Los Angeles Preps: Kaiser

Kaiser HS softballMartin Henderson for ESPNLA.comKaiser won the CIF-SS Division 4 softball title after falling short in the championship game in 2011.

IRVINE --In the end, somebody had to lose.

Even though nobody deserved to.

In a title game between a couple of unseeded teams, both played like champions Friday night at Col. Bill Barber Park in Irvine. What fans at Deanna Manning Stadium got was a pitchers' duel that had a little bit of everything.

Finally, in the bottom of the 11th inning, Jasmine Antunez's high pitch got away from catcher Jenevee Peres and Rebecca Garcia sprinted home to give Fontana Kaiser a 1-0 victory in the Southern Section Division 4 championship.

Kaiser (23-8) was in the championship for the second year in a row, but this was its first title.

Garcia ran for No. 9 hitter Alyssa Dilay after her bouncer into the hole at shortstop gave Kaiser its fourth hit of the game. She took second on a sacrifice and third on a grounder to short. Then, on Antunez's first pitch to No. 3 hitter Jesslene Contreras, her high pitch glanced off Peres' mitt. Garcia raced home and was safe by a mile. It was scored a passed ball.

One of the longest championship games ever was finally over.

Garcia said her run home was the longest of her life. But, she said, she was "110 percent confident."

"I saw the ball die at the fence," she said. "I knew I was already there and it was our game."

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I.E.: Boys' basketball playoff primer

February, 16, 2012
2/16/12
4:30
PM PT
With the best Inland Empire boys’ basketball teams placed in the top four divisions of the Southern Section playoffs, here’s a rundown of what to look for beginning with Friday’s first-round games.

DIVISION 1AA

Background: The Inland Empire is well known in this division. The region has sent a representative to the championship game the last three years. Long Beach Poly beat Corona Centennial last season, Mater Dei toppled Etiwanda the year before and Riverside King upset Mater Dei in 2009.

Best Shot: If third-seeded Etiwanda is to continue that trend, the Eagles will likely need to find a way to beat second-seeded Long Beach Poly. They lost to the Jackrabbits in the Division 1AA semifinals last season and again nine days later in the second round of the SoCal Regional playoffs. There are few high school coaches who squeeze more out of their players than Dave Kleckner at Etiwanda, however.

Best first-round game: Highland at Silverado. A good old- fashioned high desert showdown as 11th-seeded Silverado brings a 16-game winning streak into the postseason. The Hawks will need to find a way to slow Highland senior guard Joseph Prince, who is averaging 23.4 points. Prince, who played the last two seasons at Glenbrook North High in Northbrook, Ill., scored a season-high 37 points in the regular-season finale last week against Lancaster.

Darkhorse: Rancho Verde didn’t land on the same side of the bracket as top-seeded Mater Dei, so that can already be considered a victory. In the last three seasons, the Mustangs lost all four postseason meetings against Mater Dei, with three losses in the section playoffs and another in the SoCal Regionals. Rancho Verde is seeded 10th and drew a good challenge in the opener against visiting Montclair. A possible second-round game against seventh-seeded Eisenhower looms.

DIVISION 1A

Background: A team from the I.E. has qualified for the semifinals in this division the last three seasons, Redlands East Valley a year ago, Colony in 2010 and Chino Hills in 2009. In the last final appearance by an I.E. team, Riverside King beat Etiwanda in the 2008 championship game at Honda Center.

Best Shot: The I.E.’s streak of semifinalists could be in serious jeopardy. The highest-seeded teams in this division are No. 7 Chino Hills and No. 10 Vista Murrieta, and they would meet in the second round should they win their openers. The good thing is, one I.E. team would be guaranteed a trip to the quarterfinals.

Best first-round game: Corona at Arroyo Valley. Both these teams have held their own against good competition this season. Corona tied for fifth in the highly competitive Big VIII League and Arroyo Valley finished runner up in the San Andreas League, losing both games to league champion Cajon by a combined six points.

Darkhorse: Vista Murrieta has shown it can reach up and bite a good team if they’re not paying attention. The Broncos beat Murrieta Valley by 13 points in a Southwestern League game last month and the Nighthawks are seeded third in Division 2A. Davin Guinn, a 6-5 senior forward for Vista Murrieta, is one of the top players in the division. He matched his season high with 32 points in the rematch against Murrieta Valley last week.

