Desert Valley (Part 1): Cathedral City, Coachella Valley and Indio
Desert Valley (Part 2): La Quinta, Palm Desert and Palm Springs
Mojave River: Apple Valley, Hesperia, Oak Hills, Serrano and Sultana
Sunbelt: Elsinore, Heritage, Lakeside, Paloma Valley, Perris and Temescal Canyon
At first glance, the newly-formed Mountain Valley League appears to be the afterbirth of the Southern Section releaguing process, throwing together six schools from five different cities with little to no history or rivalry between them. The league was placed in the East Valley Division, which consists primarily of small private schools and the weaker desert-area schools.
The Blackhawks took the plunge into varsity football with only freshman and sophomores; that inexperience showed as they were 1-9 on the field, managing to defeat Shadow Hills, another team with only freshman and sophomores. With all starters returning and more players coming up from a strong freshman squad, head coach Pete Smolin will expect better results in 2010.
Citrus Valley’s offense was shut out in five of their losses. Andrew Gonzales and Ryan Smith were the primary playmakers, combining for 879 yards rushing. Gonzales and linebacker Tim Burroughs are the leaders of the defense, which gave up over 39 points per game in 2009.
An overtime loss to archrival Beaumont cost the Broncos a playoff berth last season. The rivalry is one of Riverside County’s oldest, dating back to 1929, and will be continued in a non-league game on Oct. 8.
Derron Smith’s departure will hurt the Broncos immensely. The quarterback generated 2,642 yards of total offense, 16 combined touchdowns, led the team in tackles, intercepted six passes and served as both punter and punt return man.
Benjamin Vang saw limited action as Smith’s backup last season and earned all-league honors as a linebacker, making 52 tackles and two interceptions. Three of last year’s top receivers return, including H-back Jake Haro. Tight end Eli Porter caught 14 passes for 150 yards to earn a spot on the all-league team. Running backs John Hunt and Treashawn Lockett combined for 610 rushing yards and nine touchdowns as juniors.
Vang, Haro, Porter, Hunt and Lockett all played key roles on Banning’s defense in 2009. The pressure on them to replace Smith’s offensive production is high but they also need to maintain their defensive form.
The newest high school in Fontana is following Citrus Valley’s example, playing a full varsity schedule with only freshman and sophomores. Edward McMillon was hired as head coach of the new school in June and has a roster of 58 players to develop. Jurupa Hills draws most of its enrollment from areas previously serviced by Fontana and Kaiser. It has a 4,000-seat football stadium and modern fitness center/weight room that may draw quality athletes from within the city.
Tomorrow, part two of the Mountain Valley League preview examines Notre Dame, Rim of the World and Rubidoux.
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