Lorne & Langston
Marmonte League looks loaded again
Defending champion Moorpark heads list of deep, talented teams
By Loren Ledin, August 31, 2006
The football playoffs in 2006 loom more difficult than AP calculus. Or, if you're a Marmonte League squad, business as usual. The postseason is the least of concerns for Marmonte League teams on the cusp of a new season. As always, the primary challenge is qualifying for postseason and surviving the free-for-all that is the Marmonte League circuit.
"Our league is so tough and so balanced that almost anybody can rise up and make the playoffs," said Westlake coach Jim Benkert. "This year, it's Moorpark and everybody else. Whoever stays healthy, whoever plays the best will reach the playoffs." Moorpark, which won its first league championship last season behind sophomore running back Darrell Scott and sophomore quarterback Adam Barry, earns the tag as early favorite. Simi Valley junior running back Langston Jackson, who figures to be a top recruiting target a year from now, could vault the Pioneers into contention.
Simi Valley Pioneers Simi Valley Acorn
Last season's results: (Tied for 6th in Marmonte, 5-5 overall). There seemed to be two different Pioneer football teams last year. There was the one that started out the year on fire going 5-0, and the one that ended the season in a slump going 0-5. To be fair, Simi Valley lost a couple of close games at Royal, at Thousand Oaks and at Newbury Park by a combined seven points.
Notable returnees: Langston Jackson, jr., RB/DB (68 rushes, 411 yards, 3 TDs); Jack Albert, sr., DE/TE (30 tackles, 26 assists); Nathan Mullett, sr., DT/OT; Luke Fleckenstein, sr., DT/OG (12 tackles, 23 assists); Alan Steele, jr., DE/FB (18 tackles, 15 assists) Impact Newcomer: Brandon Fricke, sr., QB Who They Play: SVHS has a chance to improve on its solid start from last year as their first six matchups are against teams that had sub-.500 records a season ago. In order to make the playoffs in 2006, Simi needs to get off to a fast start in Marmonte play when they host Newbury Park (Oct. 20) and T.O. (Oct. 27). The Pioneers last two games of the regular season may be their toughest. Late in the year, they play at Moorpark (Nov. 3) and at city rival Royal (Nov. 10).
Overview: The Pioneers lost a great running back in Devin Kelley, but Jackson should fill in nicely. As a sophomore with limited carries, Jackson gained 411 yards. Now with a year of varsity experience under his belt, Jackson could challenge for a league rushing title thanks to a great offensive line that includes returning starters Mullett and Fleckenstein.
Simi Valley also has a new quarterback this year in senior Fricke, who transferred from Pleasant Valley High in Chico. If Fricke's passing game takes off, so will the Pioneer offense.
The real test for the Pioneers will be their defense. Last year Simi Valley allowed a staggering 245 points against Marmonte League opponents, an average of 35 points per game. If that point total doesn't decrease significantly, the Pioneers won't succeed, no matter how good their offense may be.
In a nutshell: Head coach Todd Borowski likes what he's seen so far from the defense-they are doing better with communication and technique, he said. Borowski's also been impressed with his team during the offseason because they've played mistake-free football. If the Pioneers cause more turnovers than they create, and if some breaks go their way that didn't during the second half of last season, Simi will push for a playoff spot.
Simi Valley lost offensive standouts Bryan Randolph, Devin Kelley, Lorne Bell, T.J. Washington and Collin Franklin, forcing coach Todd Borowski and his staff to essentially start from scratch.
Langston Jackson, a 6-1, 210-pound junior who started last season at fullback, showed promise during summer passing leagues and will be the focal point offensively. "We're not hoping Langston can come in and contribute - we know he can and expect him to," Borowski said. "He's going to be our horse. He's a legitimate prospect."
LA Times Sports How They Rate. A look at the top running backs in the Southland
By Martin Henderson, Times Staff WriterSeptember 2, 2006
SOUTHERN SECTION Rank, Name, School, Height, Weight, Marc Tyler; Oaks Christian; 6-1; 220; Sr. Has size, speed, hands. Brandon Johnson, Dominguez, 5-10, 190, Sr. Was unstoppable as a junior. Malachi Lewis, Rio Mesa, 6-3, 200, Sr. Has legitimate sprinter speed. Charles Neal, Esperanza, 6-1, 210, Sr. Had 175 yards rushing in Div. I final.Ryan Bass, Corona Centennial, 5-10, 190, Jr. Rushed for 2,137 yards, 34 TDs. Keegan Gogerty, Mission Viejo, 5-10, 205, Sr. Ready to be a standout. Deshawn Grayson, Rancho Verde, 6-0, 190, Jr. Coming off terrific sophomore year. Chris Green, Chaffey, 5-10, 210, Sr. Rushed for 1,524 yards. Nicolas Grigsby, St. Paul, 6-0, 180, Sr. Rushed for 1,813 yards. Aaron Harris, Baldwin Park, 5-10, 175, Sr. Rushed for 1,903 yards, 25 TDs. Delano Howell, Hart, 6-1, 180, Jr.Watch the 100-yard games pile up. Langston Jackson, Simi Valley, 6-1, 210, Jr. Has speed, power and strength. Ramon Judkins, Beverly Hills, 6-1, 195, Jr. Has breakaway speed. Michael Lee, St. Bonaventure, 5-6, 154, Sr. Rushed for 1,929 yards, 32 TDs.