Monday, November 25, 2013

Canyon Lake Cougars Win Pony Middle-School World Series

The Canyon Lake Cougars, champions of the Menifee PONY Baseball 2013 middle-school league Pony Division, defeated the Temecula Youth Baseball champions 13-6 last Wednesday to win the TYB/MPB World Series, two games to none.

This is the second straight year the Cougars won both the MPB Champions Cup as well as the TYB/MPB Tournament. The MPB Pony Division Champions Cup trophy will be on display in Canyon Lake Middle School's trophy case until the fall 2014 season, when it will be engraved and placed at that season's champion's school.

This is the third season Menifee PONY Baseball has been involved in the Middle-School Baseball program with TYB. Team tryouts are held each August and the season runs from September into November. Teams consist of players from each middle school, creating a middle school baseball team where there would otherwise be none.

Menifee PONY Baseball organizes and supports these school-based teams in an effort to create school pride and unity within local schools. For more information, visit WWW.MENIFEEBASEBALL.COM.

The Cougars were managed by David Jones. The players are Caiman Coles, Ryan Freyre, Willy Rauch, Kyle Basham, Brandon Sapp, David Jones, Zane Neckar, Zach Oropeza, Jordan Patillo, Dallas Grant, Tyler Diminyatz, Devlin Lindeman and Chris Lefevre.

Heritage High to Host Semifinal Playoff Game Friday Night

Matt Palmer leaps high to intercept a pass in last Friday's game -- his seventh pick in the last three weeks.
Photo by Matthew Anderson
For the third consecutive season, the Heritage High School football team will play in the CIF-SS football semifinals when the Patriots play host to Colony High of Ontario Friday at 7 p.m.

Having lost in the CIF finals two years ago and in the semifinals last year, the Patriots with a win Friday would put themselves in position to win their first CIF championship the following week. Yet no one on the team is talking about anything other than the task at hand this week.

"La Quinta was a running team. They're big and physical," coach Kraig Broach said about the team Heritage defeated on the road last week, 42-12. "Colony is kind of the polar opposite of La Quinta. They're more athletic and they spread the ball out."

Granted, the Titans (9-3) like to throw the ball and pick up yardage in big chunks. Sophomore quarterback Josh Thompson has passed for 1,951 yards and 20 touchdowns this season. But Colony can run the ball, too. Senior Devan Imbach has rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 TDs. Heritage defenders will have to be ready for anything when they face the Titans, who knocked off third-seeded Riverside Poly last week, 45-35.

When Colony puts the ball in the air, Heritage defensive back Matt Palmer will be ready. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound senior had two more interceptions last week against La Quinta, giving him seven picks in his last three games and nine for the season.

"I don't know why people keep throwing the ball my way, but if they want to keep throwing a jump ball to a guy 6-3, I'll take it," Palmer said. "So far I've been taller than every receiver I've faced, so that gives me an advantage."

Broach said there's more to it than that.

"Matt does a great job of assignment football," the coach said. "We have him playing deep and he knows where to be to go for the ball."

The Heritage offense also is coming into Friday's game running in high gear. Running back Limihai Hifo rushed for 270 yards and two touchdowns on runs of 90 and 29 yards. His ability to bust the big play is a key for the Patriots (11-1). Hifo has run for 1,470 yards and 15 touchdowns while sharing the rushing duties with three others.

Sione Takitaki has rushed for 638 yards and 10 touchdowns, Isaiah Morrow has rushed for 660 yards and 6 touchdowns and Jalen Glover has run for 410 yards and 4 TDs. Even sophomore quarterback Brett Virgil (above) has rushed for 400 yards and 5 scores.

Virgil also can throw when he has to, evidenced by a 61-yard touchdown pass to Chris Nile and TD passes of 8 and 65 yards last Friday. On the season, Virgil has thrown for 1,040 yards and 14 touchdowns.

"Limihai had three runs over 50 yards and Brett had two touchdown passes over 50," Broach said. "That changed the whole complexion of the game."

And now with a more wide-open offense coming to town this weekend, the Patriots defenders must be ready. Palmer, for one, says he will be.

"From what I've seen, Colony runs a spread offense and is a lot like Paloma (Valley)," he said. "The key for us is, once we shut down the run, expect the pass. I'm gonna love that."

Gates open at 6 p.m. for Friday's game. Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $5 for students and children.

Senior running back Limihai Hifo pics up big yardage against La Quinta.
Photo by Matthew Anderson

Chris Nile prepares to haul in a 61-yard touchdown pass in the La Quinta game.
Photo by Matthew Anderson

Paloma Valley Boys Basketball Season Begins Today

The Paloma Valley High School boys basketball team gets a jump on other local high school winter sports teams when it opens the season today at noon in the first round of the Jurupa Hills Tournament.

The Wildcats will face La Quinta in their first game. After competing in the tournament this week, Coach Michael Pfeiffer's squad will begin play in the Beaumont Tip-Off Classic Dec. 3.

The Heritage High boys basketball team, as well as the Heritage and Paloma Valley girls teams, all begin the season next week. Boys and girls soccer and wrestling also gets into full swing next week. Schools are out this week for Thanksgiving break.

Coaches of all varsity sports are invited to email to report scores.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Paloma Valley's Season Ends With 41-35 Loss to Kaiser

Demarco Prewitt crosses the goal line for a touchdown in Friday night's playoff game, won by Kaiser.
Photos by David Stovall
By Zac Force

Despite a big night by sophomore running back Demarco Prewitt, Paloma Valley High's football season ended Friday night with a 41-35 loss to Kaiser in the CIF-SS Central Division quarterfinals.

