Los Angeles Preps: Sua Cravens

J.W. North TE Baugh commits to Ohio St.

April, 10, 2012
The class of 2013 continues to develop into the best in Inland Empire history, as J.W. North tight end Marcus Baugh committed to Ohio State on Tuesday.

Baugh, at 6 feet 4, 215 pounds, caught 30 passes for 528 yards and seven touchdowns while helping the Huskies to a 10-2 record last fall. He also recorded seven sacks as a defensive end.

The Buckeyes aren’t known for recruiting out West, but that could change with Urban Meyer now at the helm. While at Utah in 2003-04, Meyer stacked his team with West Coast talent.

Ohio State had one player from the West Coast on its 2011 roster, walk-on wide receiver Donald Senegal, who played quarterback at Monroe High School in L.A., and then spent a season at Moorpark College in 2008.

In its most recent recruiting class, former Woodland Hills Taft wide receiver Michael Thomas, who spent a season at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia before signing with Ohio State, was the only recruit with West Coast ties.

Last month, Rancho Cucamonga cornerback Chris Hawkins committed to USC.

The most prized recruit from the I.E. remains Vista Murrieta strong safety/running back Su’a Cravens, who has offers from approximately 40 schools, including USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and Alabama, but Upland defensive lineman Joe Mathis is drawing offers from many of the same schools.

I.E.: Class of '13 looks like best ever

March, 30, 2012
Five months away from the start of the high school football season and the incoming seniors are stacking up as the deepest and most high-profile recruiting class in Inland Empire history.

Schools that usually don't pursue recruits this far West, such as Alabama, LSU, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan, have made scholarship offers to several elite I.E. players, and local programs such as USC and UCLA are desperately trying to position themselves as well.

According to reports, Rancho Cucamonga defensive back Chris Hawkins already plans to announce Sunday at the L.A. Nike Camp at Cerritos College the school he plans to sign with next February. Stanford and USC are reportedly leading the way among the two dozen or so schools that have offered. Hawkins has twice this month made unoffical visits to USC, according to reports.

Here’s an up-to-date look at the top players and the programs that have, so far, extended offers, courtesy of scout.com.

Su’a Cravens, LB/RB, Vista Murrieta – Alabama, California, Clemson, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington.

Joe Mathis, DL, Upland – Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Boise State, Colorado, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State.

Chris Hawkins, CB, Rancho Cucamonga – Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Houston, LSU, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Penn State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State.

Kylie Fitts, DL, Redlands East Valley – Arkansas, Boise State, California, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, Washington State.

Tahaan Goodman, S, Rancho Cucamonga – Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon State, San Diego State, South Florida, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, Washington State.

Marcus Baugh, TE, J.W. North – Arizona State, California, Florida, Hawaii, Miami (Fla..), Nebraska, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington.

Kenny Clark, OL/DL, Carter – Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada, Oregon State, UCLA, Washington, Washington State.

Demorea Stringfellow, WR, Rancho Verde – Arizona, Arizona State, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, UCLA, Washington, Washington State.

Craig Lee, RB, Redlands – Arizona, Colorado, Oregon State, San Diego State, UCLA, Washington, Washington State.

Samajie Grant, WR/DB, Colony – Arizona, UCLA, Utah, Washington State.

Viliami Latu, LB, Rancho Cucamonga – Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii.

Alani Latu, LB, Rancho Cucamonga – Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon State, San Diego State.

I.E.: Top 10 football recruits for 2013

February, 3, 2012
National signing day has come and gone, with the Inland Empire making another solid contribution to college programs across the country. It’s never too early to start looking ahead to next season’s class, just ask the college recruiters who are already extending offers to blue-chip athletes. With the amount of offers already on the table for several I.E. juniors, this is shaping up to be one of the strongest classes in years, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Here’s a preview of the region’s top 10 recruits for 2013.

Su’a Cravens, LB/RB, Vista Murrieta – Cravens has been offered by virtually anyone and everyone, beginning as early as the spring of his freshman year. He began his high school career as a freshman cornerback at Temecula Valley, switched to strong safety as a sophomore at Vista Murrieta and added running back to his resume last season, while playing more of a roving outside linebacker on defense. It’s anybody’s guess where Cravens will end up playing when all is said and done, and he’s providing few clues of his preferences, but it’s all but guaranteed the 6-foot-2, 205-pounder will play wherever and anywhere he wants.

