By Tim Haddock
It would be nice if there was more at stake than bragging rights for this weekend’s USC-UCLA football game.
But, aside from owning L.A., it looks like an invitation to the Sun Bowl is the only other thing up for grabs. Neither team has a chance to play in the Rose Bowl or any other BCS game, for that matter.
UCLA blew its chance when it lost to Arizona State on Saturday. USC blew its chance when it lost to Washington State in Week 2.
Still, both teams are ranked in the BCS. Both teams are bowl eligible. Both teams are, at best, No. 4 and No. 5 in the Pac-12.
But, there is still plenty of drama surrounding the game. The biggest storyline is whether Ed Orgeron can move from interim head coach to permanent head coach at USC. Orgeron took over the team when USC fired Lane Kiffin after an embarrassing loss to Arizona State. That loss was ultimately the last nail in the Kiffin Coffin.
Orgeron was selected as the interim head coach and the Trojans have gone 6-1 since the Arizona State game. USC has won five games in a row and went from 0-2 to 6-2 in the Pac 12.
The Trojans are certainly on a roll and the players are showing USC athletic director Pat Haden and their loyal fans that Orgeron is the right man for the coaching job moving forward.
On the other end of town, the UCLA Bruins are scrambling to find the winning magic it had at the start of the season.
The Bruins opened strong, winning their first five games. But they have cooled off considerably in their last six games. They are 3-3 with losses to Stanford, Oregon and Arizona State. Granted, all of UCLA’s losses are against ranked teams in their own conference, but that’s the difference between playing for a spot in the Rose Bowl and a spot in the Sun Bowl.
Not only has UCLA had trouble with ranked teams in their own conference, they will enter the game against USC with three freshmen starting on their offensive line. Injuries have thinned the O-line for UCLA.
That, mixed with a devastating defensive line for USC, spells trouble for the Bruins.
USC has the edge and the momentum in this one. That will most likely mean a trip to the Vegas Bowl for UCLA.
With all the talk around if Orgeron will be the next coach at USC, when is it time to wonder if Jim Mora Jr. is the right man for the UCLA job? UCLA has been ranked in the top 25 all year and even cracked the top 10 before losing to Stanford.
But after a hot start, UCLA showed it wasn’t able to play with the big boys of the Pac 12, Oregon, Stanford and most recently Arizona State.
If UCLA loses to USC, will it mark the beginning of the end for Mora? UCLA beat USC, 38-28, last year. Orgeron said in his Sunday night news conference that loss left a “terrible taste in our mouth.”
“I know our guys do remember that awful feeling that we had, but give them (UCLA) credit, they played better than we did,” Orgeron said. “There’s no excuse. We have to play our best game in all phases, and be ready to play.”
Orgeron gave much of the credit to UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. Orgeron is preparing his players to avoid a repeat of Hundley’s performance in last year’s game.
“He’s a very, very good football player,” Orgeron said. “He’s a big, strong quarterback who can throw the ball. He operates well within the scheme. I think he’s the biggest threat running the ball and making plays when there’s nothing there — he’s very hard to tackle.”
It should be a good football game. Too bad the result won’t matter much in the BCS big picture.
On a local level, there is plenty of high school playoff football to spread around this Thanksgiving weekend.
Three teams from the Foothill League are in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs.
Valencia is the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and the champion of the Foothill League. They needed a little comeback magic in the quarterfinals, but slipped past Arroyo Grande, 28-23, to make it to the semifinals.
Hart knocked out Palos Verdes, the No. 1 seed in the Northern Division playoffs.
The Indians have been riding the well-rested legs of Connor Wingenroth in the past two games. He broke the school record for rushing yards in a game with 285 against Paso Robles in the first round. He nearly broke the record again, rushing for 284 yards against Palos Verdes in the quarters.
The Saugus football team might be playing the most impressive football of all the teams in the Foothill League. The Centurions are in the semifinals after a 13-0 shutout over Mira Costa in the quarterfinals.
Saugus entered the playoffs as an at-large team. They were the fourth-place team from the Foothill League and needed to beat West Ranch in the regular season finale to apply for a spot in the playoffs.
The Centurions took advantage of the opportunity, eliminating third-seeded Atascadero in the first round.
The Saugus defense held Mira Costa scoreless, forced four fumbles and recorded two sacks in the quarterfinals.
Saugus will play Valencia at Canyon High in one semifinal. Saugus hasn’t won a game against Valencia in five years. The last time the two teams met, in October, Valencia won, 38-24.
Hart will play West Torrance at College of the Canyons in the other semifinal. It’s up to the Indians to ensure the Northern Division championship game is an all Foothill League affair.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.
By Tim Haddock
The Dodgers bowed out of the playoffs a bit prematurely, losing to the St. Louis Cardinals in six games in the National League Championship Series. As soon as the Dodgers’ season ended, manager Don Mattingly was fighting to keep his job.
Mattingly took much of the blame for the Dodgers’ disappointing end to the season. He was second-guessed for in-game managing decisions, pinch running Dee Gordon for Adrian Gonzalez, starting Clayton Kershaw on short rest, sticking with Hanley Ramirez and his broken ribs.
Mattingly will be back for another season. He and the Dodgers agreed to extend his contract for one more year. It also looks like the Dodgers are going to make an effort to get younger and healthier in 2014.
One move that looks like it will transpire is the emergence of Alexander Guerrero at second base. The Cuban infielder signed a reported four-year, $28 million deal with the Dodgers. That almost guarantees the Dodgers won’t ask Mark Ellis to return.
