For John Hazelton, Wednesday was as big a day as any he had on the field last season as football coach at Montclair Prep.
"Not in terms of excitement, but in terms of pride, this is the nicest thing to happen to a coach," Hazelton said.
Four of his Mounties signed national letters of intent with Division I schools: Riche Swinton (Washington State); Troy Banks (Cal State Fullerton); Bill Huston (Cal State Fullerton) and Alex DeHayward (USC).
"This is by far the finest group of players ever from our school," Hazelton said.
Montclair Prep reached the Inland Conference championship last fall, and all 12 seniors from that team, he said, are expected to play college football.
Darrell Handelsman, a defensive end, will decide between the University of Pennsylvania and UC Santa Barbara. Holland Smith and Brian Bassler, both linebackers, will play at Cal Lutheran, while fullback Damond Hogan will suit up for UC Santa Barbara, according to Hazelton.
Luthern Williams, a backup at running back to Swinton, will visit Harvard, Yale and Penn before deciding. Wide receiver Mark Ro will play at Occidental or ClaremontMudd. Damion Bendaw is headed for Claremont Mudd.
Hazelton said that Reggie Smith Jr. probably will earn a baseball scholarship from USC and attempt to make the football team as a walk-on.
Several other Valley-area players announced their intentions Wednesday.
Mike Bowman, an offensive lineman from Agoura, signed with Boise State. . . . San Fernando's Lance Harper signed with Cal State Northridge. . . . Merritt Robinson from Harvard decided to play football at Rice. Robinson said he will probably also play baseball.
San Jose State landed wide receiver Greg Eskridge from Pierce and quarterback Ken Lutz from Moorpark. . . . Quarterback Desmond Cerceo, who played at Granada Hills two seasons ago, signed with Utah State, as did Pierce's Tyrone Beaulieu, a running back. . . . Paul Corey, a defensive lineman from Pierce, signed with Long Beach State.
Other Valley-area high school players who earlier announced their intentions and signed Wednesday included: Canyon's Randy Austin (UCLA); Taft's Monty Gilbreath (San Diego State); Westlake's Brad Gossen (Washington State); Taft's Curtis Hein (USC); Simi Valley's M.J. Nelson (Colorado); Notre Dame's John Perak (Colorado); Monroe's Barry Thomas (Nebraska); Thousand Oaks' Mike Trevathan (Montana) and Westlake's Gary Wellman (USC).