Joe Mathis, DL, Upland – The Highlanders inked four players to Pac-12 Conference scholarships this week, and Mathis is lined up to be the leader of next year’s class. Mathis averaged 6.1 tackles a game, with six sacks, two caused fumbles and two recoveries. The 6-4, 250-pounder committed to Washington midway through his junior season but look for him to keep his options open heading into his senior year. UCLA, Oregon State, Colorado and Indiana have also reportedly offered.

Kylie Fitts, DL, Redlands East Valley – Fitts burst onto the scene with seven sacks in the first five games, including 2 in a monumental upset against nationally ranked Mission Viejo in Week 5. His production slowed as more teams schemed to block him, but the 6-4, 245-pounder still averaged 6.6 tackles a game for one of the Southland’s most stout defenses. UCLA has made an early offer to Fitts, following in the footsteps of Boise State.

Marcus Baugh, TE, J.W. North – At 6-5, 225, Baugh was a handful on both sides of the ball. He caught 30 passes for 528 yards and seven touchdowns and registered seven sacks on defense. UCLA had already offered Baugh, while Michigan is showing serious interest as well. USC is also reportedly kicking the tires and Baugh has let it be known the Trojans are an early favorite.

Kenny Clark, OL/DL, Carter – UCLA, Washington and Fresno State are also hot on the trail of this 6-2, 285-pound two-way lineman, offering him last month. Clark, one of the top heavyweight wrestlers in the state, recorded 6 sacks, three pass deflections and two fumble recoveries on defense and led an offensive line that paved the way for just under 3,000 yards rushing and 31 touchdowns.

(Read full post)

I.E.: All-region football teams

December, 19, 2011
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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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)

I.E.: The final Top 10

December, 19, 2011
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.

(Read full post)

No. 7 Vista Murrieta 58, No. 19 North 14

November, 25, 2011

RIVERSIDE -- Su’a Cravens took another step forward in his emergence as one of the top players in the Southland this season. The Vista Murrieta junior carried the Broncos on his back Friday night, as well as a few defenders from J.W. North, leading his team to a 58-14 rout in the second round of the Inland Division playoffs at Riverside College.

Cravens rushed for 205 yards in 10 carries and scored on three highlight-reel touchdown runs against an overwhelmed J.W. North defense. Cravens, who has more scholarship offers (17) than any other player in the class of 2013, had never rushed for more than 100 yards in a high school game.

“He’s a special player,” said Vista Murrieta coach Coley Candaele. “At the end of the season, we’ll allow him to be special.”

Candaele has limited Cravens’ offensive touches this season because he’s also a standout strong safety for the third-seeded Broncos. Candaele said there won’t be any limitations next week against second-seeded Upland at Vista Murrieta High.

“If he has to carry the ball 40 times for us to win, then he’s going to carry it 40,” Candaele said.

Cravens scored the first time he touched the ball against the Huskies, motoring 34 yards on Vista Murrieta’s opening possession for a 7-0 lead. Candaele then opted to attempt an on-side kick and the Broncos were successful, setting up a 33-yard field goal by Tyler Rausa.

J.W. North quarterback Justin Gheorghe did not start the game because of an injured throwing shoulder suffered in the regular season finale two weeks ago against Norco, but coach Mark Paredes was forced to call on the senior lefthander on the second series of the game.

Gheorghe gave the Huskies some spark, leading the offense on back-to-back drives inside the red zone. The first ended when a a 38-yard field goal attempt hit the right upright, the second resulted in a three-yard touchdown run by Denzel Foster, cutting the deficit to 10-7 midway through the second quarter.

That was a close as J.W. North would get, as Vista Murrieta quarterback Nick Stevens scored on two keepers later in the second quarter to push the lead to 23-7 at the half.

Cravens then opened the second half with a dazzling 50-yard touchdown run in which he weaved through and dragged tacklers the entire way. He added a 29-yard touchdown scamper three minutes later to put the game on ice.

