Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | February 22, 2013

Before everyone gets all excited about Danica Patrick winning the pole position for the Daytona 500, here’s a little tidbit: Only seven drivers in the 55-year history of Daytona 500 have won the race from the pole.
Patrick made NASCAR history by becoming the first woman to win the pole for the Daytona 500 on Sunday. While she only claims responsibility for 10 percent of the record-breaking feat, her crew chief, Tony Gibson, gives her at least half the credit for putting the car out front to start the race.

“I appreciate the recognition, but it really falls, as I think I said before I went out on the track, 90 percent on Tony and his guys, everybody that gives me the car to go out there and be fast, and maybe 10 percent on me,” said Patrick, the driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. “All I have to do is think about going out there, being smooth, not letting the car bind up, running on that yellow line. Outside of that, I think it shows how well prepared Tony and everybody was, how strong the Hendrick engines are, how good the new Chevy SS is. We’ve been fast since practice in January.”

Yes, Chevy seems to have the new Gen-6 cars figured out, for Daytona at any rate. Kevin Harvick, driving a Chevy for Richard Childress Racing, won the Sprint Unlimited race. Jeff Gordon, driving a Chevy for Hendrick Motorsports, will start on the front row with Patrick for the Daytona 500.

Having good cars certainly helps, especially at tracks like Daytona International Speedway, where too many outside factors contribute to determining the race winner. But a good driver contributes more than 10 percent to a team’s success.

“It’s a team effort. Like I told Danica, it’s more than 10 percent driver,” Gibson said. “I was talking to David Green on the line, about five cars away. He’s just like, ‘Remind her to hit her shifter. I’ve messed up and overshifted and messed the lap up.’ It’s more than 10 percent  because you can put a good product out there, but if you don’t have the person to drive it, put everything else together, it can really damage your day.”

Winning the pole position for the Daytona 500 is no small accomplishment. It is one more milestone in a long list of accomplishments for Patrick. She was the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race. She was the first woman to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500. She has been a trailblazer since she started her auto racing career.

It’s a role she embraces.

“I mean, I’ve had the experience with mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, listening to them say the reason why they’re here as a family today is because of me out there, whether it brings the girls out, the guys out, whatever it is, I don’t care. That’s nice to hear,” Patrick said. “It’s also nice to hear families talk about the fact that a little girl might say, ‘But, mommy, daddy, that’s a girl out there.’ Then they can have the conversation with their kid about you can do anything you want and being different doesn’t by any means not allow you to follow your dreams. I love to think that conversation happens in households because of something I’m doing.”

Her work is far from over. Winning the pole at Daytona is one thing. Winning the race is another. But Patrick said she craves the limelight. Well, maybe not crave, but she certainly enjoys the challenge of delivering when all eyes are on her.

“I love it when people put me on the radar, I do,” Patrick said. “I think it’s good. It’s a confidence boost when people are saying, I heard Mr. Childress say he thought I was the one to lose the pole. When people put you on the radar, that feels good to me,” Patrick said after winning the pole on Sunday. “I like that after practice in January and yesterday after practice that people were saying I was the one that could go out there and get the pole. That to me was some of the coolest feelings.”

Now for that pesky Daytona history. Dale Jarrett was the last driver to win the Daytona 500 from the pole in 2000. Gordon did it the year before in 1999. Fireball Roberts was the first to do it in 1959.

Only two drivers have won the Daytona 500 from the pole twice. No driver has done it three times. In recent years, Daytona has become the NASCAR version of “Survivor.” If Patrick can make it to the finish, it will be an accomplishment. If she wins the race, the NASCAR universe might very well collapse.

“It’s really amazing how much effort is put into a qualifying car for Daytona, for the 500, and really only the front row is what sticks for Sunday,” Patrick said. “It’s nice that all that hard work can pay off and that we can give ourselves that opportunity to lead the pack down into the tri oval for the green flag of the Daytona 500.”

The high school basketball and soccer playoffs are under way. Here’s a quick update of who’s still alive and whose seasons are done.

The Hart boys soccer team is the darling of the CIF Southern Section Division 4 playoffs. The Indians are in the second round after winning their wild-card playoff game and have outscored their opponents 4-0.

Hart won its first game, 2-0, over Workman and followed with a 2-0 shutout over Beverly Hills. The Indians play Santa Paula on Wednesday.
The West Ranch boys soccer team is alive and well in the Division 4 playoffs and could meet Hart in the semifinals. The Wildcats beat North Torrance, 2-1, in the first round and play Oak Hills in the second round.

The Valencia boys soccer team advanced to the second round of the Division 4 playoffs after a 2-0 win over Chino. The Vikings play Temescal Canyon on Wednesday.

The Valencia girls soccer team reached the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs after a 1-0 win over Moorpark.

The Canyon and Hart girls also advanced to the second round of the Division 2 playoffs. The Saugus girls were the only team from the Foothill League to lose in the first round of the soccer playoffs.

The Valencia girls basketball team won its first-round Southern Section Division 1AA playoff game, 64-34, over Pacifica of Oxnard. The Vikings play Centennial Corona in the second round.

The Canyon girls also won their first-round playoff game in Division 2AA. They beat Channel Islands, 75-44, and play Kaiser in the second round.

The Saugus girls won their first-round playoff game in Division 2AA. The Centurions beat Sultana, 42-36, and will play Murrieta Valley in the second round.

The West Ranch girls lost their first-round playoff game, 54-45, to Highland in Division 1AA.

The West Ranch and Valencia boys basketball teams reached the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 1A playoffs. West Ranch, the No. 3 seed in the playoffs, beat Ventura, 77-59, in the first round. Valencia, the No. 11 seed, beat Arroyo Valley, 76-57, in its first-round playoff game.

The Saugus boys lost to Redlands East Valley, 67-51, in the first round of the Division 2A playoffs.

The Hart boys basketball team was upset in the second round of the Division 3AAA playoffs. The Indians, the third-seeded team in Division 3AAA, lost to West Torrance, 64-55.
The Canyon boys basketball team lost to Lawndale, 73-63, in the first round of the Division 2AA playoffs.
The Trinity Classical Academy boys basketball team is in the quarterfinals of the Division 6 playoffs. The Knights, the No. 2 seed in Division 6, beat Southwestern Academy, 77-36, in the first round and Hope Centre Academy, 64-47, in the second round.

In college basketball, the College of the Canyons men’s team won the Western State Conference South Division championship. The Cougars beat Santa Monica, 82-76, in the regular season finale and finished with a 9-1 conference record.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for USA Today, the Team USA website, SB Nation and the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | February 8, 2013

In the battle of Super Bowl car ads, the checkered flag goes to Audi.

The Audi commercial about the dad letting his son take his car to the school dance took the lead early and held it throughout Super Bowl XLVII. The car gives the son enough courage to kiss the prom queen, only to drive home with a black eye, courtesy of the prom king. The reward far outweighed the risk. Nice message, Audi.

The Dodge Ram ad about farmers was a close second. The only problem with that ad was that not many farmers can afford to buy new trucks. What are we supposed to do? Buy farmers a new Ram because they work so hard and deserve one?

The Mercedes ad was third. Willem Dafoe had his best role since “To Live and Die in L.A.” The music, “Sympathy for the Devil,” was classic, but didn’t quite fit when the potential car buyer refuses to sign a contract with said Devil.

Interesting side note on the Mercedes commercial: The race car scenes were shot at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana.

In fourth place was Toyota. Kaley Cuoco as the Rav 4 Genie was pretty hot, but the puns and twisted wishes quickly turned into a bad Saturday Night Live sketch.

Rounding out the top five was the Volkswagen commercial. Nothing says sale like a happy Swede. Well, lots of things say sale better than a happy Swede. There are four perfectly good examples provided by Audi, Dodge, Mercedes and Toyota during the Super Bowl. Doritos and M&Ms were good examples too.

GoDaddy had the worst commercial of the Super Bowl. According to Twitter accounts, and we all know how accurate those are, “Walter” needed more than 60 takes to shoot the commercial. By the looks of Bar Refaeli at the end of the commercial, six takes were too many.

As for the game, it’s nice to see Joe Flacco off the list of best quarterbacks to never win a Super Bowl.

Randy Moss can deservedly take possession of the title of best receiver to never win a Super Bowl.

This was the first time since 2003 in the Super Bowl, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers played the Oakland Raiders, that Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning or Ben Rothlisberger wasn’t in a Super Bowl.

With the emergence of Flacco, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffith III and Russell Wilson, the quarterbacks in that fantastic four probably won’t play in another Super Bowl.

Eli Manning has the best chance, but this was definitely an era-shifting Super Bowl. Time for the Patriots, Steelers, Giants and Broncos to rebuild. Ravens fans, Seahawks fans, Colts fans and Redskins fans, rejoice. Your time is now.

San Francisco 49ers fans are in good hands with Colin Kaepernick. He won’t have the Dan Marino albatross hanging around his neck, not as long as Frank Gore, Michael Crabtree and Patrick Willis stay Niners.

Flacco, on the other hand, might fall into the Mark Rypien, Trent Dilfer category of Super Bowl quarterbacks. Good enough to win one, but his supporting cast probably doesn’t have another Super Bowl run in them.

Make no mistake, the strength of this Ravens team was the defense. Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, the heart and soul of the defense, are at the end of their careers. It will be hard to find players to pick up the slack in their absence.

The Los Angeles Kings, your reigning Stanley Cup champions, are 2-2-2 after the first six games of the season. Before pressing the panic button, remember the Kings were the eighth seed, the last team to make the playoffs, last year.

Once in the playoffs, the Kings rolled, easily dispatching the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in the first round. Then the St. Louis Blues, then the Phoenix Coyotes before toppling the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup finals.

Still, after six games, only two players have scored more than one goal. Jeff Carter leads the team with three. Kyle Clifford leads the team in scoring with five points, one goal and four assists.

The whole team has scored only 11 goals in six games. That comes out to a 1.83 goals per game. It doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out a team isn’t going to win many games scoring less than two goals a game.

But this team seems built for the playoffs. Let’s hope they are built for the playoffs. They need to figure out a way to get into the playoffs for all of us to find out.

The Hart and West Ranch boys basketball teams look like they are headed for a share of the Foothill League championship.

The two teams are tied for first place in the Foothill League standings. They both have 7-1 records. They both beat one another in Foothill League play. The Wildcats won the league opener. Hart avenged that loss two weeks ago.

They are both contenders for CIF championships as well. Hart has been ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section Division 3AAA poll, but has slipped to No. 2 in recent weeks.
West Ranch was ranked as high as No. 2 in the Division 1AA poll, but dropped to No. 3 after losing to Hart.

Still both teams are poised to make deep playoff runs, perhaps even a trip to a CIF championship game.

The Valencia girls basketball team won its first seven Foothill League games before losing to Canyon on Friday night. The Vikings look like they will finish with at least a share of the Foothill League title with the Canyon girls.

But once CIF playoffs start, the Valencia girls might have a tough time. They are in the Southern Section Division 1AA, the top division in the Southern Section. They are ranked seventh in Division 1AA.

Mater Dei, the reigning CIF State Division 1 champion, is the top-ranked team in Division 1AA. Long Beach Poly and Milikan are No. 2 and No. 3. The Vikings will be lucky to make it past the quarterfinals, but it would still be a good playoff run.

Canyon, on the other hand, is tied with Valencia for first place in the Foothill League standings and will have a little easier time in the CIF playoffs.

The Canyon girls are in the Southern Section Division 2AA and ranked No. 6. Cajon is ranked No. 1. There are a couple teams from Ventura County, Camarillo and Thousand Oaks, in the top 10. For the most part, the competition in Division 2AA is nowhere near as tough as Division 1AA.

But like Valencia, if the Canyon girls can reach the quarterfinals of the playoffs, it will be a good run.

Tim Haddock is the sports director for KHTS AM 1220. He writes for USA Today, the Team USA website, SB Nation and the Ventura County Star. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | January 25, 2013

It wasn’t until I received a Facebook message from a friend of a friend asking if I could help cover a story for USA Today that I started giving Lennay Kekua any more than a passing thought.

Of course, Lennay doesn’t exist. She is the fake girlfriend of Notre Dame star linebacker Manti Te’o. She made a great story, though, becoming the tragic love interest of one of the most popular college football players in the country.

But instead of living happily ever after, like all good fairy tales, she wound up in a car accident, then contracted leukemia and died. Te’o told Sports Illustrated and ESPN, among other reputable media outlets, about his girlfriend’s tragic demise. They all bought it, never once stopping to ask if she had any family members, friends or classmates who were grieving as passionately as Te’o.

Te’o claimed he was duped. Writers and editors at Sports Illustrated claimed they were duped. Reporters and producers at ESPN claimed they were duped. As the hoax unraveled, a trail led to Palmdale, where the suspected creator of the fake girlfriend lived.

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, a once promising football player at Antelope Valley and Paraclete high schools, was fingered as the perpetrator of the preposterous. I drove up the Antelope Valley Freeway in the middle of the night in search of Tuiasosopo with the hopes he would say something to explain why he created a fake girlfriend for Te’o, what was his motivation, and why did he carry on with the charade for as long as he did.

