Los Angeles Preps: Yucaipa

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

Inland Division first-round previews

November, 17, 2011
11/17/11
3:46
PM PT
INLAND DIVISION

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)

No. 7 Redlands East Valley 48, Yucaipa 0

November, 10, 2011
11/10/11
11:11
PM PT


YUCAIPA -- Nobody expected it to be that easy.

Redlands East Valley and Yucaipa brought their undefeated records into the Citrus Belt League finale Thursday night and, based on comparative scores, it appeared to be a fairly even matchup.

Not even close.

Redlands East Valley scored four touchdowns in the opening quarter and three more in the second before taking its foot off the pedal and coasting to a 48-0 victory at Yucaipa High.

The game was so one sided, the Wildcats took a knee on three consecutive plays at the end of the firsthalf and punted the ball back to Yucaipa. They played their reserves the entire second half, which was contested with a running clock.

“We thought it was going to be a game,” said Redlands East Valley quarterback Austin Decoud. “But we came out and played almost perfect football.”

The Wildcats (10-0, 5-0), ranked No. 7 in this week's ESPNLA.com prep football Top 25 rankings, scored on offense, defense and special teams in building their first-half lead.

Jamal Ellis returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Ellis then intercepted a pass from Yucaipa quarterback Clayton Leach-Mead on the Thunderbirds’ opening drive, leading to a five-yard touchdown run by Taylor Thompson.

(Read full post)

I.E.: Top games for Thursday

November, 9, 2011
11/09/11
2:54
PM PT
A clash of unbeaten teams highlights the final week of the regular season, but there’s plenty on the line in several other leagues. Here’s a look at the top games Thursday, when many teams have chosen to play to give their players an extra day to rest up and prepare for the playoffs.

A-Game

(Inland Empire rankings included)

No. 4 Redlands East Valley (9-0, 4-0) at Yucaipa (9-0, 4-0), Thursday (7 p.m.) – It’s not often you see a matchup of undefeated teams in Week 10, but that’s what’s happening this week in the Citrus Belt League. Yucaipa has flown under the radar this season, benefiting from a fairly light nonleague schedule and a couple of close calls in league play to reach this point. Redlands East Valley shocked the Southland with a 10-7 victory against nationally ranked Mission Viejo a month ago but also had some close calls in CBL play. Yucaipa junior quarterback Clayton Leach-Mead has thrown for 867 yards and 10 touchdowns and rushed for 1,206 and 14 scores. He has turned the ball over just three times. He’ll be up against a defense that has 23 sacks and forced 21 turnovers.

Calpreps.com computerized projection: Redlands East Valley 28, Yucaipa 7

ESPNLA: Redlands East Valley 21, Yucaipa 14

B-List

Cajon (8-1, 5-1) at No. 10 Carter (9-0, 6-0), Thursday (7 p.m.) – Cajon gets another chance to reclaim the San Andreas League title and earn the league’s No. 1 seeding for the Central Division playoffs, but they’ll have to do it without quarterback Edwin Martinez, who suffered a knee injury two weeks ago. The Cowboys still have Washington-bound wide receiver/defensive back Damontae Kazee and his brother, running back/linebacker Deontrae Kazee. Cajon has had success using the Kazee’s in a Wildcat formation this season, so don’t be surprised if they go with that look against Carter. Look for the Lions to lean heavily on senior running back Gaylon Maxie, the No. 2 rusher in the Central Section who has totaled 1,458 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns.

Calpreps.com: Cajon 24, Carter 19

ESPNLA: Carter 27, Cajon 24

No. 5 Rancho Cucamonga (8-1, 3-1) at Los Osos (6-3, 3-1), Thursday (7 p.m.) – This game will determine the runner up in the Baseline League behind Upland and drop a pretty good team into third place heading into the playoffs. Rancho Cucamonga quarterback Dimitri Morales hasn’t been as productive as last season, when he threw for 22 touchdowns and was intercepted just once in the last seven games, but he has the experience to guide the Cougars deep into the postseason. Los Osos knows who to play their inner-city rivals tough. The Grizzlies have lost four straight against Rancho Cucamonga, but all four were settled by a touchdown or less, and two went into overtime.

Calpreps.com: Rancho Cucamonga 27, Los Osos 19

ESPNLA: Rancho Cucamonga 28, Los Osos 21

2 more to C

Charter Oak (8-1, 4-0) at Chino Hills (6-3, 4-0), Thursday (7 p.m.)