“Our offensive line was working hard so I had to work hard too,” Cravens said. “Set up some blocks, really just cutting back, trying to score on every play “

He nearly accomplished his goal.

Inland Division first-round previews

November, 17, 2011

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)

Su'a Cravens can lean on rich family tree

November, 15, 2011
Su'a CravensVista Murrieta High SchoolSu'a Cravens has an advantage in the recruiting process by coming from a family with so many good athletes.

MURRIETA -- USC wants him as a halfback, Oklahoma hopes to slot him at linebacker or strong safety. Notre Dame, UCLA, Stanford or Boise State? They might feel lucky just to lure Su’a Cravens on campus for a visit.

These are just a few of the options for the nation’s hottest recruit in the class of 2013.

Cravens, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound junior for Vista Murrieta High School in Southwest Riverside County, already claims 17 scholarship offers from major colleges across the country.

[+] EnlargeSu'a Cravens
Vista Murrieta High SchoolSu'a Cravens is probably more known for his defense, but he has shown this season what he can do on offense too.
Over the next 12 to 15 months, likely right up until National Signing Day, Cravens will certainly hear from a lot more. Weekly phone calls, in-house visits, on-campus meet-and greets. A lucky few might even earn one of those five official visits.

Talk about a lot to digest for a kid who won’t turn 17 until next summer.

Fortunately for Cravens, who will lead the Broncos into the first round of the SS-Inland Division playoffs Friday night against visiting La Verne Damien, there’s no shortage of trusted advice.

His family tree is filled with athletes who’ve been through the recruiting process, listened to the promises and witnessed how scenarios can quickly change once a college career begins.

Look no further than his grandfather, Jack Cravens, who was convinced to turn down a scholarship offer to play for legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.

“I have a lot of helpful information around me,” Su'a Cravens said. “And I’m always listening.”

His two closest advisers are his father, Kevin Cravens, and older brother, Siaki, a junior defensive lineman for the University of Hawaii.

Siaki’s recruiting experience began when he was one of the top tight ends in the Inland Empire during his senior season at Temecula Valley High in 2007. One of the schools that showed interest was Utah, coached by Kyle Whittingham, whose sister is married to Kevin Cravens’ younger brother, Ryan.

Siaki committed to the Utes as a slot receiver, but the coaching staff switched him to middle linebacker the first day of practice.

“For a kid who had never played defense before, that was a total shock to him,” Kevin Cravens said.

(Read full post)

I.E.: 5 questions to ponder after Week 6

October, 17, 2011
Su’a Cravens of Vista Murrieta is the best football player in the Inland Empire, really? When it comes to game-changing abilities on both sides of the ball, it’s a no contest. Though just a junior, Cravens looks like a college player on the football field, from his physical characteristics to his instincts to his advanced athletic abilities. Cravens pretty much single handedly defeated Chaparral, 27-10, in a Southwestern League opener Friday night. He scored on a 17-yard catch and run on third and 16 to give the Broncos a 14-10 lead in the third quarter, caused and recovered a fumble at the Vista Murrieta seven-yard line with the Broncos still clinging to a four-point lead with about four minutes remaining in the game and then intercepted a pass on Chaparral’s next possession and returned it 27 yards for a game-sealing touchdown. He could probably boot long field goals too, but the Broncos are pretty well set in that department (see below).

Which teams in the I.E. combined to set a state record last weekend? Big Bear and Desert Hot Springs needed eight overtimes to settle their De Anza League game Friday night in the desert. Big Bear finally won, 56-50, when Lucas Jenkins scored on a nine-yard run after Desert Hot Springs failed to get points on its previous possession. The score was tied, 22-22, after four quarters. The previous state record for overtimes was seven in 1991, when Perris defeated Palm Springs, 70-62. The national record is 12 overtime periods. It just so happens Big Bear was also involved in one of the state’s longest softball games. The Bears needed 30 innings over two days to defeat San Jacinto, 3-2, in 2001.