I wasn’t the only one on the hunt either.
When I arrived on the cozy cul-de-sac in Palmdale where Tuiasosopo’s family lived, a reporter from the Daily Mail in England greeted me. From a quiet car parked on the street, I heard the subtle whispers, “Mate, mate, do you live here?”

Well, no, I was there to see if Tuiasosopo lived at one of the houses at the end of the cul-de-sac, was the response. The Daily Mail reporter was staking out the house for a few hours. There was an old lady in the house who answered the door when he knocked. She told him to leave and the family had no comment.

TV news vans and a reporter from the Associated Press arrived later that night. None of us had any luck finding Tuiasosopo. The next day even more media members were camping out on the street. Reporters from ESPN, Reuters, Good Morning America as well as the usual suspects spent the day outside the Tuiasosopo house.

Whoever was tweeting from Kekua’s Twitter account promised a statement at 11 a.m. That proved to be another joke in the same vein as the original hoax of creating a fake girlfriend.

After two days of waiting for Tuiasosopo to offer any comment about Te’o, Kekua or the relationship between the two, I was ready to move on. It was clear the person or people orchestrating the hoax had no interest in coming clean.

All we have left is to speculate on the motivation. Money? Te’o hasn’t said he was asked for money or extorted in any way. All he has said is that he is a victim, 100 percent, and had no role in creating the fake girlfriend. That’s hard to believe.

Could it be that Tuiasosopo is some 20-something old kid with no job, no college and too much time on his hands? He and his friends, because it appears there was more than one person pretending to be Kekua, still have way too much time on their hands. No one from the family is talking, even the father, Titus Tuiasosopo, a pastor at a church in the Antelope Valley. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo has almost completely disappeared. Te’o told ESPN that he talked to Ronaiah and he apologized. But how can anyone believe anything Te’o says at this point?

Another liar whose pants are on fire is Lance Armstrong. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, he admitted to doping during his seven Tour de France victories. He was the cheatiest of the cheaters in cycling. But it wasn’t so much that he lied about doping that is so offensive. It is that he reportedly bullied and threatened anyone who questioned his claims of racing clean.

Teammates, sponsors, even cycling officials and organizers experienced Armstrong’s furor. He sued people who accused him of cheating. He won million-dollar settlements from people and newspapers he sued for libel and defamation. It looks like all those people are vindicated, but still had to pay for being whistleblowers.
Armstrong told Oprah he was sorry for cheating. It sounded like a desperate plea from an athlete at the end of his career. His Live Strong campaign is dying. He is losing supporters quicker than Mitt Romney on Election Day.

Armstrong has plenty to be sorry for. But again, who is going to believe his sincerity at this point?

Now for some good news. The Master’s College women’s basketball team is having one of the best seasons in school history. The Lady Mustangs won their first 17 games and are ranked No. 8 in the NAIA.

Their most recent victory, over Biola 59-53 on Saturday, was their fourth in a row in Golden State Athletic Conference play.

The Master’s College women led 35-9 at halftime. But Biola made a furious charge in the second half, outscoring the Lady Mustangs, 44-24.

Still, The Master’s College women held on and won by six points.

It didn’t take long for hockey fans to forgive the NHL for the 113-day lockout that postponed the start of the NHL season for nearly three months.

The shortened season opened to sold-out arenas across North America on Saturday. Staples Center was one of those sold-out arenas. Kings fans, players, coaches and staff celebrated raising the first Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters.
Then the party quickly soured, as the Kings lost to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, 5-2, and trailed 3-0 after the first period.

Well, at least it’s a long season. Oh wait, no it’s not. Better pick it up, Kings.

Tim Haddock is the sports director for KHTS AM 1220. He writes for USA Today, the Team USA website, Ventura County Star, the SCV Beacon and SB Nation. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | January 11, 2013

In the immortal words of Wayne Campbell: Game On!

The NHL season will commence after a 113-day lockout. Reports indicate that the season will be at least 48 games and could start as soon as Jan. 19.

Don’t forget, you can listen to every Kings game on AM 1220 KHTS.

The big question is will the fans come back? Of course they will. They always do. It might take years for the NHL to attract the casual sports fan. But casual sports fans have never embraced hockey. It is a niche sport, in the same vein as beach volleyball or NHRA drag racing. It has a loyal fan base, but no mass appeal.

Hockey in Los Angeles showed some signs of life during the Stanley Cup playoffs last year. The Kings made an unlikely run as the eight seed out of the Western Conference to win their first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history.

Tickets for Stanley Cup Finals games were going for $500 for the cheapest seats and there were no empty seats at Staples Center for the series against the New Jersey Devils.

Let’s see if the Kings can sell out the delayed opening night, when the team can raise its one and only Stanley Cup championship banner.

It shouldn’t be a tough sell, but it will be a good indicator if the NHL and the Kings have a strong fan base in Los Angeles.

Now for some player updates. The Kings all-star forward Anze Kopitar injured his knee while playing for a team in Sweden, according to a report from ESPN. He is expected to be out three weeks.

Since the season probably won’t start for at least another two weeks, that might make for some good timing. But no team has much room for error, with less than 50 games of a regular season to jockey for playoff position.

More potentially bad news: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is looking for medical clearance after having off-season back surgery. He is expected to be cleared, but recovering from back surgery can be a little tricky. Just ask Dwight Howard.

On the bright side, the NHL is coming back. The deal should keep the puck on the ice for another 10 years. The Kings have a team that should contend for another Stanley Cup. All in all, it’s a good time to be a hockey fan. Hug one if you find one.

Wonder who will have a statue outside Staples Center first: a Clipper or a Spark. The Sparks already have two retired numbers hanging in the rafters at Staples Center. The Clippers don’t even have a ribbon yet.

The UCLA and USC football teams ended their seasons with bowl losses. UCLA lost to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl. USC lost to Georgia Tech, the only team in a bowl game with a losing record, at the Sun Bowl.

UCLA lost three games in a row to end its season. Two of those came against Stanford, though.
The Trojans became the first team in NCAA history to be ranked as the preseason No. 1 team and lose six games.

Neither team gave their fans much to look forward to in 2013.

The Hart boys basketball team won its first 16 games of the season. The Indians are undefeated with three tournament championships, including its own Holiday Classic over the high school winter break.

It’s quite a streak, one shy of the franchise record 17-game winning streak the Clippers went on in December. It has people talking about the Campbell Hall team that went undefeated at 32-0 in 2005. Memories of the Glendale team that went 28-0 in 1985 are surfacing.

What people can’t remember is if any Hart team started 16-0. There have been some talented teams at Hart in the past, one that made the Southern Section finals eight years ago, but even that team had some losses in the regular season.

As good as the Hart boys have been playing, there are a couple other unbeaten teams in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The Saugus girls soccer team, ranked No. 3 in the CIF Southern Section Division 2 poll, ran its unbeaten streak to 15 games after winning the Los Tacos Tournament over host Flintridge Sacred Heart in Glendale.
The Saugus girls won the championship match, 5-4 on penalty kicks, after the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in regulation. The result of the game officially goes down as a tie, putting Saugus at 13-0-2.

The Master’s College women’s basketball team improved to 13-0 with a 96-62 win over Simpson on Saturday night.

The Lady Mustangs, ranked No. 13 in the NAIA, are off to their best start in school history.

The Master’s College women are getting production from all over the roster. Kimmie Iverson was the latest, scoring 18 points and making six 3-pointers off the bench to lead The Master’s College in scoring against Simpson. Six players scored in double figures for the Lady Mustangs.

The Hart boys and girls soccer teams made a sweep of the championships at their own Showcase Tournament before the end of 2012.

The Hart boys shut out Valencia, 1-0, in the championship match.
The Hart girls shut out Quartz Hill, 3-0, in the other championship match.

Both teams repeated as Hart Soccer Showcase Tournament champions.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He also writes for the SCV Beacon, the Team USA website, Ventura County Star and SB Nation. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | December 28, 2012

Runners took center stage in the Santa Clarita sports world in 2012. From the Summer Olympics in London to Central Park in Saugus, cross country and track runners were celebrated. Allyson Felix won three gold medals in London. The Saugus girls cross country team won their seventh CIF state championship in a row. Chris Low from College of the Canyons won a state title in track. John Gilbertson from The Master’s College won a national championship in cross country.

But cross country and track and field were not the only sports in which athletes from the Santa Clarita Valley excelled. A receiver from Canyon High broke two state football records. A golfer from Valencia High qualified for her third US Women’s Open. The fire captain at Station 76 in Valencia won an IHRA drag racing event.

Here is a look at the top sports stories of the year:

1. Santa Clarita’s Allyson Felix won three gold medals at the Sumner Olympics in London. She won gold in the 200 and was on the gold-medal winning 4×400 and 4×100 relay teams. The 4×100 team broke the world record in London, winning the race in 40.82 seconds.

Felix won silver medals in the Olympics in the 200 in 2008 in Beijing and 2004 in Athens. Finally winning gold in the 200 was a milestone achievement.

“It is unbelievable,” Felix said shortly after winning her third gold medal in the 4×400 relay. “I think about how I ended in Beijing, kind of feeling discouraged there and now, four years later, to have all of this happen and to really accomplish every goal that I set out is just such a blessing. London is very special to me.”
The United States track and field team won nine gold medals in the Summer Olympics in London. Felix won a third of them.

2. The Saugus girls cross country team won its seventh straight CIF State championship at Woodward Park in Fresno in November.

Sophomore Samantha Ortega emerged as the leader of the Saugus girls team. She was the runner-up in the Division II state race, completing the course in 17 minutes, 33 seconds.

Five of the Saugus girls finished in the top 50 in the Division II state race. Heidi Hoslet was 21st in 18 minutes, 32 seconds. Abigail Frankian was 23rd, Katie Huntington was 35th and Olivia Altieri was 49th.

The Saugus girls scored 97 points in the state meet and won by 11 points over La Costa Canyon.

The Centurions earned a spot in the Nike Cross National meet in Portland, Ore., for the seventh year in a row after winning the CIF State title.

3. Canyon receiver Drew Wolitarsky broke two state football records. He caught nine passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the first round of the Southern Section Northern Division playoffs against San Luis Obispo, breaking the state record for career catches. Wolitarsky caught 277 passes in his career at Canyon to break the old mark of 271 set by Steve Smith from Taft High in Woodland Hills. Smith is a receiver with the St. Louis Rams in the NFL.

Wolitarsky broke Smith’s state record for receiving yards with a nine-catch, 149-yard performance against Golden Valley in October. After the game, he had 4,585 career receiving yards, breaking Smith’s record of 4,486 yards. Wolitarsky finished with 5,148 receiving yards in his high school career.
4. Valencia High senior Alison Lee made the cut at the US Women’s Open at the Blackwolf Run golf course in Kohler, Wis., and finished in a tie for 60th place. She was one of three amateurs to make the cut. Lee was making her third appearance in the US Women’s Open golf tournament.

Later in the summer, Lee won the PING Invitational golf tournament at the Karsten Creek course in Stillwater, Okla. It was her second American Junior Golf Association championship of the year.

She has won six AJGA titles in her career. In her three appearances in the US Women’s Open, Lee has made the cut twice. In her first appearance, before her freshman year in high school, she finished in 26th place.

5. Canyon High graduate Chuck Osborne, who played football in the NFL and in college at the University of Arizona, died at his home in La Jolla in October. He was 38.

Osborne was a seventh-round draft pick by the St. Louis Rams in 1996. He played with the Oakland Raiders, Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots, for a total of 37 games in the NFL.

At the University of Arizona, he was an All-Pac 10 selection in his senior season. His best season was in 1994 when he led the Wildcats in sacks, with 11.

He was also an all-state selection in his senior season at Canyon High School.

6. College of the Canyons track coach Lashinda Demus won the silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles at the London Summer Games.

7. College of the Canyons runner Chris Low won the California Community College Athletic Association state championship in the 800. He won the race in 1 minute, 49.16 seconds at the state meet at Cerritos College. He was one of six athletes from COC to earn All-America recognition.

8. Hart’s Tim White won two CIF Southern Section track and field championships. He won the high jump and the triple jump in the Division III meet, and became the first athlete from Hart to win two CIF Southern Section titles.

9. The Master’s College’s John Gilbertson won the NAIA national championship in cross country in Vancouver, Wash., in November. He won the race in 23 minutes, 56 seconds and earned NAIA All-American honors.

Teammate Anthony Pizzo, a Canyon High graduate, also earned a spot on the All-America team with a 15th-place finish at the NAIA national championship meet. The Master’s College men’s cross country team was ranked No. 8 in the final NAIA national poll.

10. Johnny Ahten, the captain at Fire Station 76 in Valencia, won the IHRA drag racing event in the Pro Fuel Dragster division at the Nitro Jam at Southwestern International Raceway in Arizona in March.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, SB Nation and the Team USA website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | December 15, 2012

The UCLA Bruins football team will play Baylor in the Holiday Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 27. So, who exactly are these Baylor Bears? It might be best to start with who they are not.

They are not Robert Griffin III’s Baylor Bears. The Heisman Trophy winner is the starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins these days. But, even though Baylor lost a first-round quarterback to the NFL, the football team was left in two capable sets of hands.

The first pair belongs to receiver Terrance Williams. He is making a variety of All-America teams and breaking even more school records. Williams leads the nation with 1,764 receiving yards and was a finalist for the Fred Belitnekoff Award. (Marqise Lee of USC won the award).

