Los Angeles Preps: Jr

Lawler signs with Cal, ending big day for I.E.

February, 1, 2012
2/01/12
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Upland wide receiver Kenny Lawler, the last major unsigned recruit from the Inland Empire, made it official Wednesday afternoon, announcing he will sign with California.

Lawler took a last-minute recruiting trip over the weekend to California after visiting Oregon State and Washington State the two prior weekends. Heading into Wednesday’s national signing day, he was reportedly down to California and Oregon State.

The Bears return leading receiver Keenan Allen, but second-leading receiver Marvin Jones has exhausted his eligibility. A spot opened up for Lawler in Cal's recruiting class after Oaks Christian wide receiver Jordan Payton, who had committed to the Golden Bears in early January, switched to Washington last week before ultimately signing with UCLA.

Lawler said on Fox Sports Prime Ticket that a major factor in his decision was California hiring one of his longtime coaches, Charlie Collins, as a staff member.

“I know he’s going to have my back up there,” Lawler said.

The 6-3, 185-pound senior committed to Arizona State shortly after last year’s national signing day, the first school to offer him a scholarship. He stuck by the commitment until late November, shortly after the Wildcats fired coach Dennis Erickson.

Lawler caught 53 passes for 1,267 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, including nine scores in the final four games. His size and reach allows him to out-jump most defensive backs.

Lawler is one of four Upland players to sign a letter of intent Wednesday. Running back Donte Abron, Jr., defensive back Marques Mosley and fullback Christian Powell signed with Colorado earlier in the day.

Here's a full list of signings from Wednesday:

(Read full post)

Powell switches from UCLA to Colorado

January, 31, 2012
1/31/12
3:34
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Less than 24 hours before national signing day and high school football recruits from the Inland Empire continue to sway on their decisions, or learn that a previous offer is no longer on the table.

UCLA and Colorado are two schools in the middle of some down-to-the-wire movement involving I.E. recruits.

Christian Powell, the third-ranked fullback recruit in the nation, committed to UCLA earlier this month but switched to Colorado on Monday night, reports several outlets, including Greg Biggins of ESPN Recruiting Nation.

He would be the third player from Upland to be part of the Buffaloes' recruiting class, joining running back Donte Abron, Jr., and wide receiver/defensive back Marques Mosley. Powell, at 6 feet, 250 pounds, also played defensive line for the Highlanders, recording 15 sacks last season, but is expected to play fullback in coach Eric Bienemy's offense.

Corona Santiago offensive lineman Isaiah Folasa, also once a UCLA commit under former coach Rick Neuheisel, will reportedly sign with New Mexico State on Wednesday, according to Santiago coach Jeff Steinberg.

Folasa took a recruiting trip to Colorado the weekend of Jan. 21, but the Buffaloes were unable to accept his commitment because they had ran out of available scholarships for this class, Biggins reported. In addition to the Upland trio, Arlington defensive lineman Samson Kafovalu and Citrus Hill running back Davien Payne have also pledged to Colorado.

Here’s the latest list of recruits from the I.E.

(Read full post)

I.E.: Top football recruits for class of '12

December, 22, 2011
12/22/11
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Now that the high football season has ended, the recruiting period is in full swing. The Inland Empire, which has stockpiled a number of collegiate conferences over the years, has its share of blue-chip recruits again this season. Here’s a list of seniors who have made non-binding verbal commitments to schools in advance of the national signing day in early February, followed by a list of those who are still undecided.

COMMITTED RECRUITS

QB -- Matt Morin, Chaparral (San Diego State); Austin Decoud, Redlands East Valley (Idaho).

RB -- Donta Abron, Jr., Upland (Colorado); Davien Payne, Citrus Hill (Colorado).

ATHLETE -- Damontae Kazee, Cajon (San Diego State); Bryan Harper, Colony (Washington); Jamaal Williams, Summit (BYU).

OL -- Lio Lafaele, Corona Centennial (Utah); Dylan LaFrenz, Los Osos (Arizona State); Isaiah Folasa, Corona Santiago (UCLA); Kyle Hart, Ridgecrest Burroughs (San Jose State).

DL -- Jeremy Castro, Vista Murrieta (Oregon); Teddy Queen, Chaparral (San Diego State); Samson Kafovalu, Arlington (Colorado).