Chaparral (5-4, 3-1) at Murrieta Valley (7-2, 3-1), Thursday (7 p.m.)

Last week’s picks:

Calpreps: 4-0.

ESPNLA: 3-1.

Overall:

Calpreps: 26-7.

ESPNLA: 22-11.

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.

(Read full post)

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.

(Read full post)

I.E.: The Top 10

October, 23, 2011
10/23/11
11:25
PM PT
Two ranked teams dropped from the ranks of the unbeaten last weekend and another needed overtime to keep its perfect record intact. Nine unbeaten teams remain in all from the Inland, Central and Eastern divisions, including one top 10 newcomer.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 6-1 – The Huskies passed their final true test of the regular season with flying colors Friday night, using the tandem of quarterback Hayden Gavett and running back Romello Goodman to dismantle Norco, 45-18. Next: at Corona, Friday.

2. (2) Upland, 7-0 – The Highlanders once again proved they might be the only Inland Division team capable of staying with Centennial come playoff time, delivering another solid all-around performance in a 31-17 victory Friday against visiting Rancho Cucamonga. Next: vs. Glendora at Citrus College, Friday.

3. (5) Vista Murrieta, 7-0 – The Broncos are another team that has the defense to compete with anyone in the Inland Division, they just need to find a bit more offense. They held Temecula Valley to 64 total yards Friday night in a 41-3 victory. Next: at Great Oak, Friday.

4. (3) Redlands East Valley, 7-0 – The Wildcats had to rally late against Redlands to avoid being part of the second-biggest upset in the Inland Empire this season. They scored a touchdown with five minutes remaining Friday to tie Redlands and then won in overtime, 21-14. Next: at Eisenhower, Friday.

5. (4) Rancho Cucamonga, 6-1 – The Cougars finally got a chance to play a top 25 opponent and they likely learned a few things in the 31-17 loss to Upland. Mainly, win the turnover battle and you have a much better chance to win the game. Next: vs. Etiwanda at Los Osos, HS, Friday.

(Read full post)

I.E.: The Top 10

October, 16, 2011
10/16/11
10:14
PM PT
The dawn of league play for most Inland Empire teams meant better chess matches between coaching staffs who've grown familiar with one another over the years. Upland, Redlands East Valley and Vista Murrieta each had their unbeaten records put to the test by league rivals, but each managed to sneak away with victories. Meanwhile, Corona Centennial continued to run laps around any team in its path, familiar or otherwise.

1. (1) Centennial, 5-1 – The Huskies big-play ability was on display in a 56-34 victory Friday against host Corona Santiago, as they scored on six plays of 28 yards or more to take sole possession of first place in the Big VIII League. Next: vs. Norco, Friday.

2. (3) Upland, 6-0 – The Highlanders overcame an early 10-point deficit to defeat Etiwanda, 24-17, behind 227 yards passing and two touchdowns from quarterback Nick Romine. Upland was out-gained, 409-304, in total yardage. Next: vs. Rancho Cucamonga, Friday.

3. (2) Redlands East Valley, 6-0 – A week after upsetting Mission Viejo, the Wildcats nearly suffered a similar fate, rallying from a one-point halftime deficit Friday and holding on to beat A.B. Miller, 21-13. Miller had its chances, but a pass slipped through a receiver’s hands in the end zone in the closing seconds. Next: at Redlands, Friday.

4. (4) Rancho Cucamonga, 6-0 – Junior running back Tyan Washington topped 100 yards for the third straight game in a 41-17 victory Friday against Alta Loma. Washington finished with 115 yards and three touchdowns in the Baseline League opener. Next: at Upland, Friday.

5. (5) Vista Murrieta, 6-0 – The Broncos escaped with a win Friday night at Chaparral after forcing a red-zone turnover late in the game while leading by four points and then returning two interceptions for touchdowns in the final two minutes in the 27-10 victory. Next: vs. Temecula Valley, Friday.

(Read full post)

I.E.: The Top 10

October, 10, 2011
10/10/11
12:04
AM PT
Another week, another huge upset by the Inland Empire. At this rate, getting past the second round of the Inland Division playoffs will be a huge feat for any team.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 4-1 – The Huskies took their up-tempo offense to the extreme, scoring six touchdowns in the first 13 1/2 minutes of a 52-34 victory against J.W. North. Next: at Corona Santiago, Friday.

