Saturday, August 31, 2013

Paloma Valley Dominates on Both Sides of Ball in Opener, 61-6

By Zac Force

The Paloma Valley High Wildcats won on the road in a 61-6 blowout against the San Bernardino Cardinals Friday night. Paloma Valley had a dominating performance from both its offense and defense in its season opener.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Wildcats held San Bernardino to just 75 total offensive yards and no offensive touchdowns. An even more striking part of the game was Paloma Valley’s pass defense, which actually held the Cardinals to negative passing yards. They had -8 passing yards in the game and were intercepted three times.

On offense, Paloma Valley compiled 370 total yards. Demarco Prewitt led Wildcat rushers with 109 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries.

Paloma Valley marched right down the field with ease on its first possession. Quarterback Brent Boehm showed great poise and full control of the field as he completed a 27-yard pass to Elliot Smith and had multiple rushes for 35 yards before finally connecting with Michael Valencia for an 8-yard touchdown.

The first two drives of the game were not as pretty for San Bernardino; both times, quarterback Nico Forbes was promptly intercepted by C.J. Parker. Both of Parker’s interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

Just like their previous possession, the Wildcats flew down the field on their next drive, this time on the back of Prewitt, who rushed for 60 yards on two carries on the drive. Boehm then found Valencia again for another quick touchdown.

The team as a whole boasted a positive 4-1 turnover ratio. The Wildcats intercepted the ball three times and recovered one fumble, while throwing only one interception. Even though they only had one fumble recovery, they did force a total of four fumbles.

San Bernardino’s only points came from an interception return for a touchdown by Keon Stephens in the third quarter. The extra point was blocked.

“We just outplayed and outperformed them tonight, especially physically,” said head coach Bert Esposito. “We were well prepared and played extremely hard. We played harder than them and that helped us win.”

Whether on the ground, through the air, or by brute force defense, the Wildcats were successful. Even though this was their first game of the year, it could be a glimpse of the potentially dominating team the Wildcats can become this season.

Hifo, Takitaki, Virgil Star in Heritage's Season-Opening Victory

Limiahi Hifo runs for a 17-yard gain in the third quarter of Heritage High's 37-13 victory Friday night.
Heritage High football coach Kraig Broach summed it up when addressing his players after the Patriots' 37-13 victory over San Jacinto in Friday night's season opener at Marion Ashley Stadium.

"You guys did a lot of great things tonight," said Broach, holding his 8-year-old daughter Kalee in his arms and looking out into a sea of smiling faces. "Take that home and enjoy it tonight."

Yet even while playing the daddy role and celebrating a 24-point victory, Broach couldn't help but let some of the football coach come out before dismissing his troops.

"But just think about what might have been," he said with a grin.

You mean what might have been, had the Patriots not been called for 22 penalties totaling 155 yards? Granted, it could've been a cleaner performance, but Broach (right, with quarterback Brett Virgil) didn't want his players treating it as anything more than a challenge for next week's practice sessions.

No, there were too many positive aspects to this one to get hung up on false start flags. For one, senior running back Limihai Hifo rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries, punishing San Jacinto defenders with his 5-foot-11, 225-pound frame and deceptive speed. For another, senior Sione Takitaki had a big game on both sides of the ball, scoring on a 40-yard touchdown run (below) and making big hits from his linebacker position.

On top of that, the Patriots got encouraging news from sophomore QB Virgil, who completed 6 of 9 pass attempts for 116 yards and two touchdowns, connecting with Stefan Patterson on a 34-yard scoring strike (above) to open the scoring and with Reggie Murphy on an 8-yard TD pass in the second quarter.

Heritage led 14-0 after one quarter, 27-7 at halftime and never looked back. In addition to an offense that had more than enough to overcome the penalties, the defense stifled San Jacinto quarterback P.J. Murrieta and running back Malik Kimbrough (12 carries, 60 yards).

Heritage is the defending league champion and is highly regarded again this season. Yet while allowing his players to celebrate this victory, Broach wants to keep things in perspective.

"Yes, we did some really good things," he admitted. "Hifo and Takitaki played very well. We forced three or four turnovers early that made a big difference. Brett (Virgil, at right) made some good plays, and our sophomore kicker (Tyler Baca) did a heckuva job. Offensively, when we weren't false starting, we looked good.

