Varsity Times Insider
High school sports across the Southland
Baseball: Crespi to honor former Coach Scott Muckey

Scott Muckey, who retired after 27 years as baseball coach at Encino Crespi, will be honored by the school at halftime of a Sept. 12 football game against Lawndale.




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Cross country: Mira Costa has an inspiring coach in Renee Williams-Smith

Renee Williams-Smith, the girls' cross country coach at Mira Costa, was selected by Brooks Running as the 2014 Inspiring Coach of the Year.

She's a former Mira Costa runner.

She was chosen from 24 finalists nationwide.




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Football: Long Beach Poly-Servite scrimmage set for Friday

There might not be a more intriguing football scrimmage than Friday's get together of Long Beach Poly and Servite at 4 p.m. at Servite.

Both teams figure to be among the best in Southern California.

It's the first look at Poly's new offense put in by first-year Coach Antonio Pierce.

Servite has worked hard to improve its defense.



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Football: Lots of SoCal players could start at Washington State

Based on the depth chart at Washington State, there could be lots of former Southern California high school players in the starting lineup.

Former Santa Margarita standouts River Cracraft and Riley Sorenson are first string at receiver and center. Former South East running back Robert Lewis will be the Cougars' punt returner.

Other players listed No. 1 on the depth chart include receiver Gabe Marks (Venice), cornerback Daquawn Brown (Dorsey) and linebacker Kache Palacio (Gardena Serra).





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Football: St. John Bosco is No. 1 in state rankings

St. John Bosco is ranked No. 1 in's preseason state football rankings.

De La Salle is No. 2, Servite No. 3 and Santa Ana Mater Dei No. 4.

Here's the link to top 15 teams.




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Boys' basketball: Eric Cooper is new coach at Diamond Ranch

Eric Cooper, the former basketball coach at La Verne Lutheran and St. Anthony, is the new coach at Pomona Diamond Ranch.

He said it's close to his home and his daughter will attend Diamond Ranch.

Cooper built successful programs at both schools.




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Baseball: Birmingham likes being No. 1 in City Section

Birmingham High's triumph at Dodger Stadium last June to win its first City Section Division I baseball championship since 1969 is motivating everyone to seek another title, because the journey was so much fun.

Players have already begun working toward a repeat even though the Patriots figure to receive strong competition from West Valley League rivals Chatsworth and El Camino Real.

"It's a big difference after winning," catcher Ryan Mendoza said. "You have to work harder because you really want to repeat."

Said Coach Matt Mowry: "They know nothing comes easy, especially in the West Valley League."

Pitcher Adrian Rodriguez, last season's City Section player of the year, said at least opponents give the Patriots a lot more respect.

"People automatically know where I'm from," he said.

The championship was particularly meaningful for Mowry, who lost his mother the previous October. She was a big baseball fan, and he carried around her Rosary beads in his back pocket at Dodger Stadium....

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Football: Granada Hills cancels scrimmage with San Fernando after taping allegation

Granada Hills has canceled a scheduled football scrimmage with San Fernando for Wednesday after allegedly discovering a San Fernando assistant coach using a cellphone to tape a practice session, first-year Coach Tim Frost said.

"We're trying to figure out why they're filming a practice before a scrimmage," Frost said.

Frost said video shows the assistant filming with his cellphone.

Jeremy Lawrence, the assistant principal at San Fernando, said the assistant coach denies taping the practice. He said he was at Granada Hills to help his father coach a youth football team. Principal Ken Lee said in an email that his school will investigate.

Granada Hills has informed the City Section office.

Granada Hills and San Fernando do not compete in the same league but are in City Section Division II. San Fernando is the two-time defending Division II champion.





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Football: Steve Bogan makes the jump to Maranatha

Private schools have been raiding public schools of some of their best coaches, and the latest to make the jump is Steve Bogan, the former West Covina South Hills football coach who has taken over as head coach at Pasadena Maranatha.

Bogan spent 20 years as head coach at South Hills. He coached freshman ball last season and still teaches at South Hills, but he decided to make the leap of faith to Maranatha. He started out coaching at St. Francis many years ago but still enjoys being a teacher at South Hills.

“I love that place. It’s my home,” he said of South Hills.

He’s expected to make an impact at Maranatha, which returns its outstanding quarterback in Eli Snyder.

“He’s a special kid,” Bogan said. “He’s a football junkie. He likes to study the game.”

Maranatha also hired a former public school basketball coach, Tim Tucker, from Pasadena last year. He still teaches at Pasadena while coaching at Maranatha.




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Football: Receiver class is very strong for 2014

While quarterback is the strong position in Southern California high school football for 2014, the passers need some good receivers to catch their throws, and there's plenty.

The combination of a strong senior and junior receiver class means defensive backs will be facing lots of challenging games.

While the seniors are led by Notre Dame-bound CJ Sanders of Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, USC-bound Desean Holmes of Alemany and top recruits Equanimeous St. Brown of Servite and Trent Irwin of Hart, watch out for the juniors.

David Long of Loyola, Trevon Sidney of Bishop Amat, Dylan Crawford of St. Francis and Dymond Lee of Chaminade all have top scholarship offers going into their junior seasons.

Here's the link to receivers to watch.




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Football participation increases despite concussion concerns

Despite concerns over the risk of concussion injuries, football participation among high school students increased for the first time in five years, with an additional 6,607 boys participating in 11-man football during the 2013-14 school year, according to the annual High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the National Federation of State High School Assns.

Overall, sports participation increased for the 25th consecutive year, rising to 7,795,658, a record. The increase was 82,081. Girls participation also set a record at 3,267,664 and increased 44,941. Boys participation reached more than 4.5 million. Football had 1,093,234 participants.

"With the precautions that are in place nationwide to address concussions in all high school sports, including football, we have maintained that the risk of injury is as low as it ever has been," said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director, in a statement. "Certainly this rise in football numbers is a confirmation of those beliefs and...

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Cross country: Birmingham's Ryan Alexander is growing up and getting faster

Three years ago, I visited Birmingham High, where cross country coach Scott King introduced me to 4-foot-11, 85-pound freshman Ryan Alexander, who had been a youth cross country standout.

King thought Alexander had great potential.

On Tuesday, I was back at Birmingham, and Alexander had gone from size five shoes to size eight and had spurted to 5-8, 115 pounds. The best City Section finish he's had is ninth place. But he grew three inches over the summer, appears in good health and may be ready to challenge teammate Jordy Ceja for the City individual title this winter.

"I trained very hard over the summer," Alexander said.

Birmingham's first-year cross country coach, Jose Torres, said, "I think he's gearing up for a strong season."

Alexander has always had great stamina but lacked a closing kick. With his additional size and strength, things could be different.

"I always felt I had more endurance than I could possibly do anything with but not enough speed," he said. "Now that I'm much...

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