Los Angeles Preps: Romoland Heritage

Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
4:43
PM PT
1. Let’s head straight to the Central Division for the best game of the weekend. La Quinta trailed host Chino by 28 points in their quarterfinal game, then scored 42 in the second half to win, 42-41. The fourth-seeded Blackhawks took a 42-35 lead on a 37-yard touchdown run by Chyl Robinson with 51 seconds remaining, followed by a two-point conversion. Chino answered 19 seconds later on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Sean Molles to Promise Amadi. Needing just the point-after to tie the score, La Quinta deflected the kick and it fell short of the crossbar. The comeback also included two successful onside kick recoveries. La Quinta moves on to Friday’s semifinal, where it will host top-seeded Moreno Valley Rancho Verde.

2. Thanks to a pair of upsets in the bottom half of the Central Division bracket, the other semifinal will feature a San Andreas League rematch Saturday between San Bernardino Cajon and host Colton. Cajon knocked off third-seeded Riverside Arlington in convincing fashion, 35-7. The Yellowjackets did the same to second-seeded Palm Springs, 35-14. The Cowboys defeated Colton, 29-20, in SAL play this season, but the Yellowjackets didn’t have running back Tyler Ervin for that game. Ervin, who missed three games because of an ankle injury, rushed for a season-high 189 yards in 30 carries and scored two touchdowns against Palm Springs.

3. The competition must be getting stiffer because Corona Centennial had its closest game of the season Friday night – only beating Upland by 29 points. In fact, for only the second time this season, top-seeded Centennial actually trailed in a game. That lasted for all of 2 minutes before the Huskies stormed away in the second half for a 52-23 victory in an Inland Division quarterfinal at Upland. Probably most impressive were the numbers put up by Centennial running back Barrinton Collins, who rushed for a career-high 305 yards in 27 carries and scored five touchdowns, despite dislocating a shoulder during practice earlier in the week. Centennial will play at fourth-seeded Chino Hills in Friday’s semifinal.

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Inland Empire: Games of the week

November, 23, 2010
11/23/10
10:19
PM PT
The schedule shows Norco is hosting Vista Murrieta in an Inland Division second-round game Friday night, but this match-up has all the appearances of a semifinal.

Norco (9-2) finished third in the Big VIII League, however, the Cougars might just be the second-best team in this division. They also tend to peak this time of year, owning a 19-5 postseason record since 2003, including Inland Division titles in 2006-07.

Norco freshman quarterback Coltin Gerhart has his favorite receiver back, tight end Joshua Long, who missed seven games with a shoulder injury. Stanford-bound running back Kelsey Young has been one of the top ball carriers in the Southland this season.

Vista Murrieta (10-1) is seeded second after winning the Southwestern League. The Broncos are led by Utah-bound quarterback Derrick Brown, who threw a 32-yard touchdown pass with about two minutes left in last season’s semifinals against Norco, lifting Vista Murrieta to a 34-33 victory.

What differentiates these teams is the strength of their schedules this season. The Broncos only played two teams that are still alive in the playoffs. Norco has played five.

Another Inland Division game to see:

Rancho Cucamonga (10-1) at Eastvale Roosevelt (9-2), Friday – These teams don’t feature any star recruits, they just play a hard and fast brand of football.

Rancho Cucamonga running back Sateki Finau has rushed for at least 147 yards in six consecutive games, and quarterback Dimitri Morales has 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in the last five games for the third-seeded Cougars.

Roosevelt quarterback Aaron Crone has been similarly efficient, throwing 21 touchdown passes while being intercepted just four times. In the last four games, he has completed 68% of his passes. Sam Boyd has been his No. 1 target, hauling in 43 receptions for 802 yards and nine touchdowns.

Both teams played Murrieta Valley this season with similar results. Roosevelt beat the Nighthawks, 33-12, in Week 2. Rancho Cucamonga knocked off Murrieta Valley, 37-13, in the first round of the playoffs.

ESPNLA.com’s pick: Roosevelt 31, Rancho Cucamonga 27.