"The penalties? Well, it's the first game, and it's nonleague. We have to remember that. We'll have some growing pains and we're playing a strong JW North team next week. We just have to take care of ourselves right now."

The game was only a couple minutes old when Murphy picked off a deflected pass by Murrieta on San Jacinto's first drive, giving the Patriots the ball at the San Jacinto 37. Two plays later, Virgil passed 34 yards to Patterson for the touchdown.

On the ensuing kickoff, a San Jacinto player mishandled the ball and Heritage recovered the ball on the Tigers' 27. On the next play, Hifo rambled all the way into the end zone. Baca's PAT kick gave Heritage an early 14-0 lead.

Heritage's defense set the tone early as well, with plays such as the one at left, where McKinley Grant and Jalen Glover wrap up a San Jacinto receiver.

Late in the first quarter, Grant intercepted a pass, setting up a long drive that resulted in the TD pass from Virgil to Murphy.

"Grant is a great kid," Broach said. "So many of these seniors didn't get a lot of playing time last year. This was the first actual game for a lot of guys."

Heritage is on the road for the next four games, not returning home until an Oct. 11 Sunbelt League game against Perris.

Heritage defenders Limihai Hifo (10) and Christian Decker-Weible wrap up San Jacinto ballcarrier Mario Rubio.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Paloma Valley Opens Football Season at San Bernardino

Sophomore running back Demarco Prewitt will lead the way for Paloma Valley's rushing attack.
Led by a third-year starting quarterback and a standout receiver corps, the Paloma Valley High School football team opens the 2013 season at San Bernardino at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Veteran coach Bert Esposito is happy to welcome back senior Brent Boehm (left) for a third year in charge of the Wildcats' high-powered passing attack. His playing time was limited in preseason workouts due to a sore shoulder, but Boehm looked sharp in practice on Wednesday and appears ready to pick up where he left off last fall.

"We took it easy on Brent and didn't have him throw much at all the first two and a half weeks," Esposito said, "but he'll be ready to go on Friday."

Last season, Boehm (6-0, 205) passed for 2,329 yards and 22 touchdowns in leading the Wildcats to a 9-4 overall record and an appearance in the CIF Central Division semifinals. His versatility and pinpoint accuracy to several receivers once again makes Paloma Valley an offensive threat.

Boehm's primary target, C.J. Parker (6-2, 195), might not play in the opener because of a shoulder injury, but he should once again make a big impact this season. Last year, Parker caught 25 passes for 437 yards and 4 touchdowns. Anthony Smith (5-10, 160) is the speediest of the receivers, but he will be held out of Friday's game with a twisted ankle.

That means seniors Michael Valencia (6-0, 165) and Phillip Hauser (5-7, 165) could play key roles against San Bernardino, which was outclassed in last year's opener at Paloma Valley, 54-6.

"Any time you get off to a fast start, it's to your advantage," said Esposito, whose team opened last year 5-0. "That's what we want to do, put it to other teams. But San Bernardino has the athletes who can make it a game."

Paloma Valley's rushing attack will be led by sophomore Demarco Prewitt (5-10, 185). He got only two carries for the varsity as a freshman last year but has shown confidence and ability in preseason workouts. Junior Elliott Smith (5-6, 150, at left) will see action in the backfield in addition to at receiver, along with Anthony Smith when he returns from injury.

Senior defensive end Kre Webb (6-0, 230) will lend stability to a defensive unit that is "coming along," according to Esposito.

"The bottom line will be game experience," the coach said. "We may give up some sophomore mistakes in the beginning."

Senior R.J. Benz (6-0, 220) will be the leader of the linebacker corps.

Following Friday's opener on the road, Paloma Valley will have three consecutive home games against Sultana, West Valley and Moreno Valley.

Heritage Football Team Hosts San Jacinto in Opener Friday

Granted, Heritage High School enters its season opener Friday night with a sophomore taking over as starting quarterback.

Also true, however, is the fact the Patriots welcome back three talented running backs with experience, an offensive line anchored by standout senior Niko Gomez, and a defense featuring speed and versatility.

