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The view from the Insider

September 05, 2007|Dan Arritt, Martin Henderson, Jaime Cárdenas, Mike Terry, Austin Knoblauch, Lauren Peterson, Eric Sondheimer

Varsity Times Insider is the Times' newest blog and a source for observations, news and game coverage. It's been up and running since Friday and can be found at

Here's some excerpts we like to call "Best of the Blog":


I have to admit, when I took a look at the top 100 high school football players in California this season, according to, I was surprised how many play in the Inland Empire.

Two of the state's top three offensive linemen, Tyron Smith of Moreno Valley Rancho Verde and Max Tuioti-Mariner of Corona, are both 909ers (or is it 951 now?) and seven of the top 25 reside in the foreclosure capital of California. That's more than Orange County and the City Section combined.

-- Dan Arritt


Someone who is on a lot of people's radar is Darrell Scott, the tailback at St. Bonaventure who transferred from Moorpark. But [Santa Margarita Coach Mike] Jacot said he didn't even watch film of the highly-sought-after, all-everything back.

"I didn't have to watch him," Jacot said. "I heard all the hype, I know he runs a 4.3 (second) 40, I know that he's 6-2, 210 pounds and that he ran for 3,400 yards last season. I didn't need to watch him."

Santa Margarita held Scott to 76 yards in 17 carries [but St. Bonaventure won, 15-14].

-- Martin Henderson


Bishop Amat's game Friday against Orange Lutheran might not be a blowout, like some people might think. Orange Lutheran struggled in its 28-7 season-opening win against Dana Hills. On defense, Orange Lutheran looked good, but on offense the Lancers failed to scored two times from inside the 30 in the second quarter. Quarterback Blake Hypeock (the young man with the monumental task of replacing Aaron Corp) completed nine of 21 attempts for 147 yards and a touchdown with 14 rushing yards.

Orange Lutheran is going to be tougher than Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos, [which beat Bishop Amat, 41-38], but Amat looked really strong up front. What Orange Lutheran does really well is run the ball. So Amat has a chance to stop the run and keep it close. The interesting part will be when Amat has the ball. . . . Can Marcus Wagner run the ball against Orange Lutheran? Can that offensive line block as great as it did?

-- Jaime Cárdenas


I'm not dismissing Birmingham's chances to repeat as City champs after the opening loss to Crespi. And I'm not going to anoint Venice as the 2007 champion after its win over San Fernando on Friday.

But what did impress me about that Venice win was how the players whom the Venice coaches expect to be their stars did play like stars.

Curtis McNeal, who scored 42 touchdowns last year, scored twice on Friday despite battling dehydration. "My body temperature kept rising," said McNeal, who sat out most of the second quarter. UCLA-bound wide receiver Jerry Johnson caught two touchdown passes, although he dropped two other sure TD passes. Quarterback Richard Ragland, who is drawing interest from Nevada Las Vegas, North Carolina and Purdue, ran and passed with efficiency in the second half after a ragged first half.

-- Mike Terry


Let's play everyone's favorite game: Reality Check: Foothill League edition.

Reality Check No. 1: Canyon will not repeat as state champs. Heck, the Cowboys won't even repeat as league champs. Which brings us to. . .

Reality Check No. 2: Hart will take its first league title since 2003 thanks, in part, to having guys named Delano Howell, Patrick Larimore and B.R. Holbrook.

And to a lesser extent, Reality Check No. 3: Saugus will make the playoffs again and Valencia won't.

-- Austin Knoblauch


It was only a season opener, but Long Beach Cabrillo's 6-2 nonleague victory over Beverly Hills on the Normans' home field Friday had the feel of a championship game for the Jaguars' third-year coach, Marcus Turner.

That is, all wet.

The Jaguars' victory celebration included the players dumping the contents of a large jug of Gatorade onto their coach. And they chased him halfway across the field to do it.

Turner, who played cornerback at UCLA, first soaked up all the Gatorade, then did the same with the atmosphere, thoroughly enjoying his players' happiness after ending a 13-game losing streak that dated to Oct. 28, 2005 and included a winless 2006 season.

-- Lauren Peterson


Saturday was the first day college recruiters could send letters to juniors other than those who play boys' basketball, and Nebraska gets the award for having the best mail-delivery service because its letter offering a written scholarship to junior quarterback Matt Barkley of Mater Dei arrived Saturday at the Barkley house in Orange County.

"It was pretty cool," Barkley said.

Nebraska pulled off something that sometimes is as difficult as trying to land a man on the moon. If the letter had arrived on Friday, it would have been a violation of NCAA rules. And no overnight delivery is permitted.

While it's the only letter to arrive Saturday, Barkley was expected to get plenty more because USC and UCLA, along with others, have already offered him verbally.

Eric Sondheimer


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