INLAND VALLEY LEAGUE
Last season’s results: Moreno Valley Rancho Verde (13-1, 7-0); Riverside Arlington (9-3, 6-1); Moreno Valley Valley View (6-5, 5-2); Riverside La Sierra (6-5, 4-3); Moreno Valley (3-7, 3-4); Moreno Valley Vista del Lago (4-6, 2-5); Moreno Valley Canyon Springs (2-8, 1-6); Ramona (0-10, 0-7).
Players to watch: As they say at Rancho Verde, the Mustangs don’t rebuild, they reload. They showed their skill in June during a seven-on-seven passing tournament at UCLA, finishing 8-0 behind senior quarterback Carlos Hernandez. He’ll have a pair of solid receivers to look to in senior Breon Redman, a returning first-team all leaguer, and junior Demorea Stringfellow, who already has a scholarship offer from UCLA. Kevin Shelton is a potential Division 1 recruit on the offensive line and he’ll be re-joined by all-leaguer Robert Rodriguez. The defense should be well anchored by all-Central Division linebacker Blair Brown and defensive backs DeVonte Collier and Leroy Holt. Rancho Verde should face some stiff competition from La Sierra, which boasts the league’s best front seven on defense. A.J. Fanene had a league-leading 18 ½ sacks last season, ninth-most in the Southern Section, and piqued the interest of USC during spring combines. Noel Quiones led the IVL with 156 tackles, including seven sacks, and fellow linebacker Tim Mummert also produced seven sacks. Offensively, the Eagles will be directed by junior quarterback Johnny Salazar, a returning starter. Valley View features the league’s top returning running back. Michael Harrison racked up 1,120 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns last season. He surpassed the 100-yard mark in the final five regular-season games. The defense will be led by all-league linebacker Michael Khoury. Moreno Valley will also likely rely on its running game. Ieremia Talia ran for 971 yards last season, averaging 7.3 yards a carry en route to earning all-league honors. Canyon Springs should also improve with the return of its top two receivers, senior Jeff Hernandez and junior Kendrick Newburn. Arlington is expected to face a rebuilding year this season but the Lions have a strong pass defender in senior Alex Garcia, a first-team all-league selection.
Projected order of finish: Rancho Verde, La Sierra, Valley View, Arlington, Canyon Springs, Vista del Lago, Moreno Valley, Ramona.
Key games: Sept. 2 – Perris Citrus Hill vs. Canyon Springs @ Moreno Valley; Sept. 16 – Valley View vs. Riverside Patriot @ Riverside Rubidoux HS, Moreno Valley @ Palm Springs; Sept. 23 – Rancho Verde @ Romoland Heritage, Arlington @ La Quinta; Sept. 30 – Arlington vs. Valley View @ Ramona; Oct. 7 – Rancho Verde @ Valley View; Oct. 14 – Rancho Verde vs. La Sierra @ Riverside Norte Vista HS; Oct. 21 – La Sierra @ Valley View; Nov. 11 – Arlington @ Rancho Verde.
Alumni in the NFL: Tyron Smith, Dallas Cowboys (Rancho Verde ’08); D’Aundre Reed, Minnesota Vikings (Rancho Verde ‘06); Da’Mon Cromartie-Smith, Pittsburgh Steelers (Rancho Verde ’05); Derrick Ward, Houston Texans (Valley View ’98).
Fast fact: Rancho Verde has won 31 consecutive regular-season games but that success hasn’t carried into the postseason. The Mustangs did not advance past the semifinals in 2008 and 2009, and were upset by Colton in the Central Division finals last season, despite entering the playoffs as the top-seeded team in the division.
On the clock: Mt. Baldy League.