Los Angeles Preps: Marcus Jones

L.A. North: Five things from the weekend

September, 26, 2011
  1. The games between Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure are quickly becoming classics. The latest contest included a power outage that only knocked out the stadium lights but not the scoreboards, and interrupted the game for nearly 30 minutes. It took 15 minutes for the lights to be restored and another 15 minutes for players to stretch and return to the game. When the lights went out, Oaks Christian was ahead, 27-24, with 6:52 to play in the fourth quarter. St. Bonaventure was down 20-3 at halftime and scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to trim the lead to three points. St. Bonaventure receiver Montre Lee scored the second touchdown of the quarter on a 55-yard pass from quarterback Marc Evans. The Seraphs were about the get the ball back after forcing Oaks Christian to punt. But with the football in the air, the lights went out. The ball was downed on the St. Bonaventure 1-yard line. The delay seemed to sap all the momentum from St. Bonaventure. Oaks Christian scored a safety when the game resumed after St. Bonaventure was called for holding in the end zone. Oaks Christian’s Marcus Jones forced his second fumble of the game and St. Bonaventure turned the ball over for the third time, ending a drive inside the Oaks Christian 20-yard line in the final minutes. St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien told the LA Times that Oaks Christian must have a hundred of rabbits' feet with the way the last couple of games have ended between the two teams. Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell insists the lights didn’t go out on purpose, but he didn’t know why they went out at all. Suspicions linger, but the end result is another dramatic win for Oaks Christian.
  2. The final tally on Camarillo’s Jake Maulhardt’s record-setting receiving game against Canyon Country Canyon is 28 catches for 347 yards and three touchdowns. His 28 receptions are a state record, breaking the mark of 26 catches set by David Sepulveda for Fullerton in a game against Buena Park in 1984. Maulhardt’s 28 receptions are fourth in the national record books. He broke the Ventura County record of 19 catches by Richard Mullaney of Thousand Oaks last year. His 347 receiving yards are No. 3 on the state list, behind Ramon Nevarez of Bolsa Grande (377 yards in 1996) and Keith Poole of Clovis (373 yards in 1991). Maulhardt scored on catches of 21, 25 and 37 yards. Camarillo coach Dennis Reidmiller told the Ventura County Star that if he knew Maulhardt had 28 catches during the game, he would have thrown to him a couple more times to try to get him an even 30. For good measure, Camarillo sophomore quarterback Michael Marin was 41-of-54 passing for 416 yards and four touchdowns.

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L.A. North: The Top 10

September, 26, 2011
Oaks Christian took care of business and beat St. Bonaventure by 12 points in a match-up of two of the top teams in Southern California. The Lions maintain the top spot in the L.A. North rankings and St. Bonaventure drops to No. 5.

Two newcomers to the L.A. North top 10: St. Francis and Ventura. Both teams are undefeated and both face tough challenges on Friday night.

St. Francis goes up against an undefeated West Ranch team from the Foothill League.

Ventura plays Camarillo and receiver Jake Maulhardt, who set the state record with 28 catches against Canyon in a 52-28 loss. Maulhardt had 347 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns.

