coverage of prep and college sports throughout the valley

Mt. SAC Football advances to regional final with 34-7 win over El Camino

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Mt SAC wins National Bowl

Mt. SAC football players celebrate first playoff win Sat. Nov. 19


The road to another potential championship is set for Mt. SAC’s football team, winners of the National Southern Conference, with a 34-7 home win over National Northern Conference Champions El Camino at Hilmer Lodge Stadium on Saturday in the 2011 National Bowl game.

Coming in with a 9-1 overall record and an unblemished 5-0 conference record, the Mounties went into Saturday’s game as the No. 1 seed, meaning they had home field advantage throughout the Community College football playoffs. El Camino came in with an 8-2 record and 3-2 in the Northern conference and ranked No. 4.

Mt SAC running back Matthew Botello carried nine times for 64 yards and touchdowns of 35 and 12 yards while quarterback Cameron Deen was 24 out of 31 on the afternoon for 267 yards and 3 touchdowns as Mt. SAC built a 20-7 halftime advantage on the visiting Warriors, despite El Camino boasting one of the top defenses in the state.

According to local reports, Deen came into the game having thrown for 2,202 yards, 17 TDs and 10 interceptions this season, but the Mounties had to prove that their young players had progressed enough to overcome a loss to Riverside earlier in the year.

After taking an early 6-0 lead on Botello’s first score, a 35 yard scamper in the first quarter, El Camino aided by a pass interference call against the Mounties took a 7-6 lead with 5:30 to play in the opening quarter. It would prove to be their only foray into the endzone.

The Mounties posted 14 unanswered points in the second quarter and held the Warriors’ offense in check throughout the second half of play.

Sophomore Linebacker Richard Thorpe (Fontana H.S.) was named conference defensive player of the year and said he had to silence his critics with his play again on Saturday. Thorpe had several big sacks and an interception to lead Mt. SAC defensively.

“There was some talk about how I shouldn’t have been conference defensive MVP so I had to show them how it was,” said Thorpe, adding Saturday’s win was just the first step in a detailed plan, “We are just trying to get to Dec. 10 and go up North and beat whoever wins up there because we are trying to get another championship here.”

Deen’s 43 yard scoring pass to Finau Lomu in the fourth quarter was the final dagger as the Mounties rolled.

Mt. SAC coach Bob Jastrab said that Mt. SAC worked on minimizing the mistakes and penalties which plagued the team earlier in the year. “We’ve been stressing not to do anything that will cost you a championship or a football game, because if it does, you’re done.”

Jastrab said his younger players have made strides quickly. “They are not young anymore, they’ve got 10 games underneath their belts and they are playing well. I am proud of them, I am proud of how they’ve progressed and I think they understand the importance of being perfect and not making the same mistakes.”

The National Bowl serves as the semifinals for the Southern California Regionals with the winner facing off against the Cerritos-Palomar winner next week. Jastrab said he was not concerned about which school the Mounties play next, and would concentrate on preparing the team to continue to play well.

“We got them at home, at 1 o’clock, that’s to our advantage there, but they’re still great football teams and we gotta show and play well or go home.”

Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Nov. 26 in the second round game against Cerritos or Palomar, whom the Mounties already beat 27-14 earlier this year.

-Ariel Carmona Jr.


Written by sgvsports

November 21, 2011 at 4:51 am

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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

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Glendora falls to Los Osos, 20-7

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By Ariel Carmona, Correspondent
San Gabriel Valley tribune
GLENDORA – Glendora High School was unable to fend off visiting Los Osos, falling 20-7 in their Baseline League opener on Friday night at Citrus College.

The Grizzlies (3-3) jumped to a 13-0 halftime lead when junior quarterback Stephen Johnson connected with receiver Steven Herber twice on touchdowns of 9 and 6 yards.

Los Osos’ defense held the host Tartans to 76 yards of total offense in the first half, limiting running back Donovan Holmes to 33 yards on five carries.

Glendora quarterback Kyle Kianpour had an average outing, completing 7 of 11 attempts for 34 yards.

Kianpour did manage to get the Tartans in the end zone in the third quarter after Glendora took advantage of a Johnson interception.