What was the next-best game in the I.E. last weekend? Serrano and Apple Valley needed just one overtime in their Mojave River League game, but it was a classic matchup of undefeated High Desert teams. Serrano, the two-time defending league champion, scored on a 39-year field goal by Leo Farias with 7.5 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to tie the score, 17-17. Apple Valley, which was seeking its first victory over the Diamondbacks since 2006, had to settle for a 46-yard field goal by Jonathan Gonzales on the first overtime possession. Serrano then handed the ball to Adarius Hogan on five consecutive snaps and he scored on a one-yard run on the final carry for the game-winning touchdown.

(Read full post)

I.E.: Games of the Week

October, 12, 2011
League play kicks off this week for the remainder of the I.E., and the Southwestern League doesn't waste any time, opening up with two excellent matchups. Meanwhile, the Big VIII League will feature its only remaining undefeated teams in a cross-town showdown, and the Baseline League opens up with a potential high-scoring affair.


(Inland Empire top 10 rankings included)

No. 13 Vista Murrieta (5-0) at Chaparral (2-3), Friday (7:30 p.m.) – These programs don’t own a long history but what they have experienced is pretty energized. Vista Murrieta is 5-3 in the series but Chaparral owns the biggest win, a 13-7 victory against the Broncos in the 2009 Inland Division final. Four of the meetings have been settled by three points or fewer, with two stretching into overtime. The player to watch for Vista Murrieta is junior Su’a Cravens, a strong safety by trade but a major part of the offense this season as well. Out of necessity, Cravens has been playing running back for the Broncos, giving them a great weapon as a runner or receiver. Chaparral will need San Diego State-bound quarterback Matt Morin to be consistently sharp, something he has struggled with this season. The Pumas have their own stellar strong safety in Arizona State-bound senior C.J. Dozier.

Calpreps.com computerized projection: Vista Murrieta 34, Chaparral 6

ESPNLA: Vista Murrieta 26, Chaparral 20


No. 14 Upland (5-0) vs. Etiwanda (3-2) at Colony HS, Friday (7 p.m.) – Two of the top three teams in the Baseline League square off in the league opener. Both teams have offenses that should keep the scoreboard operator busy. Upland is led by running back Donta Abron and wide receiver Kenny Lawler, who have immense big-play ability. The Eagles will count on quarterback Larry Cutbirth to match Upland point for point. Look for the game to turn on the game’s first non-scoring change of possession, whether it’s a turnover, missed field goal or simply a punt.

Calpreps: Upland 42, Etiwanda 28

ESPNLA: Upland 56, Etiwanda 35

(Read full post)

I.E.: Games of the week

September, 21, 2011
The first four teams in the Inland Empire top 10 face off against formidable opponents this week, none more intriguing then Norco hosting Upland on Friday night. J.W. North put itself on the map last week with a huge upset against Alemany. Will there be another J.W. North-like performance in the I.E. this week? Here's the best of the best.


(I.E. rankings included)

[+] EnlargePrep football player Coltin Gerhart
Courtesy of Rob HelfmanNorco sophomore quarterback Coltin Gerhart hopes to repeat the big game he had against Upland last season.
No. 7 Upland (3-0) at No. 3 Norco (2-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – Norco sophomore quarterback Coltin Gerhart had a break-out performance in this meeting last season. As a freshman, he rushed for 80 yards and two second-half touchdowns to lift the Cougars to a 35-21 victory at Upland. Gerhart, the brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart, is coming off the best performance of his high school career, rushing for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-36 victory against No. 10 Etiwanda. Norco’s defensive backs will have their hands full covering Kenny Lawler, one of the top receivers in the Southland. Look for the Arizona State-commit to be the difference.

Calpreps.com computerized projection: Norco 34, Upland 24.

ESPNLA: Upland 31, Norco 27.


Chaparral (0-2) at No. 1 Corona Centennial (1-1), Friday (7:30 p.m.) – The Huskies appear to be back on track after defeating Mater Dei last Friday, 28-20. They cut down on their penalties, didn’t commit any turnovers other than a bad snap on the punt team and rallied back from a 13-point late third-quarter deficit. Chaparral may have found itself in the second half of a 31-19 loss to Oceanside two weeks ago. The Pumas had a bye last week to either work out more kinks or resume their bad habits. They remain dangerous, however, with San Diego State-bound quarterback Matt Morin leading the offense and Arizona State-bound strong safety C.J. Dozier heading the D.