Prewitt rushed for 275 yards and three touchdowns for Paloma Valley (10-2), which rallied from a 14-point deficit to tie the score at 35-35 late in the fourth quarter. The tying score came on a 93-yard fumble return by the Wildcats' Michael Valencia (below left, in an earlier play).

But Kaiser responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive capped by quarterback Raymond Padilla's 6-yard TD run.

Paloma Valley had one final possession but lost the ball on a fumble and Kaiser went on to victory.

"We had too many mistakes. That isn’t like us," said Paloma Valley coach Bert Esposito. "It wasn’t a specific mistake that we made; it was the amount of mistakes we made."

Even in defeat, Esposito expressed pride in the accomplishments of his players this season.

"This was an amazing season," he said. "The kids really earned it and it was one of the best in school history."

On the very first play from scrimmage, Prewitt took off for a 71-yard touchdown run, giving Paloma a 7-0 lead. Kaiser then bounced back with a defensive score when Paloma quarterback Brent Boehm’s fumble was returned for a 60-yard touchdown.

Prewitt struck for two more first-quarter touchdowns, giving the Wildcats a 21-7 lead heading into the second quarter.

The second quarter was relatively quiet. The only score came on a 47-yard touchdown run by Kaiser's Padilla. This touchdown seemed to spark Kaiser, which rattled off 21 unanswered points in the third quarter.

Faced with a 35-21 deficit going into the fourth quarter, Paloma Valley finally found the end zone with a touchdown pass from Boehm to wide receiver R.J. Benz, cutting the lead to one possession. Then came Valencia's fumble return for a TD.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, Padilla engineered the winning drive for Kaiser moments later.

Kaiser’s 492 rushing yards nearly doubled Paloma’s 256 rushing yards. Even though Paloma had 134 passing yards to Kaiser’s 18, the Wildcats still had 120 total less offensive yards.

Paloma was called for 11 penalties for 100 yards while Kaiser only had 5 for 34 yards. Kaiser more than doubled the Wildcats' time of possession with 32:18 to just 15:42 for Paloma.

Heritage Advances to CIF Semifinals By Beating La Quinta

Limihai Hifo rushed for 270 yards and two touchdowns, Brett Virgil passed for three TDs and Matt Palmer intercepted two passes Friday night to lead Heritage High to a 42-12 win at La Quinta in the CIF-SS Central Division football playoffs.

The Patriots led from start to finish and improved their record to 11-1, earning a spot in the semifinals next Friday at home against Colony High of Ontario. It will be the team's third consecutive appearance in the semifinals.

Heritage took a 13-0 lead in the first quarter and was cruising, 36-12, by halftime. Virgil threw two touchdown passes to Evan Rodriguez (8 yards and 65 yards) in the first quarter and one to Chris Nile (61 yards) in the second quarter.

Hifo scored on runs of 90 yards and 29 yards. Sione Takitaki added a 2-yard TD run.

Palmer's two interceptions on defense gives him seven in the last three games and nine for the season.

Heritage, which lost in the CIF finals two years ago and in the semifinals last year, will be facing a Colony team that knocked off Riverside Poly 45-35 Friday night.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Castor, Barnes Named Paloma Valley Athletes of the Week

Two Paloma Valley High School athletes exemplifying endurance and determination were honored this week as Menifee 24/7 Athletes of the Week.

Zackery Castor (left) competed the entire season with a leg injury for the boys cross country team. The injury, suffered in preseason training, slowed his progress, but Castor managed to compete in all his team's races and remained the Wildcats' top runner throughout the season.

"As we came to the last races of the season, Zack was finally getting healthy and able to train like his normal self," said cross country coach Joe Ellett. "I just wish we had a couple more weeks to get him up to speed.

"While Zack was not able to meet the goals he had set coming into this season, he showed determination and dedication to his team by persevering through the injury and spending countless hours in the pool and on a stationary bike to maintain some amount of fitness. I am very proud of this young man."

Even though he was still recovering from the injury, Castor ran a 16:19 in the CIF Prelims at Mt. San Antonio College last weekend, finishing first among Paloma Valley runners.

"I was bummed out about it because I knew I wouldn't be able to train up to the season," Castor said about his initial reaction to the injury. "I ran in all the meets but I was missing the training that would allow me to compete at my full ability."

Senior defensive end Dalvin Barnes (not pictured) is one of the leaders of the Paloma Valley defense. Including last week's playoff victory over Chino, Barnes had 25 total tackles in just six games since becoming eligible following the transfer to Paloma Valley. He also has three sacks.

"Dalvin is a tremendous asset to our program," said Wildcats coach Bert Esposito. "He came new to our football program at the beginning of the year and had to sit out the first five games due to the transfer rules. He is now our second leading sack leader and is climbing up the list of tackles for the year.

"He is a great kid with a great personality, plays hard, is very coachable and we love to have him here as a lifetime Wildcat."

Palmer, Taoete Named Heritage High Athletes of the Week

Matt Palmer and Dayanerrah Taoete pose with their Menifee 24/7 Athlete of the Week award certificates.
Two of Heritage High School's most consistent athletes this fall have been honored as the Menifee 24/7 Athletes of the Week.

Senior defensive back Matt Palmer has been one of the leaders of the Patriots' defense all year long. He had one of his biggest games of the season in last week's 21-7 playoff win over Arlington, intercepting three passes. That gives him seven for the season.

The week before, in a victory over Elsinore, Palmer had two interceptions. He appears to be peaking at just the right time.

