Los Angeles Preps: Ngata Tuihalamaka

Preview: Centennial at Vista Murrieta

December, 7, 2011
12/07/11
6:46
PM PT
The CIF-Southern Section Inland Division championship game is upon us, and it couldn’t arrive soon enough. In a much-anticipated rematch of last season’s title game, Vista Murrieta is scheduled to host defending champion Corona Centennial on Friday at 8 p.m. Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of what to look for and which team likely owns the edge.

Quarterback

Centennial senior Hayden Gavett had some big shoes to fill this season but has performed beyond expectations. He enters the game with 2,051 passing yards and 19 touchdowns, along with 1,009 rushing yards and 16 scores. Vista Murrieta junior Nicholas Stevens is another first-year starter who took over for a graduated Pac-12 Conference recruit. Stevens has shown great progress during the postseason and enters with 1,558 passing yards and 12 touchdowns, plus an additional 798 yards and eight scores on the ground. He has just one turnover in the last eight games. Advantage: Centennial.

Running back

It has been a while since the Inland Empire has seen a running back go on a postseason tear like Romello Goodman of Centennial. He has rushed for 993 yards and 15 touchdowns during the playoffs, eclipsing the 300-yard barrier in all three victories. He enters the game with 2,581 rushing yards, which betters the 15-game total of teammate Barrington Collins last season. He's tied with Collins with 42 touchdowns. The Broncos spread the ball around much more on offense. Stevens is always a threat to run, while Aaron Piecukonis is usually called on to get the tough yards early on. The big-play artist, goal-line specialist and late-game closer is Su’a Cravens, who has 14 touchdowns in 72 carries this season. Advantage: Centennial.

Receiver

Issac Crandall and Chase Krivashei have been the go-to guys when Centennial feels like throwing the ball. Crandall, a transfer from Roosevelt, has 33 receptions for 580 yards and eight touchdowns. Krivashei has caught 37 balls for 596 yards and six scores. The best receiver for Vista Murrieta is Cravens, but he can’t play everywhere so his opportunities are usually limited. Darion Williams is another skilled two-way player who uses his athleticism to make plays when needed, and Cody Piecukonis demonstrated his big-play abilities in a 39-18 semifinal victory last week against second-seeded Upland. Advantage: Vista Murrieta.

(Read full post)

Football: No. 2 Corona Centennial

August, 30, 2011
8/30/11
6:39
PM PT
Corona Centennial has firmly established itself as the prominent program in the Inland Empire. The Huskies are coming off their second trip to the state bowl championships in the last three years and sixth Southern Section title since 2000.




Centennial enters 2011 in a unique situation, however. The Huskies lost standout quarterback Michael Eubank (Arizona State) and running back Barrinton Collins (Weber State) to graduation, but return four offensive linemen, the most experienced group Matt Logan has coached in 15 years at the school.

Centennial will have far fewer holes to fill on a defense that allowed an average of 14.2 points a game, though most were scored well after the game had been decided.

Here’s a closer look at the Huskies.

Team: Corona Centennial.

Coach: Matt Logan, 15th season.

2010 Record: 14-1. Lost to Palo Alto in the Division 1 state bowl championship.

Returning starters: 10 total. Four on offense, six on defense.

Key players on offense: RB Romello Goodman, OT Lio Lafaele, OG John Hamilton, OT Cameron Hunt, QB Hayden Gavett, OL Anthony Juarez.

Key players on defense: DL Milo Jordan, DL Ngata Tuihalamaka, CB Izaac Colunga, LB Ahkeel Chambers, OLB Isaiah Ashby, DB Miquan Johnson.

Difference maker: His statistics didn’t really stand out last season but Centennial defense lineman Milo Jordan sure did, routinely absorbing two or three blockers at a time, enabling a linebacker to roam free and make the tackle. Opposing coaches certainly noticed Jordan’s game-changing abilities, electing him defensive MVP in the Big VIII League. Jordan, at 6 feet 3, 280 pounds and firmly committed to Arizona State, is expected to be an even more intimidating force as the Huskies try to defend their Inland Division championship.

Newcomers: WR Chase Krivashei, WR Isaac Crandall, OLB Vann Dennis, WR Ryan Pascarella.

Not to be missed: Sept. 9 vs. Ventura St. Bonaventure. No better way to test those preseason rankings than to match a couple of top 10 teams in Week 1. Corona Centennial is historically a first-half team, often securing a double-digit lead before the band takes the field for intermission. St. Bonaventure, meanwhile, is known for its in-game adjustments and ability to come from behind. Should be a good one.