With 5:33 to play in the quarter and the Grizzlies backed up deep in their own territory, Skyler Crall picked off a Johnson pass and returned it to the 3-yard line to set up the Tartans’ only score of the game.

Kianpour found Josh Pierce on a 2-yard touchdown pass to pull Glendora within six points of Los Osos.

Glendora couldn’t find an answer for Los Osos’ ground game. Senior running back Koa LaBonta racked up 91 yards on 13 carries in the final quarter and scored on a 5-yard run to put the game out of reach.

“We played really hard, we didn’t play well,” Glendora coach Todd Quinsey said. “We missed a lot of assignments on offense, defensively it was the first time in a while people actually drove the ball on us, especially in the first half. They did a good job of controlling the ball. We had plenty of opportunities. Hopefully we get better.”

Written by sgvsports

October 21, 2011 at 6:20 am

Running Back Matthew Botello A Key to Mt. SAC’s Bid for a Three-peat

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Mt.SAC running back Matt Botello

Mt. SAC Running back Matt Botello

What a difference a week makes.

The defending state and national champion Mounties may have been down last week after having their 26-winning streak snapped 29-26 at Riverside, but you can’t keep a team loaded with talent down for long, especially one like Mt. SAC that has a big weapon in the backfield in running back Matthew Botello.

Saturday night against the visiting Bakersfield Renegades, Botello finished with 86 yards on 20 carries and helped lead the Mounties to a 41-27 win with touchdown runs of 12 and 2 yards.

“He’s the heart of our football team,” said Mt. SAC Coach Robert Jastrab about the five-foot-seven-inch back from Pioneer High School. “He’s our most consistent player.”

Jastrab added, “He’s the ideal role model. I just can’t say enough about Matt. He’s an example for all our players. He comes ready to work hard every day.”

Botello said that the level of competition at the Division 2 level and playing in the Southern California Football Association Conference for three years has helped mold him into a better player.

“It’s a lot different than high school,” he said.  “In high school I didn’t go through much competition. My senior year my only competition was my brother who was a freshman, so I had no competition until I got here.”

He added his brother Tony, one of two younger siblings and a senior running back at Pioneer High School in Whittier, has been influenced by watching him play, to the point of having developed a friendly family competition.

“He’s broken my team rushing record. I had 254 yards one game and he broke it with 286 last year as a junior. He also broke my season record. I had 1100 and he beat me with 1200 yards.”

This year’s version of the Mounties is a team replete with young players, still trying to learn the complexities of the Mt. SAC offense, but Botello said he relishes his new role as a team leader.

“I don’t mind the leadership role,” he said.  “I know how to lead a team. I know how to be a captain, and how to push them to be better.”

Bounce back quarterback Deen Cameron is still trying to achieve the rhythm needed to consistently perform with his young receivers, something Botello said will improve as the season progresses.

“He’s definitely the team leader,” said Cameron about Botello’s play, “He’s like another quarterback on the team. He runs hard every time.”

Botello said his experience is a big asset.

“It goes beyond learning the playbook,” he said. “A lot of new running backs that came in this year, I have been helping them out a lot. That’s one of the reasons I am also a starter.  I know the receivers. I know what my line is doing. Helping them out has helped them to learn the system.”

Botello is focused on the field and off.

“A lot of the guys who are leaders to me are the guys who got scholarships,” he said. “They are the guys who got the good grades in class. If they can get the good grades and get a scholarship, then I can too. I work just as hard as they do day in and out of practice, just the way they did when they were here.”

He is majoring in kinesiology but said he might become a nutritionist because he wants to work in hospitals helping adults and young obese kids lose weight.

His dream school is Oregon, but Botello said he will consider going to other schools out of state if he gets the opportunity.

“I want to see how many offers I get, and which are best for me and for my family, and that is what I am going to go with,” he said.

Botello said when he is not working out, playing football, or away from the practice field, he likes to spend time with his girlfriend and his family, watching movies on Netflix, bowling, or generally doing what young couples do.

On the field, it’s all about maintaining the level of play the Mounties have grown accustomed to, he said.

“We are Mt SAC and we are known for hard-nosed football, and that’s how we gotta play, fast and hard and strong every play.”