It’s the right move to make, despite the stellar season Ellis turned in. Guerrero was an all star in Cuba’s top league in 2010 and 2011. He can play second base and shortstop. Plus he is younger and stronger than anyone else on the Dodgers roster who can play second base.
So long, Ellis.
Another position that will see some turnover for the Dodgers is third base. Juan Uribe is a free agent. He played third base that was Gold Glove worthy. He had arguably the biggest hit for the Dodgers in the playoffs, a two-run, game-winning home run against the Atlanta Braves in Game 4 of the National League Division Series.
With the season Uribe had, he will seek a multi-year contract. The Dodgers don’t need an aging third baseman with a multi-year contract. They need a player to hold down the fort at third base until 19-year-old Corey Seager is ready take over.
So long, Uribe.
From the looks of things, Andre Ethier might be on his way out too. He filled in admirably in centerfield when Matt Kemp had to sit out with injuries. Ethier gutted out playing with an injured ankle in the playoffs. His grit and willingness to move positions increased his trade value. With that, coupled with Carl Crawford and Kemp’s injury history, Ethier has the most trade value on the Dodgers.
According to reports, there are teams interested in Ethier. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees, Rangers or Mariners make an offer for Ethier.
So, until spring training, so long, Dodgers.
The Foothill League football picture is starting to come into focus.
Hart is the top dog, undefeated at 8-0 overall, 3-0 in league. The Indians are ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division, a spot they have held since the season started.
They have outscored their Foothill League opponents, 137-40. But their toughest two tests are coming up.
Hart plays Valencia on Friday night. The Indians end the Foothill League season against Canyon, the No. 5 ranked team in the Southern Section Northern Division.
The Vikings are the only other team with an undefeated Foothill League record. They are 3-0 and are coming off a surprising, 35-28, come-from-behind victory over Canyon last week.
Valencia has won the past four Foothill League championships. They are ranked No. 4 in the Southern Section Northern Division and might be the only team to challenge Hart in the Foothill League.
Canyon has played two rough games in a row. The Cowboys blew a 22-point, second-half lead against the Vikings on Friday night. They barely beat Saugus, 23-20, in the previous week.
They have West Ranch on deck. The Wildcats are coming off their first win of the season, a 31-0 shutout against a depleted Golden Valley team.
But a win’s a win. Now that West Ranch has its first win out of the way, they will be looking to jump back into the playoff picture with another win over Canyon.
West Ranch earned some respect early in the season when the Wildcats were in the top 10 in the Northern Division poll. The Wildcats fell out when the Foothill League season started.
While Hart and Valencia are battling for first place in the Foothill League, the game at the bottom of the standings will be equally as interesting.
Saugus plays Golden Valley on Friday night. Both teams have yet to win a game in league this year. Saugus has at least been competitive, save for last week’s 38-3 loss to Hart.
Golden Valley has never won a Foothill League game in its school history. Friday night should be no different. The Grizzlies had a chance with a healthy Terry Tamura, who once led the Foothill League in rushing.
But he is out with a broken collar bone. It would take a miracle for Golden Valley to pull off an upset.
The Hart girls tennis team completed an undefeated Foothill League season with an 18-0 shutout over Canyon.
The Hart girls are ranked No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll and have a perfect 17-0 record this season.
The Golden Valley girls golf team won the Foothill League championship, its first in school history. The Golden Valley girls won the final Foothill League match of the season with a team score of 226 at the TPC Valencia.
Elisa Pierre from Golden Valley won the final league match on the second playoff hole against West Ranch’s Ashley Mayhall. Both girls shot 39s to set up the playoff. Pierre birdied the second playoff hole, while Mayhall made a bogey.
Golden Valley and West Ranch qualified for the CIF Southern Section girls golf team playoffs.
Hart’s Katie Corr, Valencia’s Eunice Song, West Ranch’s Kate Caffrey, Golden Valley’s Justine Reblando and Hart’s Lauren Yi, along with Pierre and Mayhall, qualified for the Southern Section girls golf individual playoffs.
Nascar’s Local Connection
Canyon High graduate Greg Pursley won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield on Saturday night. It was his series-leading fifth win of the season.
Pursley is in second place in the K&N Pro Series West standings with one race to go, the season finale at Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 9.
He won the West Series championship in 2011. But he trails Derek Thorn by 16 points in the K&N Pro Series West standings.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.
If the Dodgers come back and win the National League Championship Series over the St. Louis Cardinals, they can thank Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Make no mistake. These Dodgers are broken. Hanley Ramirez is playing with fractured ribs. Andre Ethier is playing with a bum ankle. Matt Kemp is not playing at all.
The only thing the Dodgers aren’t breaking is their fans’ hearts.
Ryu breathed life into a listless Dodgers team when it needed it most.
He found a way to win Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. Ryu pitched the best game of his rookie season with the Dodgers, seven shutout innings, and led his team to a 3-0 win.
It was reminiscent of another rookie left-hander from the Dodgers’ past. No, not Sandy Koufax. Fernando Valenzuela.
Back in the 1981 World Series, the Dodgers were down, 2-0, to the New York Yankees. Valenzuela was the Dodgers starter for Game 3, back in Los Angeles after the first two games were played in Yankee Stadium.
Valenzuela didn’t quite have the dominating performance that Ryu delivered against the Cardinals last Monday night. But Valenzuela gave the Dodgers a much-needed win over the Yankees.