Williams holds the school record for receiving yards and is second in school history in receiving TDs with 12 and receptions with 95. He needs 236 yards in the Holiday Bowl to become only the second player in NCAA football history with 2,000 receiving yards in a season. The way Baylor runs its offense, 236 receiving yards is not out of the question.

Trevor Insley from Nevada is the only college receiver with more than 2,000 receiving yards in a season. He caught 134 passes for 2,060 yards in 1999. Only two receivers have more than 1,900 receiving yards in a season, Michael Crabtree at Texas Tech and Troy Edwards at Louisiana Tech.

Nick Florence, Baylor’s senior quarterback, has more than delivered after RG3 left the team. Florence is 174 yards shy of breaking Griffin’s school record for passing yards in a season. Florence is also six touchdown passes short of breaking Griffin’s school record in that category.

Florence leads the nation with an average of 387.7 yards per game of total offense. He is an academic All-American, the fourth quarterback from Baylor to earn that honor. Of course, the last quarterback to do it was Griffin in 2011.

Suffice it to say, Baylor can put up some points. The team can put up points at Oregon Ducks pace. The Bears might have a more potent offense than USC. The Bruins will have their hands full, but then again, USC was supposed to give them a handful, too.

Those same USC Trojans are headed to Texas to play Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31. This is a game USC doesn’t want to play, their fans don’t want to watch and may cost defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin his job.

Before the season began, Sports Illustrated put USC quarterback Matt Barkley on the cover, stating he didn’t come back for his senior season to play in the Holiday Bowl. He certainly didn’t return for a trip to the Sun Bowl.

USC, the Associated Press preseason No. 1 team, had much higher aspirations. Alabama was a much more worthy opponent than Georgia Tech.
The Trojans have played in the Sun Bowl twice and lost both games. They lost to Michigan State, 17-16, in 1990, when it was the John Hancock Bowl, and to Texas Christian University, 28-19, in 1998.

If the Trojans aren’t careful, they could lose their third straight Sun Bowl to the only bowl team in college football with a losing record. Georgia Tech is 6-7, but became bowl eligible when it won the ACC Coastal Division championship.

If the Yellow Jackets have a strength, it is in running the football. They are the fourth-leading team in the nation in rushing yards, with 312.5 yards per game.

Senior quarterback Tevin Washington has scored 19 rushing touchdowns this season, second most in the nation. He has 37 rushing touchdowns in his career at Georgia Tech, the most in ACC and Georgia Tech for a quarterback.

USC and Georgia Tech have met three times, the last time in 1973. The Trojans are 2-1 in head-to-head match-ups against Georgia Tech and won the last meeting, 23-6, in Atlanta.

This will be the first time USC and Georgia Tech have met in a bowl game.

The Dodgers are sparing no expense to put together a quality baseball team. They have already spent a record $230 million on players. The latest additions are starter Zack Greinke and Korean left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The rotation for the Dodgers next season will look something like this: 1. Clayton Kershaw, 2. Zack Greinke, 3. Josh Beckett, 4. Chris Capuano, 5. Chad Billingsley. That leaves Ted Lilly and Aaron Harang as insurance. That also leaves Ryu some time to develop.

The everyday lineup might look something like this:
Carl Crawford LF
Mark Ellis 2B
Andre Ethier RF
Matt Kemp CF
Hanley Ramirez SS
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
AJ Ellis C
Luis Cruz 3b
Cruz is a fan-favorite, but he is also the weakest link in the lineup. Still, this might be the best offensive lineup since 1981 for the Dodgers.

A pair of Hart High grads were in a multiplayer trade between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Kansas City Royals. Starter James Shields was shipped to the Royals for a chunk of prospects including Mike Montgomery.

Neither player made out well in this deal.

Shields is an American League All Star and a seven-year veteran. He went 15-10 with a 3.52 ERA for the Rays in 2011. But he was also expected to make $10.25 million in 2012. His trade to the Royals is being described as a salary dump.

Montgomery was one of the top pitching prospects in the Royals organization. He was drafted in the first round by the Royals in 2008 and split time between Double-A and Triple-A last year. He was a 3-6 with a 5.69 ERA at Triple-A Omaha. He wasn’t much better at Double-A Northwest Arkansas, where he was 2-6 with a 6.67 ERA.

Montgomery was one of four prospects traded to the Rays for Shields and Wade Davis. Montgomery was also one of two pitchers from Kansas City in the deal.

He’ll most likely spend more time in the minors with the Rays, which already has a solid rotation with Cy Young Award winner David Price, Matt Moore and 2011 American League Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson.

As for Shields, he’s on the Royals now. If this were 1984, it might be a different story. But it will be 2013 and the Royals will be out of playoff contention before the All-Star game.

Tim Haddock is the sports director for KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and SB Nation. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | November 30, 2012

Can the UCLA football team beat Stanford? If Saturday’s outcome is any indication, the Bruins have a lot of work to do if they want to upset the Cardinal on Friday night in the Pac-12 championship game.

UCLA and Stanford will meet for the second time in six days. The venue will be different, in Palo Alto instead of the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, but the outcome will be the same if the Bruins can’t make some key adjustments.

Stanford rolled UCLA, 35-17. By the second quarter, the rout was on. Stanford was up 21-10 at halftime and scored two more touchdowns in 13 seconds in the third quarter to pull away.

The Stanford defense scored. The Stanford running attack gave the Bruins fits. UCLA had one scoring drive that actually netted -8 yards, a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter.

UCLA coach Jim Mora was asked after the game what his team needs to do to beat Stanford.

“Once I look at the film, I can better answer that question for you,” Mora said. “There is a lot to learn. I’m not going to get into too many specifics. But I don’t want to give away what we need to do in order to improve.”

Two areas where the Bruins can improve is in penalties and time of possession. UCLA committed 12 penalties for 135 yards, unacceptable against a disciplined football team like Stanford.

“Too many penalties. Some were aggressive, some were a lack of focus, some were not being technically sound,” Mora said. “It was not anything specific. Yes, it’s disappointing, but we have got to get over it quickly because we have a game on Friday night.”

At least Mora recognizes his team committed too many penalties. He doesn’t seem too concerned with how aggressive his players were during the game. He doesn’t seem overly worried that some of his players were not as focused as they should be. There is no way UCLA can beat Stanford by giving up 135 yards in penalties again.

Time of possession was another glaring advantage for Stanford. The Cardinal held the ball for nearly 10 more minutes in the game, 34:31 for Stanford, 25:29 for UCLA. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor was a big reason for the time of possession advantage for the Cardinal. He rushed 20 times for 142 yards. The entire Stanford team gained 263 yards on 49 carries.

UCLA ran the ball only 33 times for 118 yards. Being down by three touchdowns in the third quarter will force a team to abandon its running game, not that the UCLA ground attack was very effective. Johnathan Franklin was held to only 68 yards on 21 carries, a measly 3.1 yards per carry. He’ll need to do better if the Bruins are to have any chance of beating Stanford. Mora is hoping his kids have short memories.

“I think it’s important that since we are a day short in preparation, when you say get over it quick – that implies forgetting about it,” Mora said. “We want to learn from it. We want to get over the disappointment of a loss quickly. We need to get over the disappointment of a loss.”


The Valencia football team ended its playoff run in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs. While the Vikings reached the semifinals, and lost for the fourth time in the past five years, it was a disappointing finish.

Of the three teams from the Foothill League in the playoffs, Valencia was the least likely to make a deep playoff run. Both Hart and Canyon were ranked No. 1 in the Northern Division poll. Valencia never reached that height.

But the Vikings upset Hart and Canyon and won the Foothill League championship outright. They entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed, behind top-seeded Palmdale, which lost in the first round.

Riding a wave of confidence and a seven-game winning streak, Valencia lost, 50-33, to Palos Verdes in the semifinals. Palos Verdes knocked out Hart in the quarterfinals and reached its first CIF championship game since 1965.

Even though the Valencia football team ended its season a little sooner than anticipated, there was one highlight.

Valencia quarterback Sean Murphy set the school record for most touchdown passes in a season. The senior threw three touchdown passes against Palos Verdes, giving him 38 on the season and the school record.
The Saugus girls cross country team won its seventh CIF state championship in a row. To put it in perspective, the Saugus girls have been state champions longer than Barack Obama has been president. When they won their first state championship back in 2005, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was at 10,717.50. The average price of gas in California was $2.47 a gallon.

Sophomore Samantha Ortega was in the second grade when Saugus won its first state championship. She is now the star of the team, taking the torch from Kaylin Mahoney, Jenay Jauregui and a host of Frankian and Murakami sisters.

Ortega, who only started running with the Saugus cross country team this season, was the runner-up in the Division II state meet race at Woodward Park in Fresno. She completed the course in 17 minutes, 33 seconds, four seconds behind Maggie Bell of Granite Bay High School.

The Saugus girls scored 97 points in the state championship meet and beat La Costa Canyon by 11 points.
Five Saugus runners finished in the top 50. Heidi Hoslet was 21st, Abigail Frankian was 23rd, Katie Huntington was 35th and Olivia Altieri was 49th.

The Saugus girls are in good hands, or feet as the case may be, with Ortega returning. But only she and Frankian are expected to be back as the Saugus girls pursue an eighth straight CIF state championship. Hoslet, Huntington and Altieri are all seniors. Of course, graduating talented seniors has yet to slow down the Saugus girls cross country team for nearly a decade.

The Saugus boys capped a successful season with a second-place finish in the CIF State Division II meet. AJ Yarnall set a school record and completed the course in Fresno in 15 minutes, 10 seconds.

The Saugus boys finished behind Westlake in the meet.

Golden Valley had a couple reasons to celebrate as well. Bianca Tinoco posted a top-10 effort in the Division II girls race. She was seventh in 18 minutes, 9 seconds. Nolan Del Valle finished his high school career with a 15th-place finish in the boys Division II race. He completed the course in 15 minutes, 31 seconds.


For an encore, the Saugus girls cross country and Yarnall are invited to the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., on Saturday. The Saugus girls are making their seventh appearance in the national cross country meet.

Yarnell is making his first trip to the Nike Cross Nationals and is an at-large entry. He was second in the Division II boys race and fifth overall at the CIF State meet in Fresno.

The Saugus girls earned an at-large invitation, one of four available to teams across the country, as well. The Centurions finished in 12th place at the Nike Cross Nationals last year. They were a top-four team from 2007 to 2010, but have never won the meet.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and SB Nation. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | November 15, 2012

`It’s playoff time in high school sports and plenty of teams from the Santa Clarita Valley are right in the mix of things.

Let’s start with football.

The Valencia football team is the No. 2 seed in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs. The Vikings won their first-round game, but had to rally to do it.

Down nine points in the first half, Valencia scored two touchdowns in the third quarter against Paso Robles and won, 46-36.

Canyon rolled in its first-round game, 42-9, against visiting San Luis Obispo.
Hart had the toughest first-round test, on the road against Arroyo Grande. The Indians weathered a three-hour bus ride and pounded Arroyo Grande, 48-6.

All three teams from the Foothill League advanced to the quarterfinals. Hart and Valencia are on the same side of the playoff bracket and could meet in the semifinals.

Third-seeded Palos Verdes, the champion of the Bay League, faces Hart at College of the Canyons on Friday night.

Valencia travels to play Quartz Hill, the second-place team from the Golden League.

Canyon has an interesting match-up against Atascadero in the quarterfinals. Atascadero, an at-large team from the Pac-7 League, upset top-seeded Palmdale in the first round. Palmdale entered the playoffs with an undefeated 10-0 record and as champion of the Golden League.

Canyon has an explosive offense, but its defense has been suspect all season. Atascadero only scored 26 points against Palmdale. Canyon has posted 50 points in a game twice and scored more than 40 points in a game nine times this season.

Atascadero will need more than four touchdowns to beat Canyon.

The Trinity Classical Academy football team is in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Division II 8-man playoffs, but they have a tough test coming up.

The Knights play top-seeded Joshua Springs in the semis. Trinity, the fourth-seeded team in the playoffs, is averaging 64.5 points per game in the playoffs. Joshua Springs is putting up 72 points per game. The score in this one might look more like a playoff basketball game than football game.

Canyon receiver Drew Wolitarsky (pictured at right) not only has his team in the quarterfinals of the CIF football playoffs, he is doing it in record-breaking fashion.

Wolitarsky broke the state record for career receptions against San Luis Obispo. He caught nine passes and broke the record held by Steve Smith when he played at Taft in Woodland Hills.

Smith, a receiver with the St. Louis Rams in the NFL, caught 271 passes in his high school career. Wolitarsky has 277 and at least one more game to play.
Wolitarsky broke Smith’s record for career receiving yards earlier in the season. Still no word on where Wolitarsky will play in college.

The high school cross country postseason is proving fruitful once again for the teams from the Foothill League.

Six teams from the Foothill League qualified for the CIF Southern Section Finals at Mt. San Antonio College.

The Golden Valley, Saugus and Hart boys are in the Southern Section Finals. The Saugus, Golden Valley and Canyon girls are also heading to the Southern Section Finals.

The Golden Valley boys are the reigning Southern Section Division II and state champions.