LB -- Scott Starr, Norco (USC); C.J. Dozier, Chaparral (Arizona State); Darnell Murray, Citrus Hill (UTEP).

DB -- Donte Deayon, Summit (Boise State); Corbin McCarthy, Norco (Duke); Marques Mosley, Upland (Colorado).

UNDECIDED

ATHLETE -- Reshawn Hooker, A.B. Miller (Boise State, UCLA).

WR -- Kenny Lawler, Upland (UCLA, Oregon State, California, Michigan State).

DL -- Milo Jordan, Corona Centennial (USC, UCLA, Arizona State, Nebraska, Washington); Christian Powell, Upland (Washington, Nebraska, Texas A&M).

LB -- Joe Robinson, Chaparral (Nebraska, Arizona); Robert Wagner, Colony (Arizona, San Diego State); Nolan Peralta, Elsinore (Fresno State, San Jose State).

I.E.: All-region football teams

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
11:34
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With the season officially over for Inland Empire football teams, it proved to be a memorable year with the parity that enveloped the area this season and a number of top players are expected back again next year. Here’s a look at the top players in the I.E. from the 2011 season.

MVP

Su’a Cravens, Vista Murrieta, Jr., 6-2, 205 – Cravens was a game-changer on both sides of the ball for the Broncos and a big reason for their first Southern Section title this season. He scored touchdowns when the offense needed them most, and on defense took turns making plays in both the backfield and secondary. Cravens touched the ball 95 times on offense, averaged 10.5 yards a touch and scored 19 touchdowns. On defense, he had 11 sacks and three interceptions, one for a game-clinching touchdown against Chaparral.

OFFENSIVE MVP

Romello Goodman, Corona Centennial, Sr., 5-5, 165 – Goodman took advantage of the talent around him and rushed for 2,758 yards and a state-leading 44 touchdowns. He was at his best in the postseason, rushing for 1,170 yards and 17 touchdowns in four games.

DEFENSIVE MVP

Christian Powell, Upland, Sr., 5-10, 240 – Powell was a force on both sides of the ball but he was especially dangerous on defense, recording an Inland Division-leading 15 sacks. Nebraska, Texas A&M and Washington are among the colleges in pursuit of his services.

SPECIAL TEAMS MVP

Tyler Rausa, Vista Murrieta, Sr., 5-8, 170 – Rausa booted a Southern Section-leading 19 field goals in 14 games, an Inland Empire record for a single season. The Broncos were setting Rausa up for a game-winning kick in the Inland Division final against Centennial last week, but instead scored on 30-yard run in the 35-28 victory.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Coley Candaele, Vista Murrieta – Coming into the season, it didn’t appear Candaele had much in the cupboard on offense, but he found ways to move the chains and get it into the end zone, most notably giving Cravens a chance to run and catch the ball. Junior quarterback Nicholas Stevens also appeared to gain comfort with Candaele’s system as the season rolled along and, like Cravens, will be back next season for another run at the section title.

(Read full post)

Inland Division first-round previews

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
3:46
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INLAND DIVISION

First round, Friday

Redlands (4-6) at No. 1 Corona Centennial (9-1), 7:30 p.m.

How they got here: Centennial won the Big VIII League championship; Redlands finished third in the Citrus Belt League:

Matchup to watch: Redlands junior running back Craig Lee (142-1,353, 15 TDs) vs. Centennial linebacker Edem Nassar (8.5 tackles per game).

Fast fact: Centennial has won six Southern Section titles since 2000.

Prediction: Centennial 49, Redlands 21.

Los Osos (6-4) at Chaparral (6-4), 7:30 p.m.

How they got here: Chaparral finished runner-up in the Southwestern League; Los Osos finished third in the Baseline League.

Matchup to watch: Arizona State-bound offensive tackle Dylan LaFrenz of Los Osos (6-4, 280) vs. Chaparral defensive end Teddy Queen (6-3, 240).

Fast fact: The last time these teams met was in the second round of the 2007 playoffs, when Chaparral kicked a 27-yard field goal with a little more than a minute remaining, leading to an ugly shouting match between a few Los Osos coaches and fans.