Valenzuela pitched a complete game, even though he gave up four runs on nine hits. The Dodgers gave Valenzuela a 3-0 lead in the first inning, but he coughed it up when the Yankees scored two runs in the second inning and two more in the third inning.
Pedro Guerrero tied the score, 4-4, with an RBI double in the fifth. The Dodgers took the lead for good when Ron Cey scored on a double play later in the inning.
The Dodgers went on to win the next three games and the World Series.
The 2013 Dodgers found themselves in a similar predicament in the National League Championship Series.
The Cardinals took the first two games of the series at home. The Dodgers desperately needed to win Game 3 to climb back in the series.
The Dodgers head to St. Louis needing to win two more games to advance to the World Series. For a team that went 42-8 at one point this season, winning two games on the road shouldn’t be that tall of an order.
A little-known rookie left-hander saved the day for the Dodgers in 1981. History repeated itself in 2013.
Now the Dodgers need to make history of the Cardinals.
In case you didn’t notice, the NHL season started a couple weeks ago.
After the first six games of the season, the Kings are 4-2. They are in a four-way tie for second place with the Ducks, Flames and Coyotes in the Western Conference Pacific Division.
One impressive note for the Kings, they are 3-1 on the road.
One depressing note for the Kings, goaltender Jonathan Quick has a 2.64 goals against average in his first five games.
One more impressive note, back-up goalie Ben Scrivens shut out the Florida Panthers in his first start of the season.
One more depressing note for the Kings, neither Anze Kopitar nor Mike Richards have scored a goal in the first six games.
Hart, Valencia and Canyon won their Foothill League openers in not-so-impressive fashion. Saugus, West Ranch and Golden Valley showed there will be no easy games in the Foothill League.
Hart never trailed in a 38-24 win over West Ranch. Hart is the No. 1 team in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division and ran its record to a perfect 6-0. West Ranch was No. 10 in the Northern Division.
But Hart coach Mike Herrington did not seem pleased with his team’s performance, even though the Indians won by two touchdowns.
They were up 31 points in the third quarter and let West Ranch back in the game.
The Wildcats scored 17 points in the second half, but Hart held on and put away a pesky West Ranch squad.
Valencia had trouble putting away Saugus in their Foothill League opener. Valencia won the game, 38-24, but the Centurions trailed by only three points in the third quarter.
The Vikings turned a 19-16 lead into a 22-point advantage in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Jake Wallace threw a touchdown pass to Jay Jay Wilson. Wallace scored on a quarterback keeper as the Vikings pulled away late in the game.
Golden Valley put up a fight, but it didn’t last long against Canyon. The Grizzlies were up 7-6 in the first quarter. Then Canyon rattled off 42 points to squash any hopes of a Golden Valley upset.
The Foothill League teams aren’t the only football teams in the Santa Clarita Valley making noise.
The Trinity Classical Academy football team is ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 Eight-man football poll.
The Knights are coming off a 48-0 shutout over Desert Christian, the No. 5 team in the Southern Section Division 1 eight-man football poll.
The College of the Canyons football team is ranked No. 11 in the state.
The Cougars have won five games in a row, most recently, 37-14, over Antelope Valley College on Saturday.
Canyon High graduate Greg Pursley won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at NAPA Speedway in Albuquerque, N.M. He leads the West Series with four wins this season.
He has also won races at Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona and at Spokane County Raceway in Washington. He was the highest-finishing driver at the K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway, a race that pitted the teams from the East and West series.
In the most recent K&N Pro Series West race, Pursley was fifth at All America Speedway in Roseville, Calif.
He is third in the K&N Pro Series standings with two races left to go. The next race is at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield on Oct. 26.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at AM 1220 KHTS. He writes for the SCV Beacon, the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.
By Hans Blanchard (aka Mr. Football)
As we finish week five of the NFL season, some teams have yet to establish an identity, while others are reaching their serenity. There are currently three undefeated teams remaining (Broncos, Chiefs, and Saints), while there are four winless teams remaining (Buccaneers, Giants, Jaguars, and Steelers).
Whether it’s Denver or New Orleans’ high-octane offenses or the Chiefs’ sound fundamentals, the three teams left without losses have strong team identities. The four teams remaining without wins have many questions regarding their personnel. From putting faith in a rookie quarterback amid turmoil or dealing with injuries, each winless team has been dealt significant blows to their chances of succeeding this season.
As the young season progresses, here are some questions to think about, coming into Week six:
Can the Chiefs challenge the Broncos in the AFC West?
YES. The Chiefs play their first divisional game of the year this week. To end the season, the Chiefs play five of their final seven games against divisional opponents, including two games against both the Chargers and the Broncos. If the Chiefs can steal one out of those two games against the Broncos, it puts the Chiefs head-to head with Broncos, assuming the Chiefs get by the Raiders, Texans, Browns, and Bills in the next four weeks.
Will someone in the NFC East step up?
At records of 2-3, both the Cowboys and the Eagles share the NFC East lead, while the Redskins went into their bye week at 1-3, and the New York Giants are two games behind, at 0-5. Interesting – the team currently in last place is only two games behind the lead, while also not having a single win. During week five, the Redskins were on a bye, the Eagles beat the Giants 36-21, and the Cowboys lost on a game winning field goal by the Broncos 51-48. For some teams within this division, they are right where they want to be, within reach of control of the division. This division has been one of the most competitive in the past few years, being won in the last few weeks multiple times. Dallas took a big step by keeping pace with the Broncos and almost winning, but Washington, coming off a bye week, may benefit Robert Griffin III. Philadelphia, coming off a much needed win, and one they can build some momentum from, are much in the hunt as well. The Giants shouldn’t be counted out either.