The Saugus girls are ranked No. 1 in the Southern Section Division II poll and are the favorites to win the meet. But they will be tested by Simi Valley, which won the Division II championship last year. Saugus is no stranger to CIF championships. The Centurions won five CIF titles in a row before losing to Simi Valley last year.

Valencia’s Olivia Pear qualified for the girls Division I race after finishing in third place at the Southern Section prelims race.

The surprise of the Southern Section prelims was that Canyon’s Zach Wims did not qualify for the Southern Section Finals. He was 18th in his Division II heat race.

Believe it or not, the UCLA football team has a chance to play for a Rose Bowl bid. The Bruins have to get past USC on Saturday and win the Pac-12 championship game to get there. But it’s not impossible. Improbable, yes, but stranger things have happened.

USC will have its Rose Bowl hopes dashed when the Trojans lose to UCLA on Saturday.

The Lakers have a new coach. Mike D’Antoni, who coached the Lakers’ nemesis, the Phoenix Suns, and the New York Knicks, beat out Phil Jackson and a courtesy call to Mike Dunleavy for the Lakers coaching job.

The Lakers fired coach Mike Brown after a slow 1-4 start and a winless preseason.

D’Antoni is going to run the aging Lakers. They are going to score with reckless abandon and give up points at an even more reckless rate.

Here’s to hoping these Lakers have enough gas at the end of the season to make it to the NBA Finals.

Speaking of gas, the NHRA has an African-American champion. Antron Brown won the Top Fuel championship at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona on Sunday.

He is the first African-American to win an NHRA Top Fuel championship. He is being touted as the first African-American to win a major American racing series championship.

He had a painful and dramatic day in the NHRA season finale. Brown’s car blew up in the first round of eliminations. His hands and legs were burned in the crash. Not only was Brown out of the races, he had to watch as one of the Top Fuel championship contenders worked his way through the field.

Tony Schumacher needed to win the season finale to capture his eighth Top Fuel championship. He nearly pulled it off, losing to Brandon Bernstein in the final race.

Brown narrowly won the title. In his post-race news conference with reporters, Brown wore gloves to protect his hands from blisters he suffered in the fire when his car exploded.

But Brown downplayed his milestone championship. The NHRA is no stranger to diversity. Women were winning NHRA championships in the 1970s.

Even at the finals in Pomona, an American of Hispanic descent, Cruz Pedregon, won the Funny Car races. He beat Courtney Force, the daughter of celebrated Funny Car champion John Force, in the final race.
There is plenty of diversity in the NHRA, a model that the other racing series in America could follow.

Tim Haddock in the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He also writes for the Ventura County Star, the Team USA website and SB Nation. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | November 1, 2012

It was quite a weekend of football from high school to the NFL for players from the Santa Clarita Valley.

Let’s start with Hart High graduate Matt Moore.

A week after having his jersey number retired at Hart High School, Moore led the Miami Dolphins to a 30-9 win over the overrated New York Jets.

Moore played in his first game of the season, replacing injured rookie Ryan Tannehill in the first quarter, and made the most of the opportunity. He threw for 131 yards and a touchdown to Anthony Fasano. Moore’s third-quarter touchdown pass gave the Dolphins a 27-3 lead.

“It feels good to do no more talking and feels even better to back it up,” Moore told the Associated Press. “Our special teams put us in a great situation to win this, but we were ready as soon as we stepped off the bus.”

Tannehill hyperextended his knee after he was sacked in the first quarter. He was scheduled to have an MRI on Monday and his status for Sunday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts is uncertain.

The Dolphins blocked a punt in the end zone that resulted in the first touchdown of the game against the Jets. Kicker Dan Carpenter made three field goals. The Dolphins all of a sudden have a three-game winning streak and look like a playoff team, a half-game behind the New England Patriots for first place in the AFC East.

Valencia High School graduate Shane Vereen scored a touchdown in the New England Patriots’ 45-7 rout of the St. Louis Rams in London’s Wembley Stadium.

Vereen rushed for 22 yards on seven carries and was part of a record-breaking day for the Patriots. New England amassed 473 yards of total offense and went over the 350-yard mark for the 17th game in a row, breaking the NFL record set by the Rams in 1999-2000.

The Rams actually took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter against the Patriots. Vereen tied the score with a one-yard touchdown run on a fourth down play later in the first quarter. The Patriots rattled off 38 unanswered points after Vereen’s touchdown.

Another Valencia High graduate contributed to a big UCLA win. The Bruins beat Arizona State on the road, 45-43, on a last-second field goal by kicker Ka’Imi Fairbairn.

Steven Manfro, a Valencia alum, caught three passes for 33 yards and returned a kickoff 17 yards for UCLA.

The Bruins are 3-2 in the Pac-12, have won two games in a row and are a half-game behind USC for first place in the South Division.

To keep the Valencia Vikings’ ship moving along, the high school athletes pulled off a convincing, 31-20 win over Hart, the No. 1 team in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division poll.

Vikings sophomore running back Stone Jackson scored three touchdowns, even though he only rushed for 12 yards on five carries.

Valencia is undefeated at 4-0 in the Foothill League. All that stands in the way for a fourth Foothill League championship in a row for the Vikings is winless Golden Valley, which has never won a league game.

It’s time to take notice of the College of the Canyons women’s soccer team. The Lady Cougars are ranked No. 6 in the Junior College Division III national poll by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. They have been ranked as high as No. 5 and are one of three teams in the top 10 with an unbeaten record.

As of Oct. 29, they are 12-0-3 and have won eight of their past nine games, the only setback a 2-2 draw against Santa Monica College on Oct. 19. COC shut out seven of 11 opponents from Sept. 25 to Oct. 26.

Don’t look now, Dodger fans, but the Giants have won more World Series titles than the Boys in Blue. Not only have the Giants won two of the past three World Series, they have won seven, counting their days in New York.

The Dodgers have six, five in Los Angeles and one hard-fought, long-awaited one in Brooklyn.

To make matters worse, the Giants most likely have the MVP in Buster Posey and the Cy Young Award winner in Matt Cain.

At least the Dodgers can take pride in not having a Melky Cabrera on their roster. Cabrera was the Giants’ all-star outfielder who probably would have won the National League batting title if he wasn’t suspended for 50 games for using a banned substance.

He was also the MVP of the All-Star game. He helped the National League win the game and secured home-field advantage in the World Series.

Not that having home-field advantage mattered. The Detroit Tigers, with triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera, couldn’t hit in either San Francisco or Detroit. The Tigers were shut out in two of the four games.
There is no joy for Dodger fans in another Giants World Series championship. But now the Dodgers need to play catch up to pass the Giants in the World Series win column.

Another note of interest: Every team in the National League West has played in the World Series since the Dodgers’ last appearance in the Fall Classic in 1988.

The Giants have been to the World Series three times. The Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in 2001. Even the Padres and Rockies have been and lost.

The Dodgers are in a serious drought. But at least they have no Melky Cabrera embarrassments to hide.

The Los Angeles Kings will have to wait until at least after Thanksgiving before raising their one and only Stanley Cup championship banner at Staples Center.

The NHL cancelled all the regular season games through November, as both the owners and players fight over revenue and a new collective bargaining agreement.

The season was supposed to start on Oct. 11. Negotiations are moving at the speed of an iceberg. It looks like it’s going to be a long, lonely winter without the NHL.

Go Lakers!

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star, Team USA website and SB Nation. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | October 18, 2012

With the passing of Alex Karras over the weekend, I started thinking about some of my favorite athletes-turned-actors.
Karras was one of them. He might best be remembered as the dad on “Webster.” But I remember him best as Mongo from “Blazing Saddles.”
Mongo was just a pawn in the game of life. He was more than a pawn in that movie. He arguably had the best character in “Blazing Saddles.”

Here are my top 10 athletes-turned-actors.
10. Bob Eucker – He was a teammate of Hank Aaron, a World Series champion with the Milwaukee Braves and he was great as Harry Doyle from “Major League.” But he was probably playing himself, which isn’t much of a stretch for an actor. His day job is as a broadcaster for the Milwaukee Brewers. That makes his inclusion in the top five just a bit outside.
9. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Loved him in “Airplane” as Capt. Roger Murdoch. Or was he playing himself too? “Listen kid! I’ve been hearing that crap ever since I was at UCLA. I’m out there busting my buns every night. Tell your old man to drag Walton and Lanier up and down the court for 48 minutes.”
8. Terry Bradshaw – The former Steelers quarterback had bit parts in two classic comedies: “The Cannonball Run” and “Smokey and the Bandit II.” They don’t make movies like that anymore, which is probably why Bradshaw isn’t in many movies anymore.
7. Merlin Olsen – After a long stint with the Los Angeles Rams, he became a faithful resident of Walnut Grove, Minn., on “Little House on the Prairie.” He played Jonathan Garvey, one of the confidants of the Ingalls, on the show.
6. Lou Ferrigno – The former Mr. Universe was also The Incredible Hulk on TV for years. Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him when he’s angry. But, truth be told, when he got angry, the show got interesting.
5. Arnold Schwarzenegger — He and Ferrigno can’t be separated by too much on this list. Arnold has the edge though for “Terminator” and “Kindergarten Cop.” I have a feeling he’ll be back on top at the box office soon enough.
4. Jim Brown – He is considered by many as the greatest football player ever and was part of “The Dirty Dozen.” That’s good enough to make this top 10.
3. Carl Weathers – He might be better known for his acting career than his NFL career. He only played seven games for the Oakland Raiders and made his mark as Apollo Creed in the “Rocky” movies. Plus, he gets mad props for being Happy Gilmore’s caddy.
2. Jason Lee – Before his name was Earl and before he was a Mall Rat, he was a pro skateboarder. He has been in a number of my favorite movies, including “Almost Famous” and “Chasing Amy.”
1. Andre the Giant – By far, my favorite athlete-turned-actor. He played Fezzik, the gentle giant, in “The Princess Bride.” Rest well and dream of large women.

The first college football BCS rankings have USC at No. 10. That must make Trojan fans happy. Not elated, but happy. The Associated Press poll has USC ranked No. 11. Unless you’re a fan of Spinal Tap, being in the top 10 is better than the top 11.

Alabama is the consensus No. 1 in both polls. The Crimson Tide received all 60 first place votes in the AP poll and is also the top-ranked team by USA Today and the Harris Poll, both used to determine the BCS rankings.

The order of the next nine teams in the BCS standings is definitely up for debate. Granted, Florida, Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame are undefeated and make up two through five, but it could easily be argued that LSU and South Carolina are No. 2 and No. 3.
LSU’s only loss was a close one to Florida. South Carolina also has only one loss, and it appears to be a costly one, 23-21, against LSU on Saturday.

Oregon State comes in at No. 8, but is also undefeated. They have beaten two ranked teams, have three wins against Pac-12 opponents, and could easily be 6-0. The Beavers’ opening game against Nicholls State was postponed because of severe weather.

Still, three teams from the Pac-12 are ranked in the top 10. Not too shabby.

USC has the greatest challenge of all of them. Most analysts are saying the Trojans need to win all the rest of their games to be in the BCS championship conversation. That would mean beating Notre Dame and Oregon.

USC might even play Oregon twice, if the two teams meet in the Pac-12 championship game.

The pesky loss to Stanford might be the death nail for USC, though. When it comes time to rank teams, it could be argued that USC lost to Stanford and Notre Dame didn’t.

It looks like the Los Angeles Kings might have to wait a long time to raise their first Stanley Cup championship banner at Staples Center.

The NHL owners locked out the players as the two sides argue how to split up more than $3 billion in revenue. Talks are progressing slowly and the owners have no sense of urgency to start the season any time soon.

The players are signing with teams in Europe and might not come back if the deal that is eventually reached doesn’t suit them.

Sad times in the NHL indeed.

Canyon receiver Drew Wolitarsky set his sights on two state high school football records. He broke one with a nine-catch, 149-yard performance in the Foothill League opener against Golden Valley.

Wolitarsky has 4,585 receiving yards in his career at Canyon, breaking the mark set by Steve Smith when he played at Taft in Woodland Hills.

Wolitarsky upped his total to 4,625 yards against Saugus in the second league game, but he left the game with an elbow injury in the second half.

He was within reach of Smith’s state record for catches. Wolitarsky caught five passes for 40 yards against Saugus, giving him 245 receptions in his career. Smith holds the state record with 271 catches.

Canyon has three more games left before playoffs start. The Cowboys are almost assured of a playoff berth, giving Wolitarsky perhaps a few more games to chase Smith’s record.

For the record, he needs 26 more catches to tie Smith’s record. It’s going to be close.

The Hart football team has won six games in a row and is the No. 1 team in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division.

The Indians are also getting some attention from Cal Hi Sports, which has them ranked No. 23 in the state.
Hart’s only loss came against Tesoro, 10-7, in the season opener. Tesoro is ranked No. 7 in the state by Cal Hi Sports, so no shame in that loss.

It looks like Hart’s biggest challenges will come from Foothill League opponents. Valencia and Canyon are both left on Hart’s schedule and either would love to snap the Indians’ winning streak and knock them down a few notches in the Northern Division and Cal Hi Sports rankings.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star and the Team USA website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | October 5, 2012

The Dodgers finally caught fire, but it was a little too late to do any damage in the National League playoffs.

They put together a little six-game winning streak in the final week of the season and averaged nearly seven runs a game.