"I'm just doing my job as a DB," he said. "It's just getting into my zone and looking for the ball. Sometimes it's being in the right place at the right time, too.

"Last year was my first year playing DB ever. Before that, I was just a receiver. That helps me now as a DB because I know what receivers like to do. That gives me an advantage."

Senior outside hitter Dayanerrah Taoete just completed an impressive season for the volleyball team. She was a steadying influence for the team, which came together under new coach Lindsey Sappington.

"I've learned a lot from our new coach," Taoete said. "I can definitely use those things in club."

Taoete hopes to continue her career in college, so she will play a full season of club volleyball through July.

"In club, you face better competition," she said. "Those are the people who are really serious about going on. I'm looking forward to it."

Taoete said her highlight of the season was when the Patriots beat crosstown rival Paloma Valley for the first time ever.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Heritage Pulls Away From Arlington in Second Half, 21-7

Heritage High defenders stop an Arlington ballcarrier in Friday night's playoff game.
Story by Zac Force
Photos by David Stovall

Heritage High School broke open a tight game in the second half Friday night to score a 21-7 victory over visiting Arlington in the first round of the CIF-SS Central Division playoffs.

Heritage. seeded second in the division, came into the game with a 9-1 record against Arlington, which was 3-7. It turned out to be a very close game for quite a while, however.

Heritage struck first on a 35-yard touchdown run by quarterback Brett Virgil with four minutes left in the first quarter. Both teams remained relatively quiet until midway through the second quarter, when Arlington ended a drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown to tie the score.

With under a minute to go in the first half, Arlington attempted to get in field goal range or score with a deep pass down the sideline, but instead Matt Palmer of Heritage came up with his first of three interceptions, ending the half.

Near the beginning of the third quarter, Heritage running back Sione Takitaki broke off a 25-yard rushing touchdown to give the Patriots a 14-7 lead. Arlington had the ball with 5:00 left in the third quarter when Palmer intercepted another pass. Before being tackled, he quickly pitched the ball to Limihai Hifo (10), who then ran it back for a 25-yard gain.

This was a huge play for the Patriots, who eventually scored on a touchdown run by Virgil.

Arlington was held scoreless for the remainder of the game. Palmer intercepted another pass to end the game and give Heritage the 21-7 victory.

Heritage will go on the road to play La Quinta next week.

"They played us very tough and we are lucky to move on," said Heritage coach Kraig Broach. "It’s the playoffs and that’s all that really matters, that we move on."

Heritage normally relies heavily on its rushing attack, headed by Hifo and Takitaki, with a little support from the passing game, and this game was no different. Hifo rushed for 269 yards on 26 attempts, giving him over a 10-yard per carry average. Takitaki rushed for 89 yards on 11 carries. Total rushing for Heritage was 412 yards, with two rushing touchdowns from Virgil and one from Takitaki.

Arlington was held in check in both the passing and running game. The Lions accumulated just 129 yards passing and only 50 yards rushing.

"La Quinta is the number one team in their league and they’re gonna be tough," Broach added. "We need to fix the turnovers if we want to win next week. We had way too many tonight."

Heritage quarterback Brett Virgil finds running room against the Arlington defense. 

Limihai Hifo works his way through the Arlington defense. 

Sione Takitaki ran for a touchdown in the Patriots' playoff victory.

Paloma Valley Cruises into Second Round of Playoffs, 49-14

Paloma Valley's Demarco Prewitt finds running room against Chino Friday night.
Brent Boehm passed for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns and Demarco Prewitt rushed for 74 yards and 2 touchdowns Friday night to lead Paloma Valley to a 49-14 victory over visiting Chino in the first round of the CIF-SS Central Division football playoffs.

Paloma Valley (10-1) led by just a touchdown at 14-7 after the first quarter but blew the game open in the second quarter with 21 unanswered points, then kept the pressure on the Cowboys (5-6) in the third quarter. The fourth period was played with a running clock.

The Wildcats compiled 490 yards total offense, showing once again their versatility in beating teams with both their passing attack and an efficient ground game.

Two of Boehm's touchdown passes went to senior RJ Benz, covering 29 yards and 14 yards in the big second quarter. Benz finished with 6 catches for 98 yards.

In addition to Prewitt's heroics running the ball for Paloma, Boehm ran for 55 yards and a touchdown. Khayrii Joyner added 56 yards, including a 45-yard run.

Paloma Valley got on the scoreboard first when Boehm ran 7 yards into the end zone, but the lead was short-lived. Chino tied the game at 7-7 moments later on a 62-yard run by Ray Valentine. It took a 6-yard TD run by Prewitt for the Wildcats to get out of the first quarter with a 14-7 lead.

The second quarter was all Paloma Valley. In addition to the two touchdown passes to Benz, Boehm hit Michael Valencia with a 43-yard TD pass and the rout was on.

Sophomore quarterback Pohaku Kaheaku-Paiva got some playing time in the fourth quarter and scored on a 1-yard touchdown run.

Next week, Paloma Valley is at home again against Kaiser, a 49-0 winner over Canyon Springs.

Editor's note: Our thanks to Kelli Esposito for the game information and Jeanine Morgan for providing the photos.

The Paloma Valley defense stops a Chino ballcarrier during Friday night's playoff game. 

A large crowd frilled the stands to cheer on the Wildcats Friday night.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Rodriguez, Arredondo Named Heritage High Athletes of Week

Evan Rodriguez and Bailey Arredondo have some fun with the camera while accepting their Menifee 24/7 Athlete of the Week awards.
Two of the top performers in Heritage High Athletics were honored this week as the Menifee 24/7 Athletes of the Week.