Does Cleveland really have a chance to be top in AFC North?
It’s possible. We all saw the momentum the Browns started to build the previous two weeks with Brian Hoyer at the helm replacing Weeden. After Hoyer’s season-ending injury, Weeden returns and helps guide the Browns beat the Bills and keep pace in a three-way tie for first in the AFC North. Good news is that the Browns have only one game left vs. both the Ravens and Bengals, and two remaining against the Steelers. This defense is on a roll and will have to help Weeden or whoever is behind center. The Browns defense is ranked eighth against the run and ninth against the pass.
Who comes out winner in NFC North?
Last season, the Packers won the division with an 11-5 record, while both the Bears and Vikings finished 10-6 and the Lions 4-12, with the Vikings sneaking the wild card away from the Bears. After week five of the 2013 season, the Lions and Bears are tied for first with a record of 3-2, the Packers in second with a 2-2 record, and the Vikings in last with a 1-3. Green Bay will separate itself from the rest of the division because of its offensive prowess, its underrated defense, and the leadership of Aaron Rodgers. The two strongest defenses the Packers play the rest of the season are the Browns in week seven and the Bears in weeks nine and 17. Watch for Green Bay to take control of the division around week 10 when they face the Eagles.
Will NFC West get two teams into playoffs?
San Francisco and Seattle are both favorites to win the NFC West, as well as the Super Bowl. But, will both teams make the playoffs? The way that most of the NFC has played out, there may be other contenders for the two wildcard spots. Whoever wins the NFC West will have clinched a playoff spot, but the other would have to face the likes of the Falcons, most of the NFC East (assuming teams step it up), and the NFC North. I am predicting the 49ers will not make the playoffs and I am still riding the Seahawks to the Super Bowl, but predict they lose to the Patriots in a close one.
Will Falcons, Panthers, or Bucs challenge Saints in NFC South?
As the Saints enter week six of this season, they are one of the last remaining undefeated teams at 5-0. The Falcons and the Panthers have just one win each. The Falcons will have a bye this upcoming week and the Panthers had theirs during week four. The Bucs may be less of a concern because of the drama that surrounded the organization, the release of Josh Freeman, and the insertion of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon as the starter. The Falcons may be the most likely to compete with the Saints. Using their bye week to get back on track after their Monday night game against the Jets, the Falcons can rest, get healthy, and get back on track. The Panthers will always be competitive with Cam Newton at the helm, but consistency is key. Let’s see if he can finish the second half of the season the way he did last year. If he does, the Panthers should be right there as well.
Is the rest of the AFC East primed to be more competitive than in recent years?
We have gotten used to the Patriots running the AFC East, winning the division 10 in the past 12 seasons and every season since the 2008 season, when the Dolphins last won. With the offseason loss of Wes Welker and Aaron Hernandez, while also losing Emmanuel Sanders to the Steelers and the surgery recovery from Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady’s arsenal has never been so weak. The Patriots have no passing game and a mediocre running game. As the defenses of the Bills, Dolphins, and Jets continue to strengthen their front seven and secondary, all three teams can be competitive with the Patriots, as we’ve seen in the first few weeks. As all three teams continue their search for an offensive identity with their young quarterbacks, their defenses make big plays because of players like Bilal Powell and Fred Jackson stepping up and giving their teams a boost when needed. Look for the AFC East to be more competitive than in recent years, while it may also contend for a wildcard spot.
The Dodgers have lost Matt Kemp for the postseason. Andre Ethier looks like he will be regulated to a pinch-hitter in the first round of the playoffs against the Braves. Skip Schumaker is the starting centerfielder for the Dodgers all of a sudden.
In the immortal words of Han Solo, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
The Dodgers didn’t exactly storm into the playoffs. They lost four of the last five games of the regular season. Their bats were relatively dormant. They managed only one run in the last two games against the Rockies.
The only promising sign over the last week of the regular season was an 11-0 outburst against the Rockies on Sept. 27.
Granted, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was resting many of his star players. He was forced to keep Kemp and Ethier out of the lineup because of injuries. He has to handle Hanley Ramirez with kid gloves to keep him healthy. Carl Crawford is another player with injury concerns.
When healthy, the Dodgers are the best team in baseball. They proved it by going 42-8 over a 50-game span in the middle of the season.
But an injury-plagued Dodgers roster had an eight-game losing streak in May that almost cost Mattingly his job.
Ethier, who filled in nicely for Kemp in centerfield for most of the season, has been battling a sore ankle. He had a workout at Dodgers Stadium on Tuesday, before the National League Division Series against the Atlanta Braves, but said he will probably only be able to pinch hit.
“It’s probably just a hitting role, that’s what our best hope is,” Ethier told ESPN said after the workout. “Who knows, maybe we wake up Saturday and Sunday and it feels good enough to go full-go. Hitting-wise it feels good enough. We’ll worry about what to do after I get on first base then. I just want to figure out a way to contribute anyway I can and not become a hindrance.”
Schumaker is expected to start in centerfield against the Braves. But Scott Van Slyke, Jerry Hairston Jr. and Dee Gordon have reportedly tested their centerfield skills in preparation for the playoffs.
Gordon? It better not come down to him in centerfield.
Now for some good news. Yasiel Puig hit .500 against the Braves. He was 8-for-16 with two home runs and five RBIs. But Puig batted .214 in September, by far the worst month of his major league career.