This is the kind of offense Dodgers fans can expect next season. Too bad it didn’t do them any good this season.

Still, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told MLB.com there is no reason to think his players can produce like this on a regular basis.

“It’s good. It’s kind of fun playing like this,” Mattingly said. “It makes you think, ‘Why can’t you do this over the course of a season or a month?’”

Why, indeed.

It would have been nice if the Dodger bats woke up a month ago.

Adrian Gonzalez put together a 13-game hitting streak over the final two weeks of the season. It was the longest hitting streak for any Dodger this season. It started on Sept. 19 against the Washington Nationals. He hit .396 during the streak and the Dodgers were 9-4 over those 13 games.

Gonzalez had two hits, including his 47th double of the season, a career-high, against the Giants on Monday.
Matt Kemp ended the season on a hot note as well. He hit .458 with four home runs and nine RBIs in seven games from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1.

Luis Cruz was a tough out during that same time span, hitting .320 with a home run and four RBIs. He hit .313 in September and had the second-highest batting average on the team for the month.

Little-used Elian Herrera even got into the hitting act with a game-winning, RBI single against the Giants on Monday night in a game the Dodgers needed to win to stay alive in the playoff picture.

He said after the game the Dodgers are playing like they were early in the season, when they were the leaders in the National League West standings and one of the best-hitting teams in baseball.
“I remember when I came here, the team was playing really good,” Herrera said. “That is how the team is playing right now. They are playing so good. They just have to keep playing like that.”

The Dodgers are giving their fans a taste of things to come. Let’s all hope they can pick up in the spring where they left off in the fall.

The UCLA Bruins are back in the Associated Press top 25 college football poll after a convincing 42-12 win over Colorado.

But who hasn’t beaten up on Colorado this year?

Washington State. That’s who.

Every other team Colorado has played has won. Three of those teams won by double digits and two scored more than 42 points.

Valencia High graduate Steven Manfro chipped in with two catches for 20 yards against Colorado. He also returned five punts for 51 yards.

The Bruins moved into the No. 25 spot after the win over Colorado. Let’s see how long they stay in the top 25 this time.

The USC Trojans are hanging in the AP top 25 after starting the season as the No. 1 team. The Trojans are ranked No. 13 after their first four games.

After they lose to Oregon, it will be interesting to see if the Trojans can stay in the top 25.

The Hart football team heads into Foothill League play as the No. 1 ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division.

The Indians, winners of four games in a row, are not only the favorite to win the Foothill League championship, but the Northern Division title.

Hart hasn’t won a CIF championship in football since 2003. In recent years, Hart and the rest of the Foothill League football teams have faced the tough teams from the Marmonte League in the Northern Division playoffs.

Westlake, Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure in particular ended promising playoff runs for a number of teams from the Foothill League.

But this year is different. The Marmonte League will be playing in the Pac-5 Division, the top division in the Southern Section, in the playoffs.

That leaves Hart with a much easier path to a Northern Division championship.

But that path is far from clear. Teams from the Pac-7 League were moved into the Northern Division. Arroyo Grande, perennial favorites in the Western Division, San Luis Obispo and Righetti, are all formidable teams in the Northern Division.

But first things first. Hart still has to face Canyon and Valencia, both ranked in the top 10 in the Northern Division since Week Zero, before playoffs start.

The Indians are winning games by an average margin of 36.3 points. Their only loss is to Tesoro, ranked No. 7 in the state, by three points. Hart’s two-headed monster of Brady White and Connor Wingenroth have provided most of the offensive punch.

Sophomore wide receiver Trent Irwin, considered by many the best player on the Hart roster, has yet to have a huge game. If he ever catches fire, Hart might blaze its way through the Foothill League schedule and into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, across town at Canyon, the Cowboys continue to put up gaudy numbers on offense, but can’t seem to stop anybody on defense.

Canyon is coming off a 49-49 tie against Steele Canyon from the San Diego Section. The Cowboys had a 20-point lead in the third quarter, but ended having to rally and score on a two-point conversion just to secure a tie.

After winning its first three games of the season by averaging more than 50 points a game, Canyon is 0-1-1 in its past two games.

On a positive note, Canyon opens Foothill League play against Golden Valley, which has never won a league game and is 0-5 to start this season.

Canyon’s Zach Wims might be the best high school cross country runner in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Golden Valley boys are making their case for the best team in the valley.

Wims won his second cross country race in a row at the 45th annual Staub/Barnes Invitational at Crescenta Valley Park. He also won the first Foothill League meet race at Central Park.

In both races, Wims had to chase down Nolan Del Valle from Golden Valley to win. He passed Del Valle in the final 400 meters and won in 15 minutes, 33 seconds over the 3-mile course in the Staub/Barnes Invitational.

Golden Valley won the Division I race at the Staub/Barnes Invitational with Del Valle finishing second, three seconds behind Wims. The Grizzlies scored 71 points to win the team portion of the race. The Canyon boys were fifth with 104 points.

Not to be outdone, the Golden Valley girls won the Division I race at the Staub/Barnes Invitational. Chelsea Totten was the runner-up in the girls race and Golden Valley won the meet by one point over Crescenta Valley.

The Izod IndyCar series will be making two stops in Southern California in 2013. The first is for the Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 21. The IndyCar Series season finale will again be at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana on Oct. 19.

Tim Haddock is the sports director for KHTS AM 1220. He also writes for the Ventura County Star and the Team USA website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Sports | September 21, 2012

The UCLA football team is 3-0 and ranked No. 19 in the nation by the Associated Press. Valencia High graduate Steven Manfro is turning out to be a big piece of Bruins puzzle.

Manfro scored the first touchdown of his career, on a 49-yard catch, in UCLA’s upset win over then No. 16 Nebraska, 36-30, at the Rose Bowl.
He scored again in UCLA’s 37-6 win over Houston. He has two touchdowns in three games and is becoming quarterback Brett Hundley’s favorite target.

Manfro is UCLA’s leader in receiving through the first three games of the season. He has 14 catches for 164 yards. He was also averaging nearly nine yards per carry in the first three games. In all fairness, he carried the ball only three times for 26 yards, but scored on a 14-yard run in garbage time against Houston. Manfro added five punt returns for 55 yards for good measure.

After the win against Houston, UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr. was a little critical of the offense, which produced four touchdowns and 29 first downs, and praised the defense.
“I think we had 567 yards of total offense, and we had a heck of a game, but we don’t feel satisfied,” Mora said after the game against Houston. “I think that’s a good thing. I’m glad our team feels that way, because we realize what our potential is. Tonight we had too many penalties offensively and turned the ball over too many times. But on the flip side, our defense was outstanding, really, really outstanding.”

The USC Trojans football team, ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time, lost to Stanford, 21-14.
The loss probably knocked USC out of the national championship and the BCS picture. The Trojans dropped to No. 13 after the loss to Stanford. It also marked the fourth time in a row USC quarterback Matt Barkley lost to the Cardinal.
Even though USC is fading from the national landscape, it does set up an interesting match-up against UCLA.
The Bruins play the Trojans at the Rose Bowl on Nov. 17.

Another reborn football rivalry is developing in the Santa Clarita Valley. The Hart and Canyon football teams were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division for the first four weeks of the season.

Hart started the season as the No. 1 team, but the Indians lost their opener to Tesoro.

Canyon took over the No. 1 spot and held it for the next two weeks with impressive wins over Clovis West and Knight from Lancaster.

The two teams are on a collision course to meet on Nov. 2 in a game that will most likely determine the Foothill League championship. It could also be a preview of the Northern Division championship game.

In a bit of role reversal though, Canyon is the team with the high-powered offense and Hart has the stingy defense.

Canyon is averaging 52.5 points per game in the first four games of the season. Hart surrendered only 13.3 points per games in its first three games.

Canyon’s Drew Wolitarsky caught eight passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns in his team’s 56-49 loss to Quartz Hill.

He is in pursuit of the state records for receptions and receiving yards held by Steve Smith, a receiver for the St. Louis Rams. Smith played high school football at Woodland Hills Taft and caught 271 passes for 4,545 yards.

Wolitarsky has 226 catches for 4,333 yards in his high school career. He has caught 34 passes for 460 yards through four games in his senior season. He needs 46 more catches and 213 yards to break Smith’s records.

There is nothing nice to write about the Dodgers right now. If they make the playoffs maybe they’ll be worth discussing.

Alex Tagliani had a chance to win the Izod IndyCar Series season finale at Auto Club Speedway, but blew an engine while leading the race with 20 laps to go.

Tagliani, driving for the Barracuda Racing team owned by Valencia’s Bryan Herta, led the MAVTV 500 for 19 laps and was out front when his engine blew. He pulled into the pits with smoke coming out of the engine. He had to withdraw and surrender the lead to Ed Carpenter, who went on to win the race.

“Overall, I’m very pleased with the team and the way that everybody performed during the season,” Tagliani said. “It’s a hell of a job that the Barracuda Racing crew did. It’s a shame, because where we were heading at the finish would’ve probably put us in the top 10 in championship points, but it was an amazing comeback. I’m proud of the way that we finished the season, showing how strong we are. We had our share of bad luck and this was another one. But next year is going to be a totally different situation. Next year is going to be our year.”

After qualifying for the race, the Barracuda Racing team decided to make an engine switch. Tagliani qualified sixth, but dropped to 16th after changing engines – the penalty for making such a move. Putting in the new engine looked like the right move up until about lap 130.

The drama of the race extended past the Barracuda Racing pits. Ryan Hunter-Reay, driving for Andretti Autosport, won the IndyCar Series championship by finishing in fourth place in the race.

He needed to finish fifth or better to pass Will Power in the standings. Power crashed early in the race and made a valiant effort to return, but he had to eventually withdraw after completing only 66 laps.

That left Hunter-Reay with an opportunity to win the championship. When Tagliani dropped out, Hunter-Reay moved up the grid.
But it wasn’t until Takuma Sato crashed on the last lap that Hunter-Reay moved into the top five and clinched the series title.

“It was team effort right there,” Hunter-Reay said after the race. “We were struggling all weekend. I didn’t want to let anyone really know about it. We were really in the woods. This hasn’t sunk in yet. I just drove 500 miles for my life. I can’t believe we’re IndyCar champions. I can’t even believe this.”

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He writes for the Ventura County Star and the Team USA website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | September 6, 2012

Sung to the tune of “Take Me Out To the Ball Game” with apologies to Jack Norworth:
Take me out to the ball game
Except on Vin Scully bobblehead night
Cuz if you run late
(Let’s face it, if you live in LA, who doesn’t run late?)
They’ll make you wait
Outside the gate for an hour
If your son scoots, scoots, scoots away from you
Security will make you stay
For it’s one, two, three innings you’ll miss
At the old ball game.
Suffice it to say, not a good time was had by all at Vin Scully bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium. Not only did the Dodgers lose to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 2-0, but it took nearly an hour to get into the stadium while Vin Scully bobbleheads were passed out at the gates.
It’s bad enough the new-look Dodgers are playing at about a .500 clip since trading for Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto and Carl Crawford.
The Dodgers probably should have held onto 13, otherwise known as Hanley Ramirez, instead of bringing in a bunch of disgruntled Red Sox and Phillies. In Ramirez’s first 37 games with the Dodgers, he was hitting .283 with nine home runs and 35 RBIs.
Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton, former Phills who were traded to the Dodgers, have not been very productive. It took Blanton five starts to win his first game as a Dodger. In those five starts, he compiled a 6.67 ERA. Victorino’s first 29 games with the Dodgers produced nine RBIs and a .248 batting average.
The Red Sox brigade hasn’t been much better.
Gonzalez is hitting only .211 with eight hits in his first nine games with the Dodgers. To Gonzalez’s credit, though, two of those hits were pretty big. He hit a three-run home run in his first at-bat with the Dodgers. His two-run double in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 2 capped a come-from-behind win.
Punto saw limited action in his first seven games with the Dodgers. He had only two hits, both singles, in 10 at-bats. No one really knows when or if Crawford will ever play again.
At least Beckett looked good in his second start for the Dodgers. He pitched into the seventh inning and held the Diamondbacks to one run on six hits. The Dodgers won the game, 2-1, and Beckett struck out nine and walked one.
As of Sept. 2, the Dodgers trailed the punchless San Francisco Giants by 4 ½ games in the National League West standings. The National League wild card race isn’t much brighter. The Dodgers are a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals for the two wild card playoff spots.
If the playoffs started on Sept. 2, the Dodgers would not be in them.
The Hart High football team started the high school season as the top-ranked team in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division. Canyon was ranked No. 2.
Both teams had tough tests in the first couple weeks of the season.
Hart traveled to Orange County to play Tesoro, the No. 4 team in the Southern Section Pac-5 Division. Most, including Hart High coach Mike Herrington, expected a shootout. Instead, the two teams had a defensive tussle.
Tesoro won, 10-7, and beat Hart for the second year in a row.
For its second game of the season, Canyon traveled to Fresno to play Clovis West, which reached the semifinals of the Central Section Division II playoffs last year.
Canyon lit up the scoreboard with eight touchdowns and won, 56-48.
Canyon improved to 2-0 and was the only undefeated team in the Foothill League after the first two weeks of the season.
Saugus and West Ranch each have a win and a loss. In its opening game, Saugus beat Calabasas, with Marshall Faulk Jr. at fullback, but lost to Simi Valley the following week.
West Ranch was shut out by Moorpark to open the season, but rebounded and beat Burbank, 28-7, on the road the next week.
Golden Valley lost a heartbreaker in its season opener. The Grizzlies led 20-9 midway through the fourth quarter against Royal. But Royal scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes and beat Golden Valley, 24-20, at Canyon High School.
Quarterback Chase Lewis had a nice game against Royal. He rushed for 147 yards and scored two touchdowns. Running back Leon Jacobs gained 67 yards on 18 carries (3.7 yards per carry) and had a 91-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty.
Valencia is in the same boat as Hart and Golden Valley after losing its season opener to Palmdale. It was the first time Palmdale beat Valencia in eight games, including the past six in a row.
Palmdale running back Damario Richard rushed for 201 yards and scored three touchdowns in his team’s 35-21 win.
Canyon High receiver Drew Wolitarsky is in pursuit of two state records. He is on pace to pass Steve Smith for most catches and receiving yards.
In the first two games of the season, Wolitarsky caught 15 passes for 187 yards. He has 207 catches and 4,060 yards receiving in his career at Canyon.
Smith, who played at Woodland Hills Taft in high school and is a receiver with the St. Louis Rams, caught 271 passes and had 4,545 yards receiving in his high school career.
Wolitarsky’s had 10 catches for 129 yards against Clovis West in Canyon’s second game of the season.
The Saugus girls cross country team was ranked No. 1 in the CIF Southern Section Division II preseason poll. But the Saugus girls have bigger goals than a Southern Section championship.
The Lady Centurions have won six CIF state titles in a row. They are gunning for an unprecedented seven in a row.
One of their biggest challenges will come from a Foothill League rival. The Canyon girls were ranked No. 7 in the Southern Section Division II preseason poll. The Foothill League meets should be, at the very least, entertaining.
Valencia High graduate Steven Manfro got in the mix in the Bruins’ win over Rice to open the season. He caught three passes, but made an even greater impact on special teams.
He returned three kickoffs for 49 yards.
UCLA won the game, 49-24, and Bruins running back Jonathan Franklin, who rushed for 214 yards and three touchdowns, was selected as the Pac-12 player of the week.
USC won its season opener, too. When they lose, if the Trojans lose, then it will be news.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He also writes for the Ventura County Star and has his own website Sports by Haddock. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | August 23, 2012

