Maybe Lou Bilowitz can coach after all.
In his 10th year as La Canada High boys' soccer coach, Bilowitz presides over a program that has won a Southern Section record 58 consecutive matches and is the two-time defending Division IV champion.
The past two seasons, the Spartans were so talented it was assumed Bilowitz needed only to fill out a lineup card and let his players do the rest. But after losing 15 seniors to graduation last spring, the Spartans (8-0) have continued to roll, recently winning their eighth La Canada tournament title in the past 10 years.
Bilowitz describes this season's team as his youngest and least-skilled group but said those hurdles have been overcome with relentless defense and intense practices.
"When you see a La Canada team that's 8-0 you think of a powerhouse," Bilowitz said. "But we're winning by the skin of our teeth. Nobody's told this team they're not that good."
Bilowitz starts four freshmen and two sophomores in his midfield and forward line but can rely on a strong central defense featuring goalkeeper Matt Cardis, sweeper Kevin Neumeir and stopper Rion Zimmerman. All are seniors.
"I've never coached a team so much in my life but I've never enjoyed a team as much as this one," Bilowitz said.
Winner by KO: The Cleveland High boys' soccer team has been declared the winner of last week's Grant tournament after being awarded a forfeit victory over Grant in the championship match.
Grant Coach Frank Ortiz disqualified his team from the title game for using a player who had been ejected in an earlier tournament match. High school soccer rules state that an ejected player must sit out his team's next match.
Ortiz said Verdugo Hills, beaten by Grant in the semifinals, would have played Cleveland in Grant's absence. But the Dons were also disqualified after it was found they had used a player not on their official roster.
Worth the weight: The holiday break is sure to cause more than a few weight-conscious wrestlers to gain a few unwanted pounds.
Highland Coach Mike Young, whose team is off to a 14-4 start after going 9-1 in last weekend's Quartz Hill tournament, told his wrestlers to enjoy their one-week break in workouts, just don't overdo it with the stuffing and sauces.
"I say, 'Watch it,' " Young said. "I know they're going to be doing some eating.
"Usually, there are a few who come back a few pounds over."
Four Bulldog wrestlers already are feasting on success. Senior Alfred Sampson (103 pounds) was 10-0 and selected the Quartz Hill tournament's most valuable wrestler. Sampson is 19-6.
Heavyweight Joe Younen is 17-0, John Garfinkel (119) is 15-3 and Stuart Young (152), the coach's son, is 16-2 after placing first at Quartz Hill. Also placing first at Quartz Hill were Wes Mattison (145) and Jacob Waasdorp (215) of Quartz Hill.
Blowout alert: Based on early season results, Tri-Valley League girls' basketball coaches are wondering about the Jan. 28 game between two-time defending champion Fillmore and Carpinteria.
Here's why: Frontier League member Malibu beat Carpinteria by 30 points, then lost by 45 points to Oak Park, which lost to Fillmore by 32 points.
Using this admittedly sketchy formula, Fillmore figures to beat Carpinteria by, oh, about 100 points.
Shallow bench: The St. Bonaventure football team's run to the Southern Section Division X title left the boys' basketball team woefully short-handed.
Eight students are on both varsity squads, meaning that basketball Coach Gil Kim had a nine-man varsity, including four junior varsity players, during the football playoffs.
"What can you do?" Kim said. "I knew [the football team was] going to go a long way."
Credit check: The offense got much of the publicity during the St. Bonaventure football team's run to the Southern Section Division X title, but Coach Jon Mack said the defense was crucial.
"At the start of the season we felt the offense would score its points but we were uncertain about the defense," Mack said. "It's a good thing those guys believed in each other because not many people gave them much credit."
Eternal hope: Crescenta Valley senior Hope Robertshaw accepted a scholarship to play softball at Central Michigan. A third baseman, Robertshaw hit .436 last season and earned All-Southern Section Division II honors.