Here is a look at the top 10:
  1. (1) Oaks Christian (2-1) -- Much of the attention in Oaks Christian’s 36-24 win over St. Bonaventure was placed on sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins, who was making his first varsity start. Defensive end Marcus Jones deserves some attention too. He had three sacks, forced two fumbles and led a defense that forced three turnovers. Next up for Oaks Christian is Calabasas on Friday night.
  2. (3) Crespi (4-0) -- The Celts blanked Palisades, 40-0, to record their second shutout of the season. Crespi is averaging 48.5 points per game and giving up only 8.5 points per game. Next up for Crespi is Vista Murrieta.
  3. (5) Alemany (3-1) -- The Warriors bounced back from a one-point loss to JW North to beat Chaminade, 31-14. Alemany plays Dorsey on Friday night.
  4. (4) Westlake (4-0) -- The Warriors beat Thousand Oaks 38-6 and scored 24 points in the third quarter to blow open the game and take a 35-0 lead. Westlake running back Jarrius Bishop scored two touchdowns. Westlake travels to Royal on Friday night.
  5. (2) St. Bonaventure (2-1) -- The Seraphs lost their first game of the season with the help of a timely power outage in the fourth quarter at Oaks Christian. The stadium lights went out as Oaks Christian was punting with a three-point lead. St. Bonaventure hosts Simi Valley at Ventura High on Friday night.
  6. (7) Canyon (3-0) -- The good news is Canyon crushed Camarillo, 52-28, and receiver Coley Apsay had a breakout game with eight catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns. The bad news is Canyon surrendered a state record 28 receptions to Camarillo receiver Jake Maulhardt. Next up for Canyon is Beverly Hills.
  7. (6) Chaminade (2-1) -- The Eagles lost their first game of the season to Alemany. But there is no shame in losing to a strong Alemany team. Chaminade is on the road to play Mira Costa on Friday night.
  8. (8) Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (4-0) -- The resurgent Knights keep rolling. This time, Notre Dame disposed of Birmingham, 34-12. The Knights' defense is giving up only 9.7 points per game. Next up for Notre Dame is Golden Valley.
  9. (NR) St. Francis (3-0) -- The Golden Knights are coming off a 27-17 win on the road against Venice. St. Francis goes up against another undefeated team in West Ranch (4-0) on Friday night.
  10. (NR) Ventura (4-0) -- The Cougars are coming off a 35-20 win over Nordhoff and shut out Agoura, 38-0, in Week 2. Ventura takes on Camarillo and Maulhardt on Friday night.

Football: No. 8 Oaks Christian

August, 27, 2011

Oaks Christian is coming off a championship season, winning the CIF Southern Section Northern Division title over Marmonte League rival Westlake. The Lions kept most of their defense in tact from a year ago, led by Arizona State-bound linebacker Carlos Mendoza and cornerback Ishmael Adams.

After winning a championship last season, Oaks Christian might be headed for a letdown. But coach Bill Redell points to the tradition that has quickly been established at the school in little more than a decade.

It has become expected the Oaks Christian football teams will win CIF championships. This team has a CIF state bowl game in its sights. Keeping the winning tradition alive at Oaks Christian is the main motivation for this team though.

Here's a closer look at the Lions:

Team: Oaks Christian.

Coach: Bill Redell, 12th year.

2010 Record: 12-2, won CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship, 29-28, over Westlake.

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

Key players on offense: RB Ishamel Adams, RB Carlos Mendoza, WR Jordan Payton, QB Luke Falk, QB Brandon Dawkins, OL Robert McGee, OL Marcus Piechowski.

Key players on defense: DB Ishmael Adams, LB Carlos Mendoza, DB Jordan Payton, LB Cameron Judge, LB Cole Taylor, DL Marcus Piechowski, DL Marcus Jones.

Difference maker: Jordan Payton. The senior wide receiver will shoulder the load on the offensive side of the ball. He caught 61 passes for 840 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior. Only Blair Holliday, now playing at Duke, had better numbers than Payton last season. Payton will also see considerable time at defensive back. He was committed to USC, but had second thoughts. According the Redell, Michigan is the leader in the clubhouse on the recruiting trail for Payton.

Newcomers: QB Luke Falk, WR Zack Hernandez, WR Zack Bornstein.

Not to be missed: Oaks Christian vs. Bellevue, Wash., Sept 3 at Mission Viejo High. Oaks Christian and the rest of the Marmonte League teams have only one preseason game. Oaks Christian scheduled one of the toughest teams in the country in Bellevue, the reigning 3A state champions from Washington. Bellevue enters the 2011 season as the top-ranked team in Washington and No. 42 team in the country as ranked by ESPN Rise.