Prediction: Chaparral 24, Los Osos 20.

Chino Hills (6-4) vs. Rancho Cucamonga (9-1) at Los Osos HS, 7 pm.

How they got here: Rancho Cucamonga finished second in the Baseline League; Chino Hills finished runner-up in the Sierra League.

Matchup to watch: Chino Hills junior receiver Jack Austin (45-726, 10 TDs) vs. Rancho Cucamonga secondary (five interceptions).

Fast fact: Rancho Cucamonga is 8-2 in the playoffs over the last three seasons.

Prediction: Rancho Cucamonga 31, Chino Hills 14.

(Read full post)

I.E.: A closer look at the Mt. Baldy League

August, 15, 2011
8/15/11
11:32
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MT. BALDY LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Chino (11-1, 6-0); Ontario Colony (7-4, 5-1); Montclair (5-6, 3-3); Pomona Garey (5-6, 2-4); Ontario (4-6, 2-4); Chino Don Lugo (3-7, 2-4); Ontario Chaffey (2-8, 1-5).

Players to watch: Hard to imagine it was just two years ago that Chino finished 0-10. The Cowboys rebounded last season in their first year in the Mt. Baldy League and appear even more stacked this season. Chino returns six first-team all-league players, led by senior quarterback Sean Molles, a three-year starter who passed for 2,343 yards and 29 touchdowns last season. He had at least one touchdown pass in every game and was intercepted just six times. Chino should also be well balanced with the return of the league’s leading running back, senior Xavier Browne, who totaled 1,275 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. Matt Pantell is a returning two-way lineman for the Cowboys, and Ronnie Velarde, Anthony Adamo and Isaiah Brenes provide valuable experience on defense. Colony’s chances of dethroning Chino increased twofold with the addition of offseason transfer Bryan Harper, who played quarterback and defensive back during his injury-shortened junior year at Fontana Carter. Harper, ranked the 94th-best recruit in the state by Rivals.com, has committed to Washington as a cornerback. He played just four games last season before breaking a collarbone but still led Carter with 427 passing yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore, he threw for 1,302 yards and combined for 15 touchdowns through the air and on the ground. Harper will have the league’s top returning receiver in his sights, senior Chaz Nelson, who also had three interceptions as a defensive back. Also returning on defense is first-team all-league linebacker Eddie Martinez, who led the Titans with 86 tackles, and linebacker/tight end Robert Wagner, another first-team all-leaguer. Don Lugo might have the Inland Empire’s best-kept secret in linebacker Milton Williams III, a 6-1, 210-pound senior. With his 4.7 speed and 30.5-inch vertical leap, Williams is drawing interest from USC and a handful of other Pac-12 schools. Chaffey hopes to improve on last season’s results with the return of running back Carnell Spencer, who averaged 119 yards in his last four games, and leading tackler Matthew Boice, a junior linebacker.

Projected order of finish: Chino, Colony, Don Lugo, Chaffey, Garey, Montclair, Ontario.

Key games: Sept. 1 – Colony @ West Covina South Hills; Sept. 9 – Fontana Carter @ Chaffey; Sept. 16 – Chino @ Oak Park; Sept. 23 – Azusa @ Don Lugo; Sept. 30 – Chino @ Don Lugo; Oct. 7 – Don Lugo @ Colony; Oct. 21 – Colony @ Chaffey; Oct. 28 – Chino @ Colony; Nov. 4 – Chaffey @ Don Lugo.

Alumni in the NFL: Sedrick Ellis, New Orleans Saints (Chino ’03); Greg Salas, St. Louis Rams (Chino ’06); Jarron Gilbert, New York Jets (Chino ’05); R.J. Stanford, Carolina Panthers (Chino ’06).

Fast fact: Ontario said good-bye to coach Steve Randall in the offseason. In just five years, Randall compiled more wins than any other coach in school history, but couldn’t pass up an assistant coaching offer at Citrus College in Glendora. Randall was replaced by Ronald Stocking, Jr., who spent the last two seasons as linebackers coach at Mira Loma Alta Loma High and prior to that was an assistant coach at Colony for five years.