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Citrus Belt, Sierra and Sunkist previews

January, 10, 2012
1/10/12
4:04
PM PT
CITRUS BELT LEAGUE

League openers: Wednesday night – Fontana @ Redlands; Yucaipa @ Eisenhower; A.B. Miller @ Redlands East Valley.

Last year’s finish: Eisenhower (10-0); Redlands East Valley (8-2), Redlands (6-4); Yucaipa (4-6); A.B. Miller (2-8); Fontana (0-10).

Players to watch: Marvelle Harris (Eisenhower), 6-3, Sr. G; Terrance Sims (Eisenhower), 5-10, Sr., G; Toriano Harris (Eisenhower), 6-1, Sr., G; Evan Pea’Ches (Redlands), 6-7, Sr., F; Jamal Ellis (Redlands East Valley), 5-11, Sr., G; Daylin Billingsley (Yucaipa), 6-6, Sr., F; Adam Stanford (A.B. Miller), 6-3, Jr., F.

Predicted order of finish: Eisenhower, Redlands, Redlands East Valley, Yucaipa, Fontana, A.B. Miller.

SIERRA LEAGUE

League openers: Wednesday night – Ayala @ Chino Hills; Damien @ Claremont; Charter Oak @ South Hills.

Last year’s finish: Damien (9-1); Chino Hills (7-3); Ayala (7-3); Claremont (5-5); South Hills (1-9); Charter Oak (1-9).

Players to watch: Chris Reyes (Damien), 6-7, Sr., F; Clayton White (Damien), 6-0, Sr., G; Jared Dizon (Damien), 6-3, Jr., G; Josh Ramirez (Ayala), 6-4, Sr., G; Jared Ponce (Ayala), 6-2, Sr., G; Matt Ponce (Ayala), 5-10, Sr., G; Tyler Ponce (Ayala), 6-2, Sr., G; Mike Navar (Chino Hills), 6-7, Sr., C; Deion Page (Chino Hills), 6-1, Sr., G; Deandre Page (Chino Hills), 6-1, Sr., G; Bishop Mency (Chino Hills), 6-4, So., F; Kyle Maloof (Claremont), 6-1, Sr., G; Korey Serna (South Hills), 6-9, Sr., C; Kody Brown (Charter Oak), 6-7, Sr., F.

Predicted order of finish: Damien, Chino Hills, Ayala, Claremont, South Hills, Charter Oak.

SUNKIST LEAGUE

League openers: Wednesday night – Jurupa Valley @ Summit, Patriot @ Bloomington; Norte Vista @ Kaiser.

Last year’s finish: Summit (10-0); Patriot (8-2); Jurupa Valley (5-5); Bloomington (3-7); Kaiser (2-8); Norte Vista (0-10).

Players to watch: Devon Alexander (Summit), 6-1, Sr., G; Darrick Arnold (Summit), 6-3, Sr., F; Isaiah Taylor (Summit), 6-1, Sr., G; Thomas Folsom (Patriot), 6-10, Sr., C; Stephon Bryant (Jurupa Valley), 6-2, Jr., F; Sam Parks (Jurupa Valley), 6-1, So., F; Steven Avila (Jurupa Valley), 5-10, Jr., G; John Moss (Bloomington), 5-10, Sr., G

Predicted order of finish: Summit, Jurupa Valley, Kaiser, Patriot, Bloomington, Norte Vista.

Previously:

Baseline, Mountain Pass, Southwestern and Sunbelt leagues

Big VIII, Mojave River and Mt. Baldy leagues

Desert Valley, Inland Valley and San Andreas leagues

I.E.: The final Top 10

December, 19, 2011
12/19/11
12:18
AM PT
Well, that’s a wrap on the 2011 high school football season. The Inland Empire is certainly more respected than ever for what it accomplished this fall, beating Pac-5 Division foes Mission Viejo, Alemany, Crespi, Loyola, Tesoro and Mater Dei. They also staged a few memorable matchups against each other, none better than Vista Murrieta’s 35-28 come-from-behind victory against defending champion Corona Centennial in the Inland Division championship game. Here’s a look at the final top 10 of the season.