There was some good news and bad news out of UCLA Bruins football camp for the two Santa Clarita products on the team.
First, the good news. Valencia High graduate Steven Manfro is making quite an impression on first-year coach Jim Mora Jr. and his staff. The red-shirt freshman was working with the first-team offense in practice. He is running the ball, catching passes out of the backfield and is an integral part of the third-down package.
“Steven was kind of the surprise of the spring,” Mora said. “I think we’ve all gotten kind of used to him a little bit. But he’s doing well. He’s playing consistent. He’s a versatile guy. He catches the ball well out of the backfield. We can use him as a running back. He can run the ball. He’s a good pass protector.”
Where Manfro will make his biggest contribution is on special teams, Mora said. He envisions Manfro being either a punt returner or a kickoff returner. He likes Manfro’s field vision and bursts of speed.
“I think you’ll see him a lot in our return game,” Mora said. “I would be surprised if he’s not either our punt or kickoff returner or both, or at least in the rotation. We’ve got some pretty good guys who can do that for us. We’d like to see the ball in his hands.”
Now the bad news: Hart High graduate Patrick Larimore retired from the team and college football for medical reasons. He sustained a concussion in the spring and during camp earlier this month at Cal State San Bernardino. On July 30, he decided to end his football career after telling his coaches and teammates he would not return to practice or camp.
Larimore is a senior and was one of the team captains on defense for UCLA last year. He was the defensive MVP and started at linebacker in all 13 games for the Bruins. He led the team in tackles with 81. He had one sack, one interception, five pass deflections and one forced fumble.
In high school, he set a school record at Hart with 138 tackles in his junior season. He also had two sacks.
He finishes his college football career with 206 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions.
In the annual media poll, UCLA was picked to finish in third place in the Pac 12 South Division. USC was picked to win the South Division. Oregon was selected as the top team in the Pac 12 North Division.
From the start, Mora has been trying to create a clean slate with his football team. He decided to hold camp at Cal State San Bernardino to deliberately isolate his players.
“My thoughts were simply that I wanted us to be in an environment where we were isolated as a football team,” Mora said during the Pac 12 media day. “I think it’s important as we start this journey that we get to know each other very well.”
When Mora was asked about how he plans on improving the team’s 6-7 record and a loss in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl last year, he didn’t address the shortcomings of the 2011 squad. Instead he focused on trying to create a culture of toughness, discipline and accountability with his current players.
“You know what? I don’t know what they had or didn’t have last season, that’s not my concern,” Mora said. “My concern is what we have now and going forward.”
Perhaps the most telling comment Mora made about the upcoming season was about USC. He was asked about how he is going to deal with USC. Mora responded by saying he is focused on UCLA football.
“I think it’s a big mistake as a coach – and I understand the fans’ and the media’s perspective, because it is a unique and lively rivalry – but I think as a coach and as a football team, what’s important is you keep your focus on the game you’re getting ready to play,” Mora said. “I think it’s important you keep your focus on the practice you’re getting ready to participate in, and that’s our approach.”
UCLA opens against Rice in Houston on Aug. 30.
Santa Clarita’s Allyson Felix redefined the term gold rush at the Summer Olympics in London. The United States women’s track and field team won nine gold medals at the Olympics. Felix won three of them.
She finally removed the albatross around her neck by winning the gold medal in the 200 meters. She won silver medals in the 200 at the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.
She added to her gold medal haul as part of the world-record breaking 4×100 relay team. Her third gold medal came in the 4×400 relay.
College of the Canyons track coach Lashinda Demus did her part to contribute to the U.S. women’s medal collection by winning the silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles.
Kim Rhode made Olympic history by medaling in five Summer Games in a row. She won a gold medal in women’s skeet shooting. It was her third Olympic gold medal and her fifth medal total. She won her first gold medal in double trap in the 1996 Atlanta Games. She won her second gold medal in double trap at the 2004 Summer Games in Athens.
Rhode, who trains in Newhall and lives in El Monte, also has a silver medal from the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing and a bronze medal from the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney.
The high school football season starts for three teams in the Foothill League. Canyon kicks off the prep pigskin party against Morningside on Aug. 23.
Saugus plays Calabasas at College of the Canyons the following night. West Ranch travels to play Moorpark on the same night.
Tim Haddock is the sports director for KHTS AM 1220 and writes for the ESPN Los Angeles web site. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | August 10, 2012

The Dodgers revamped their roster, making some significant trades before the deadline. They have a little more punch in their lineup, but gave up some promising and reliable arms to get them.
The new faces in the Dodgers clubhouse are All Stars Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, starter Joe Blanton and relievers Brandon League and Randy Choate.
Gone are promising pitching prospects Nathan Eovaldi, Josh Lindblom and a batch of minor leaguers.
To be honest, the Dodgers landed quite a haul for the players they gave up. Ramirez will be around for a couple of years and is only 28 years old. Victorino ends the platoon of Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu in left field. League and Choate might add new life to a lethargic Dodgers bullpen. Blanton adds a veteran arm to the rotation rather than enduring the growing pains that come with nurturing the likes of Eovaldi and Steven Fife.
Here is a look at how the new players will affect the Dodgers down the stretch and their grades:
Hanley Ramirez B+ – He is a three-time National League All Star and a batting champion. He won the rookie of the year award and has been one of the best hitters in the National League since he came up in 2006. His only drawback is his defense. He has never been considered a slick-fielding shortstop. He is more than capable of fielding his position, but don’t expect him to dazzle with the glove.
His offense will more than make up for his shortcomings in the field. When he was traded to the Dodgers, he became second on the team in home runs and RBIs. He makes the middle of the Dodgers lineup perhaps the best in the National League. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Ramirez will find few rivals.
Shane Victorino B – Victorino is a three-time Gold Glove winner. He didn’t make much noise about moving from center to left field after he was traded to the Dodgers. There is no way – unless Kemp goes down with an injury – that Victorino plays centerfield. He makes the Dodgers outfield one of the best defensively in the majors.
But Victorino and the Dodgers have some history. When Victorino was on the Phillies, he took exception to an inside pitch from Hiroki Kuroda in the 2008 National League Championship Series. The pitch nearly missed Victorino’s head and he had to be restrained from charging the mound. Kuroda has since moved on to the New York Yankees, but Dodger fans might have a hard time warming up to the fiery Victorino.
Brandon League B+ – League has a 100 mph arm and nine saves from the Seattle Mariners. But he doesn’t have a whole lot of playoff experience, or even pennant race experience. At some point, he might even become the Dodgers regular closer. For the time being, it looks like he is in the set-up rotation for Kenley Jansen. In two and a half seasons with the Mariners, League converted 52 saves in 69 chances and had a 3.26 ERA. He was an American League All Star in 2011 as the Mariners’ closer.
An interesting side note: League was one of six Mariners pitchers who no-hit the Dodgers last year.
Randy Choate B – Another potential candidate for the Dodgers closer, Choate is with his fifth team in 12 seasons in the majors. He didn’t notch his first save until 2009 with the Tampa Bay Rays. He spent a season and a half with the Miami Marlins and was 1-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 98 games. He won a World Series championship with the Yankees in 2000.
Joe Blanton C – Blanton was not the man the Dodgers wanted to bolster its rotation. But they made a post-deadline deal and landed an effective, if not overwhelming, arm. The Dodgers had their eyes on Ryan Dempster, James Shields and Matt Garza, but ended up with Blanton, who is, at best, in the declining years of his career.
On the plus side, Blanton is playoff tested. He has been to the World Series twice with the Philadelphia Phillies. He has pitched in the postseason five times, both with the Phillies and the Oakland A’s. He has started six playoff games and two in the World Series. His numbers are pretty mediocre though. He has a 2-0 record with a 4.02 ERA in 10 playoff games. If anything, he will knock Aaron Harang out of any postseason rotation. The Dodgers can throw out Clayton Kershaw, Chris Capuano, Chad Billingsley and Blanton in the playoffs. That’s a pretty solid rotation.
The Olympians from Santa Clarita have yet to medal in the Summer Games in London, but there are plenty of opportunities left.
Perhaps the most heartbreaking story is that of Hart High graduate and swimmer Anthony Ervin. He finished fifth in the 50-meter freestyle after making his first Olympics appearance since the 2000 Summer Games in Australia.
Ervin won a gold medal in the 50 freestyle in 2000. He and United States teammate Gary Hall Jr. finished in a dead heat in Sydney. Ervin also won a silver medal as part of the 4×100 relay.
But Ervin does not have either medal from the 2000 Summer Games. He auctioned his gold medal to raise funds for the Asian tsunami victims after the 2000 Olympics. He has told reporters he lost his silver medal.
Ervin only had one race in the London Games. Florent Manaudou from France won the 50 freestyle in 21.34 seconds. Ervin finished in 21.78 seconds.
No medal for Ervin, who probably made his last appearance in the Summer Olympics.
Santa Clarita’s Allyson Felix didn’t medal in her first race at the Summer Olympics. She was fifth in the 100, competing in the race for the first time in her Olympic career.
She has two more races before the Summer Games are over. She is in the 200 meters and on the 4×100 relay team for the United States. Felix won silver medals in the 200 in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics. She was also the winner in the 200 at the United State Olympic Trials in Oregon last month.
The United States men’s volleyball team, with Saugus High graduate David Smith, beat the No. 1 team in the world in the Summer Olympics. But the Team USA had its 11-match Olympic winning streak snapped.
The United States beat Brazil, the No. 1 ranked team in the world, in four games in group play.
Two days later, the United States lost to Russia in five games. Team USA had won 11 Olympic matches in a row, dating back to the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, where the United States won a gold medal.
The U.S. men’s volleyball team will begin elimination rounds this week.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220. He also writes for the ESPN Los Angeles website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com.


