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Football: Rancho Cucamonga continues its rise

October 01, 2013|By Eric Sondheimer

 When Chris Hawkins (USC), Tahaan Goodman (UCLA) and two other players who went to Arizona State graduated, everyone seemed to forget about Rancho Cucamonga this season.

But the Cougars are 5-0 and looking like very much a challenger to Corona Centennial and Vista Murrieta in the Inland Division.

And even more impressive, the Cougars have overcome the lost of their starting quarterback, Gage Pucci, to a knee injury in the third game. Sophomore Angel Matute, a 6-foo-2, 200-pound first-year varsity player, passed for four touchdowns last week against Riverside North.

"He's ready to go," Coach Nick Baiz said of Matute. "He doesn't look overwhelmed by the task at hand."

Another big contributor has been Ralston Compton, a former receiver moved to safety. He has an interception returned for a touchdown and a punt return for a touchdown.

Rancho Cucamonga has made it to the Inland Division semifinals the last three seasons, only to be eliminated by Vista Murrieta or Corona Centennial.

Eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

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