diminished with Armstead out of the lineup.

Loyola has lost two games in a row, but Herrington said he expected a tough game. Loyola has been difficult to figure out. The Cubs have beaten Mira Costa and Valencia but have lost their first two league games to Bishop Amat and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame.

“They beat a very good Valencia team,” Herrington said. “It should be a good game.”

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LA North: Athletes of the week

October, 12, 2010
Jared Baker, Loyola, Sr.

He rushed for 219 yards and four touchdowns in his team’s 39-24 upset win over previously undefeated Valencia. Baker, who has committed to the University of Arizona, carried the ball 15 times and averaged 14.6 yards per carry.

Sarah Adams, Valencia, Sr.

She finished fourth and led her cross-country team to the extra large schools championship in the 32nd annual Asics/Clovis Invitational in Fresno. She ran the course in 18 minutes 36 seconds. Valencia won its second invitational meet in three weeks. The Vikings also won the Bell-Jeff/Griffith Park meet on Sept. 25.

LA North & LA South: Loyola 39, No. 8 Valencia 24

October, 8, 2010
VALENCIA, Calif. -- Jared Baker ran just about wherever he wanted Friday.

Up the middle and through the tackles of would-be defensive linemen and linebackers. To the outside and past the outstretched arms of opposing cornerbacks and safeties. It didn't matter who, or what, was in his way, it was Baker‘s night.

The senior running back was seemingly unstoppable, rushing for 240 yards on 20 carries and four touchdowns to help guide Los Angeles Loyola to a 39-24 nonleague upset over host Valencia, No. 8 in ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Top 25 rankings.

“Valencia came into this game with the momentum, no one gave us much of a chance to win, everyone thought that we were going to lose,’’ said Baker, who’s committed to Arizona State. “We came out fired up. We were confident and wanted to prove that we can hang with some of the best teams out there.“

The Cubs (3-3) did just that, opening up a 22-7 lead late in the first half and then holding off numerous comeback efforts from Valencia (4-1).

Trailing by 15 points midway through the fourth quarter, the Vikings attempted one last rally. They moved the ball with relative ease and Steven Manfro scored on a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle. All of a sudden, the Cubs advantage wasn’t as decisive and Valencia trailed 32-24 with 7:23 left.

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LA North: Game of the week: No. 8 Valencia vs. Loyola

October, 7, 2010
The numbers are mind-boggling for the Valencia football team. The undefeated Vikings (4-0) are averaging 51 points. Their average margin of victory is 32.7 points. Running back Steven Manfro has scored 19 touchdowns in four games. Quarterback Alex Bishop has thrown 14 touchdown passes in four games.

The Loyola football team (2-3) is looking to put together back-to-back wins for the first time this season. The Cubs ended a three-game losing streak with a 30-13 win over Upland.

“It’s always nice to get a W,” said Loyola coach Mike Christensen. “It was a complete game. We gave a better effort in all phases.”

When Loyola meets Valencia on Friday night at Valencia High School, it will be a matchup of one team at the top of its game and one team seemingly on the rise.

Loyola has been a bit banged up. Quarterback Jerry Neuheisel did not play against Upland. He was recovering from a concussion. Running back Jared Baker was limited against Upland as he is recovering from a variety of injuries.

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LA North & Orange County: No. 3 Mission Viejo takes care of business

September, 10, 2010
It was supposed to be a matchup between two of ESPN Los Angeles.com’s top football programs, but Friday night’s showdown between Mission Viejo and Los Angeles Loyola turned out to be a one-sided affair as one team looked every bit the part, and the other, not so much.

John Lazar/Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com
Loyola's QB Ryan Develle looks for a reciever in the first half of the varsity football game between Loyola and Mission Viejo played at L.A. Valley College on Friday, September 10, 2010.

Mission Viejo backed up its lofty No.3 ranking by dominating the No.15 Cubs from start to finish in a 42-7 victory at Valley College in Van Nuys. The effort was impressive, to be sure. Apparently, the Diablos wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“We have a lot of pride and we wanted to come out here and make a big statement,’’ said Mission Viejo senior Tre Madden, who is committed to USC. “We are for real, we proved that tonight and I think people will realize that when they see the final score of this game.’’