Together, that spells optimism in the Heritage camp as Brett Virgil (left) prepares to make his debut at QB in Friday's 7 p.m. season opener against San Jacinto at Marion Ashley Stadium.

"We're still definitely a work in progress, but we're healthy and we're ready to go," said head coach Kraig Broach, who has compiled a 43-17 record as the only coach the Patriots have had since beginning the program in 2007. Last year, Heritage won the Sunbelt League with a 5-0 record and was 11-2 overall, losing in the CIF Central Division semifinals.

Virgil (5-10, 155) has some big shoes to fill in replacing Mat Bradshaw, who passed for 702 yards and 10 touchdowns and directed an efficient ground game last year. Yet Broach sees great potential and enthusiasm in his new QB after watching him in preseason workouts.

"Brett's a great kid and he's looked good," Broach said. "Yes, he is a sophomore, so you keep that in mind. But he's ready to do the job."

When the Patriots run the ball, they could give it to any of three talented backs. Senior Sione Takitaki (6-2, 240, at left) is the biggest of the three and comes off a 2012 season in which he ran for 850 yards and 11 TDs. Another returning running back is senior Limihai Hifo (5-11, 225, below), who rushed for 385 yards and 7 TDs in just six games last year.

Junior Isaiah Morrow (5-8, 175) rounds out a group that provides the Patriots with a strong 1-2-3 punch in the offensive backfield.

"It will pretty much be an equal rotation," Broach said. " Takitaki is the big, strong one, but they're all kind of similar in that they're physical backs more than anything. We don't have a changeup where a certain guy will come in for a certain type play. It really will be a rotation."

When Virgil throws the ball, he will look to senior Matt Palmer (6-3, 205), who has had a strong week of practice and is ready to step into a starting role. But a lot of the offense centers around the line, in which Gomez plays a key role.

"Niko is a great leader," Broach said. "We're breaking in some new people, and he will be a great example to the others."

Broach is also excited about the defense, which includes Takitaki at linebacker along with senior Caleb Marquez (5-9, 185); senior Evan Rodriguez (6-4, 230) at defensive end; and defensive back Stefan Patterson (5-7, 160).

"On defense, we're fast," said Broach, below. "The front seven has a lot of interchangeable parts, which can be good and bad. It makes us flexible, for sure."

Heritage has only four home games in the regular season. Before hitting the road for four straight weeks, the Patriots will focus on beating a San Jacinto team coached by veteran Bill Powell. The Tigers, who lost 32-6 to Heritage in last year's opener, are led by wide receiver Malik Kimbrough, whom Broach says will be one of the fastest players the Patriots will see this year.

Gates open at 5:30 p.m. on Friday. Ticket prices are $7 for adults and $5 for children. Students with an ASB card are admitted free of charge.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Umpires Needed to Work Local Pony League Baseball Games

Friday, August 9, 2013

Menifee Pony Baseball Sets Tryouts for Middle School Teams

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Patriots Hope to Continue Winning Tradition in a New Season

In the last two seasons, the Heritage High School football team has compiled a 23-4 record, advancing to the CIF finals and semifinals. So what does that mean to coach Kraig Broach as the Patriots open practice for a new season?

Back to square one, that's all.

"A winning tradition, that's neat ... that's cool," Broach said. "But ultimately the fact is, it has no bearing on what carries over to this season and this team."

Even so, Broach expressed excitement about his team's chances Wednesday as he watched the Patriots go through workouts in helmets and shorts on the second day of practice. Players will be in pads for the first time on Friday as they continue to prepare for an Aug. 30 opener against San Jacinto at home.

A solid group of returning starters includes seniors Sione Takitaki and Limihai Hilo, who will join junior Isiah Morrow in a two-back set rotation. Morrow's older brother, Jamal, is at Washington State this fall after rushing for 2,092 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. But despite that loss, Broach is confident about the team's ability to move the ball on the ground.

"Jamal was one of the best players and best kids I've ever been around," Broach said. "It will be exciting to watch him on Saturdays this fall. But that's also the neat thing about high school football. You get to work with kids and see them progress.

"Besides, this school is now getting old enough that we're starting to get the younger siblings of the players."