Written by sgvsports

October 3, 2011 at 11:44 pm

Covina Keeps Walnut Winless in a 42-6 Rout

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colts vs. Mustangs Sept. 23

Colts vs. Mustangs at Covina District Field Sept.23, 2011

The Covina Colts were heavy favorites going into Friday night’s nonleague game against visiting Walnut and they had very little trouble corralling the Mustangs in front of their home crowd, scoring 30 first half points en route to a 42-6 non league win.

The Colts (2-1) were coming off a 52-10 trouncing of the El Monte Lions last week, while Walnut (0-4) was seeking its first win of the season after opening up with three straight losses including a 46-20 loss to Claremont last week.

Covina’s senior wide receiver Vincent Venegas continues to terrorize opposing defenses this season. Venegas scored on touchdowns of 7 and 23 yards in the first half and the Colts added a 36-yard touchdown run by Gevontray Ainsworth to take a 21-0 lead on the Mustangs with just under 3 minutes to go in the first half.

Things went further south for visiting Walnut before the half ended.

When punting deep out of their own territory in the closing minutes of the first half, Covina’s Nicholas Hynes blocked a punt for a safety to make the score 23-0. On the play, Walnut’s kicker Orlando Ochoa alertly kicked the ball out of the end zone to prevent Covina from scoring six points instead of the deuce.

“We’re a good defensive unit as a whole,” said Hynes, who attributes the Colts’ success to the fact they have good team chemistry and to players having bonded while playing together over an extended length of time.

After the Colts scored one last time to take a 30-0 lead into the locker room, they opened up the second half where they left off offensively. It took them just 55 seconds to score again on an 81-yard touchdown run, in which Venegas broke several tackles on his way to the end zone.

Despite getting some offensive production out of senior running back Devin Brown, Walnut was unable to score a touchdown this week, scoring on field goals of 36 and 24 yards.

The Mustangs were also plagued with a rash of injuries on their offensive line, which coach Michael O’Shields said was a source of great concern to him as the team enters Hacienda league play next week.

“I’m going to have to assess that tomorrow and see who I’ve got left, and who I don’t, and some young guys may be in playing,” O’Shields said following the loss.

“We need to get better, all teams are 0-0 in league and our ultimate goal is to make the playoffs, so what we gotta do is to continue to play.”

The Mustangs open up Hacienda League play at home against Los Altos next week with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.


School Name        1      2      3      4      Final
Walnut        0  0      3      3            6
Covina       14 16      6      6          42

Written by sgvsports

September 25, 2011 at 4:45 am

Mt SAC Holds on to Beat College of the Desert 27-24

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mounties against COD

The Mounties prepare to play College of the Desert Saturday

Things were not looking very good for the Mt. SAC Football team’s 25 consecutive game winning streak late in their contest against visiting College of the Desert Saturday.

The Mounties (3-0) easily handled the Roadrunners (2-1) last season with a 36-10 road win at College of the Desert. But in this year’s contest, after falling behind 21-20, the Mounties found themselves staring at a four-point deficit after Desert tacked on another three points on the strength of kicker Brett Symonds’ 28-yard field goal with 4:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Despite outscoring Desert 17-7 through the first two quarters of play, the Mounties were on the short end of the scoreboard, even with quarterback Cameron Deen having another solid performance under center.

Deen, a sophomore bounceback transfer from Northern Colorado and former South Hills standout, hooked up with wide reciever Alonzo Agwuenu twice in the first half on touchdowns of 15 and 26 yards after College of the Desert had scored first on Jai Steib’s two-yard run.

Following the field goal that gave Desert a 24-20 lead, the Mounties were the beneficiaries of a great kick-off return and found themselves near midfield with less than five minutes to save their winning streak and the game.

Sophomore running back Matthew Botello gave Mt. SAC the big offensive play they needed, picking up 19 yards and taking the ball inside the 30 yard line.

Two consecutive passes to Agwuenu from Deen resulted in a first and goal situation on the three yard line for Mt. SAC with about 2:38 left in the game. Twelve seconds later, Mark Larmie rumbled three yards up the middle through the heart of Desert’s defense for the go-ahead and eventual game winning score.

The Roadrunners, who were 4-6 overall last season, had one more shot at winning the game after freshman running back Nephi Garcia gave them good field position.  But Mt. SAC’s defense rose to the challenge, sacking Desert’s quarterback Charles Fortis twice with the clock winding down to preserve the 27-24 victory.