Which Puig will show up is anyone’s guess.
Another bright note is the Dodgers starting rotation. If the Dodgers can mange just a few runs a game, they have the pitching staff to win some close ones.
Clayton Kershaw ended the season with a 16-9 record. He led the National League in ERA (1.83) and strikeouts (232). Since the All-Star break, Kershaw went 8-3 with a 1.59 ERA.
Interestingly, he did not face the Braves in the regular season.
Zack Greinke was every bit as good as Kershaw, if not better, down the stretch.
Greinke had a 1.75 ERA in six starts in September. He had a 1.23 ERA in five starts in August. Plus in his only game against the Braves in the regular season, he pitched seven shutout innings and gave up only four hits.
The Kershaw-Greinke one-two punch gives the Dodgers a legitimate shot. But the Dodgers could easily lose 1-0 to the Braves in the Kershaw-Greinke starts.
The prospect of a fruitful playoff run for the Dodgers is iffy at best.
The Hart football team is off to its best start in years. The Indians are 4-0 and ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division poll.
Their coach is receiving some recognition.
Mike Herrington was selected as one of the top eight coaches in the state by USA Today.
He is in the running for the No. 1 prep football coach in the country.
USA Today staff writers selected the top-eight active coaches in each state. Herrington will be subjected to three rounds of voting to determine the No. 1 prep football coach in the country.
The final results will be announced Oct. 29.
The Saugus girls cross country team has been the class of the Foothill League, heck the entire state, for the past seven years.
The Canyon girls cross country team is threatening the Saugus reign.
Saugus, the reigning CIF State Division 2 champion and winners of the past seven Foothill League titles, lost to Canyon in the first league meet at Central Park.
The Canyon girls won by two points, 35-37, with four runners in the top 10 at the meet.
Canyon’s Natalie Rodriguez was second in the race in 19 minutes, 49 seconds. Concepcion Flores was fifth, Kyla Danforth was sixth and Shalynn Mabritto was eighth.
The Saugus girls put three runners in the top 10. Samantha Ortega won the race in 19 minutes, 35 seconds. Abigail Frankian was third and Jessica Ruiz was 10th.
The Saugus and Canyon girls are among the best in the Southern Section as well. Saugus is ranked No. 2 in the Division 2 poll, despite losing to Canyon. The Canyon girls are No. 5.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, the SCV Beacon, the Team USA website and covers auto racing for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.
There is plenty of good news surrounding the UCLA football team. The Bruins are ranked No. 13 in the nation after a 2-0 start against Nevada and Nebraska.
Here is some more good news for UCLA football fans. The team is second in the Pac 12 and seventh in the nation in scoring offense at 49.5 points per game.
The Bruins are fifth in the nation in total offense at 575.5 yards per game. The bad news here is that UCLA is third in the Pac 12 in total offense. Oregon and Washington have more potent offenses than UCLA after the first three weeks of the NCAA football season.
UCLA running back Jordan James has been a pleasant surprise. He is second in the Pac 12 with 130 rushing yards per game. Only Bishop Sankey from Washington, at 184.5 yards per game, is more productive.
Perhaps one of the more surprising statistics after the first three weeks of the NCAA football season is that USC has one of the best defenses in the nation. They are yielding only 212.3 yards of total offense per game. That is the best in the Pac 12 and good enough for fourth in the nation. The Trojans might have an embarrassing loss to Washington State, but it clearly is not the fault of the defense.
UCLA coach Jim Mora is putting on his best Lou Holtz impression saying his team might have a hangover against New Mexico State after his team’s come-from-behind win against then-ranked No. 23 Nebraska.
New Mexico State is 0-3 and has not posted a winning record in more than a decade. The Aggies have the 122nd ranked defense in the country. The game isn’t even on the road for the Bruins.
Mora probably has nothing to worry about. Still, he’s playing the hangover card in case his players decide to mail it in against New Mexico State.
UCLA’s biggest test comes on Oct. 19 at Stanford. That game might drive Mora to drinking.
As for USC, the Trojans will have their fill of Utah State before Saturday is over.
This will be a classic match-up of high-octane offense vs. stingy defense. The defense usually wins this battle.
But, keep in mind, Utah State is averaging 49.3 points per game and 550.3 yards of total offense per game.
Utah State might not match those averages against USC, but even if the team comes close, it will be an interesting game.
USC coach Lane Kiffin can’t afford another loss to an unranked team. He can’t much afford to win in a shootout.
The Hart football team is in a bit of a renaissance. The Indians are ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division poll for the fourth week in a row. They are undefeated. They are starting to separate from the rest of the Foothill League.
The best evidence of this separation is the game against Chaminade, a team that has now played Hart and Valencia. Hart won its game, when Chaminade was ranked No. 10 in the state by CalHiSports.com, in overtime.
Valencia lost to Chaminade last week. The score was tight until the fourth quarter. Chaminade scored the final 21 points to blow out the Vikings.
But it doesn’t look like Valencia will be Hart’s biggest challenge for the Foothill League championship. Canyon is ranked No. 2 in the Northern Division and is proving to be difficult to score on.
The Cowboys are only giving up eight points per game and are coming off a 48-0 shutout over Clovis West.
West Ranch might be the wild card in the Foothill League. The Wildcats are undefeated as well and ranked No. 6 in the Northern Division. They look quite capable of pulling off an upset over Canyon or Valencia.
Perhaps losing to Chaminade will benefit Valencia. Vikings receiver Nick Jones set a school record with 232 receiving yards against Chaminade. He also caught three touchdown passes in breaking his own school record, which he set last season.