On the clock: San Andreas League.
Southern California Regional boys’ basketball playoffs

Division 1

Second round

Westchester at Corona Centennial, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Five keys to the game:

1. Corona Centennial point guard Michael Caffey will likely be a game-time decision after twisting his right ankle during the third quarter Tuesday against visiting Redlands East Valley. Caffey, who has signed with Long Beach State, said after the game that he "should be back" against the Comets. Caffey is averaging 17.5 points and 6.2 assists for the second-seeded Huskies and has emerged as the team’s best playmaker.

2. If any team can weather the storm without one of its key players, it’s Centennial. The Huskies’ backcourt also includes New Mexico-bound slasher Dominique Dunning and Weber State-bound sharpshooter Gelaun Wheelwright. The duo combined for 59 points in the victory against REV. Caffey missed two Big VIII League games earlier this season with a sprained left ankle and the Huskies didn’t skip a beat. Westchester isn’t Norco, however.

3. Due to their respective locations, you wouldn’t expect these teams to have a history against each other, but they played Dec. 30 in the fifth-place game of the prestigious National Division at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic. The Huskies raced to a 24-7 lead in that game and kept the Comets in the rearview mirror the rest of the way in 59-51 victory. Dunning scored 17 points in the game and Joshua Wilson had 17 to lead Westchester.

4. This isn’t the Comets of old. Sure, they reached the City Section championship game but they don’t have the start power of recent seasons, such as when Trevor Ariza streaked down the lane, Amir Johnson patrolled the middle or Dwayne Polee, Jr. soared above the rim. This season, Westchester relies on an unsung cast that includes 6-6 forward Robert Gsellman, who is better known among baseball recruiters for his .649 batting average last season.

5. Much of what makes Westchester so beatable this season is its inexperience. The Comets graduated 11 players from last season’s Division 1 state championship team. Woodland Hills Taft had every reason to kick the Comets when they were down. The Toreadors lost to Westchester in the City Section final the last two years and three of the last five, but they could only manage a four-point victory in last week’s City Section final.

Inland Division: Upland 40, Chaparral 35

November, 19, 2010
11/19/10
11:24
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UPLAND — For one of the rare occasions, two Southern Section defending champions went head-to-head Friday night in the Inland Division playoffs and both Upland and Temecula Chaparral played as if they had something to lose.

In the end, injuries caught up with Chaparral, allowing the Highlanders to rally from an early deficit and win, 40-35, at Upland High.

Upland running back Donta Abron Jr. rushed for 176 yards in 18 carries and scored two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score early in the third quarter that gave the Highlanders a 30-28 lead they never relinquished.

Upland kicker Jake Van Ginkel kicked four field goals, including a 38-yarder that gave the Highlanders their final five-point cushion with 1:10 remaining, and receiver Kenneth Lawler caught five passes for 164 yards and a 73-yard score in the opening quarter.

The Highlanders, who won the Central Division title last season and was then moved to the Inland Division this season, had to claw back right from the start. On the first play from scrimmage, Chaparral linebacker Josh Ponder returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown.

(Read full post)

Inland Empire: Games of the week

November, 18, 2010
11/18/10
10:56
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Nobody expected Temecula Chaparral or Upland to win Southern Section titles last season either.

But then the Pumas got on a roll after finishing second in the Southwestern League and slipped by one quality opponent after another in the Inland Division playoffs, winning their first section title with a 13-7 victory against Southwestern League champ Vista Murrieta.

Over at Upland, the Highlanders squeaked into the Central Division playoffs as a wild card out of the Baseline League, then capped their championship run with a 19-7 victory against Baseline champion Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos.

Upland, now a member of the Inland Division, will host Chaparral in the opening round of playoffs Friday at 7 p.m. and, once again, both teams will enter the postseason having not fulfilled preseason expectations of winning league titles.

No worries.

The second season is here.

One of these teams is guaranteed to see their playoff hopes end in the first round, however. The other will move onto the second round and probably have their next opponent wondering: Here we go again?

Chaparral (4-6) showed as much life last Thursday in a 27-20 victory against Murrieta Valley as it has all season. Then again, the Pumas were faced with the possibility of missing the playoffs if they lost.

Antoine Arnold, considered one of the top receivers in the Inland Empire, had the best game of his injury-filled season, catching six passes for 169 yards and two touchdowns.

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