Evan Rodriguez of the Patriots football team won the award for the second time this fall. The senior tight end had another big game against Elsinore last week, catching four passes, including a touchdown pass, to help Heritage wrap the Sunbelt League title with a 37-14 victory.

"They were stopping the run pretty well and doing some things with their linebackers," he said about the game. "Going into the game, we didn't take them lightly at all. But we have a lot of weapons this year, so we started passing the ball more and opening things up.

"They were keying on Limihai (Hifo) a lot. It kind of freed me up a little bit. I always run my routes like I'm going to get the ball every time, and it worked out. It was a fun game."

Rodriguez has caught 19 passes for 363 yards and 4 touchdowns this season for the Patriots, who are in action tonight against Arlington in the first round of the CIF-SS playoffs.

Sophomore Bailey Arredondo had never played tennis before this year, but she quickly worked her way up to the No. 1 singles spot on the JV team. By the middle of the season, she had joined the varsity team and has a bright future ahead of her the next two years.

"I wasn't very interested in it until my friends suggested it," said Arredondo, who previously played soccer. "I ended up really loving the sport so I stopped playing all other sports to be committed to tennis."

Although her season is over, Arredondo continues to practice with the team and is working on improving her game for next year.

"I want to work on my forehand and my serve," she said. "I'm just having fun."

Melchor, Adcock Named Paloma Valley Athletes of Week

Dominique Melchor (left) and Anthony Adcock were named Paloma Valley High Athletes of the Week.
The fall high school sports season is now in postseason competition, and two Paloma Valley High School athletes who will play key roles for their teams were honored this week as the Menifee 24/7 Athletes of the Week.

Dominique Melchor will compete for the Wildcats' boys cross country team Saturday at the CIF prelims at Mt. San Antonio College. He helped his team finish second in the Sunbelt League and is poised for another strong performance on a challenging course in the prelims.

"There are three huge hills," Melchor said about the Mt. SAC course. "You run one entire mile and after that, it goes uphill and people start dying if they haven't trained for that."

Melchor's best time was a 17:16 at the league finals at Diamond Lake.

"Dominique has competed with strength throughout this cross country season," said his coach, Joe Ellett. "He has made great improvement in performance through consistency of effort in training. Dominique is always up for the challenge, whether it is one more hill or a 600-meter repeat."

Melchor, a senior, also carries a GPA above 4.0. He has found a way to successfully combine athletics and academics, despite a rigorous training routine.

"We have to put in tons of mileage -- six to eight miles some days," he said. "Sometimes we have to work really hard on speed and repeats. We have to implement that in the races."

Football player Anthony Adcock is only a sophomore but has already made an impact at linebacker since transferring in from Vista Murrieta. He had to sit out the first five seasons because of the transfer, but since then he has jumped right into the starting lineup.

Two weeks ago in a victory over Temescal Canyon, Adcock led the team with 18 tackles.

"Anthony has really grown up as a player and person this season," said coach Bert Esposito. "Only a sophomore, he is showing a lot of maturity and will be a presence to be reckoned with as he grows.He has an outgoing personality that is contagious and will most definitely be a leader in our program for years to come."

Adcock said the Temescal Canyon game was by far his best of the season.

"I just turned on the switch," he said. "I felt really fired up. It's all about hard work for me, though. I have a lot of room to improve."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Four Heritage High Softball Players Sign Letters of Intent

Four standout players from the Heritage High softball team signs letters of intent as family members look on.
The success of the Heritage High School softball program became evident again today, when four members of the team signed national letters of intent to accept college scholarships.

Students, parents and friends packed the school's theater to hear the announcement and cheer on the four standout players:

Lexi Blevins, University of Tulsa: The Patriots' top pitcher, Blevins posted a 12-6 record with a 1.37 ERA and 145 strikeouts.

"I always wanted to go to a university in the south," she said. "I have family out there; it was a perfect fit.

"Signing now is a stress reliever. Now I can just focus on my senior year. I want to work on getting stronger and faster with my pitching."

Blevins also considered Ohio State and UMass. She plans to study to be a veterinarian.

Nichole Chilson, Arizona State University: An outfielder for the Patriots, Chilson was the team's leading hitter with a .500 batting average, 10 doubles and 28 RBIs.

"I originally made a verbal (agreement) to Ball State, but the head coach moved to Arizona State and he offered me a scholarship there," Chilson said. "I'm ready to go to college. I'm ready for the move."

Like Blevins, Chilson hopes to become a veterinarian.

Jordan Sage, York College (Nebraska): A pitcher, Sage had an 8-3 record last spring with two shutouts. She also hit .311 on the season.

"I have a best friend who went to York," she said. "It's a private school with a small Christian community. I like that."

Asked what it means to have four players from the same team sign college scholarships so early in their season year, Sage had a simple answer:

"We must have a good team," she said with a smile.

Juliet Eaton, Austin Peay (Tenn.) State University: Eaton, a first baseman and third baseman, was one of the team's most effective hitters. She batted .438 with 3 home runs, 4 doubles and 24 RBIs.

"I also visited Montana State, St. Louis and  Humboldt State," she said. "I fell in love with Austin Peay, the school, the college town ... I just love the setting."

Eaton plans to study kinesiology so she can learn to help student-athletes with their nutrition needs.

Last spring, the Patriots softball team was 20-9 overall and 13-2 in the Sunbelt League. That level of success, along with the national recognition of players such as these, continues to add to the program's reputation.

"This is huge," said Patriots softball coach Angela Ramiro. "I'd like to think I had some part of it, but I know a lot of it is the hard work the players did on their own over the years. They're all very committed. They're amazing young ladies. We think this is our year to take CIF."