Valencia has plenty of offensive options. The only question is will it be enough against Hart, Canyon, and even West Ranch this year.
The Albert Einstein Academy won its first varsity football game, 42-38, over Indian Springs. Let it be known that Josh Greaves was instrumental in the win, throwing four touchdown passes and rushing for two more.
Finally, the College of the Canyons football team posted a signature win over Saddleback College.
Saddleback was ranked No. 4 in the state, but that didn’t intimidate the Cougars. COC won the game, 31-28, on a fourth quarter field goal.
First-year coach Ted Iacenda won his first game. The COC football team won its first game of the season. Perhaps it’s a sign of things to come.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, SCV Beacon, Team USA website and covers NASCAR for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.
Every week hosts Doug Sutton and John Rogers pick select NFL football games (Arizona and Washington always included, because those are Doug’s and John’s favorite teams). During the show, the hosts will keep a running tabulation of their picks all the way through to the Super Bowl – that’s when we’ll find out which one of them knows the NFL best!
Week One Results – Selected Games
Arizona – 24
St.Louis – 27
Green Bay – 28
San Francisco – 34
NY Giants – 31
Dallas – 36
Philadelphia – 33
Washington – 27
Houston – 31
San Diego – 21
Standings through week one
Doug Sutton 4 1
John Rogers 4 1
Mr. Football 3 2
Tim Haddock 2 3
Listen to the Gazette Radio Hour every Friday, 1-2pm KHTS, AM 1220
By Tim Haddock
What to do with Matt Kemp?
In five games in the minor leagues, he is 0-for-18 with seven strikeouts. This is against Single-A California League pitching.
Clearly, he is not ready for major league pitchers. Thankfully, the Dodgers are not in dire need of an all-star outfielder looking for his swing.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly doesn’t seem too concerned about how he will fit Kemp into the outfield mix. Carl Crawford in leftfield, Andre Ethier in centerfield and Yasiel Puig in rightfield has been working out pretty well.
However, Crawford is injury prone and Puig keeps trying to run through walls and refuses to slide on the base paths. At some point, the Dodgers are going to need a fourth outfielder, perhaps even a fifth one. Having Kemp as insurance might prove to be valuable. But if he can’t hit, it’s not worth playing him.
The Dodgers made some playoff roster moves, adding a couple of pitchers and a former batting champion. Here is a look at some of the key acquisitions the Dodgers made and how they will help or hurt the team:
Michael Young: The Dodgers traded with the Phillies for the infielder. He won a batting title and played on two World Series teams with the Texas Rangers. He can play all the infield positions and even won a gold glove at shortstop.
He is a career .300 hitter. He seems willing to take a utility infield role with the Dodgers. He is also a Southern California native and played at UC Santa Barbara in college.
Those are all the positives. The big negative is that Young is at the end of his career. He can still be productive, but he is an aging player and that could prove to be a liability on defense. But the positives considerably outweigh the negatives.
Brian Wilson: The Dodgers signed the relief pitcher as a free agent, although his most productive years came with the San Francisco Giants. He was the closer on one of the Giants World Series teams. He’s a little goofy, with his trademark beard and outrageous statements, but his arm is one of the best in baseball when he is healthy.
That has been the problem with Wilson in recent years. He has been through two Tommy John surgeries on his pitching elbow. The second one sidelined him for more than a year. He’s not exactly the most durable pitcher in the bigs.
On a positive note, he does give the Dodgers a legitimate set-up man. As long as his arm holds up, he has the experience and the talent to get batters out late in a game. He still has a fastball in the mid-90s and doesn’t get rattled easily.
Again, the positives outweigh the negatives here. But how long his arm will hold up is a big question.
Edinson Volquez: The Dodgers acquired the starting pitcher from the San Diego Padres. He had a 6.01 ERA at the time of the trade. He was once considered a rising star in the National League when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. But he has been a disappointment with the Padres.
Volquez looks like he is insurance for Chris Capuano, who has been incredibly inconsistent all season. When Capuano is good, he puts up zeroes with ease. But when he’s bad, opposing batters are merciless.
One of Mattingly’s faults is that he sticks with veterans too long. He did it with Brandon League as his closer. He did it with Kemp as his clean-up hitter. Hopefully he won’t make the same mistake with Capuano.
Mattingly needs to give Volquez a chance in the rotation. Most likely, Volquez will have the greatest value as a long reliever. The good news is Mattingly probably won’t have to use either Volquez or Capuano in the playoff rotation. Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Ricky Nolasco will be the starters in the postseason.
Volquez is a bit of a gamble. The best-case scenario is that he doesn’t find a spot in the rotation once the playoffs start.
Some thoughts on the openers for the UCLA and USC football teams:
UCLA has an elite starting quarterback in Brett Hundley.
USC flips a coin to decide who starts at quarterback.
UCLA covered the points spread against Nevada.
USC didn’t cover the spread against Hawaii (not that I would ever endorse that kind of activity).
UCLA moved up to No. 18 in the USA Today and Associated Press top 25.
USC moved up to No. 22 in the USA Today poll, but dropped to No. 25 in the AP poll.
Staying on the topic of football rankings, the Hart football team is the No. 1 team in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division poll.
The Indians are one of four teams from the Foothill League in the Northern Division top 10. Valencia is No. 4, Canyon is No. 5 and West Ranch is No. 10.
Hart, Canyon and West Ranch won their season openers on Friday night.