| Sports | July 27, 2012

The Dodgers’ trade-deadline wish list includes three pitchers and a first baseman. One of the pitchers is Hart High graduate and Tampa Bay Rays ace James Shields.
Why the Rays would want to trade Shields is a bit of a mystery. The only reason to move him is to clear some salary space.
The Dodgers and the Angels are interested in Shields. He would be a good fit for both teams. The Dodgers rotation is falling apart with Ted Lilly and Chad Billingsley on the disabled list. The Angels need pitching help too, especially with the numbers Ervin Santana has posted this season.
Here is a look at the players the Dodgers are eyeing for their playoff push:
James Shields, right-handed pitcher, Tampa Bay Rays: The 30-year-old starter is 8-6 with 4.39 ERA. He threw 11 complete games last season, but has yet to throw one this year. He has shown the ability to go deep into games and that would be especially beneficial, given the Dodgers’ bullpen woes. The Dodgers still do not have a legitimate closer and Javy Guerra and Keley Jansen have not proven to be reliable in the late innings. Shields would be the best player the Dodgers could trade for.
Justin Morneau, first-baseman, Minnesota Twins: The Twins are sellers and Morneau has some value. He was the MVP of the American League in 2006, but his numbers have fallen off tremendously in the past six seasons. Some of his hitting troubles can be connected to his battles with concussions over the past few seasons. Still, he has good power and would fit in nicely behind Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp in the middle of the Dodgers order. Morneau is hitting .249 with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs. More importantly, he is playing pretty much every day and would be an offensive improvement over James Loney. While adding a bat to the lineup would be nice, the Dodgers would be better off adding a pitcher.
Ryan Dempster, right-handed pitcher, Chicago Cubs: The asking price might be too high for Dempster, who at 35 years old is among the National League leaders in ERA. The Cubs are reportedly interested in Dodgers pitching prospect Zach Lee, a No. 1 draft pick in 2011. Dempster is 5-4 with a 2.11 ERA in his first 15 starts. While Dempster would bolster the Dodgers rotation, he is most likely a two-month rental. He will be a free agent at the end of the season. That would be motivation enough for Dempster to continue to put up impressive numbers, but it is unlikely he would stay with the Dodgers past the 2012 season.
Matt Garza, right-handed pitcher, Chicago Cubs: If the Cubs’ pitching staff was this good, they wouldn’t be at the bottom of the National League Central standings. Garza is 5-7 with a 3.91 ERA in 18 starts. He is two years removed from his best season, when he went 15-10 with the Tampa Bay Rays. At 28 years old, he should be in the prime of his career. But it looks like he is on the decline. That might be more of a result of being on the woeful Cubs. Of the four players the Dodgers could land in a trade, Garza is the worst option.
Valencia High’s Alison Lee was in position to win her first USGA championship. She was up three holes with six to play at the U.S. Girls Junior Championship at Lake Merced Golf Club in Daly City.
But she lost four of the last six holes of the match play championship tournament and saw the title slip through her fingers.
She said after the tournament that she would have rather lost in the first round than in the championship match. Minjee Lee from Australia won her first USGA championship, 1-up after the 36-hole match. Alison Lee tried her best to make the tournament a learning experience.
“When I stood up on 12, I was already thinking ahead,” Alison Lee said. “I’m going to win. It’s not how you’re supposed to think. The match isn’t over until you walk off the 18th green and you shake the other person’s hand. I can’t do that anymore. It just messes you up.”
Alison Lee won the 12th hole, the 31st hole of the championship match, and was 3-up with six holes to play.
But she lost the next hole. Minjee Lee won the 32nd, 33rd, 34th and 35th holes to go 1-up. Alison Lee said she started to unravel on the 32nd hole.
“I had to sit down. I had to close my eyes and I had to breathe because I was shaking and I was nervous,” Alison Lee said. “I was just losing it all right there. No matter how long, I just closed my eyes and looked on the ground.”
Alison Lee was playing in her sixth U.S. Girls Junior Championship. It was the first time she reached the championship match.
She also qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open two weeks ago and was one of three amateurs to make the cut. She finished in 60th place. It was the third time the 17-year-old qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open.
She has no reason to hang her head and will have plenty of opportunities to play for championships as her career continues.
The Summer Olympics begin on July 27 and the Santa Clarita Valley will be well-represented.
Four athletes with Santa Clarita ties will be competing in the London Games.
Santa Clarita’s Allyson Felix is competing in three events in track and field. She will be in the 100, 200 and on the 4×100 relay team. Her best shot at gold is in the 200. She won silver medals in the 200 in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.
Felix was at the center of controversy in the 100 at the U.S. Olympic Trials. She and Jeneba Tarmoh tied for third place at the Olympic Trials leaving the final spot on the 100 for Team USA up in the air for the duration of the meet.
The two were supposed to have a run-off after the trials ended, but Tarmoh conceded her spot to Felix before they could race again. Tarmoh will be on the 4×100 relay team, but will not compete in the 100 for Team USA.
Canyon High graduate Alysia Montano heads to the Summer Olympics as the U.S. champion in the 800. She won the 800 at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Hart High graduate Anthony Ervin is going to the Olympics as a member of the USA swim team for the first time since 2000. He won the gold medal in the 50 freestyle in the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. He also won a silver medal as part of the 4×100 relay team. Ervin will be competing in the 50 freestyle in London.
Saugus High graduate David Smith is on the Team USA men’s volleyball team. The middle blocker is going to the Olympics for the first time. Team USA won the gold medal in men’s volleyball in 2008 in Beijing.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220 and writes for the ESPN Los Angeles website. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com.

Let’s Fix This

| Gazette, Opinion, Sports | July 20, 2012

I know I will probably get a lot of emails on this one. Things have to be said that really aren’t being said.
This political season has become one of the most disturbing ones in recent times, and it leaves me wondering about the sanity of the American people.

Our country, like it or not, was built on capitalism. Business makes our economy grow and makes our country prosperous. Without it we no longer have a free country. We will end up on the trash heap of all the other socialist nations that have failed before us.

We have been given the great gift of the opportunity to peer into the future to see what happens when a government takes over and runs economies. France, Greece and others are failing before our very eyes because of entitlement spending – the “Cradle to Grave” mentality. Our President seems eager to rush us toward the policies that have destroyed these countries. It makes me seriously wonder what his true motives are and why so many Americans just look the other way. Are they not informed, uneducated or just don’t care?

Any way you look at it, our country is on a path to destruction and our administration is doing nothing to change course. If anything, they are increasing the speed to the inevitable.

We have one of the worst presidents and administrations of modern time, maybe of all time. You can look at any economic indicator and nothing has turned around. Yet we hear every day he wants four more years.

What has really shocked me in the past weeks, when the job numbers came out telling us only 80K jobs were created, that in the same month a record 85K people went on disability. More people on disability than got jobs in the safest work environment in U.S. history – something is wrong. I looked a little deeper and found a record 5.4 million workers and their dependents have signed up to collect federal disability checks since President Obama took office, according to the latest official government data, as discouraged workers increasingly give up looking for jobs and take advantage of the federal program.

This is straining already-stretched government finances while posing a long-term economic threat by creating an ever-growing pool of permanently dependent working-age Americans.

In the same time frame only 2.3 million (non-farming) job-seekers have found jobs. Ironically, this drives down the unemployment rate, which simply measures how many people are looking for work but haven’t been able to find it. When people quit looking or sign up for disability benefits, they no longer count as unemployed.

The problem is that few people who get on disability will ever participate in the labor force again. In fact, the vast majority of those who exit Social Security Disability Insurance do so, either because they hit retirement age or died. This, while our unemployment rate hovers above 8.2 percent and experts say the real unemployment rate is a staggering 15 percent.

Is this what we want in America? I know I don’t want to see American families struggling.

President Obama tells us he wants four more years. I have just one question: For what? Haven’t you done enough damage? Every time I hear him speak he blames someone else. Bush, Europe, Romney, Bain Capital, rich people, the oil companies, the weather. Seriously!

Can you imagine for a minute going into an Interview for a great job, but instead of telling your interviewer about accomplishments you tell them how bad the next guy in line is? Not what a great asset you have been at your last job, but how everybody else made your job harder and why you couldn’t do yours…how you were supposed to be a leader but your fellow workers made it just too hard for you to do your job…and how your last boss made such a mess that you couldn’t possibly fix it. That is exactly what Obama is trying to convince you and the citizens of America.

Obama needs to quit complaining and blaming. He had a super majority in Congress for two years and he decided a Healthcare Tax plan was more important than helping the economy. Even in his own words, “If I can’t fix the economy in three years, it will be a one-term proposition.” Well, it’s not fixed Mr. President.

We deserve better. Americans are tired of the lies and propaganda. Let’s Fix this.

**The Views expressed in this column are those of the writer, not necessarily those of Valley Publications.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | June 28, 2012

The path to the 2012 Summer Olympics took an interesting turn for Santa Clarita’s Allyson Felix.

She finished in a dead heat for third place in the women’s 100 meter race at the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. The top-three runners will compete in the 100 meters at the Summer Olympics in London.

Now it looks like a coin flip might break the tie.

USA Track and Field officials have no policy in place to break a dead heat in a race. It doesn’t happen very often, but it is not the most unlikely of scenarios.
Even with digital cameras that can produce images at .001 seconds, the photo finish was inconclusive.

The USA Track and Field officials have decided either a coin flip or a match race will determine who competes in the Olympics in the 100 meters. Let’s hope they go with the match race.

Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh had a photo finish in the 100 meter final, both crossing the finish line in 11.068 seconds.

Tarmoh was declared the third-place finisher immediately after the race, but officials reviewed the photos from the cameras at the finish line. There were two cameras, one on the inside of the track and one on the outside.

The inside camera shot did not reveal who crossed the finish line first. The outside camera did not provide a better shot of the outcome. After the race, Tarmoh was initially credited with third place and was able to celebrate winning a spot in the Olympics. Felix said she was disappointed with the results of the race.

“You think of things that you could have done differently,” Felix said. “I am happy for my teammate getting third, but I am really disappointed.”

Carmelita Jeter won the 100 meters. Tianna Madison was second. Both are on the USA Olympic team and will compete in the 100 in London. Tarmoh and Felix will be on the 4×100 relay team for the United States. But only one of them can compete in the 100 at the Olympics.

“God has the bigger plan; you may think you have it but in the end things work out a certain way for a reason,” Felix said. “Now I can focus fully on relays.”

Felix is also competing in the 200 at the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials. She won silver medals in the 200 in the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.
Canyon High graduate Alysia Montano is headed to London to compete in the 800 at the Olympics. She won the 800 meters at the USA Track and Field Olympic Trials, dominating the field wire to wire in 1 minute, 59.08 seconds.

She missed out on the 2008 Summer Olympics even though she was the top 800 runner in the nation heading into the track and field trials.

She injured her foot after her first race and couldn’t continue in the meet. There was no such misfortune this time around.

“It felt great,” Montano said after winning her heat race in the 800 and making it to the final as the top qualifier. “I never am really going for time; I just run. It’s like I press play. Everything else is left for practice.”
The string of top-10 finishes in the Izod IndyCar Series for Bryan Herta Autosport came to an end at Iowa Speedway.

Alex Tagliani, driving for the team owned by Valencia’s Bryan Herta, was 16th in the race at Iowa Speedway, snapping a three-race streak of top-10 finishes.

Tagliani won the pole at Texas Motor Speedway and finished in ninth place. He followed up with a season-best seventh in the IndyCar Series race at the Milwaukee Mile. Tagliani started his top-10 steak with a 10th place at Belle Isle in Michigan before the Texas race.
But the team took a step backward at Iowa battling through rain and mechanical issues before having to withdraw on lap 207 in the Iowa Corn Indy 250.
“Alex really drove a tremendous race,” said Herta, a Hart High graduate. “It’s a shame that we had the issue on the pace lap with the cold tires but the fact remains that Alex continues to do a great job in the car. I’m more confident now than I was even before this weekend that we’re on the right path and we’re going to get that Barracuda Networks car in Victory Circle before the end of the year.”

Tagliani started in ninth in Iowa and moved up to third place during the first half of the race. But he spun his tires at the start of the race and had to pit. He returned to the race two laps down and had to work his way back to the lead lap.

“I think we had a car that could win tonight,” said Tagliani after the race. “I feel bad for making that mistake and I’m just disappointed. Even though we didn’t collect the trophy tonight, I know our car was the class of the field, and I hope this opportunity will happen again. We’re just running really well and I can’t wait to go to Toronto.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay won the IndyCar Series race in Iowa, his second in a row. He also won the race at the Milwaukee Mile.

The Honda Indy Toronto is scheduled for July 9.

Canyon High graduate Greg Pursley inched a little closer to the lead in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West standings after a third-place finish in Sonoma.

Pursley, the reigning West Series champion, won the pole and finished two spots ahead of Dylan Kwasniewski, his teammate at Gene Price Motorsports and the leader in the West Series standings after eight races.

Kwasniewski has an eight-point lead over Pursley. Each has won two West Series races and each has eight top-10 finishes.

David Gilliland, a driver from Riverside and a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regular, won the West Series race in Sonoma.

Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM 1220 and writes for the ESPN Los Angeles website. He can be reached at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule, by Tim Haddock

| Gazette, Sports | June 1, 2012

West Ranch baseball team goes deep in CIF playoffs
West Ranch had one of the best playoff runs in the history of high school baseball in the Santa Clarita Valley.
The Wildcats reached the semifinals of the Division 1 playoffs, losing to Corona, 2-1, at Blair Field at Long Beach State. Before West Ranch bowed out of the playoffs, the team beat Orange Lutheran, one of the top teams in the nation.
But the Wildcats ran into a buzz saw in Daniel Pena from Corona. He tossed a six-hitter and proved to be a Foothill League killer in the playoffs.
Corona was a wild-card team and eliminated Valencia, 3-0, in the wild-card round.
West Ranch starter Cody Bennett was equally effective, tossing a five-hitter against Corona, but didn’t get the run support.
West Ranch (21-9-1) won four playoff games, was 10-2 in its last 12 games and was the first team from the Foothill League to reach the semifinals of the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs.
The Wildcats reached the semifinals after beating Orange Lutheran, the top-seeded team in the Division 1 playoffs, 5-4, in the quarterfinals.
Freshman second baseman Jagger Rusconi knocked in two runs with a ground-rule double in the bottom of the sixth inning to give his team a one-run lead against Orange Lutheran.
Tyler Woldanski hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. West Ranch starter J.C. Cloney went 5 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on six hits.
It was a signature win for West Ranch. Orange Lutheran by many accounts was the No. 1 team in the nation and ranked No. 4 in the country by ESPN HS.
It’s amazing what an engine change can make.
Bryan Herta Autosport saw some immediate dividends from switching to Honda engines at the 96th running of the Indianapolis 500. Driver Alex Tagliani finished 12th, the best result in four races in the Izod IndyCar Series, and even led for two laps during pit stops.
It wasn’t exactly a repeat performance from last year, when Bryan Herta Autosport won the Indy 500 with Dan Wheldon as driver. It was a miraculous ending for the team owned by Valencia’s Bryan Herta. Wheldon passed J.R. Hildebrand on the last turn of the last lap of last year’s Indy 500. Hildebrand crashed in the turn 4 wall, ending what looked like a winning run.
Herta put together a team specifically for the Indy 500. It was only his team’s second start in an Izod IndyCar Series race. Wheldon, two-time Indy 500 winner, and Herta were teammates with Andretti Green Racing when both were drivers. The two teamed up for the Indy 500 with high expectations and few resources.
Bryan Herta Autosport came in to this year’s Indy 500 as the reigning race winners, but the team was struggling with engines and results. Bryan Herta Autosport started the season with Lotus engines, but after the third race switched to Honda. The team skipped the race in Brazil and focused on the Indy 500 with Honda power. The engines worked great.
Steering wheel problems and a malfunctioning gear box created other issues for Tagliani. Tagliani had to serve a stop-and-go penalty for speeding down pit lane, but he was able to work his way back up to the leaders before the end of the race.
“We had a really great car — it ran fast all day,” Herta said. “It’s a shame we had the penalty and lost that lap early because that dictated our race, and we spent a lot of time fighting to get our lap back. Can’t wait to get back on track next week in Detroit.”
Tagliani started the race in 11th and took the lead on lap 45. He held the lead for one lap before having to cycle in for a pit stop. It was by far the best race of the season for Bryan Herta Autosport and Tagliani.
“It was unfortunate because I think we had a car to win,” Tagliani said. “Obviously, the Honda power did fantastic. We were good on fuel; mileage was amazing with our car. The balance was good. Unfortunately, we had a problem with the steering wheel, and it happened in qualifying where the weight jacker didn’t work. So I lost a lot of the command (in the car). I had problems finding neutral in the pit. I couldn’t really find the pit limiter. I got caught once, so I had to reset it all the time.”
Even Tagliani’s water bottle wasn’t working right and he drove a majority of the race without being able to put fluids in his body.
“That’s pretty tough,” Tagliani said. “But the weight jacker was mainly our big issue. Without being able to balance the car in traffic, out of traffic, on your own, with the turbulence and the track changing, it was pretty hard.”
The Kings are in the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993. The record for lowest-seeded to win a Stanley Cup will be broken.
The Kings are the No. 8 seed from the Western Conference and dispensed of the No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds in the playoffs.
The Devils are the No. 6 seed from the Eastern Conference.
The lowest seed to win a Stanley Cup was the Devils in 1995. They were the fifth seed and swept the Detroit Red Wings. Martin Brodeur was the Devils goalie in 1995. He won all 16 playoff games for the Devils and had three shutouts.
The Kings and Devils met twice during the regular season, both times in October. That was before the Kings hired Darryl Sutter as coach and traded for Jeff Carter. The Devils won the two regular-season games, including a 3-0 shutout at Staples Center on Oct. 25.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick recorded three shutouts in a row before the game against the Devils. Then-coach Terry Murray decided to rest Quick and start back-up goalie Jonathan Bernier. The Devils scored three goals in the first six minutes of the second period.
For the record, Bernier has not started a game for the Kings in the playoffs.
Game 1 is Wednesday night in New Jersey.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at AM 1220 KHTS and writes for the ESPN Los Angeles website. He can be reached by e-mail at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | May 18, 2012

By Tim Haddock

It’s a good time to be a West Ranch Wildcat.

The West Ranch baseball team won its first Foothill League championship. The softball team won its first Foothill League championship.

But the boys volleyball team is probably having the most impressive run of the three. The Wildcats won their first playoff game, and didn’t stop there. They eliminated Laguna Beach, the third-seeded team in the CIF Southern Section Division II playoffs, and advanced to the semifinals.

West Ranch is the only unseeded team in the final four of the boys volleyball playoffs.

Not to be outdone, the Valencia boys volleyball team also reached the semifinals of the Division II playoffs. It is their first trip to the semifinals since 2008, the year the Vikings won the Division II championship.
Saugus freshman Abbey Weitzeil won two CIF Southern Section Division I swimming titles at Riverside City College. She is the first swimmer from Saugus to win a Southern Section championship since 1997.

She won the 50 freestyle and the 100 freestyle. She set the Foothill League and school record in the 50 freestyle in 23.07 seconds. She won the 100 freestyle in 49.63 seconds, and nearly broke the meet record of 49.26 seconds set in 2004 by Courtney Cashion from Irvine High.

Weitzeil isn’t quite done with her swimming season either. She is qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in two events, the 50 and the 100, and is gunning for a third in the 200 freestyle over Memorial Day weekend.

Jeff Conwell, her coach at Canyons Aquatics Club, said he expects Weitzeil to finish in the top-16 in the 50 freestyle at the U.S. Olympic Trials. It won’t be good enough to make the Olympic team, but incredibly impressive for a swimmer who didn’t start swimming competitively until she was in the seventh grade.

She has plenty of good swimming years ahead of her.

The College of the Canyons softball team reached the championship series of the California Community College Athletic Association Super Regionals and was eliminated by Riverside City College.

The COC softball team had an impressive season, one of the best in school history. Catcher Adrianna Correra hit two solo home runs against Riverside and finished with 24 on the season, a school record.
The team finished with a 42-5-1 record, also a school record.

Of all the teams from L.A. in the playoffs, the Kings were the last one that should be playing in a conference final.
But after knocking out the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks and the second-seeded St. Louis Blues, the Kings have the comparably easy task of eliminating the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes for a spot in the Stanley Cup final.

Is it me, or is having two ice hockey teams from Los Angeles and Phoenix in the Western Conference final tremendously unsettling. When was the last time it snowed in Phoenix? Or Los Angeles for that matter? I remember a freak hail storm in Malibu a few years ago, but that’s about as frosty as Southern California has been since the Ice Age.

It’s been 19 years, which seems like an Ice Age ago, since the Kings have been in the NHL Western Conference finals. Images of Wayne Gretzky and Jari Kurri, Dave Taylor and Rob Blake, and unfortunately, Warren Rychel and Pat Conacher, have been surfacing on TV in recent days. The Kings beat the favored and overrated Toronto Maple Leafs in seven games to reach their first and only Stanley Cup Final in 1993.

Then Marty McSorley and his illegal curved stick ruined it for everyone in the Winter Wonderland that rolled into Inglewood. Yes, the Kings played at the Great Western Forum during the 1993 NHL playoffs.

If the Kings make it to the Stanley Cup Final again, someone better be checking sticks before every period. There is no way the Kings can lose another Stanley Cup on a technicality.

Then again, the Kings have been shorthanded killers. Playing a man down is an advantage for this version of the playoff Kings. Bring on the penalties.
This 2012 Kings are much different than the ones from 1993. Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick are the leaders of this gritty, gutty, stingy, ugly-playing team. They are the exact opposite of Gretzky and the not-so-great-ones.
Win or lose, the Lakers need to make some changes. The first one to go should be Metta World Peace.

Sell high, as they say, and MWP’s stock won’t be any higher than it is now.

Make no mistake, he is the reason the first-round series against the Denver Nuggets went seven games instead of four.

He had to sit out seven games serving a suspension after elbowing James Harden of the Oklahoma Thunder in the head. Guess who the Lakers plays in the next round of the playoffs? The Oklahoma Thunder.

Harden has a way of getting in people’s heads. MWP’s mind can’t be a pleasant place to visit, and Harden learned the hard way about making a social call there, but how many seconds are left on MWP’s ticking time bomb?

The Lakers could probably trade MWP for some quality players, perhaps a shooter off the bench or a starting small forward.

Pau Gasol is next one who needs to go. He is as inconsistent as Andrew Bynum. The difference is Gasol is older and has much more mileage on his body, from playoffs and international play, than Bynum. Bynum is a baby and has some growing up to do, but at least he is a baby who can grab 30 rebounds in a game. The Lakers have a better chance of getting Kobe Bryant his seventh NBA championship with Bynum than Gasol.

The trick will be finding a team to take on Gasol’s contract.
What’s to make of the Clippers? The more they get beat up, the better they play. With Blake Griffin and Chris Paul nursing injuries, they won Game 7, the first in franchise history, and eliminated the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Now the Clippers face the San Antonio Spurs, the savviest and oldest team in the NBA.

At least there is still a chance the Lakers and Clippers will meet in the Western Conference final. In the same vein, I have the same chance of winning the lottery.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at AM 1220 KHTS and writes for the ESPN Los Angeles website. He can be reached at tim@hometownstation.com. Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

Sports Capsule

| Gazette, Sports | April 9, 2012

I root for the Dodgers. I root for the Kings and the Lakers, too. I prefer UCLA over USC and I like NASCAR, Indy cars, dragsters and motocross.
I went to Hart when the Canyon football team was one of the best teams in the country, when Harry Welch won three CIF championships in a row and the team had a 46-game winning streak. I was at Hart when Canyon was the only other high school in Santa Clarita. I remember when Canyon and Saugus played in the Golden League and Burroughs and Burbank battled Hart for the Foothill League title in football.
When it comes to the Dodgers, Kings and Lakers, this will be a place to praise their successes and criticize their shortcomings. It will be a place to complain about how the UCLA football team has no chance to beat USC and how the UCLA basketball team should expect better than an NIT invitation.
This will be a place to celebrate the accomplishments of high school athletes throughout Santa Clarita. I have a soft spot for Hart, but I recognize every school has great athletes.
I miss Saugus Speedway.
It looks like Augusta National might have to admit a woman as a member. The CEO of IBM, one of the title sponsors of the Masters Golf Tournament, is Virginia Rometty. IBM runs the Masters.com website and is one of only three sponsors on the Masters telecasts. The four previous CEOs of IBM, all men, were granted memberships to Augusta National, but the golf club does not admit women as members.
I have only three words for Augusta: Stand your ground.
In case you didn’t notice, the Major League Baseball season started in Japan with a series between the Mariners and the A’s last week. That’s right, two teams nobody cares about played two games in a country halfway around the world. It was like opening day in the WNBA.
The Dodgers have new owners, young players, the Cy Young award winner and the National League home run and RBI champion. Magic Johnson, Dee Gordon, Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp are nice pieces, but the Dodgers still need a third baseman, a closer, a left fielder and fifth starter. The trade deadline can’t come soon enough.
Remember when New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes bunted for a single in the last game of the season to win the National League batting title?
Jamie Moyer, the 49-year-old lefty,  will be in the starting rotation for the Colorado Rockies. He was invited to spring training and earned a spot on the team’s pitching staff. Good news for Moyer, but he has been in major league baseball longer than the Rockies.
Remember when Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari took Memphis and Massachusetts to the NCAA Final Four? Neither does the NCAA.
Two athletes to keep an eye on this spring: Abbey Weitzeil at Saugus High and Chris Low at College of the Canyons.
Weitzeil, a freshman swimmer at Saugus, broke the Foothill League record in the 100-yard freestyle in a meet last week. It is still early in the swim season and she should continue to lower her times as the CIF prelims and finals draw near. She set the record in 51.02 seconds, breaking the mark of 51.83 seconds held by Hart’s Chelsea Griffiths in 2009.
Weitzeil broke her own record at the inaugural Santa Clarita Valley Invitational on Saturday, winning the 100 freestyle in 50.91 seconds.
Low, a runner on the COC track and field team, has already set the fastest time in the nation in the 800. It has since been broken by Michael Preble, a runner from Texas A&M, at the USC Trojan Invitational at Loker Stadium.
To think a runner from COC could have the fastest time in the 800 in the nation – that includes NCAA runners – is, well, unthinkable.
The first round of the Foothill League baseball season is in the books. West Ranch, as expected, is in first place in the league standings.
Valencia, on the other hand, is not in the mix. Hart and a surprising Saugus team are tied with West Ranch in first place in the Foothill League standings. All three teams have 4-1 records in league.
Hart is young and playing a little bit above expectations. West Ranch has talented senior leadership in J.C. Cloney, Justin Hovis and Josh Heinz.
Saugus is the hottest team in the league, though. After losing its first Foothill League game to Hart, the Centurions have rattled off four wins in a row. The most impressive came against West Ranch last week.
Justin Donatella pitched six strong innings and kept the explosive West Ranch bats in check in a 6-4 win at West Ranch.
Saugus, Valencia, Canyon and West Ranch are in the La Palma Kennedy tournament this week for spring break. Hart is in the Anaheim Lion Club Tournament. Golden Valley is in the Coachella Valley Rotary Tournament.
Tim Haddock is the sports director at KHTS AM-1220 and writes for the ESPN Los Angeles web site. You can e-mail Tim Haddock at tim@hometownstation.com.  Follow him on Twitter @thaddock.

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Doug’s Rant – Video Edition

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