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Heritage, Paloma Earn High Seedings, Home Games for Playoffs

Senior running back Limihai Hifo and the Heritage Patriots will open the playoffs at home against Arlington.
Menifee high schools Heritage and Paloma Valley received high seedings in the Central Division and earned home games for Friday night's first round of the CIF-SS football playoffs.

Sunbelt League champion Heritage (9-1 overall) was seeded second in the division and will be at home Friday at 7 p.m. against Arlington, a surprise playoff entry. Arlington is 3-7 this season, its only three victories coming in Inland Valley League play for a third-place tie with Canyon Springs, which was designated as the league's No. 3 entry. Arlington was placed in the 16-team bracket as the lone at-large team.

In contrast, Heritage has won six straight since its only loss of the season, a 43-40 nonleague loss at Great Oak. The Patriots finished the regular season with a 37-14 win over Elsinore Friday night, capping off their fourth straight undefeated league season.

Patriots quarterback Brett Virgil has passed for 876 yards and 12 touchdowns and has rushed for 290 yards and 3 touchdowns -- including 68 yards rushing Friday night when the Elsinore defense focused on running back Limihai Hifo.

Hifo leads Heritage rushers with 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns. Isaiah Morrow (618 yards) and Sione Takitaki (543) add depth to the team's running game. Hifo and Takitaki are also leaders of a defense that includes defensive back Matt Palmer, who had two interceptions Friday night.

Arlington quarterback Wyatt Moore has passed for 999 yards and and 10 touchdowns, with 9 interceptions. Running back Ruben Kelly (608 yards, 4 TDs) is the Lions' only ballcarrier with more than 300 yards rushing this season.

Paloma Valley (9-1), the Central Division's third-seeded team, enters the playoffs as the No. 2 team from the Sunbelt League, its only loss of the season coming against Heritage. The Wildcats will be at home Friday night against Chino, which finished second in the Mt. Baldy League and is 5-5 overall.

Paloma wrapped up second place in league with a 42-6 win over Lakeside Friday night while Heritage was beating Elsinore, which finished in third place. The Wildcats are led by senior quarterback Brent Boehm, who has passed for 1,815 yards and 26 touchdowns. His favorite receivers are Michael Valencia, who has 27 catches for 480 yards and 13 touchdowns, and RJ Benz, who has 34 catches for 446 yards and 6 TDs.

Sophomore Demarco Prewitt leads the Paloma ground game with 115 carries for 900 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Chino quarterback Josh Thornton has passed for 1,118 yards and 15 touchdowns. Malik Demby is the Cowboys' leading rusher with 38 carrries for 290 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Quarterback Brent Boehm will lead the Paloma Valley offense against Chino Friday night.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Ramos, Cyr Named Santa Rosa Athletes of Month

Santa Rosa Academy's first season of tackle football produced several highlights, including both the male and female Menifee 24/7 Athletes of the Month, sponsored by RE/MAX Diamond Realty.

Senior center and nose guard Ronnie Ramos got his first chance to play anything other than flag football this year and made the most of it. At the same time, freshman Taylor Cyr handled the challenging role of playing safety as a female and proved up to the task.

The Rangers played only four games in their first season, all against JV teams. They didn't win a game, but the experience was a valuable one for all concerned, said Ramos.

"I played a little flag football in sixth grade, but that was it," said Ramos about his previous playing experience. "If I ever wanted to talk football, I would to talk to my uncle Peter (Arballo). I've wanted to play tackle football for a long time. My uncle originally wanted me to go to Heritage, but I liked the engineering program at Santa Rosa so I put academics first."

Although he is being realistic about his future in football, Ramos hopes he can find a way to continue to play in college.

"I've got this little taste, so I want to keep going," he said. "I know I'll have to work like crazy just to have a chance. We didn't win a game this year, but I think we did very well. We held our own, and I'd like to keep playing somewhere."

Taylor Cyr started playing flag football at Cornerstone Christian School after watching her brother. She fell in love with the game and just never stopped playing.

"Actually, there was enough girls to make a girls team that first year, but after that, the other girls went on to soccer," she said. "I just loved playing football. Then I played middle school flag football for three years and I was the only girl on the team."

By the time she got to Santa Rosa, tackle football was the only option. Taylor said it took her months to convince her mother to let her play.

"My mom was super nervous," she said. "She didn't want me to play, but she knew we would be going against JVs. I finally convinced her."

In three games this season, Taylor had eight tackles -- including a touchdown-saving tackle of a running back who tried to run right through her.

"This big kid came right at me and ran me over, but I took him down," she said with a smile. "I grabbed his legs and held on and took him down."

That, among other things, earned her the respect of her teammates.

"I heard at first they didn't really like the idea, but once I made it through summer conditioning and we got our pads and I started hitting, they said, 'OK, she's for real. She can play.' " Taylor said. "So now we're all really close."

Both athletes received certificates from Menifee 24/7 and a VISA gift card from Cynthia Nemelka of RE/MAX Diamond Realty, sponsor of the award.

Paloma Valley Routs Lakeside to Finish Regular Season 9-1

Demarco Prewitt, who rushed for 75 yards Friday night, finds running room in the open field.
By Zac Force

Paloma Valley High beat Lakeside 42-6 Friday night in the final game of the regular season, finishing with a 9-1 overall record and 4-1 in the Sunbelt League heading into the CIF playoffs.

Paloma Valley started out hot, scoring the first 14 points in the first quarter. The Wildcats continued to roll on offense, putting up 14 additional points in both the second and third quarters. Lakeside (2-8 overall, 1-4 in league) was only able to score a total of six points, put up in the second quarter.