Hart set a school record with 669 yards from scrimmage in its 56-49 win over Santiago from Corona. Hart quarterback Brady White also set a school record with 36 completions for 472 yards and three touchdowns.
Canyon beat Westlake, 23-16, with a suffocating defense. The Cowboys intercepted five passes and returned two for touchdowns.
Westlake, which won the Northern Division championship in 2011, suspended six players for the Canyon game. Some of the Westlake players are suspected of assaulting teammates in the Warriors’ season opener in Hawaii. The claims are being investigated by police in Hawaii and Thousand Oaks.
The West Ranch football team shut out Hawthorne, 56-0, forcing three turnovers. Christian Parrish led the Wildcats in rushing with 100 yards and a touchdown.
Valencia plays its season opener against Palmdale on Friday night.
The Golden Valley football team beat Granada Hills, 34-28, and snapped a 17-game losing streak.
The Saugus football team made it a perfect 5-for-5 for the Foothill League with a 51-14 win over Calabasas.
The only team from the Santa Clarita Valley that didn’t win its opener was Santa Clarita Christian. The Cardinals lost to Chadwick, 26-14.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, the SCV Beacon, the Team USA website and covers NASCAR for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.
The baseball dog days of summer are showing their fleas with the release of 12 players suspended for 50 games for having connections to the Biogenesis clinic in Florida. Biogenesis is suspected of supplying performance enhancing drugs to players in the major leagues.
It is an unlucky 13, counting Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees. He was suspended through the 2014 season in what amounts to 211 games. Rodriguez is appealing the suspension.
The other 12 players agreed to the terms of the suspensions and will not appeal. They include Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers and Johnny Peralta of the Detroit Tigers. Both the Tigers and Rangers are in the middle of tight pennant races. Their suspensions could cause the most damage to their teams.
All Star Everth Carbrera of the San Diego Padres was also suspended for 50 games, the maximum suspension for first-time offenders who violate the league’s drug policy.
The other players suspended were Antonio Bastardo of the Philadelphia Phillies, Francisco Cervelli of the New York Yankees, Jordany Valdespin of the New York Mets, Jesus Montero of the Seattle Mariners, Cesar Puello of the New York Mets, Sergio Escalona of the Houston Astros, Fernando Martinez of the New York Yankees, plus free agents Fautino De Los Santos and Jordan Norberto.
The Yankees and Mets were hit hardest. Including Rodriguez, three Yankees were suspended, although Martinez is in the minor leagues. Two Mets are on the list, but Puello is in the minors.
No Dodgers or Angels were on the list. That might give L.A. fans a reason to celebrate, but Monday’s suspensions were no cause célèbre.
Tampa Rays third baseman Evan Longoria Tweeted out a couple statements, calling it a sad day for MLB, the fans and the players. But he also Tweeted it is a step in the right direction.
He is right on both counts. It is a sad day for MLB. Sad, because it took this long to not only suspend players for using PEDs, but for MLB to realize it has a drug problem.
To think that only 13 players (14 counting Ryan Braun and 15 counting Melkey Cabrera from last year) are guilty of using PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) and human growth hormone is naïve. There are probably hundreds more, but these 15 got caught.
This is the first step toward cleaning up baseball. Major League Baseball and Commissioner Bud Selig took one stride toward making the sport drug-free. Now it’s time to see how far MLB and Selig are willing to go.
The Dodgers found their comfort zone recently. That zone is atop the
National League West standings.
As of Monday, the Dodgers had a 5 ½-game lead in the NL West. They had a 14-game road winning streak, the longest in franchise history. The major league record is 17 road wins in a row set by the New York Giants.
Reaching 17 games will be tough, though. The Dodgers would have to sweep the Cardinals in St. Louis to get there. The Cardinals (65-45) are 20 games over .500, and 32-17 at home.
The USA Today college football Top 25 Coaches poll came out last week. Two Pac 12 teams are in the top five. UCLA and USC are in the top 25. Five teams from the Pac 12 are ranked.
It’s nice to see the West Coast earn some respect in the preseason.
Even Boise State earned a top 25 spot. Fresno State, Arizona State and Utah State are knocking on the top 25 door.
Alabama is No. 1 with 58 first place votes. The reigning BCS champions should be No. 1. Let’s see how long the Tide stays on top.
Ohio State is No. 2 with three first place votes. How? Did the voters learn nothing from USC last year? Sure, the Buckeyes went 12-0 last year, but they weren’t allowed to play in a bowl game because of NCAA violations committed by former coach, Jim Tressel.
USC was ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll last year as they were coming off NCAA sanctions. USC was quickly exposed as talented, but not very deep because of a lack of scholarships. Ohio State might find itself in the same boat as USC was in last year.
One coach voted Texas A&M No. 1. Wonder if that coach wants his vote back after the autograph drama Johnny Manziel is tangled in. Texas A&M is No. 6 in the coaches’ poll, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Aggies knocked out of the top 25 before Halloween.
Oregon is No. 3. This might be the Ducks’ last hurrah, though. The Ducks are being investigated by the NCAA, which usually spells doom for football programs.
Stanford is No. 4 and is probably the Pac 12’s best chance for a BCS championship.
From the looks of things, USC and UCLA might be battling for a Rose Bowl berth this year. That is, if Oregon State or Oregon don’t mess things up.
College football can’t start soon enough.
On a more local note, two Valencia High graduates are ending their junior golf careers in style.