“We are a good team, we have a lot of talent and we were very confident,” said Deen following the game, adding he wasn’t surprised with the defensive effort shown by the visiting team.

“They bring pressure every play,” he said.  “They played great in the second half.”

Deen said there is really no proper way to prepare against a good defense.

“You see it on film, but on the field it’s a little different,” he said.  “We made a lot of mistakes, but we still came back, we came together as a team.”

Mt. SAC Coach Bob Jastrab, whose Mounties have now won 26 consecutive games and are 29-1 over the past two seasons, praised the play of College of the Desert, as well as that of his defense.

“I can’t say enough for the team. They stepped up and got it done,” Jastrab said.  “It could have gone either way. That’s a great football team, and they did a great job.  We were fortunate again to have a found a way to win in the end.”

Larmie said he wasn’t surprised his team hung tough at the end of the game.

“It was a matter of the defense coming together,” he said. “It feels wonderful to walk away with the W, but we still have a lot of work to do. But with God’s help, anything is possible.”


School Name      1           2      3            4          Final
     3 14      3 7 27
     7 0     14 3 24

Scoring summary:

1st 6:40 MSAC- Torres, Abraham 37 yd FG

4:39 COD- Steib, Jai 2 yd run (Symonds, Brett kick)

2nd 7:46 MSAC- Agweunu, Alonzo 15 yd pass from Deen, Cameron (Coons Travis kick)

3:10 MSAC- Agweunu, Alonzon 26 yd pass from Deen (Coons kick)

3rd 13:07 COD- Brewer, Jordan 53 yd pass from Fortis, Charles (Symonds kick)

5:44 MSAC- Torres, Abraham 26 yd field goal

1:01 COD- Steib, Jai 6 yd run (Symonds kick)

4th 4:27 COD- Symonds, 28-yd field goal

2:26 MSAC- Larmie, Mark 4 yd run (Coons kick)

Written by sgvsports

September 19, 2011 at 4:30 am

Walnut Football Suffers Third Consecutive Loss 46,20

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Walnut High School prepares to battle Claremont at home

The Mustangs prepare to play Claremont at home on Friday.

Despite throwing a touchdown and running for two other scores, senior quarterback Chris Mendez and his Mustang teammates were unable to overcome four second half scores by visiting Claremont High.

The Wolfpack jumped all over Walnut High School en route to a 46-20 non-league win at Ken Gunn Stadium Friday night.

Claremont’s sophomore running back Cecil Fleming burned the Mustangs (0-3) on scoring runs of 15 and 25 yards and also caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from Claremont quarterback Gabe Schaper in the second quarter of play.

After falling behind on the scoreboard 21-7 following Fleming’s long touchdown catch, Mendez brought the Mustangs to within eight, as he called his own number on a five-yard run.

Unfortunately for Walnut, that would be the last time they would find the endzone until the final quarter, while Claremont scored the next four touchdowns on their way to the victory.

Senior Chris Mendez has had flashes of brilliance in the three non-league losses he’s started for Walnut, but he may not yet have a handle on the spread offense which allowed last year’s quarterback Brandon Roach to throw for almost 2,500 yards.

The one bright spot in the evening for the Mustangs was the play of senior running back Devin Brown.

Brown finished over 130 yards on 25 carries, despite not being able to find the endzone.

“He did a good job. He had a really good game,” said Walnut Coach Michael O’Shields. “We’ve been waiting for that good game, we needed it.”

O’Shields said the score notwithstanding, there were a number of positives the team could take away from the loss.

“We didn’t finish drives during the first two weeks, and we finished three drives tonight,” he said. “And I think that is something to build on. We just need to finish a few more in the second half.”

Mendez scored the Mustang’s first touchdown on a 49-yard run with time expiring in the first quarter. He scored again on the keeper, with 3:27 to go before halftime. Walnut’s third and final touchdown came with the game well in hand for Claremont leading 46-13. Mendez connected with Cody Lepp on a 10-yard pass.

The Mustangs will try to get their first win of the season next week as they travel to Covina District Field to battle the Colts before opening up league play against Los Altos on Sept. 30.

Written by sgvsports

September 19, 2011 at 4:26 am