Coach’s comment: "There’s great tradition here that the kids feel they need to continue. In fact we have a T-shirt that says Tradition Never Graduates. I think they want to keep up the tradition of a winning program.”

Final analysis: Oaks Christian has been quarterback prep for the past few years. The school has produced Jimmy Clausen, Nick Montana and continued the tradition of sending quarterbacks to major college programs when last year’s starter Richie Harrington made it on the Oregon State football team. Bill Redell said the starting quarterback job at Oaks Christian is still up for grabs between junior Luke Falk, a transfer from Utah, and sophomore Brandon Dawkins. The defense, led by linebacker Carlos Mendoza, who is headed to Arizona State, might be the strength of this team. Eight players return on defense, including Ishmael Adams at corner back, one of the top college prospects in the country. Oaks Christian made the jump from the Southern Section Northwest Division to the Northern Division and won a CIF championship. The Lions were slow out of the gate in 2010, going 2-2 to start before winning 10 games in a row including four in the playoffs. Oaks Christian will most certainly be shooting for another Northern Division championship and perhaps a berth in a CIF state bowl game.

Football: No. 18 Norco

August, 22, 2011
No team in the Inland Empire has a richer tradition or sustained streak of excellence than Norco. The Cougars have qualified for the Southern Section playoffs every season since 1987, winning five titles in that span and finishing runner up three other years.

Version 2011 should be no exception, as the Cougars return a number of key players from a team that won nine games with a freshman at quarterback and right guard. Throw in the addition of three quality starters who were ineligible last season and Norco might do more than just qualify for the postseason this year.

Here’s a closer look at the team.

Team: Norco.

Coach: Todd Gerhart, eighth season.

2010 Record: 9-3, lost to Vista Murrieta in the second round of the Inland Division playoffs.

Returning starters: 11 total. Six on offense, five on defense.

Key players on offense: QB Coltin Gerhart, OL Roy Faulkinbury, OL Cory Roth, OL Dustin Stanton, RB Joseph Ajeigbe.

Key players on defense: LB Scott Starr, DB Corbin McCarthy, DE Jake Hinson, DT Jake Ackling.

Difference maker: Norco has been funneling players to Stanford and Arizona State in recent years, but Scott Starr didn’t think twice when he was offered a scholarship to USC last spring. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound outside linebacker has 4.55 speed in the 40-yard dash, which allows him to track down opposing runners who dare round his corner. Once he puts a shoulder pad on an opponent, he seldom misses the tackle. The Cougars allowed at least 21 points in eight games last season, so those skills will be much needed if the Cougars want to cut down on their points-against average and take some pressure off the offense.

Newcomers: OL Artie Vasquez, WR Cameren Hemmings, LB Stephen Prescott, WR Marcus Jones, DB Justin Martin.

Not to be missed: at Corona Centennial, Oct. 21. The look on Todd Gerhart’s face after Centennial routed Norco, 45-0, last season was one of shock and awe. As head coach at the school, Gerhart had never lost by such a large margin and he wasn’t quite sure how to react. At least he wasn’t alone last season. This season’s matchup should be more rough-and-tumble, with both teams featuring hefty, experienced offensive lines. Norco’s line averages about 280 pounds and they should be better equipped to handle the Huskies.

Coach’s comment: “We’re still young,” Gerhart said. “We’ve got a sophomore quarterback and two sophomores on the offensive line, but it’s a good group of guys. We’ll score some points.”

Final analysis: With a son in the NFL, another at Arizona State and his youngest playing quarterback for the Cougars this season, Gerhart will certainly have a lot to think about again this fall. But the Cougars are certainly in better shape than a year ago. Coltin Gerhart has a year under his belt behind center and three of his five offensive linemen are returning. The Cougars also are set to gain the services of Cameren Hemmings, Stephen Prescott and Marcus Jones, all of whom were ineligible last season after transferring to Norco. Throw in a defense led by a future member of the Trojans and Gerhart also has plenty smile about this season.