Calpreps.com: Centennial 38, Chaparral 19.

ESPNLA: Centennial 31, Chaparral 21.

No. 2 Rancho Cucamonga (3-0) at Charter Oak (3-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – The Cougars take a step up in competition for the fourth consecutive week, and another one-sided victory might actually get the attention of the coaches who vote for the SS-Inland Division poll, who have kept Rancho Cucamonga lodged at No. 5 since the start of the season. But the Cougars can't worry about that, they need to keep their focus on stopping Charter Oak sophomore running back Kurt Scoby, who's proving to be one of the region's best, averaging 138 rushing yards a game.

Calpreps.com: Rancho Cucamonga 31, Charter Oak 14.

ESPNLA: Rancho Cucamonga 45, Charter Oak 21.

(Read full post)

IE: Five questions to ponder after Week 1

September, 12, 2011
Q: What’s wrong with Corona Centennial?

A: In short, nothing that can’t be fixed by coach Matt Logan and his army of assistants. The Huskies lost to St. Bonaventure, 29-27, on their home field Friday night, an early blow to their hopes of returning to the state bowl championships. Hayden Gavett, who made his varsity debut at quarterback for Centennial, certainly can’t be blamed for the loss. He led his team on four touchdown-scoring drives and was setting up for another when he committed his only error, a costly red-zone interception early in the second half. What Gavett lacks in size compared to his predecessor, Michael Eubank, he compensates with better speed and a stronger throwing arm. Logan looks as if he was right on the money when he said the Huskies wouldn’t hit their stride until midway through the regular season. Logan, by the way, isn't free of blame for the St. Bonaventure loss. He passed on a field-goal attempt on fourth and eight inside the 20-yard line early in the fourth quarter, and the Huskies came up woefully short. The Seraphs then proceeded to march down the field and take a 29-20 lead with 4:23 left. Logan rolled the same dice during the Division 1 state bowl final last season against Palo Alto, didn’t come close and lost that game by two points as well.

Q: When will Rancho Cucamonga get noticed?

A: Hopefully soon. All the Cougars have done this season is shut out their first two opponents, Silverado and Great Oak, by a combined score of 87-0, yet they are still ranked No. 5 in the latest SS-Inland Division coaches' poll. Rancho Cucamonga, which returned 14 starters from a team that lost in double overtime of an Inland Division semifinal, should gain more attention if it can continue winning handily over the next two weeks. The Cougars travel to Pasadena Muir on Friday and Covina Charter Oak the following week and both teams are ranked in their respective divisions. Rancho Cucamonga's biggest regular-season game is also on the road, Oct. 21 at Upland.

(Read full post)

IE: Games of the week

September, 7, 2011
Welcome to Week 1 of the high school football season. Some big games on the docket Friday, several featuring inter-section and inter-county matchups that could go a long way toward determining regional bragging rights.

Let’s take a look at some of the best.


No. 9 Ventura St. Bonaventure (0-0) at No. 2 Corona Centennial (0-0), Friday (7:30 p.m) – Back in January, when this game was officially put to ink, folks were already talking about a clash of potential state bowl contenders. St. Bonaventure returns 13 starters from a team that reached the Northern Division semifinals, including 2,400-yard passer Marc Evans and 1,200-yard rusher Shaun Wick, but it’s the player who didn’t start last season that might have the biggest impact. Backup quarterback Nick Arbuckle drew immense praise while attending eight football camps across the country over the summer and he has been pushing Evans for the starting job. If he doesn’t start at quarterback, you can bet Arbuckle will be in the mix somewhere on offense. The Huskies, meanwhile, could be vulnerable at quarterback early on, as Hayden Gavett is scheduled make his varsity debut. Until he gets his feet wet, the defending Inland Division champions will have to depend on their experienced defense to keep the score close.

Prediction: Centennial 21, St. Bonaventure 20.