1. Vista Murrieta, 9-5 – The Broncos went undefeated on the field, beating state-ranked J.W. North, Upland and Centennial in the final three rounds of the Inland Division playoffs. Vista Murrieta self-reported an ineligible player prior to Southwestern League play -- a player who would quickly become eligible --leading to the forfeiture of all five nonleague victories. Many believe the Broncos deserved a state bowl bid but were passed up in favor of two-loss Santa Margarita, largely due to their forfeits. Vista Murrieta will be an early favorite to make the trip next season, as its best player, running back/strong safety Su’a Cravens, is set to return, as well as quarterback Nicholas Stevens and middle linebacker Bryce Smith, the Inland Division’s leading tackler.

2. Corona Centennial, 12-2 – Before the season, Centennial coach Matt Logan said the Huskies would need four or five games to find their footing. Try six quarters. The Huskies won 12 straight after their season-opening loss to St. Bonaventure, all but one by a wide margin. They quickly developed chemistry between a veteran offensive line and first-year senior starters Hayden Gavett at quarterback and Romello Goodman at running back and churned out yardage like past seasons. They came up one drive short against Vista Murrieta, however.

3. Upland, 12-1 – For most of the season, the Highlanders seemed like the front runner to unseat Centennial, but they ran into the same Vista Murrieta storm as the Huskies and saw their run end with a 39-18 semifinal loss. Still, they opened plenty of eyes with a 38-23 nonleaguue victory against L.A. private-school power Loyola and another one-sided victory against Baseline League foe Rancho Cucamonga.

4. Rancho Cucamonga, 11-2 – With 14 starters back from a team that lost in double overtime of the 2010 Inland Division semifinals, the Cougars came into this season ranked No. 2 in the ESPNLA Inland Empire preseason rankings. They weren’t as prepared as Upland and lost that clash, but got off the mat to beat fourth-seeded Redlands East Valley in the Inland Division quarterfinals and then put a scare into top-seeded Centennial in the semis before ultimately losing, 41-21.

5. Redlands East Valley, 11-1 – Give the Wildcats credit for turning the national spotlight on the I.E. in Week 5 with their 10-7 victory against nationally ranked Mission Viejo. They went on to finish the regular season undefeated but fell back into their habit of losing early in the playoffs. A nonleague victory against City Section-power Dorsey also stands bright on their resume.

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I.E.: The Top 10

November, 27, 2011
11/27/11
10:47
PM PT
The top three teams put up 50-plus points in their Inland Division second-round victories, while Rancho Cucamonga found a way to win with just nine. Should make for some interesting semifinal action in the Inland Division.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 11-1 – Romello Goodman accomplished something no other Centennial running back has, scoring eight touchdowns in a 56-21 victory Friday night against visiting Chaparral in an Inland Division second-round game. Goodman has rushed for more than 300 yards in each of the playoff victories. Next: vs. Rancho Cucamonga at Los Osos HS, Friday.

2. (2) Upland, 12-0 – Upland wide receiver Kenny Lawler continues his postseason parade to the end zone, snaring three touchdown passes in a 51-13 victory Friday night against Charter Oak in the Inland Division. Lawler, who has committed to Arizona State, has five of his eight touchdowns this season in the playoffs. Next: at Vista Murrieta, Friday.

3. (3) Vista Murrieta, 7-5 – Su’a Cravens continues to show that the offensive side of the ball might just be his best side, rushing for a career-high 205 yards in 10 carries and scoring on three long touchdown runs to lead Vista Murrieta to a 58-13 victory Friday night against J.W. North in an Inland Division game at Riverside College. Next: vs. Upland, Friday.

4. (5) Rancho Cucamonga, 11-1 – The Cougars demonstrated they know a thing or two about defense too, holding fourth-seeded Redlands East Valley to two field goals in a 9-6 victory Friday night in an Inland Division game at Citrus Valley High. Next: vs. Corona Centennial at Los Osos HS, Friday.

5. (4) Redlands East Valley, 11-1 – Offense has been a question mark for most of the season and the fourth-seeded Wildcats didn’t have an answer for Rancho Cucamonga, suffering their third straight early-round playoff exit after going unbeaten in Citrus Belt League play.

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I.E.: Eastern Division second-round previews

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
7:05
PM PT
EASTERN DIVISION

Second round, Friday

No. 1 Summit (10-1) vs. Silverado (6-5) at Victor Valley HS, 7:30 p.m.

How they got here: Summit slipped by visiting Paloma Valley, 26-18, at A.B. Miller HS; Silverado beat Oak Hills in a rematch, 16-7, at Victor Valley.