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Inland Empire: Five things from the weekend

November, 22, 2010
11/22/10
4:09
PM PT
1. The Baseline League went 3-0 in Inland Division play Friday night, while the Citrus Belt League was 0-3. The biggest upset victory in the division belonged to Etiwanda, the third-place team from the Baseline, which defeated CBL champion Redlands East Valley, 21-16. The Eagles have been forced to outscore teams this season because its defense had allowed an average of 35.6 points coming into the playoffs. The defense came through against REV, however, returning a fourth-quarter fumble 100 yards for a touchdown, stretching its lead to 21-10.

2. What a day for Ifo Ekpre-Olomu of Chino Hills. He began Friday by committing to play for Oregon, then went out that night and scored four touchdowns in a 70-42 victory against Corona in an Inland Division first-round game. Ekpre-Olomu had two touchdown runs of six yards, another for 53 and a 100-yard kickoff return for a score. As lopsided as the final score appears, the Huskies led only, 49-42, heading into the fourth quarter.

3. A more impressive fourth-quarter surge was delivered Friday night by Riverside La Sierra in a 54-49 loss to Palm Springs in a Central Division first-round game. The Eagles scored 32 points in the final quarter, turning a laugher into a nail-biter. "I started the night 57 years old and I ended it 83," Palm Springs coach Steve Fabian told the Desert Sun after the game. Fabian decided to rest star running back Nephi Garcia after taking a 37-point lead and nearly regretted it.

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Inland Empire: The Top 10

November, 16, 2010
11/16/10
4:26
PM PT
For the first time this season, the top 10 went 10-0, giving ESPNLA a bye when it comes to resetting the rankings.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 10-0

The Huskies have scored 564 points in 10 games. If they can maintain that pace through the next four playoff games, they would total 789 points, which would be third on the all-time Southern Section list. Last week: Beat Eastvale Roosevelt, 63-21. Next: vs. Yucaipa, Friday.

2. (2) Vista Murrieta, 9-1

For all the hard work the Broncos undertook to be the second-seeded team in the Inland Division, the bracketologists didn’t do them any favors, placing Norco and Roosevelt in the same lower half of the bracket. Last week: Beat Murrieta Mesa, 59-6. Next: vs. Covina Charter Oak, Friday.

3. (3) Eastvale Roosevelt, 8-2

The Mustangs got the Centennial "treatment" last weekend, giving up touchdowns on the Huskies’ first nine possessions before finally calling "mercy." Now they’ll face another high-octane offense led by one of the Southland’s top quarterbacks. Last week: Lost to Centennial, 63-21. Next: vs. Claremont, Friday.

4. (4) Norco, 8-2

The Cougars have their best receiver back, tight end Joshua Long, who suffered a shoulder injury in Week 3 against Upland. He showed his value to the passing game Friday, scoring on a 37-yard reception to give Norco a 7-0 lead. Last week: Beat Corona, 21-14. Next: at Redlands, Friday.

5. (5) Fontana Kaiser, 10-0

The Cats won their 17th consecutive Sunkist League game Thursday night. Now they’ll turn their attention to winning an Eastern Division title, which should be a whole lot easier with the Desert Valley League now competing in the Central. Last week: Beat Bloomington, 44-8. Next: vs. Apple Valley, Friday.

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Inland Empire: Southern Section playoff rundown for I.E. teams

November, 14, 2010
11/14/10
12:09
PM PT
INLAND DIVISION

Seeded teams:

1. Corona Centennial; 2. Vista Murrieta; 3. Rancho Cucamonga; 4. Chino Hills

At-large selection:

None

Best first-round game:

Temecula Chaparral (4-6) at Upland (7-3) – Chaparral is the defending Inland Division champion, while Upland won the Central Division title last season. Chaparral was the preseason favorite to repeat, but a 1-5 start ending any discussion of that. Still, the Pumas tend to get better as the season rolls along.

Best potential second-round game:

Vista Murrieta (9-1) at Norco (8-2) – Both of these teams should survive the first round to create a semifinal-type second-round matchup. Norco’s upset loss to Eastvale Roosevelt on Oct. 8 ultimately dropped them into third place and created this nightmare matchup for Southwestern League champ Vista Murrieta.