Max Homa was selected to play on the United State Walker Cup team. The USGA picked the first five members of the team that will compete against a team from England and Ireland at the National Golf Links of America in New York in September.
Alison Lee was selected to play for the PING Junior Solheim Cup team for the United States. She is one of 12 junior players who will compete against a team from Europe at the Inverness Hotel & Golf Club in Englewood, Colo. from Aug. 12-14.
Lee is No. 1 in the Polo Golf rankings and is a five-time Rolex Junior All American.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, SCV Beacon, the Team USA website and covers NASCAR for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.
The Dodgers have been one of the hottest teams in baseball over the past 27 games. They went 22-5 since June 22 and took over first place in the National League West standings on July 23, a half-game ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers put together a six-game winning streak to start their run to the top of the NL West standings. They added a five-game winning streak.
Much of their surge can be attributed to the play of Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. Puig made his Dodgers debut in June and was selected as the National League player of the month. He set the Dodgers rookie record for hits in a month. Only Joe DiMaggio ever collected more hits in a month than Puig.
But Puig has cooled down. He is still making spectacular plays in the outfield, but he is going through his first slump in the bigs.
Ramirez, meanwhile, carried the Dodgers to the top of the NL West standings. He is leading the team with a .393 batting average in 43 games. He has provided power with 10 home runs and run production with 31 RBIs.
It took a while for the Dodgers to come together, injuries and poor defense contributed more than anything else to their slow rise. Ramirez missed the first part of the season with an injured thumb. Matt Kemp has been on the disabled list with a sore shoulder. Zack Greinke missed nearly two months with a broken collar bone.
But now that almost everyone seems healthy – Kemp is nursing an injured ankle and might be headed to the DL again – the Dodgers don’t have many holes.
They traded for Ricky Nolasco from the Miami Marlins and solidified their starting rotation. Clayton Kershaw is putting up Cy Young Award-winning numbers. Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu could be aces on a number of other teams. Nolasco fits in nicely as the No. 4 starter.
The big question is: How can the Dodgers improve for a deep playoff run?
The trade deadline is July 31 and there aren’t many sellers in baseball. The Cubs are willing to deal, but the Dodgers lost out on the Matt Garza sweepstakes. He went to the Texas Rangers.
The Cubs are also shopping Alfonso Soriano, who might be some nice insurance for the Dodgers’ injury-riddled outfield. But reports have Soriano going back to the New York Yankees before the deadline.
Besides, when the Dodgers outfielders are healthy, there is no place for a fifth outfielder. Keeping Kemp and Carl Crawford healthy has been a problem though.
The Dodgers infield looks set too. Perhaps an upgrade third base would be nice. Juan Uribe is playing like he’s in the last year of his contract, which coincidentally is the case, and is holding down the hot corner with few complaints.
The only place that could use some tweaking is the bullpen. But even those concerns have been resolved since Kenley Jensen started closing. Jose Dominguez and Chris Withrow have settled nicely into set-up roles.
Still, the Dodgers are eyeing Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers to add to their bullpen.
He might not be the best choice.
Sure, K-Rod was a big reason the Angels won the World Series. But that was more than a decade ago.
He was traded to the New York Mets and was a bust. He hasn’t made much noise in the Brewers bullpen. What makes the Dodgers think he can help their bullpen, especially now when the pitchers seem comfortable in their roles?
The Dodgers should stand pat and stay out of the trade deadline hysteria. This team is finally clicking. Why upset the balance?
One L.A. team that has been making moves is the Kings. Two years removed from their first Stanley Cup, a year removed from reaching the Western Conference semifinals, the Kings are putting the pieces together for another championship run.
But first, who is gone? Dustin Penner is. Probably good timing for this move. Tyler Toffoli outplayed Penner, albeit not by much, in the playoffs last year. The Kings get younger and more energetic with Toffoli on the ice.
Jonathan Bernier is gone. The Kings’ back-up goalie was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Matt Frattin, goalie Ben Scrivens and a draft pick. Bernier didn’t play much for the Kings last season and not at all in the postseason. As long as the Kings have Jonathan Quick, a back-up goalie isn’t going to see much playing time.
Who is staying? Captain Dustin Brown is locked up for eight years. He signed an extension a couple of weeks ago.
Jordan Nolan and Jake Muzzin aren’t going anywhere either after agreeing to deals with the Kings. Neither are star players, but both have been key players in the past two playoff runs for the Kings.
Who is new? The most significant newcomer is Daniel Carcillo from the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. He hasn’t played much the past two seasons because of knee injuries, but he could add some toughness to a team that already plays with a generous dose of pent-up aggression.
Who could be on the move? The Kings have been shopping Kyle Clifford. The asking price is apparently too high, so Clifford might return to the Kings because of lack of interest.
The summer high school baseball scene attracted some of the top teams in the state to Santa Clarita last week.
Valencia and West Ranch played in the California Classic Elite Tournament against four of the top teams from Northern California.
Valencia didn’t lose a game, but the Vikings opened with a 5-5 tie against Archbishop Mitty. Valencia followed with blow out wins over Bellarmine from San Jose, 17-4, and Elk Grove, 8-1.
The Vikings concluded the tournament with an 8-2 win over Clovis West and went 3-0-1 over the three-day California Classic.
West Ranch started the tournament with a win, then lost its next three games. The Wildcats beat Clovis West, 7-6, in the first game.
They lost to Bellarmine, 10-8, Elk Grove, 16-7, and Concord De La Salle, 11-8.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website, SCV Beacon, SB Nation and covers NASCAR for the K&N website. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.
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