2. (4) Redlands East Valley, 5-0 –The Wildcats were pretty well known in the Inland Empire but now they’ve gone nationwide after defeating nationally ranked Mission Viejo, 10-7. Next: vs. A.B. Miller at University of Redlands, Friday.

3. (2) Upland, 5-0 – The Highlanders had the week off to further enjoy their triumph against Loyola and prepare for their Baseline League opener against another tough foe. Next: vs. Etiwanda at Colony HS, Friday.

4. (3) Rancho Cucamonga, 5-0 – The Cougars also had the week off, giving them time to wonder why they didn’t schedule some tougher nonleague opponents. Next: vs. Alta Loma at Chaffey HS, Friday.

5. (5) Vista Murrieta, 5-0 – The Broncos had the closest thing to a bye, beating up on visiting Palisades, 37-0. Next: at Chaparral, Friday.

(Read full post)

I.E.: The Top 10

October, 2, 2011
10/02/11
10:18
PM PT
The Inland Empire flexed its muscles again last week, positing two big wins against Serra League teams. As it stands now, the SS-Inland Division is 7-4 against the Pac-5.

1. (1) Corona Centennial, 3-1 – The brass at Centennial still isn’t pleased with how the offense is stepping on its own toes, but talent was able to overcome the mistakes in a 48-6 victory Thursday against Riverside Poly. Next: vs. J.W. North, Friday.

2. (3) Upland, 5-0 – If there was any doubt whether the Highlanders were for real after hammering Norco the week before, they made sure there was none Friday after handily defeating Loyola, 38-23. Next: vs. Etiwanda at Colony HS, Oct. 14.

3. (2) Rancho Cucamonga, 5-0 – The game wasn’t as close as the score would indicate in a 24-7 victory Friday night against Redlands. Now the Cougars have a week off to regroup and start thinking about their Baseline League game Oct. 21 at Upland. Next: vs. Alta Loma at Chaffey HS, Oct. 14.

4. (4) Redlands East Valley, 4-0 – OK, it's official, the Wildcats aren't just good, they're very good. They proved that by defeating Chino Hills, 34-0, for their third shutout in four games. Next: vs. Mission Viejo at University of Redlands, Friday.

5. (7) Vista Murrieta, 4-0 – The Broncos already had the defense and now they’ve found their offense after piling up 407 total yards in a 38-20 victory Friday at Crespi. Next: vs. Palisades, Friday.

6. (6) Norco, 3-1 – Sullied by their 27-point loss to Upland the week before, the Cougars took out their frustrations Friday night against short-handed Roosevelt, 42-7. Next: vs. Corona Santiago, Friday.

7. (5) J.W. North, 4-0 – More was expected from the Huskies when they took on Corona on Friday night, but they couldn’t shake the Panthers until the second half of their 38-17 victory. Next: at Corona Centennial, Friday

8. (8) Cajon, 4-0 – With the toughest part of their schedule behind them until the playoffs, the Cowboys were able to breathe easier in a 66-6 victory Friday against San Bernardino in their San Andreas League opener. Next: vs. San Gorgonio, Friday.

9. (9) Rancho Verde, 4-0 – The Mustangs overcame double digits in penalties to defeat Moreno Valley, 28-7, but they're the only team that can get away with that in the Inland Valley League. Next: at Valley View, Friday.

10. (10) Etiwanda, 2-2 – After scoring 160 points in their first four games, the Eagles had a bye last weekend, giving their offense a chance to catch their breath before four more huge games. Next: vs. Eisenhower at Colony HS, Thursday.

Just missed: Los Osos, Elsinore, Heritage, Summit, Citrus Hill, Palm Springs, Serrano, Chino, Chaparral, Murrieta Valley, Oaks Hills, Yucaipa.

I.E.: Five questions to ponder after Week 3

September, 26, 2011
9/26/11
6:27
PM PT
Outside of the Baseline League, which league race is the toughest to predict?
The Mojave River League looks about as wide open as, well, the Mojave River. Apple Valley, Sultana and Oak Hills are sporting 3-0 records, and Serrano probably has a slight edge on those three, despite owning a 2-2 record. That's because Serrano has played a much stiffer nonleague schedule so far, highlighted by a 10-point loss to Upland two weeks ago. Upland then turned around and battered Norco, 54-27.