Matchup to watch: Summit quarterback Bernard Porter (1,106 passing yards, 13 TDs) vs. Silverado’s pass rush (26 sacks).

Fast fact: Silverado posted one of the biggest upsets of the 2010 season when it traveled to A.B. Miller in Week 6 and stunned Summit, 20-18, then the top-ranked team in the Eastern Division.

Prediction: Summit 31, Silverado 10.

No. 4 Serrano (9-2) at Elsinore (8-3), 7:30 p.m.

How they got here: Serrano upended visiting Granite Hills, 45-7; Elsinore beat visiting West Valley, 60-39.

Matchup to watch: Serrano running back Adarius Hogan (1,356 rushing yards, 15 TDs) vs. Elsinore linebacker Nolan Peralta (11.6 tackles per game).

Fast fact: Elsinore was the surprise Eastern Division champion last season, winning the program’s only section title in the school’s 84-year history.

Prediction: Serrano 24, Elsinore 14.

No. 3 Heritage (10-1) at Kaiser (8-3), 7:30 p.m.

How they got here: Heritage knocked off visiting Sultana, 56-21; Kaiser beat visiting San Jacinto, 37-19.

Matchup to watch: Kaiser running backs Marquette Washington and Taleeb Isom (332 combined rushing yards last week, five TDs) vs. Heritage linebacker Tony Hifo (7.6 tackles per game).

Fast fact: Kaiser had its streak of 10 consecutive Sunkist League titles ended this season by Summit.

Prediction: Heritage 28, Kaiser 14.

No. 2 Citrus Hill (11-0) at Ridgecrest Burroughs (6-5), 7:30 p.m.

How they got here: Citrus Hill defeated visiting Norte Vista, 55-28; Burroughs won at Apple Valley, 27-14.

Matchup to watch: San Jose State-bound defensive end Kyle Hart of Burroughs (6-3, 240) vs. Colorado-bound running back Davien Payne of Citrus Hill (1,382 rushing yards, 26 TDs).

Fast fact: Citrus Hill opened the playoffs last season by hosting Burroughs and lost, 24-6. Now it’s the Hawks who have to make the 340-mile round trip to Ridgecrest.

Prediction: Citrus Hill 42, Burroughs 17.

I.E.: The Top 10

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
1:13
AM PT
Despite a few close calls, the Inland Empire top 10 got through the first round of the Southern Section playoffs intact. That won’t be the case this week, however.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 10-1 – The Huskies found themselves in a shootout with an unlikely opponent Friday night in their Inland Division first-round game but ultimately prevailed against Redlands, 49-35, thanks to five touchdowns for running back Romello Goodman. Next: vs. Chaparral, Friday.

2. (2) Upland, 11-0 – Arizona State-bound wide receiver Kenny Lawler showed his big-play ability for Upland in a 59-21 victory Friday night against Murrieta Valley, hauling in first-half touchdown passes of 45, 60 and 55 yards in the Inland Division opener. Next: vs. Charter Oak, Friday

3. (3) Vista Murrieta, 6-5 – The Broncos scored 28 unanswered points in the second quarter Friday night against visiting Damien and coasted to a 38-13 victory in an Inland Division first-round game. Next: vs. J.W. North at TBD, Friday

4. (4) Redlands East Valley, 11-0 – The Wildcats had to come from behind twice against Norco in a turnover-filled Inland Division first-round game Friday night before holding on to win, 20-15. Next: vs. Rancho Cucamonga at TBD, Friday.

5. (5) Rancho Cucamonga, 10-1 – The Cougars escaped their Inland Division first-round game by completing a 37-yard desperation pass with no time on the clock against Chino Hills, giving them the points they needed in a 39-38 victory. Next: vs. Redlands East Valley at TBD, Friday.

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I.E.: The Top 10

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
10:25
PM PT
The regular season came to a close last weekend and the top teams retained their momentum heading into the Southern Section playoffs. Another undefeated team makes its debut in the top 10, but it’s one-loss Corona Centennial that remains the team to beat.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 9-1 – Hayden Gavett passed for a career-high 356 yards, all in the first half, in a 58-3 victory Thursday against Riverside King. Believe it or not, he was out-shined by King kicker Garrett Swanson, who booted a 60-yard field goal to become the first I.E. kicker to hit from that distance. Next: vs. Redlands, Friday.