This was the third time this season Paloma Valley has held a team to six points, a total that falls near their average for points allowed on the season.

The Wildcat defense held Lakeside to just 101 total yards while recording five sacks and recovering two fumbles. Lakeside quarterback Jacob Rasar was held to 21 yards passing.

Wildcat quarterback Brent Boehm was the key to Paloma’s offense, throwing for five touchdowns and 181 yards. Four different wide receivers caught a touchdown pass, with Michael Valencia catching two.

Running back Demarco Prewitt also had a standout game with 75 rushing yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, which is good for a 7.5-yard per carry average.

"Nine and one is a great season; most people dream of it," coach Bert Esposito said after the game. "The players worked really hard and they deserve it."

Paloma Valley now heads into the playoffs as the No. 2 team from the Sunbelt League behind Heritage, which finished 5-0 in league play. Elsinore, which is 5-5 overall and 3-2 in league, will join them in the playoffs.

Esposito said he is confident heading into the playoffs and feels the Wildcats have more to improve on as a team.

"We have got to get better," he said. "I know it’s a cliché, but it’s necessary."

Paloma Valley defender Kre Webb (96) zeroes in on Lakeside ballcarrier Raymond Cravin.
Demarco Prewitt powers through the Lakeside defense Friday night. The sophomore rushed for 75 yards.

Heritage Takes Fourth Consecutive League Title With 37-14 Win

Members of the Heritage High football team celebrate another league title after Friday night's win at Elsinore High.
They did it again.

Heritage High School's remarkable dominance of the Sunbelt League in football continued Friday night, with the Patriots defeating host Elsinore High 37-14 to wrap up their fourth consecutive perfect league season.

Using a defense that was both stifling of the opposition and opportunistic in grabbing three interceptions, the Patriots (5-0, 9-1) quickly dashed any hopes the Tigers (5-5, 3-2) had of finishing in a tie for first place. Heritage led just 6-0 after one quarter but raced to a 27-0 halftime lead and never looked back.

Defensive back Matt Palmer had two interceptions in the first half, ending two Elsinore possessions practically before they had started. Limihai Hifo intercepted a pass as well, returning it 65 yards for a touchdown on the final play of the first half.

Hifo rushed for 157 yards and two more touchdowns on 17 carries, while quarterback Brett Virgil (right) rushed for 68 yards and passed for 165 yards and two TDs. It was a clear show of power and precision by the Patriots, who will enter next week's CIF playoffs as the No. 1 representative from the Sunbelt League.

Paloma Valley, which beat Lakeside 42-6, finished second in league, one game behind Heritage and one ahead of Elsinore. All three teams will learn their fate Sunday morning, when CIF Central Division playoff pairings are announced.

"We clicked tonight," said Palmer about the team's defensive play. "This was our best game by far on defense.

"Winning league again... it's a great accomplishment for a new school. But we want to go farther now. We want to win it all."

Palmer's reference was to the last two seasons. Heritage lost in the CIF finals two years ago and in the semifinals last year. But on this night, the celebration was of this victory and a great league and regular season.

"They did a great job tonight," said coach Kraig Broach. "To be Sunbelt League champs, it's pretty special. And four straight titles, it's pretty cool. Especially when you're playing teams like Elsinore, Temescal Canyon, Paloma Valley, teams like that. To be able to do that is an accomplishment. But like we talked about before, for these kids, to do this in their year, that's huge. It's a credit to them."

Heritage marched 80 yards on its first possession of the game, a drive kept alive by an 11-yard run by Virgil on fourth down. Hifo capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run but the PAT failed, leaving the Patriots with a 6-0 lead.

Elsinore's first possession ended quickly when Palmer outleaped Tigers receiver Chris Harris to intercept a long pass from quarterback Tommy Wilson. But following a big gain by Virgil, Heritage gave the ball back to Elsinore on a fumble. The first quarter ended 6-0.

Enter Palmer again. Early in the second quarter, Wilson threw downfield but his pass was tipped by Aleva Hifo and was grabbed by Palmer, giving the Patriots the ball back. Moments later, it was 13-0 after Virgil hit Chris Nile with a 33-yard scoring strike.

"I was right there in good position," Palmer said about the second interception. "I thought he (Hifo) had it, and then, 'whoops ... I'll take that.' "

Virgil found Evan Rodriguez (left) on a couple key passes, including a 3-yard touchdown pass play later in the quarter. Then, with time running out in the half, Limihai Hifo picked off a Wilson pass and raced 65 yards into the end zone.

The Elsinore defense focused on stopping Hifo, but Virgil's ability to run himself and complete the play-action pass was a key for the Patriots.

"Early in the game we did our read plays and I just saw how they keyed on our two top players (Hifo and Sione Takitaki)," Virgil said. "We took advantage of that with some other players. Teams in the playoffs will see we don't just have Taki and Hifo, we have a whole team to deal with. They'll have to key on other players, and that's going to open it up for Hifo and Taki to have big games, like they always do."

"I was waiting for a defensive game like this and we came through tonight," Broach said. "Elsinore did a great job, especially in defense of our run game, but I thought the way we were able to throw the ball balanced it out."

Although the focus this next week will be solely on the team's first-round playoff opponent, the Patriots know what the ultimate goal is.

"We just gotta finish this year off and get the ring this year," Hifo said.

The fun begins next Friday.