Is the Big VIII League looking more like the Big II at this point?
That would be correct. Corona Centennial is running on all cylinders after trouncing Chaparral last weekend, and J.W. North thinks its 2001 again. Other than that, Norco took a big step backward with its loss to Upland, Roosevelt is sputtering like an '85 Yugo and Riverside Poly couldn't even beat a team from the Mountain Pass League last weekend. The Big VIII's combined record is 11-13, while the Baseline is 15-9.

What’s the most surprising 4-0 team?
Yucaipa is well known for its baseball and cross-country programs, but most of the top football players in area come down the hill and play for Redlands East Valley. However, the Thunderbirds defeated San Gorgonio, 42-31, on Friday night to run their record to 4-0 for the first time since 1997. Clayton Leach-Mead, a junior quarterback, has been the linchpin on offense for the Thunderbirds, passing for 370 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 699 and seven scores. Defensively, senior inside linebacker Nate Pascale has five sacks, just one short of his total last season.

Which team has surpassed Roosevelt as the biggest disappointment in the I.E.?
Roosevelt got a much-needed victory last week, so now it’s Redlands that seems to be falling apart at the seams. The Terriers have lost three straight games to fall to 1-3 and it won’t get any easier as they play Rancho Cucamonga (4-0) at Los Osos High this week. With quarterback Mike Stallone returning this season, as well as talented running back Darryl Miller, Redlands was expected to make a run at REV for the Citrus Belt League title. At this rate, however, the once-mighty Terriers might have a hard time just getting into the playoffs.

Biggest gamble of last weekend?
Carter was trailing Lakeside, 7-0, in the fourth quarter Friday night and was just stopped on third down to bring out the punt team. A bad snap sent the punter, Clayton Atlas, into the end zone to retrieve the bouncing ball. Even though Atlas was not tackled and never went to the turf, one of the referees signaled a safety on the play. After the referees huddled, it was determined that the whistle was inadvertently blown and the kick would be replayed. On the second chance, Atlas kept the ball on a fake punt and ran 33 yards for a first down. The next play, Gaylon Maxie ran 48 yards for a touchdown and the Lions decided, 'Why not go for two points?' They won that gamble as well, taking an 8-7 lead in a game they eventually won, 14-7.

I.E.: A closer look at the Citrus Belt League

August, 11, 2011
8/11/11
10:53
PM PT
CITRUS BELT LEAGUE

Last season’s results: Redlands East Valley (8-3, 5-0); Redlands (7-3-1, 3-2); Yucaipa (6-5, 3-2); Fontana A.B. Miller (5-5, 3-2); Rialto Eisenhower (1-9, 1-4); Fontana (0-10, 0-5)

Players to watch: Redlands East Valley will have the luxury of a 1-2 punch in the backfield. Jesse Riley was a first-team all-league selection as a junior last season, playing a key role in a 24-22 victory against rival Redlands by rushing for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He’ll be joined by junior Taylor Thompson, who brings a more bruising running style. REV also returns quarterback Austin Decoud and a dominant offensive lineman in Dominique Robertson, who reportedly has an offer on the table from Arizona State. Edmund Faimalo also returns up front, as well as junior tight end Blake Braun, both first-team all-league picks a year ago. Defensively, the Wildcats will lean on defensive lineman Justin Sedivy and outside linebacker Trevor Douglass. Redlands figures to provide the biggest obstacle for REV again this season. The Terriers also return their quarterback, senior Mike Stallone, and a gifted ball carrier in junior Darryl Miller, who left an impression at the end of last season by rushing for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a first-round playoff loss to Norco. The most heralded newcomer to the CBL is Reshawn Hooker of A.B. Miller. Hooker, a senior linebacker who transferred from San Bernardino Arroyo Valley in the offseason, is rated as the 49th best player in the state by Rivals.com. He reportedly has scholarship offers from six Pac-12 schools, including UCLA. Boise State is also high on his preference list. Yucaipa made the playoffs last season as the league’s third-place team and the Thunderbirds will be counting on junior quarterback Clayton Leach-Mead to continue his improvement. Nate Pascale led their defense with six sacks last season.