All signs pointed to the Diablos (2-0) being disappointed with their 14-0 halftime lead given that they came out after intermission and promptly drove 80 yards in seven plays, with the drive capped on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Alex Bridgford to Ryan Keller. Before the Cubs (1-1) knew it, they trailed by three touchdowns midway through the third quarter.

Mission Viejo was just getting started too.

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LA North: Game of the week: Mission Viejo vs. Loyola

September, 9, 2010
Loyola and Mission Viejo meet on Friday night in a match-up of ESPN Los Angeles.com Top 25 teams at L.A. Valley College at 7 p.m. Mission Viejo comes in ranked No. 3 while Loyola is No. 15.

Both teams won their season openers. Mission Viejo rolled over Bothell of Washington, 49-13. Loyola had a tougher time against Mira Costa, 10-7.

This will be the third meeting in the past three seasons between the two teams. Mission Viejo has won the previous two. The Diablos were 26-7 winners in 2009. In the first round of the CIF Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs in 2008, Mission Viejo beat Loyola, 37-6.

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LA North: The Top 10

September, 7, 2010

Alemany beat Oaks Christian, 20-17, in a match-up of ESPNLA.com top 25 prep football teams. Alemany quarterback Vernon Adams scored his team's first touchdown on a 1-yard keeper in the first quarter. He threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Sampson. He was 11-for-19 for 108 yards passing and rushed for 41 yards on 15 carries.

1. Westlake (0-0) -- The reigning CIF Southern Section Northern Division champions open at home against Oxnard.
2. Valencia (0-0) -- The Vikings will give Notre Dame Sherman Oaks its second tough game in a row.
3. Loyola (1-0) -- Loyola beat Mira Costa, 10-7, to open the season. Mira Costa got seven the hard way, two safetys and a field goal. Loyola's Jared Baker scored the only touchdown of the game, a four-yard run on fourth and goal.
4. Alemany (1-0) -- Coming off a thrilling 20-17 win over Oaks Christian. Warriors host Eastside next.
5. Moorpark (0-1) -- The Musketeers have a bye after losing to Eastlake of Chula Vista, 24-21, in their season opener.

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LA South: Loyola 10, Mira Costa 7

September, 4, 2010
MANHATTAN BEACH -- Loyola's defensive front had to come up with one more stop.

The Cubs' defense had been impressive all night Friday, locking the Mira Costa Mustangs in a corral of sorts. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.

But with less than two minutes left and Mira Costa down just five, Loyola needed to throw away the key. Bury it. Swallow it. Anything.

Lineman Jack Semcken came up with what first-year coach Mike Christensen was looking for, dropping tailback J.R. Tavai for a huge loss and forcing a fourth-and-long. Mira Costa quarterback Dalton Crawford's next pass fell incomplete and Loyola's defense had done it.

"It shows that we're a real team," Loyola quarterback Jerry Neuheisel said. "When one of us goes down, the other one can step up. The D stepped up for us. They made a lot of plays for us, especially in crucial situations."

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LA South: Three to see this weekend

September, 2, 2010
There are plenty of intriguing matchups involving Los Angeles South teams on opening week, including the defending Open Division runner-up traveling across the country. We've narrowed it down to three games to keep an eye on.

Bakersfield vs. Long Beach Poly, at Veterans Stadium, Thursday, 7 p.m. -- Experience reigns supreme in this one, which should make for some fundamental football. The Jackrabbits (6-6 in 2009) return nine starters on each side of the ball, knowing anything short of a deep postseason run will be deemed a disappointment. Bakersfield brings 13 total returnees from a team that finished 9-3 last fall.

Crenshaw at North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Ga.), Friday, 5 p.m. PT (ESPNU) -- Tune in for the first half of this one before heading out to your local high school game. The Cougars fell in the state title game last season. North Gwinnett is already 2-0.

Loyola at Mira Costa, Friday, 7 p.m. -- The Michael Christensen Era kicks off against a Mira Costa squad that has potential to surprise. Offensive weapons Jared Baker and Jerry Neuheisel, son of UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, are back for the Cubs.