L.A. Crenshaw (0-1) at No. 18 Norco (0-0), Friday (7:30 p.m.) – Some would say the advantage in this type of evenly matched game would go to the team that has already played. Normally that would be true, but Crenshaw's confidence may have taken a step back in its 45-14 loss to Alta (Utah) last weekend, the Cougars worst defeat since a 36-point drubbing against Lake Balboa Birmingham in the 2007 City Section semifinals. Not only that, but Crenshaw was humbled by the Cougars last season, losing 25-21 on the same field. Throw in the bright lights of regional television coverage and this could be another long night for the Cougars.

Prediction: Norco 30, Crenshaw 18.

No. 21 Vista Murrieta (0-0) vs. Etiwanda (1-0) at Colony HS, Friday (7 p.m.) – Etiwanda had one of the more impressive victories last week, at least on paper, knocking off the Eastern Division’s top-ranked team heading into the season, Fontana Summit. The truth is, the Eagles really didn’t play all that great in the 49-36 victory. Etiwanda quarterback Larry Cutbirth managed to avoid the sticky fingers of Boise State-bound cornerback Donte Deayon, let’s see how he does dodging the pass rush of junior strong safety Su’a Cravens and defensive lineman Jeremy Castro (Washington).

Prediction: Vista Murrieta 31, Etiwanda 24.

Compton Dominguez (0-1) vs. Redlands East Valley (0-0) at Citrus Valley HS, Friday (7 p.m.) – Another LA-area team that’s licking its wounds after a Week 0 thrashing. Dominguez couldn’t keep up with Encino Crespi on defense and couldn’t move the ball on offense, adding up to a 48-6 romp. The big question now is, which Dominguez team is this, the one that finished 10-2 last season or 2-8 in 2008? Redlands East Valley, meanwhile, has some lofty predictions to live up to. Some publications have anointed the Wildcats as the second-best team in the Inland Empire, even though they’ve yet to prove they can win a big game outside of Citrus Belt League play.

Predication: Dominguez 27, Redlands East Valley 21.

Football: No. 23 Vista Murrieta

August, 20, 2011
Few teams in the Southland have put their imprint on a region as quickly as Vista Murrieta. The Broncos emerged as the class of Southwest Riverside County just three years after the school opened in the fall of 2003 and have remained the team to beat in the area.

Vista Murrieta has won 24 of its last 25 Southwestern League games, secured four outright league titles in the last five years and advanced to the Inland Division championship game the last two seasons. The Broncos feature another star-studded team this season, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Here’s a closer look at the Broncos:

Team: Vista Murrieta.

Coach: Coley Candaele, ninth season.

2010 Record: 12-2, lost to Corona Centennial in the Inland Division final.

Returning starters: 13 total. Six on offense, seven on defense.

Key players on offense: OL Corey Whitaker, RB Aaron Piecukonis, WR Cody Piecukonis, K Tyler Rausa.

Key players on defense: SS Su’a Cravens, DL Jeremy Castro, LB Randy Perez, DB Darion Williams.

Difference maker: Cravens is expected to be one of the top recruits in the nation for the class of 2013. He plays a disruptive style of defense, similar to what Troy Polamalu provides for the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 6-foot-1, 205 pounder accounted for eight sacks last season, three caused fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He has already been offered athletic scholarships by about a dozen schools, including UCLA.

Newcomers: QB Austin Mowatt, WR Esteban Ortuno, LB Jason Gardner.

Not to be missed: at Chaparral, Oct. 14. One of these teams has won the Southwestern League title each of the last five seasons and this year should be no exception. Both teams have plenty of returning talent on defense but the difference might be at quarterback, Chaparral has a returning starter and the Broncos do not.

Coach’s comment: “We have two new wide receivers and a new quarterback and how that’s going to affect our output, I don’t know yet. In the wonderful world of high school football, you’re just one injury away from going from contender to a guy just struggling to get by.”

Final analysis: With plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball, the key to Vista Murrieta’s success this season will be putting enough points on the board. The Broncos averaged 37.5 points a game last season, but with quarterback Derrick Brown now at Washington, they might have to survive with half that average. A good indication of where Vista Murrieta stands will come in Week 1, when the Broncos play a much-improved Etiwanda team at Ontario Colony High.