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

Key games: Sept. 9 – Compton Dominguez vs. Redlands East Valley @ Perris Citrus Hill HS, Fontana Summit @ Redlands; Sept. 16 – A.B. Miller @ Arroyo Valley; Sept. 23 – Los Angeles Dorsey vs. Redlands East Valley @ Citrus Hill, Etiwanda @ A.B. Miller; Sept. 30 – Redlands vs. Rancho Cucamonga @ Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos HS, Redlands East Valley @ Chino Hills; Oct. 7 – Mission Viejo vs. Redlands East Valley @ Univ. of Redlands; Oct. 21 – Redlands East Valley @ Redlands; Oct. 28 – Yucaipa @ Redlands; Nov. 4 – A.B. Miller @ Yucaipa; Nov. 10 – Redlands East Valley @ Yucaipa, Redlands @ A.B. Miller.

Alumni in the NFL: Nick Barnett, Buffalo Bills (A.B. Miller ’99); Victor Butler, Dallas Cowboys (Eisenhower ’05); Ryan Clady, Denver Broncos (Eisenhower ’04).

Fast fact: The Inland Empire has developed some intense rivalries in recent years but none have quite reached the level of Redlands East Valley and Redlands. It was one-sided at first, with Redlands winning the first five meetings between 1998 and 2002 by a combined score of 237-6. Since then, Redlands East Valley has taken control, winning six of the last eight, including four straight.

On the clock: Desert Valley League.

Inland Empire: Key first-round softball games

May, 19, 2011
5/19/11
2:38
PM PT
SOUTHERN SECTION SOFTBALL PLAYOFFS

Division 1

Mater Dei at Riverside Poly, Thursday, 2:30 p.m.

These teams met in a season-opening tournament in Bullhead, Ariz. and Mater Dei won, 10-1. The Bears didn’t finish off the regular season too well either, losing to Corona Santiago, 14-5, to miss out on a share of the Big VIII League title. The playoffs haven't gone well for Mater Dei lately. The Monarchs haven't advanced past the second round since 2005.

Yucaipa at Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos, Thursday, 3;15 p.m.

Los Osos proved it can play with any team in Division 1 by defeating second-seeded Etiwanda, 1-0, in a Baseline League game last week, though the Eagles had already clinched at least a share of the league title and the league’s No. 1 seed for the playoffs. Yucaipa enters the playoffs on a six-game winning streak.

Division 2

Ontario Colony at Moreno Valley Valley View, Thursday, 3:15 p.m.

Colony advanced to the first round with a 7-4 wild-card victory Tuesday against visiting Norwalk. Valley View, the Inland Valley League champion, is led by freshman pitcher Ashley Birnie (8-1, 1.96 ERA).

Division 3

Manhattan Beach Mira Costa at Lake Elsinore Lakeside, Thursday, 3:15 p.m.

Tough draw for Lakeside as Mira Costa tied for the Bay League championship but lost the tiebreaker with co-champ Palos Verdes Peninsula and ended up as the league’s No. 2 seed. Lakeside, the Sunbelt League champion, will count on junior pitcher Jasmine Smithson-Willett (18-6, 1.21).

Division 4

Riverside Patriot at La Quinta, Thursday, 3;15 p.m.

Patriot has no problem scoring runs, as evident by its 16-7 wild-card victory Tuesday against Redlands Arrowhead Christian. The question is, can the Warriors outscore the Blackhawks, who are averaging nearly eight runs a game this season?

Division 5

Temple City at Barstow, Thursday, 3:15 p.m.

This figures to be an offensive showdown between North Dakota-bound senior Jessica Loicano of Temple City and Taylor Purdy and Miranda Peralta of Barstow, all of whom are batting .500 or better this season.

Division 6

Rosamond at Yucca Valley, Thursday, 3:15 p.m.

Yucca Valley junior pitcher Felicia Gonzales (11-6, 2.51) has won her last eight decisions.

Division 7

Trona at Riverside Bethel Christian, Thursday, 3;15 p.m.

Jordan Ward leads Bethel Christian in both hitting and pitching.

Inland Empire: Key first-round baseball games

May, 18, 2011
5/18/11
4:02
PM PT
SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

Division 1

Corona Santiago at No. 1 Huntington Beach Edison, Friday, 3:15 p.m.