Defensive back Matt Palmer leaps to pick off a pass intended for Elsinore's Chris Harris in the first quarter.
Moments later Palmer was at it again, returning another interception of a Tommy Wilson pass.
Chris Nile hauls in a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brett Virgil in the second quarter.
The Patriots were cheered by a large crowd of fans in the visiting stands as they left the field with a 27-0 halftime lead.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Valencia, Offerman Named Paloma Valley Athletes of Month

Paloma Valley High School Athletes of the Month Michael Valencia and Shannon Offerman accept their awards from Cynthia Nemelka of RE/MAX Diamond Realty.
Senior wide receiver and defensive back Michael Valencia and senior volleyball right-side hitter Shannon Offerman have received the Menifee 24/7 Paloma Valley High School Athlete of the Month awards, sponsored by RE/MAX Diamond Realty.

Valencia has been one of the top pass receivers for the Wildcats, who are 8-1 this season and headed for the CIF playoffs after Friday's game at Lakeside. He has 27 receptions for 480 yards and 13 touchdowns.

His familiarity with quarterback Brent Boehm on passing routes and timing has been a big part of the team's success.

"I feel like this season is the best season I've ever had," Valencia said. "This is my first year getting the ball a lot. Brent started trusting me more and getting me the ball.

"We developed a big bond over summer in the passing league. That gave us the chance to work on formations and timing."

Valencia is also a starter on defense, collecting 43 tackles this season with one fumble recovery and five interceptions.

Wildcats coach Bert Esposito can't say enough about the impact of Valencia on the program over the years.

"Michael is a Wildcat through and through," he said. "He has played in our program all four years and even played his youth football here with the Menifee Wildcats. Michael is an awesome person and a delight to be around. He is very polite, cordial and intelligent. He will be very successful in whatever endeavor he chooses and I am extremely proud to have been his coach and see him develop into a fine young man."

Offerman has had a standout season for the girls volleyball team, which is headed for the CIF playoffs. Despite ankle and shoulder injuries, she has excelled as both a shot maker and blocker on the front line. In a recent match against Temescal Canyon, she had a school-record nine blocks.

"Shannon has been a leader on the team, someone the other players look up to," said her coach, Stephen Kaas. "She is hoping to play volleyball in college and is working hard to get there."

Offerman said it was a challenge battling through the injuries and helping the team endure a rough start to the season.

"It's been a roller coaster, but we've gotten through it," she said. "We came together at the end when we needed to. We lost a few matches we shouldn't have, but everybody does that. Overall, we've had a good season."

Offerman hopes to continue her volleyball career in college and study ultrasound technology.

Both athletes received a certificate from Menifee 24/7 and a VISA gift card from Cynthia Nemelka of RE/MAX Diamond Realty.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gomez, Stafford Named Heritage High Athletes of Month

Heritage High School Athletes of the Month Niko Gomez and Lauren Stafford accept their awards from Cynthia Nemelka of RE/MAX Diamond Realty.
Football standout Niko Gomez and tennis star Lauren Stafford were recognized this week as the Menifee 24/7 Heritage High School Athletes of the Week, sponsored by RE/MAX Diamond Realty.

Gomez, an offensive tackle and nose guard for the Patriots, has played a key role in the success of the team this fall. After missing two games with a leg injury, he battled back and gave a boost to both the offense and defense in victories over Paloma Valley and Lakeside.

Thanks to his leadership on and off the field, Heritage is 8-1 overall this season and undefeated in Sunbelt League play, one win away from the league title. The regular-season finale is Friday night at Elsinore High.

"Elsinore's a great team," Gomez said. "You can't just go into a game thinking you're going to win. You have to have a great week of practice and when it comes game time, you have to be well prepared for it. Our coaches will have us ready because they know what this game means."

Although he continues in physical therapy to strengthen his leg, Gomez feels ready for Friday's game and the upcoming CIF playoffs.

"Last week against Lakeside, it felt perfect," he said. "The game before that, Paloma, it was really good. That's the game I wanted to be back for.

"I was being smart about it, staying off of it. When it came time to put the cleats on, I was really ready to go."

Stafford, also a senior, swept her singles matches against Paloma Valley recently and went on to finish second in the Sunbelt League finals, putting her in a good position for the CIF individual tournament later this month.

First, however, is the CIF team playoffs. Stafford and the Patriots defeated Shadow Hills 17-1 in a wild-card match Tuesday to open the playoffs.

"I was surprised at league finals because Elsinore, every one of their girls had beaten me before," Stafford said. "But when it came down to league finals, I beat two of them. I was pretty proud of myself.

"I feel like I've improved a lot this year. Overall, I've learned how to play against each player better and adjust to their game."

Each athlete received a certificate from Menifee 24/7 and a VISA gift card from the award's sponsor, Cynthia Nemelka of RE/MAX Realty.

"I think it's really a great idea to have this award," Stafford said. "It gives the athletes a good feeling about themselves."

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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Paloma Holds on to Beat Temescal Canyon, Clinch Playoff Berth

Demarco Prewitt had 77 yards rushing on 17 carries in Paloma Valley's victory Friday night.
Story by Zac Force
Photos by David Stovall

Paloma Valley High School clinched a CIF football playoff berth and improved its record to 3-1 in the Sunbelt League (8-1 overall) by beating Temescal Canyon Friday night, 28-21.

What looked at first to be a one-sided game in favor of the Wildcats turned into a close one-possession game as Temescal Canyon rallied from deficits of 14-0 and 21-7.

Paloma Valley quarterback Brent Boehm was unmatched early, scoring all three of the Wildcats' first-quarter touchdowns. The first came on an 11-yard touchdown pass to wideout Michael Valencia and the following two came on runs of 9 and 5 yards.

