The emergence of Montebello as the top-ranked team in the Eastern Conference, after going 6-4 last season, is all the more notable since it has been accomplished with a senior quarterback playing high school football for the first time. You wouldn't know it by the fact the Oilers have scored 27 points or more in 7 of 11 games.
Larry Razo, previously known more as a baseball player, has completed 92 of 146 passes (63%) for 1,177 yards and 12 scores and rushed for 2 more touchdowns. That includes 12 of 19 attempts and 3 scoring passes in the 23-17 victory over West Covina in the first round of the playoffs Friday.
"It's sort of like having someone as a walk-on off the street in college and having them dazzle you," Coach Doug Rihn said Sunday. "He's got a lot of cool and a lot of savvy, especially for a guy who's never played before."
Razo and running backs John Macias (792 yards and 11 touchdowns) and Whitmont League most valuable player Adan Avina (937 yards, 11 scores) lead the offense. The defense has had standout play in the secondary, where safety Mario Prado and cornerback Art Valasquez have five interceptions each and cornerback Richard Barbosa and Joe Gonzales have four. Put it all together and Montebello is 11-0 and the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference, with Charter Oak of Covina (8-3) the next opponent in Friday's quarterfinals.
Rihn, who was a first-year assistant when Montebello started 9-0 in 1976 and head coach of the team that reached the semifinals in 1982, likes what he sees in these Oilers.
"As far as skill positions, I knew we would have as much talent (as 1982) if not more," he said. "The question marks were on the offensive line and the defense. But the line has done an outstanding job, and the defense, while it's not real big, has used its quickness to overcome almost any deficit we might get in."
In the State girls' volleyball pairings announced Sunday by the State CIF office, Southern Section 5-A champion Newport Harbor (22-0) is top-seeded in Division I, which is for schools with more than 1,800 students. The Sailors will open the playoffs at home Tuesday night against the winner of this afternoon's City playoff game between Carson and Bell. Carson (12-1) lost in the City 4-A finals to Palisades, and Bell (15-0) is the 3-A champion. All first-round play opens Tuesday night and the State finals are scheduled Dec. 5 at Cal St. Fullerton.
Irvine (17-3), the Southern Section 4-A champion, is second-seeded and will play host to La Jolla (19-7), the San Diego Section 2-A champion. Corona del Mar (20-3) is third-seeded, and Palisades (12-2) is fourth-seeded.
In Division II, which is generally limited to schools with between 800 and 1,800 students, San Gabriel (20-1), the Southern Section 3-A champion, is top-seeded and plays host to Taft (16-2), the Central Section Sequoia champion, Tuesday night. Thousand Oaks (20-1), the Southern Section 2-A champion, is second-seeded and plays host to University of San Diego (18-1).
Despite the fact that San Gabriel has more than 3,200 students and Thousand Oaks more than 2,500, the State volleyball seeding committee, according to Associate State Commissioner Margaret Davis, honored the Southern Section entries because the Southern Section playoff structure is based on both size and strength.
As an example, both Newport Harbor and Corona del Mar have fewer than 1,800 students and would normally fall into Division II but are playing in Division I.
In Division I, for schools with less than 800, Flintridge Sacred Heart (15-8), the Southern Section 1-A champion, is top-seeded and will play host to San Diego Francis Park (23-3), the San Diego Section 1-A champion. Maranatha (18-0), the Southern Section Small Schools champion, will play host to Woodland (13-2), the Central Section Sierra champion.
When Palisades quarterback Perry Klein set a national single-game record Friday with 46 completions and a state mark with 562 yards, one reporter counted 22 two-yard shovel passes, which are officially passes but much more like runs.
Does that rate an asterisk in the record books?
State of the City: El Camino Real of Woodland Hills made the City football playoffs with a 0-7-2 record. That's no wild card, just wild.
The key to the Conquistadores' success--you are considered successful with a trip to the playoffs, right?--was their record in the Valley League: 0-2-2. That was good enough to put them ahead of Kennedy of Granada Hills (0-3-1).
To El Camino Real's credit, one of the ties came against San Fernando, then the No. 2 team in the City and now 6-1-1 after finishing second in the Valley League behind Granada Hills. That turned out to be the difference in making the playoffs, where the Conquistadores get Carson (9-0), clearly the dominant team in the City.
El Camino Real had 24 healthy players at practice last week. The good news while preparing for a team that has five shutouts in nine games and has allowed just 41 points is that the City is idle this week, so the game won't be played until Dec. 4.