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

August, 17, 2011

Last season’s results: Vista Murrieta (12-2, 5-0); Murrieta Valley (6-5, 3-2); Temecula Chaparral (4-7, 3-2); Temecula Valley (5-5, 2-3); Temecula Great Oak (4-6, 2-3); Murrieta Mesa (2-8, 0-5).

Players to watch: It’s shaping up to be the year of the quarterback in the Southwestern League. Three of the league’s top four signal callers return this season, led by Matt Morin of Chaparral, who committed to San Diego State earlier this month. Morin threw for 1,719 yards and 12 touchdowns last season after transferring from Murrieta Valley. He was named the top quarterback last spring at the Nike Combine at USC. Andrew Blake also returns behind center after a successful sophomore season at Murrieta Valley. In nine games, Blake threw for 1,708 yards and seven touchdowns. Temecula Valley quarterback Derrick Tarin returns after throwing for 1,574 yards and eight touchdowns in eight games. Vista Murrieta, coming off its second consecutive loss in the SS-Inland Division finals, graduated its best offensive skill players from last season, but mounting drives against its defense will remain a challenge. Su’a Cravens is a highly disruptive strong safety and one of the nation's top prospects in the class of 2013. He’ll be joined by defensive lineman Jeremy Castro, a Washington commit who had 11 sacks last season, linebacker Randy Perez (four interceptions) and defensive back Darion Williams. Perez and Williams were all-Inland Division selections last season, as well as senior offensive lineman Corey Whitaker. The Broncos also feature one of the I.E.’s top place kickers in senior Tyler Rausa. Chaparral received a big lift when senior linebacker Curtis Dozier returned to the team this summer. He had transferred to Bellflower St. John Bosco in the spring but returned after his mother was unable to secure a job transfer, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. Dozier, who has committed to Arizona State, led the Pumas with four sacks and 113 tackles last season. He's reportedly switching to strong safety this season, where he'll be supported by senior linebacker Joe Robinson and senior defensive end Teddy Queen, both Division 1 recruits. Temecula Valley has the personnel to push both Chaparral and Vista Murrieta for the SWL title. In addition to Tarin, the Golden Bears return the league’s leading rusher, senior Kason Kennedy, who scampered for 1,392 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He surpassed the 200-yard mark three times. Temecula Valley also features the league’s top returning receiver, senior Daniel Manning, who caught 32 passes for 516 yards and two touchdowns. The Golden Bears also return one of the league’s top pass rushers in senior defensive lineman Jerome McElroy, who produced a league-leading 15 sacks.

Projected order of finish: Chaparral, Vista Murrieta, Temecula Valley, Murrieta Valley, Great Oak, Murrieta Mesa.

Key games: Sept. 2 – San Bernardino Cajon @ Chaparral; Sept. 9 – Great Oak vs. Rancho Cucamonga @ Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos HS, Vista Murrieta vs. Etiwanda @ Ontario Colony HS; Sept. 16 – Eastvale Roosevelt @ Murrieta Valley; Sept. 22 – Murrieta Mesa @ Perris Citrus Hill; Sept. 23 – Chaparral @ Corona Centennial, Temecula Valley @ Elsinore; Sept. 30 – Vista Murrieta @ Encino Crespi, Elsinore @ Murrieta Valley; Oct. 14 – Vista Murrieta @ Chaparral, Murrieta Valley @ Temecula Valley; Oct. 21 – Temecula Valley @ Vista Murrieta; Oct. 28 – Chaparral @ Temecula Valley; Nov. 4 – Murrieta Valley @ Vista Murrieta; Nov. 11 – Chaparral @ Murrieta Valley.

Alumni in the NFL: Talmadge Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (Chaparral ’07).

Fast fact: A year after winning the Inland Division title, Tommy Leach was fired last February as coach at Chaparral. School principal Gil Compton was fairly close-lipped about his decision, citing personnel issues. Leach's departure was unpopular among many players and parents, who protested at the school in the days afterward. Ryan Tukua, the defensive coordinator under Leach, took over the program. Leach is now a defensive assistant at Norco.

On the clock: Sunbelt League.