2. (2) Upland, 10-0 – The Highlanders began looking forward to the playoffs at halftime, as they led Alta Loma, 42-3, before finishing off with a 49-3 victory Thursday night. Ten different players carried the ball for Upland. Next: vs. Murrieta Valley, Friday.

3. (3) Vista Murrieta, 5-5 – The Broncos bucked off Murrieta Mesa in a 51-20 victory Thursday night, but now the defense has some question marks after allowing 20 or more points for the fifth time this season. Next: vs. Damien, Friday.

4. (4) Redlands East Valley, 10-0 – The Wildcats appear to be rolling on all cylinders after defeating Yucaipa, 48-0, in a matchup of undefeated teams Thursday night. REV scored all its points in the first half. Next: vs. Norco, Friday.

5. (5) Rancho Cucamonga, 9-1 – The Cougars scored 31 consecutive points after giving up the first touchdown Thursday night against Los Osos and went on to win, 38-14, to secure second place in the Baseline League. Next: vs. Chino Hills, Friday.

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CIF-SS playoffs: Eastern Division

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
2:40
PM PT
CIF-SS playoffs:
Eastern Division
Here’s a breakdown of the division:

The seeds: No. 1 Summit, No. 2 Citrus Hill, No. 3 Heritage, No. 4 Serrano.

Best first-round matchup: Oak Hills (8-2) at Silverado (5-5) -- Oak Hills entered Week 9 with an unbeaten record and even made an appearance in the ESPNLA Inland Empire top 10 before losing its final two games to finish third in the Mojave River League. Among its victories was a 20-6 triumph against Silverado in its final nonleague tune up Oct. 7. Silverado went 0-5 in nonleague play but found its stride while winning the Desert Sky League and likely feels as if it has a score to settle with the Bulldogs.

Toughest road: Summit (9-1) -- The SkyHawks are the favorite to win this division, but they’ll have to earn their stripes. They open against Paloma Valley, a team playing with nothing to lose after beating defending division champion Elsinore on Thursday to finish in a three-way tie for third in the Sunbelt League, then winning a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs. Summit would then get the winner of Oak Hills and Silverado.

Potential shocker: West Valley at Elsinore, first round – Heading into Week 9 of the regular season, Elsinore seemed a lock to secure one of the top three seeds in the division, but then lost a Sunbelt League showdown against Heritage and didn’t show up in the loss to Paloma Valley, though the Tigers were already guaranteed second place in league. How they respond from their first two-game losing streak in three years is a key question heading into the playoffs. With two 1,000-yard rushers in sophomore Kishawn Holmes and junior Chris Anderson, West Valley will surely test Elsinore’s psyche.

Darkhorse: Kaiser (7-3) -- Elsinore was a darkhorse when it won this title last season and Kaiser has a similar makeup heading into the postseason. The Cats missed out on their first Sunkist League title in 10 years with a 21-7 loss to Summit last week, but the program is accustomed to winning and has steadily improved as the season went along. If the Cats can find a way to scrape together three touchdowns, they’ll be tough for any team to beat.

Final analysis: Summit and Citrus Hill would seem the leaders of this pack, but it would be a huge mistake for any team to look past Heritage or Serrano. Heritage played the Central Division’s top-seeded team, Rancho Verde, closer than anyone this season, and Serrano came within 10 points of defeating Upland, the third-seeded team in the powerful Inland Division.

Championship prediction: This division might be the toughest to predict of any in the Inland Empire. As has been noted, the top four seeds are very even and then you have opponents such as Elsinore, Kaiser and Oak Hills that can step up at any time and play a big game. The difference last season came down to defense and Citrus Hill and Summit might be the most prepared in that department. Summit has the Inland Empire’s all-time interception leader in Boise State-bound defensive back Donte Deayon and Citrus Hill has a dominant defensive end in Roosevelt Pearson. Where the Hawks separate themselves from Summit is at running back. Citrus Hill features one of the I.E.’s best in Colorado-bound senior Davien Payne. Citrus Hill 30, Summit 28.

Link to the Eastern Division bracket on CalPreps.com

I.E.: The Top 10

November, 6, 2011
11/06/11
11:39
PM PT
The Inland Empire top 10 went unbeaten last week. In fact, nine teams won by at least 20 points and seven clinched at least a share of a league championship.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 8-1 – The Huskies faced an injury-depleted Roosevelt team Friday night and didn’t show any mercy in the 45-24 victory, which all but sewed up another outright Big VIII League title. Next: at Riverside King, Thursday.