Coach’s comment: “Well be pretty physical on both sides of the ball,” Logan said. “It kind of depends how fast we can get experience [in the backfield]. It might take a couple weeks or so but we expect to be a much better team midway through the season.”

Final analysis: With the quarterback situation a lot greener this season and the nonleague schedule much tougher with the addition of St. Bonaventure, it’s possible the Huskies could take some lumps in the month of September. Any losses, as we’ve learned, are bad for the resume when it comes to awarding state bowl bids. Early on, as Hayden Gavett finds his wings at quarterback, it’ll likely be up to the defense to keep the Huskies in games, maybe even score a touchdown or two. If the Huskies live up to Logan’s expectations and begin to hit their stride midway through the season, that would leave them in good shape for Norco and Roosevelt, two of their main challengers for the Big VIII League title.

I.E.: A closer look at the Big VIII League

August, 10, 2011
8/10/11
9:42
PM PT
BIG VIII LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Corona Centennial (14-1, 7-0); Roosevelt (9-3, 5-2); Norco (9-3, 5-2); Corona (5-6, 3-4); Corona Santiago (4-6, 3-4); Riverside King (4-6, 2-5); Riverside North (2-8, 2-5); Riverside Poly (3-7, 1-6).

Players to watch: The strength of Centennial lies in the trenches this season, and Milo Jordan can take much of that credit. He was the league’s defensive co-most valuable player last season after helping the Huskies win the Inland Division title and advance to the Division 1 state bowl championship game. Jordan committed to Arizona State in June. Also returning to the Huskies’ defensive front is Ngata Tuihalamaka, who led the Huskies with 4 sacks last season. Centennial also returns three offensive linemen, led by senior tackle Lio Lafaele. Norco also returns most of its young offensive line from a season ago, as well as sophomore quarterback Coltin Gerhart. But no doubt the marquee player is outside linebacker Scott Starr, who committed to USC shortly after he was offered last spring. North should also improve behind senior quarterback/defensive back Justin Gheorghe, who was a first-team all-Big VIII selection on offense and defense last season. Gheorghe tasted success last spring as an outfielder for the North baseball team, which won the SS-Division 1 title at Dodger Stadium. Roosevelt, Santiago and Poly should also benefit from the return of their starting quarterbacks. Aaron Crone of Roosevelt threw for a league-leading 23 touchdown passes last season, Santiago junior Michael Darr averaged a league-best 206.1 passing yards a game and Steven Hamm returns behind center for Poly. Santiago might have the league's best offensive linemen in Isaiah Folasa, who committed to UCLA last month. Garry Lewis of Corona looks like the league’s best athlete. The senior wide receiver had the second-fastest time in the 40-yard dash (4.41 seconds) at the Nike SPARQ Combine last spring in Long Beach.

Projected order of finish: Centennial, Norco, North, Santiago, Roosevelt, Poly, Corona, King.

Key games: Sept. 9 – Ventura St. Bonaventure @ Centennial; Los Angeles Crenshaw @ Norco; Sept. 16 – Centennial vs. Mater Dei @ Santa Ana Stadium; Sept. 23 – Upland @ Norco, Temecula Chaparral @ Centennial, North @ Fontana Kaiser; Sept. 30 – Norco @ Roosevelt; Oct. 7 – North @ Centennial, Santiago @ Norco; Oct. 14 – North vs. Poly @ Riverside College, Centennial @ Santiago; Oct. 21 – Norco @ Centennial; Oct. 27 – Santiago vs. North @ Riverside College; Nov. 4 – Centennial @ Roosevelt; Nov. 10 – Santiago @ Roosevelt; Nov. 11 – North @ Norco.

Alumni in the NFL: Lonie Paxton, Denver Broncos (Centennial ’96); Toby Gerhart, Minnesota Vikings (Norco ’06); Heath Farwell, Minnesota Vikings (Corona ’00).

Fast fact: Centennial and Norco are intense rivals in the Inland Empire but a number of former players have gone on to become close teammates at Arizona State. Seven Centennial grads are listed on the 2011 roster, including four potential starters on defense, led by last season’s Pac-10 Defensive MVP, linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Norco boasts six players on the Sun Devils roster, led by Garth Gerhart, the brother of Coltin and Toby Gerhart, considered one of the top centers in the NCAA.

On the clock: Citrus Belt League

SPONSORED HEADLINES