The host Titans were only able to put up seven first-quarter points but put up another seven in the third quarter. Temescal Canyon cut Paloma's lead to one touchdown again (21-14) going into the fourth quarter after holding the Wildcats scoreless through the second and third quarters.

Senior RJ Benz had 6 catches for 46 yards in the Wildcats' victory.
During Paloma’s scoring drought, the Titans held onto the ball for 17 minutes and 40 seconds on a total of four possessions. Comparatively, over that span, Paloma only had possession of the ball for 7 minutes and 27 seconds, allowing the Titans to keep Paloma Valley’s offense off the field and limiting the damage.

"They held onto the ball for a long time and that hurt us," said Paloma Valley coach Bert Esposito. "We might have played a little bit too conservatively, but that was part of the strategy."

Following a Demarco Prewitt rushing touchdown which gave Paloma a 28-14 lead, the Titans bounced back with another touchdown of their own, keeping the score once again within seven points. With 3:20 left in the game, the Wildcats started another drive that made it all the way to the Temescal Canyon 3-yard-line, where Boehm lost a fumble.

That gave Temescal Canyon just 45 seconds left to try and move the length of the field to tie the game. Four straight passes by quarterback Sean Tremble were incomplete, however, giving Paloma the victory.

"Their backs were up against the wall and they needed to win tonight to make the playoffs," Esposito said. "With everything on the line, they needed this win more than anything. They're a lot better than their record (3-2, 3-6) indicates."

The offenses were pretty evenly matched. Temescal Canyon compiled 329 total yards and Paloma Valley finished with 314 total yards. The way they earned those yards was quite different, however. Paloma had a much more balanced approach with 180 rushing yards and 134 passing yards. Temescal had only 30 passing yards but racked up 298 yards on the ground.

Temescal Canyon had 30:21 time of possession to the 17:39 of Paloma, which proved to be a big factor in the game.

Boehm completed 15 of 17 passes for 142 yards and a touchdown. On top of that, he also rushed for 109 yards on 12 attempts with two touchdowns.

Paloma Valley will finish the regular season at 2-7 Lakeside next week.

Paloma Valley defender Felix Bogroff takes down Temescal Canyon running back Michael Erim.
Paloma Valley quarterback Brent Boehm breaks through the pack on his way to a touchdown.
Linebacker Anthony Adcock dives into the heart of the Temescal Canyon offense to make a tackle.

Heritage Closes in On League Title With Easy Win Over Lakeside

Heritage running back Sione Takitaki points to the sidelines as he crosses the 5-yard line on the way to a 33-yard touchdown run Friday night.
Four down, one to go. Or is it 19 and counting?

The first set of numbers is what matters most, says Heritage High football coach Kraig Broach, who almost needed a calculator to track the Patriots' scoring in a 49-0 blowout win over Lakeside Friday night.

True, Heritage extended its four-year winning streak in Sunbelt League games to 19, with just a game at Elsinore next Friday standing between the Patriots and another perfect league season. Since coming into the league in 2010, the Patriots haven't lost once.

But most of that winning streak is ancient history to Broach, who is focused on the other stat -- a 4-0 record in league play this season.

"You don't even need to throw that stuff out there," Broach said about the team's dominance in league play over the years. "Next week we're playing Elsinore, who is playing right with us near the top of the standings, and we have an opportunity to play for the league championship. That's big enough. Next week is going to be a great high school football game."

Indeed, Heritage's win over Lakeside puts the Patriots in position to wrap up their fourth straight league title next Friday. Heritage will take a 4-0 league record and 8-1 overall mark into the game at Elsinore (3-1, 5-4), which has lost only to Paloma Valley (3-1, 8-1).

Heritage, Paloma Valley and Elsinore all are headed to the CIF playoffs, where the Patriots know they will be tested much more severely than they were Friday night.

For all intents and purposes, this game was over after the first quarter, when Heritage led 21-0. In fact, the Patriots scored two touchdowns on their first three offensive plays. Sophomore quarterback Brett Virgil (left) threw TD passes to Stefan Patterson (44 yards) and Chris Nile (16 yards) to give Heritage a 14-0 lead by the time fans had barely settled into their seats.

Moments after the defense forced the third consecutive Lakeside punt, Heritage was on the board again. Sione Takitaki rambled 33 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 lead. Limihai Hifo made it 28-0 with a 1-yard TD dive after a 49-yard run early in the second quarter.

At halftime, the Patriots had 346 yards total offense. Virgil completed 5 of 8 passes for 106 yards and 2 TDs. Hifo rushed for 77 yards and a score and Takitaki ran for 54 yards and a touchdown. Isaiah Morrow tacked on a 32-yard touchdown run and Jalen Glover ran 23 yards for a score for a 42-0 halftime lead.

The second half was played with a running clock, with virtually all the Heritage starters on the bench. Several seniors on the second string got a chance to play on Senior Night.

"It's the last home game for the seniors," Broach said. "I'm very proud of them and how they represented. It was a nice overall performance. In the second half, to have guys who normally don't get to play come in and execute, that was very rewarding."

Even a sophomore got into the mix in the third quarter. Running back Carlos Vargas scored on a 13-year touchdown run.

The only real challenge for the Patriots was to stay focused against outmanned opposition. The Patriots had 135 yards in penalties by halftime.

Senior wide receiver Cristian Sanchez heads upfield after catching a pass in the second quarter Friday night. 

Sophomore running back Carlos Vargas crosses the goal line on a 13-yard touchdown play. 

Limihai Hifo picks up yardage in a big first half for the Patriots.