2. (2) Upland, 9-0 – The Highlanders found themselves tied late in the second quarter Friday against Los Osos, then stepped on the gas and scored five consecutive touchdowns in the 49-21 victory, clinching at least a share of the Baseline League title. Next: vs. Alta Loma, Thursday.

3. (3) Vista Murrieta, 4-5 – The Broncos also wrapped up at least a share of the Southwestern League title and a likely top four seeding for the Inland Division playoffs with a 23-14 victory against Murrieta Valley. Next: vs. Murrieta Mesa, Thursday.

4. (4) Redlands East Valley, 9-0 – The Wildcats finally put some distance between themselves and their opponent in a 49-0 victory Friday against Fontana. Now they need to prepare for another tough battle in their Citrus Belt League finale. Next: at Yucaipa, Thursday.

5. (5) Rancho Cucamonga, 8-1 – Dimitri Morales and Jermel Walker hooked up on two long touchdown passes Friday night in a Baseline League game against Glendora, and the Cougars needed every yard in the 34-13 victory. Next: at Los Osos, Thursday.

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I.E.: The Top 10

October, 30, 2011
10/30/11
11:47
PM PT
There was no letting up for the top seven teams in last week’s rankings, but there was some turnover at the bottom. Two additional undefeated teams make their debut after winning key league games last week. Meanwhile, a Big VIII League team dropped out of the top 10 for the second consecutive week.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 7-1 – For the third consecutive game, the Huskies punted the ball just once, and for the sixth straight game they scored at least 48 points in a 49-6 victory Friday at Corona. Next: vs. Roosevelt, Friday.

2. (2) Upland, 8-0 – Upland fullback/defensive lineman Christian Powell landed a scholarship offer from Washington last week, then went out Friday night and scored a touchdown on both offense and defense in a 49-3 victory against Glendora at Citrus College. Next: vs. Los Osos, Friday.

3. (3) Vista Murrieta, 3-5 – The Broncos forfeited five games last week for using an ineligible player but returned to winning games on the field in a 45-24 victory Friday against Great Oak. Su’a Cravens rushed for three touchdowns in the victory. Next: vs. Murrieta Valley, Friday.

4. (4) Redlands East Valley, 8-0 – The Wildcats had five more sacks in a 34-14 victory Friday against Eisenhower, raising their season total to 23. REV surged to a 27-0 halftime lead. Next: vs. Fontana at Citrus Valley HS, Friday.

5. (5) Rancho Cucamonga, 7-1 – The Cougars returned two kickoffs for touchdowns Friday in a 30-27 victory against Etiwanda, the second coming by Chris Hawkins with 3:30 remaining, providing Rancho Cucamonga its final three-point edge. Next: vs. Glendora at Los Osos HS, Friday.

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I.E.: Games of the Week

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
10:06
PM PT
It’s rivalry week in the Inland Empire. The Baseline, Big VIII and Citrus Belt leagues feature matchups involving teams that have spent the last decade hammering away at each other. While some of these rivalries have turned into one-sided affairs in recent years, it’s tough to predict which way they’ll turn once the teams step between the lines.

A-Game

(Inland Empire top 10 rankings included)

No. 9 Rancho Cucamonga (6-0, 1-0) at No. 12 Upland (6-0, 1-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – This has been one of the more even rivalries over the years and another tight one is expected Friday night. Rancho Cucamonga has won four straight close games against the Highlanders, including a victory in the 2008 Central Division finals, but Upland is a slight favorite this time around. The Highlanders earned that distinction with an impressive win three weeks ago against visiting Loyola, while Rancho Cucamonga has spent the first six weeks steamrollering mostly mediocre opponents. The key matchup will be Upland’s offensive line and fullback Christian Powell against a defense led by linebacker Viliami Latu, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior. Offensively, the Cougars also need to be on the lookout for Powell, who leads the Inland Division with nine sacks.

Calpreps.com computerized projection: Upland 31, Rancho Cucamonga 24

ESPNLA: Rancho Cucamonga 28, Upland 24

B-List

Norco (4-2, 2-1) at No. 4 Corona Centennial (5-1, 3-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – For the second consecutive season this rivalry has lost some of its luster due to an early loss by Norco in Big VIII League play. The Cougars were upended by Corona Santiago two weeks ago, the second time this season they've allowed 49 or more points in a game. That’s not good news against an offense as unrelenting as Centennial’s, which has scored at least 48 points in four straight. Norco will need to find a way to keep the ball out of Centennial’s hands for as long as possible. Don’t be surprised if the Cougars go for it on fourth down at midfield, or try an onside kick the first time they have the opportunity.