Besides Isiah Morrow, another example of the sibling connection is quarterback Brett Virgil (left, with Broach), who will start as a sophomore this season. Two years ago, his older brother Chad was the Patriots' QB. Today, Chad plays at Mt. San Jacinto College.

"Yes, he's a sophomore, but he has all the qualities at some point to be a very good quarterback, and that some point is now," Broach said.

Other key returning players are tight end and defensive end Evan Rodriguez; offensive lineman Nick Gomez; linebacker Caleb Marquez; linebacker McKinley Grant; and defensive back and wide receiver Stefan Patterson.

"I like our running backs and offensive line," Broach said. "We are young at quarterback and we're not very big on the defensive line. Our skill players are pretty good size, but our linemen aren't real big. We're replacing three starters on the defensive line."

Although it's too early to know exactly how things will shape up for the Patriots, Broach knows hopes are high for his team because of what it has accomplished in recent seasons.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Paloma Valley Opens Football Practice With Standout Potential

Linemen take part in drills Tuesday on the first day of practice at Paloma Valley High School.
Returning some key starters from last season's high-powered offense, the Paloma Valley High School football team opened practice this week with high hopes for another standout season.

Last year, the Wildcats opened the season 5-0, survived the loss of several starting linemen during the Sunbelt League season, and made a playoff run all the way to the CIF Central Division semifinals, finishing the season 9-4 overall. The return of starting quarterback Brent Boehm for a third season and a group of talented wide receivers gives the Wildcats the potential for another dangerous passing attack.

"I think this will be the best offense we've ever had," Coach Bert Esposito said Tuesday after the team's first practice in pads. "Besides Brent, we have four other quarterbacks who are very good. We call them our 'stable.' Plus, we're six or seven deep at receiver. We feel we can throw the ball anywhere on the field and someone will be there to catch it."

Boehm (right) is not throwing in early workouts because of mild tendinitis, giving extra reps to quarterbacks Jake Newton, Michael Valencia and Pohaku Kakeaku-Paiva. Any of them could be a capable backup to Boehm, who passed for 2,329 yards and 22 touchdowns last fall.

The receiver corps includes C.J. Parker, who caught 25 passes for 437 yards and 4 TDs last year; and Anthony Smith, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound speedster who specialized in the 100-meter dash for the Wildcats last spring. Other receivers expected to play key roles are Valencia, Eliott Smith, Phillip Hauser, Lance Kreutzer and Fred Lundy.

Paloma Valley had a successful passing league season, culminating in the championship of the recent Lancaster Tournament. Esposito credits the program's nearly year-round training regimen for its success once the season starts.

"Everyone picks their own 'dead' period," Esposito said about the three weeks CIF requires teams to do nothing but have the weight room open. "We give them the last week of school, then three weeks off before passing league. By the end of the school year the kids are spent, so why fight it? The passing league helps prepare us, but now it's time for real football."

The Wildcats are taking part in two-a-day practices, working out early in the morning and early evening, to avoid the heat. Emphasis in the early workouts is on discipline, such as moving special teams units on and off the field in a timely manner.

"You have to set the tone early," Esposito said. "At some point, if you wait too long as a teacher, you're not going to change anything they do. If you don't set the tone early, it will catch up to you."

As Esposito puts his players through drills in the early going, he also is keeping an eye on the development of a strong running back group. David Solis (215 carries, 1,838 yards, 24 TDs) has graduated, but sophomore Demarco Prewitt (left) appears ready to step into the starting role. Parker, Anthony Smith and Elliott Smith also figure to see playing time.

"They're not big power backs, but that's not our style anyway," Esposito said.

Much of the offensive line is new, but overall the Wildcats are bigger than last year. The defensive line returns senior Kre Webb (6-0, 230), whom Esposito says has gained about 25 pounds.

"We're bigger up front than last year," Esposito said. "What it comes down to on defense are the linebackers."

Middle linebacker R.J. Benz will play a key role in that unit.

The secondary features Lundy and Parker at cornerback; Flex Bogroff at strong safety; and Valencia at free safety.

The Wildcats open the season Aug. 30 at San Bernardino High. Their home opener is Sept. 6 vs. Sultana.

Special teams is emphasized in early workouts. Here the field goal unit gets in some work.
Coach Bert Esposito (center) addresses his team after practice.