As the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Division II at the start of the season, there were great expectations for the Muir High football squad, and the Mustangs more than lived up to their lofty billing.
They tied Santa Barbara for the division title Saturday, their first title since back-to-back championships in 1985 and 1986 and finished 11-1-2.
It has also been a rewarding season from an individual standpoint.
With four first-team and two second-team selections, the Mustangs have the most players on the 46-player Los Angeles Times San Gabriel Valley All-Star High School Football Team.
Muir placed offensive lineman Mudie Mushonga, defensive linemen Reggie Hunt and Orlando Benn and linebacker Paul Joiner on the first team and offensive lineman Johnie Drawn and defensive back Reggie Reser on the second team.
Two other valley powers, Glendora and Bishop Amat, were right behind Muir with three players on the first team and one on the second unit.
Glendora, which captured a co-championship in Division IV, and finished with a 12-1-1 record, landed quarterback J. J. O'Laughlin, running back Bill Zernickow and offensive lineman Chris West on the first team and defensive back Tim Flynn on the second squad.
Bishop Amat, ranked in the Division I top 10 all season, placed wide receiver Jeremy Smith, tight end Jason Green and offensive lineman Joe Patterson on the first team. Defensive back Marty Avalos made the second squad.
Los Altos and Arcadia are the other schools with more than one player on the first team. Los Altos landed Roger Boden at running back and Mike Collins on the offensive line on the first unit and added linebacker Bryan Carr and offensive lineman Javier Villanueva on the second team. Arcadia placed linebacker Ellison Kim and kicker Neil Voskeritchian on the first squad.
Wilson and Baldwin Park have one player on the first team and two on the second unit. Bassett, Nogales, Temple City, Damien, Arroyo and Workman each has one player on the first club and another on the second.
There are three juniors on the first team: running back Zernickow of Glendora, Voskeritchian of Arcadia and defensive lineman Mike Balian of Damien. Bishop Amat's Smith is the only repeater from last year.
Twenty schools are represented on the first and second teams.
The selections were based on a poll of 49 11-man football coaches in The Times' San Gabriel Valley circulation area, covering the San Gabriel and Pomona valleys.
The first teams from all Times sections will be honored at the annual Times High School Football Awards Brunch at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Anaheim Hilton, 777 Convention Way.
The program, sponsored by the Los Angeles Times Fund, will honor first-team all-stars from the San Gabriel Valley Section and 11 other Times circulation areas: Orange County, Westside, San Fernando Valley, Ventura County, Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties), South Bay, Glendale, Southeast, South Coast, San Diego County and Central Los Angeles.
First-team players will receive a gold helmet plaque and a certificate.
The featured speaker will be Stanford Coach Dennis Green, former coach of Northwestern and an assistant with the San Francisco 49ers.
The Times San Gabriel Valley Section's Coach of the Year, Lineman of the Year and Back of the Year will be named. The winners will receive trophies.
Parents and the head coach of each first-team all-star have been invited to the brunch.
In a typical year, the valley is fortified with outstanding running backs, and this season was no exception.
Perhaps the best of the group is Marshawn Thompson of Bassett, a powerful 6-foot-1, 195-pound fullback who concluded his brilliant prep career by rushing for a remarkable 2,294 yards and 30 touchdowns in 379 carries as a senior. Thompson, the state's leading rusher this season, had the 10th highest single-season yardage total and 10th most touchdowns rushing in Southern Section history.
A second-team selection last year, when he rushed for 1,701 yards and 16 touchdowns in 301 carries, Thompson finished his high school career with 4,254 yards rushing to rank among the all-time valley leaders.
Considered a major-college prospect, the All-Southern Section Division V performer has been recruited by USC, Colorado and Colorado State.
Another running back who wrapped up a memorable career is Boden of Los Altos, who finished third among valley backs with 1,602 yards rushing and eight touchdowns in 260 carries. That left him with an excellent two-year total of 2,766 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns.
Boden, who is 5-11 and 175 and has blazing 4.5-second speed in the 40-yard dash, also caught 30 passes for 303 yards and one touchdown and has 45 receptions for 518 yards and three touchdowns in his career.
The two-time All-Sierra League selection, who was also outstanding on punt returns, has been recruited by Arizona, Stanford, USC, Air Force and Colorado State.