Calpreps.com: Centennial 44, Norco 21

ESPNLA: Centennial 56, Norco 28

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IE: Five questions to ponder after Week 2

September, 19, 2011
9/19/11
9:29
PM PT
Q: Which I.E. team has improved the most since last season?

A: That question was a little tougher to answer following Week 1, but after upsetting Alemany last weekend, J.W. North might be on the verge of one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in I.E. history. The Huskies, who finished 2-8 last season, improved to 2-0 with a 36-35 victory Friday night against Alemany, which entered the game ranked No. 3 in the Southland by ESPNLA. North could have played for the tie after scoring with 53 seconds remaining, but who wants to see a tie? Instead, coach Mark Paredes opted to try for the two-point conversion and the Huskies punched it in to the roar of the crowd at Riverside College. By the time he graduates, Justin Gheorghe might end up with a statue on the front lawn at North. Back in June, he helped the Huskies win their first section title in baseball since 1994, and Friday night he threw for 216 yards, completing all three passes on the game-winning drive and carrying the ball twice for 40 yards.

Q: Which team has been the most surprising?

A: Cajon was expected to be good this season, but not this good. The Cowboys had their way with Kaiser on Friday night, building a 24-point halftime lead on their way to a 52-7 victory, the most points allowed by Kaiser in program history. Probably most impressive is Cajon's offensive balance and its ability to pinprick their opponent’s weaknesses. Edwin Morales threw for 171 yards and two touchdowns against Kaiser, and the running game accounted for 224 yards and five scores. Defensively, the Cowboys held Kaiser to 171 total yards and zero through the air. Just as important, Cajon isn’t beating itself, committing just one turnover this season.

Q: Which program has gone backward the furthest?

A: Roosevelt earns that distinction after another defensive meltdown Friday night against Murrieta Valley. The Mustangs led by 10 points at the half but couldn’t hold on against the Nighthawks and lost, 35-34, to fall to 0-2. Roosevelt defeated Murrieta Valley, 33-12, last season en route to finishing 9-3, including 5-2 in the Big VIII League. In the rematch, the Mustangs were expected to get quarterback Aaron Crone back from an injury to his throwing shoulder, but he wasn’t ready and sat for the second consecutive week. Still, that doesn’t excuse the defense for allowing five touchdowns for the second straight game. During the offseason, some suggested the Mustangs would be hurt by the departure of several key players and it appears they were correct.

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IE: The Top 10

September, 11, 2011
9/11/11
9:29
PM PT
Week 1 is in the books and the Inland Empire dished out some good wins against out-of-the-area teams, but suffered one humbling loss when St. Bonaventure traveled from Ventura to Corona and knocked off Centennial, the defending Inland Division champion. One thing is becoming crystal clear, there's a lot more parity in the I.E. this season.

1. (1) Centennial, 0-1 – The Huskies were run over by St. Bonaventure, 29-27, their second straight loss dating to last season. They hadn’t lost two in row since dropping the final game of 2003 and the first game of 2004. Next: vs. Mater Dei at Santa Ana Stadium, Friday.

2. (2) Rancho Cucamonga, 2-0 – The Cougars have yet to allow a point this season after defeating Great Oak, 35-0. Next: At Pasadena Muir, Friday.

3. (3) Norco, 1-0 – Norco woke up just in time to beat Crenshaw, 21-20, getting a five-yard touchdown run by Joseph Ajeijbe with 6 minutes remaining. Next: vs. Etiwanda at Colony HS, Friday.

4. (5) Upland, 2-0 – The Highlanders didn’t have any trouble moving the ball against Tustin, the second-ranked team in the Southern Division, rolling up 365 yards of offense in a 31-20 victory. Next: At Serrano, Friday.

5. (4) Vista Murrieta, 1-0 – The Broncos blew a 28-7 lead but Tyler Rausa saved them with a 38-year field goal as time expired in a 31-28 victory against Etiwanda. Next: vs. Corona Santiago, Friday.