Prediction:

Corona Centennial should walk through this division, especially with either Vista Murrieta or Norco getting knocked off in the second round. Corona Centennial 56, Norco 7.

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Inland Empire: The Top 10

November, 9, 2010
11/09/10
7:37
AM PT
A couple eye-popping upsets caused some re-arranging at the bottom end of the rankings. Palm Springs disposed of La Quinta in a Desert Valley League game, and Fontana Miller knocked off Redlands in the Citrus Belt League. Rancho Cucamonga rejoins the top 10 as it continues to run the table in the Baseline League, and Romoland Heritage drops in after an impressive win against Elsinore.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 9-0

The Huskies beat Corona by 61 points last weekend, in doing so sending a message to the folks in charge of the state bowl berths. After all, Mission Viejo only beat Corona by 22 earlier this season. Last week: Beat Corona, 82-21. Next: at Eastvale Roosevelt, Friday.

2. (2) Vista Murrieta, 8-1

Whoever thought Vista Murrieta’s biggest obstacle in its run to another Southwestern League title would be Murrieta Valley? The collapse of Temecula Chaparral was an event few could have predicted two months ago. Last week: Beat Murrieta Valley, 38-15. Next: at Murrieta Mesa, Friday.

3. (3) Eastvale Roosevelt, 8-1

If only the Mustangs didn’t lay an egg against Corona Santiago in their Big VIII League opener, we’d be writing about two undefeated teams going head-to-head this Friday for the league title. Last week: Beat Riverside King, 49-20. Next: vs. Centennial, Friday.

4. (4) Norco, 7-2

The Cougars qualified for the playoffs for the 24th consecutive season but won’t finish any better than third in the Big VIII, creating a nightmare first-round match-up for their playoff opponent. Last week: Beat Riverside Poly, 42-21. Next: vs. Corona, Friday.

5. (5) Fontana Kaiser, 9-0

Despite allowing just two first downs and forcing four turnovers, the Cats were still losing late in the game Friday against Fontana Summit. Then they stepped on the gas and scored 16 points in the final 4 minutes. Last week: Beat Summit, 19-7. Next: at Bloomington, Thursday.

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Inland Empire: Games of the week

November, 4, 2010
11/04/10
2:42
PM PT
ESPNLA finally gets to sort out the question for ourselves.

Just how good is Fontana Kaiser?

We hope to find out Friday night beginning at 7 p.m., when the Cats, ranked No. 15 in the Southland by ESPNLA, host Fontana Summit in a battle for first place in the Sunkist League.

Looking at Kaiser’s results this season and it’s clear there’s something special under the hood.

The Cats (8-0, 3-0) shutout San Bernardino Cajon, 35-0, on Sept. 24. Cajon is ranked No. 5 in the Central Division and sits in sole possession of first place in the San Andreas League. A week later, they blew out No. 8 Palm Desert, 48-0, and prior to that shut out Big VIII League member Riverside North, 28-0.

Summit (6-1-1, 3-0) has been more streaky this season, but has the talent to make a run at Kaiser.

The SkyHawks opened the season with an impressive 42-35 victory against Etiwanda, then tied Redlands, 24-24, despite missing its best player, Devon Blackmon, due to an ankle injury. Blackmon, who plays defensive back and rotates among the skill positions on offense, is the third-highest rated recruit in the Southland by ESPNLA.

The SkyHawks were at full strength Oct. 1 against Victorville Silverado, but lost, 20-18, knocking them from their perch in the Eastern Division. Now that spot is occupied by the Cats, with Summit down at No. 4.

Three more to see:

La Quinta (7-1, 3-0) at Palm Springs (7-1, 3-0), Friday–This game has settled the Desert Valley League championship the last two seasons and this year appears no different. La Quinta defeated the Indians, 44-22, last season, but Palm Springs went on to win its first Southern Section title. La Quinta is ranked No. 2 in the Central Division, Palm Springs is No. 3. ESPNLA.com’s pick: La Quinta 24, Palm Springs 17.

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