Santiago has scored one-sided victories this season against second-seeded Mater Dei and third-seeded Vista Murrieta, but the Sharks weren’t facing the type of fastball they’ll see against Edison lefty Henry Owens, a consensus first-round pick in the upcoming major league draft. The game will also feature two of the Southland’s premier senior shortstops in Christian Lopes of Edison and Brandon Martin of Santiago. Lopes has committed to USC and Martin to Oregon State, but both are expected to go high in the draft as well.

Simi Valley Royal at No. 3 Vista Murrieta, Friday, 3:15 p.m.

Royal won its 12th consecutive game Tuesday, a 4-2 victory at Villa Park, earning an even longer bus ride to Southwestern Riverside County. The Highlanders finished fifth in the exceptionally deep Marmonte League and have four starters back from last season’s Division 1 semifinalists. The Broncos will ask sophomore right-hander Tyler Russell (8-1, 1.03) to defend their home turf.

Temecula Great Oak at No. 4 San Juan Capistrano JSerra, Friday, 3:15 p.m.

Another I.E. team that hopes to represent well against an O.C. powerhouse is Great Oak, which played Vista Murrieta tough in their three Southwestern League games. Great Oak shortstop Austin Bailey, who signed with San Diego, hit three home runs last week in the regular-season finale against Murrieta Mesa, giving him six on thes season. The most watched player will be JSerra catcher Austin Hedges, considered the best defensive prospect in the nation, high school or college.

Division 2

Yucaipa at West Torrance, Thursday, 3:15 p.m.

When it comes to pitching, the Thunderbirds have the type of 1-2 punch that can carry them back to the finals for the second straight year. Justin Lewis (8-1) threw a two-hitter Tuesday in a 3-0 wild-card victory against visiting Rancho Cucamonga. Now it’s Kevin Davidson's turn. The senior right-hander is 7-1 with a 2.10 ERA and helps himself out at the plate with a .511 batting average. West Torrance won the Bay League.

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Inland Empire: Quick look at the baseball playoffs

May, 16, 2011
5/16/11
4:03
PM PT
SOUTHERN SECTION BASEBALL PLAYOFFS

Seeded I.E. teams:

Div. 1: No. 3 Vista Murrieta.

Div. 2: No. 2 Redlands.

Div. 3: None.

Div. 4: No. 1 Palm Desert.

Div. 5: No. 1 Riverside Woodcrest Christian.

Div. 6: None.

Div. 7: No. 4 Riverside Christian.

Best wild-card games Tuesday:

Div. 1: Temecula Chaparral at Corona Santiago. Chaparral swept won both games against Murrieta Valley last week to take the final playoff spot from the Southwestern League. The Sharks probably had the most talent in the Big VIII League this season but didn’t get the job done when it counted and finished third. Chaparral will likely start sophomore right-hander Jake Trybulski (4-2, 1.74), who has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of eight starts this season.

Div. 2: Rancho Cucamonga at Yucaipa. These teams met in the season opener March 4 and Yucaipa won, 4-2, behind a combined six-hitter from Kevin Davidson and Justin Lewis. Both pitchers are now 7-1 on the season, and the Thunderbirds have the experience of reaching the title game a year ago. The Cougars will need a big game from junior second baseman Taylor Grace and senior outfielder James Zamarippa.

Div. 3: San Bernardino Cajon at Romoland Heritage. Cajon finished the regular season on a three-game winning streak to earn fourth place and an automatic playoff berth out of the eight-team San Andreas League. Ruben Rios is the top hitter and pitcher for Cajon. If the senior right-hander can get some run support, he might be too much for the Sunbelt League runner up.

Div. 4: Palm Springs at Chino. If there’s one player Palm Springs needs to know about it’s Chino outfielder/first baseman Jacob Anderson, who is expected to be a high draft pick this June.

Div. 5: Twentynine Palms at Phelan Serrano. Twentynine Palms is led by junior Justin Tuttle, who is batting a team-high .423 with 22 RBIs. Serrano is led by junior third baseman Jose Bueno, who is hitting .440 and junior first baseman Chad Heying (.380, four home runs).

Div. 6: Yermo Silver Valley at Bloomington Christian. The Ravens have won six straight and eight of nine to finish third in the Victory League. Silver Valley’s only victories in its last nine games came as a result of three forfeits.

Div. 7: Riverside Bethel Christian at Granada Hills Hillcrest Christian. Bethel Christian finished second to Temecula Prep in the Majestic League.

Check back Wednesday for a preview of the top first-round games.

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