coverage of prep and college sports throughout the valley

Memories and thoughts on the season that was

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Ariel Carmona Jr

I peered through my front window through the gray clods of a threatening storm on my way to cover the Baseline League football finale the other night, and there they were, piercing through the traffic on Grand and Route 66, the lights, the fabled Friday night lights.

It was to be the final home football game of the season at Citrus College and in the distance I could hear the familiar sounds of drums and the band gearing up for one last gridiron contest.

As I conclude another season covering prep football in the San Gabriel Valley for and the San Gabriel Tribune and Pasadena Star News, I take away with me not only the recollections of seeing the play of some of the area’s great athletes showcased for us on a weekly basis, but other fond memories of the fall season that was.

Athletes like Charter Oak’s phenomenal starting quarterback Travis Santiago, Covina’s Billy Livingston and Gevontray Ainsworth out of the backfield weaving through would be tacklers, and Walnut’s Cody Lepp, hauling in passes and touchdowns for the Walnut Mustangs in the Hacienda League.

Some of the area teams did not fare as well as they had hoped, be it because of injuries, inexperience or other factors. Perhaps they didn’t end up with the ultimate prize, a playoff birth or a CIF championship under their belts, but as fans made their way to stadiums across the valley this past weekend, it wasn’t just about the championship games and the league titles they were coming out to see. Some were there to support the kids and players they cheered on not just this season, but throughout their athletic High School careers.

Walnut High’s varsity football team got off to a rough start to the season losing their first four games, and they never seemed to recover in time to make an impact in league play. However, I remember standing in the sidelines during their homecoming game against Los Altos, when on a slightly rainy night, the Mustangs shocked visiting Los Altos and scored their first win. You would have thought they had won a title following the elation that ensued after the 31-14 result.

If they fell short of their championship dreams, it sure as hell wasn’t for lack of trying. As first year Glendora Coach Todd Quinsey told me after Glendora’s final game against Etiwanda, his team was fighting until the final whistle blew, despite being on the short end of the scoreboard. “All we can ask from them is that they compete,” said Quinsey, “And this team did that, fighting to score a touchdown at the end of the game.”

This season, if possible, there appeared to be more of the boosters, fans and faithful making their way to the school bleachers to cheer on their school. It wasn’t just football either, I won’t soon forget sitting in the Diamond Bar High gymnasium for a late season volleyball match between the Brahmas and Bonita.

I had one teacher to the right of where I was sitting, informing me about the team’s achievements throughout the season, and to the left of me: The entire contingency of the Diamond Bar student body supporters, clad in purple, cheering on their team and banging their feet on the bleachers. It was as thunderous and as rowdy as any college game I have been to, with the Bonita faithful returning their challenges from the other side.

On another occasion, I was sitting in the press box covering a game at Arroyo High in El Monte and a little boy, I am assuming related to the coaches or the team in some way, sat next to me calling out the plays and strategy. The refs blew a play and he called them out on it, he wasn’t the only one, the entire stadium could be heard groaning in unison at the obvious mistake.

I was reminded then that sport has that unique position in our culture. It has, and always has had, the power to make us transcend ourselves and to unify as one common element in society. Football and volleyball may just be games we play, but the lessons and the memories learned from being on a team are memories and skills we keep for a life time. Alumni and former players all come out to cheer on their alma matters. For less than what one pays for the typical movie outing, one can enjoy several hours of entertainment at one of these athletic events.

Playoffs are just around the corner, so it isn’t too late to partake in some of the fun and to see some of the area’s best under the lights.


Written by sgvsports

November 15, 2011 at 2:28 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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