6. (6) Redlands East Valley, 1-0 – The Wildcats routed Dominguez, 30-0, but it’s still a toss up whether they’re really good, or Dominguez is just really bad. Next: At San Gorgonio, Friday.

7. (9) Rancho Verde, 2-0 – The Mustangs took a step up in competition from their season opener and still won convincingly, knocking off San Gorgonio, 37-10. They’ll take another step up this week. Next: At Heritage, Friday.

8. (NR) Etiwanda, 1-1 – Seldom does a team lose and then enter the top 10, but Etiwanda’s near loss to Vista Murrieta, coupled with their Week 0 win against Summit, and the Eagles have proved they belong. Next: vs. Norco at Colony HS, Friday.

9. (7) Cajon, 2-0 – The Cowboys had no problem in a 52-0 victory against Eisenhower, but their Week 0 victory against Chaparral doesn’t look as impressive as the Pumas lost for the second week in a row. Next: vs. Kaiser, Friday.

10. (10) Elsinore, 2-0 – Allan Stubbs and Daniel Rodriguez combined for 351 rushing yards and three touchdowns in 27-3 victory against M.L. King. Next: vs. Diamond Ranch, Friday.

Dropped out: Chino.

Just missed: Temecula Valley, J.W. North, Kaiser, Heritage, Summit, Chino Hills, Roosevelt, Palm Springs, Serrano.

I.E.: A closer look at the Sunkist League

August, 23, 2011
8/23/11
5:16
PM PT
SUNKIST LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Fontana Kaiser (12-1, 5-0); Fontana Summit (10-3-1, 4-1); Riverside Norte Vista (5-6, 3-2); Riverside Patriot (4-6, 2-3); Bloomington (4-7, 1-4); Mira Loma Jurupa Valley (1-9, 0-5).

Players to watch: Kaiser has lost only one league game in the last 10 years but could be facing its toughest run after graduating 18 of 22 starters from last season’s team. Waiting to pounce on the Cats is Summit and Jurupa Valley. Summit is led by Donte Deayon, a two-way star who committed to Boise State this summer. He tied for the state lead with 10 interceptions last season and also caught 38 passes for a league-leading 524 yards and five touchdowns. Jamaal Williams was another valuable two-way player for the Eastern Division finalists, rushing for 717 yards and 11 touchdowns and playing free safety. He has committed to Brigham Young. Bernard Porter also returns at quarterback after passing for a league-leading 1,611 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushing for seven other scores. Jurupa Valley's defense might be even better. Alex Beam had a league-leading 137 tackles last season, and fellow returners Sergio Camacho, Robert Magana, Alfonso Villegas, Darien Pule and Anthony Torres were also key members of the unit. On offense, quarterback Martin Mercado was the league’s second-leading passer and receiver Ramon Barrajas caught 22 passes for 367 passes and three touchdowns. Patriot has the league’s top returning rusher in Nano Martinez, who totaled 894 yards and five touchdowns last season. Daniel Rico led the way on defense with five sacks. Bloomington features two experienced skill players in quarterback Demetreus Moore and running back Johnta Carter. Heritage might be short on experience but the Patriots might have the most intimidating player in offensive lineman Aiseah Hanson, who stands 6-4, 320.

Projected order of finish: Summit, Jurupa Valley, Kaiser, Patriot, Bloomington, Norte Vista.

Key games: Sept. 2 – Summit vs. Etiwanda @ Fontana A.B. Miller HS; Sept. 9 – Summit @ Redlands; Sept. 16 – Kaiser @ San Bernardino Cajon; Sept. 22 – Summit vs. Colton @ A.B. Miller; Sept. 23 – Riverside North @ Kaiser; Oct. 14 – Jurupa Valley vs. Patriot at Riverside Rubidoux HS; Oct. 21 – Kaiser @ Jurupa Valley; Nov. 4 – Summit @ Jurupa Valley; Nov. 11 – Summit vs. Kaiser @ A.B. Miller.

Alumni in the NFL: Lonyae Miller, Dallas Cowboys (Rialto/Fontana Kaiser '06); Jason Shirley, Cincinnati Bengals (Kaiser ’03);

Fast fact: Bloomington hasn’t had a winning record since 2007 but the Bruins still boast the state record for most points scored in a season. The 1994 team plowed its way to 880 points in 14 games, which was also a national record until 2001. By comparison, Bloomington has scored 866 points in its last 42 games.

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