1. Corona Centennial – This season begins with a few questions in the roster, with dynamic players like QB Tanner Mckee graduating. There is no question about Head Coach Matt Logan. Logan once again finds a way to continue his dominance and carry the torch for the Inland Empire.
2. Cajon – The Cowboys were CIF section and state champs last season and did it in grand fashion. All everything defensive end Jeremiah Martin is gone, but the young “JEDI” QB Jayden Daniels is back for his final campaign. The Cowboys are loaded with talent, versatile linebacker Johnathan Perkins and wide receiver Darren Jones lead the way. Head Coach Nick Rogers may have his fair share of job offers after this season.
3. Upland – Upland QB David Baldwin’s departure is huge, but we are talking Upland here! With a team full of mostly juniors, Upland almost got it done last season. With seniors Simon Samarzich, Taj Davis, and Cam Davis the Scots will be ready to bring a ring to Coach Salter this year. There is also this junior on the team named Justin Flowe called “BABY MAN” who may be the best player in the country.
4. Norco – Coach Chuck Chastain keeps the Norco Cougars competitive every season. If it were not for being in the same league as Centennial, Norco may have several league titles this decade. Never a team team that backs down from a battle, Norco’s schedule continues to have one of the most challenging schedules in southern California.
5. Rancho Verde – The Mustangs brought home a CIF title last season under Coach Jeff Steinberg, soon after Coach Steinberg surprised everyone and moved on to coach Beaumont High School. Then the unthinkable happened former Head Coach Pete Duffy returned to be the new Head Coach. What Coach Duffy can flat out do is coach, and he has a bevy of talented players in the fold such as Jaxen Turner, Jamar Simpson, and transfer Ty McCullouch. The “CHO” Boys are back!
6. Vista Murrieta – The Broncos have their 3rd head coach in recent years in new Head Coach Eric Peterson. Coach Peterson served as an assistant coach on the staff with Candeale and knows the high Vista Murrieta football expectations. The natives are getting restless and want to see the Broncos back at the top in league and in the post season. The good news is, Vista Murrieta always has talent. Look for a big push this season.
7. Murrieta Valley – Top national QB recruit Hank Bachmeier starts his grand finale at Murrieta Valley. The offensive numbers that the Nighthawks have put up with Bachmeier under center have been record breaking! The air assault will continue this season.
8. Rancho Cucamonga – No school was hit harder in the off season more than Rancho Cucamonga. Long time Head Coach Nick Biaz stepped down and potential 5 star juniors Jeremiah Criddell and Sean Dollars both took their talents to Mater Dei High School. New Head Coach Mark Verti takes over this year, there will not be much transition because he served as offensive coordinator the past 3 years. On the field defensive back Mark Perry will carry on the tradition of “DBU”. Look for speedy Silas Bolden to play all over the field, he is a touchdown waiting to happen.
9. Redlands East Valley – The Bruich era is over at REV, it sounds strange just saying it. A new coach will be on the sidelines for the Wildcats this year, it will be Coach Richard Lunsford formerly of Arlington High School. All eyes will be on REV this season to see if the school’s rich football tradition will continue to carry on.
10. Citrus Valley – CIF State champion Head Coach Kurt Bruich brings his magic to Citrus Valley taking over for Coach Smolin. The city of Redlands awaits, to see if Bruich can do it again with the Blackhawks.
TEAMS TO WATCH: Aquinas, Chino Hills, Citrus Hill, Los Osos, & Yucaipa
The “Brothers Johnson” Tariq and Micah Johnson are two phenomenal students and basketball players out of the Fontana area. Make sure you read about these two dynamic talents in our April IE Preps Magazine issue when it is released next week.
Jake Turner is simply put, a leader. ASB President at Damien, Football Captain, and he soon will be enrolling into West Point in the Fall. The Sky is the limit for this transformative scholar athlete.
As most high school students in the Inland Empire can relate, being a student athlete today is never easy. Juggling school, sports, family, friends, and other extracurriculars can be a very overbearing experience at times, but it’s all how you prioritize and approach each agenda.
My experience at Damien High School has certainly been challenging, but rewarding nonetheless. Going into high school, I already knew I wanted to apply myself to some type of leadership role; it just took some time for me to figure out how. When I heard the morning announcement for elections for class office my freshman year, I knew that it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Since then, I have been voted in as Class Vice President for my freshman and sophomore years, Class President for my junior year, and ASB President for my senior year.
This final year especially, my schedule has been packed. A day in my life includes 4 AP classes, one IB class, recording the school-wide daily announcements, meetings during lunch, planning events after school with ASB, and 2-3 hour long sport practices every single day between Football and Track. Plus extracurricular events like my participation in Congresswoman Norma Torres’ Youth Advisory Committee. As a member of ASB, you are held to a higher standard among faculty, parents, members of the school community, and even the student population. The responsibilities you take on are high and expectations of you are even higher.
My duties as ASB President are truly a widely-ranged spectrum. I often act as a middle man between the students and the faculty, engaging in the ideas of both. I communicate to the faculty whatever the students want to see get done, and vice versa. Day-to-day, I help coordinate and undertake the morning prayer and announcements and unexpected tasks as they arise.
Working with the faculty, I help plan events across campus, such as pizza sales, fundraisers, rallies, etc. Something new happens every single day, but whatever it is that I am doing, I take pride in what I do. As a result, my duties never feel like a chore or assignment, but as something fun or enjoyable in my life.
Being a representative of the student body has allowed me to make close relationships with all types of people at Damien, not just athletes. Over the years I have come to make strong connections with different classes, grade levels, clubs, sports, members of the faculty, and many more. The leadership roles I have taken on in the classroom and on campus also ultimately helped me transition into being a leader on the field, as I was elected Co-Captain of my Varsity Football Team, and received other athletic accolades such as one of the Baseline League’s Outstanding Scholar/Athletes. These parts of my life are closely connected–one often stemming off the other. I believe my leadership in high school helped me recently receive an offer of admission to the United States Military Academy Preparatory School at West Point.
With so much going on, you often feel as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Some might assume you’d buckle under the pressure of it all. Yes, I’ll admit it can be a lot of work, but as I look back at the experiences I have had and the memories I have made, it has been totally worth it. Being a student athlete and ASB president has prepared me for life itself, learning many lessons along the way.
Damien High School
Class of 2018
By J.R. Rucker
When I first met Tyler Hilinski, he was in the 11th grade at Upland High School. We met in Chino Hills for a team photoshoot and the first thing that I noticed about him was that he called me “Bud”. Not in a disrespectful way, but a cool almost NFL QB way. I would give him suggestions for picture ideas and would just say, “cool whatever you need “Bud”. Over time I almost felt like he was the 40 year old and I was the teenager, due to his maturity and poise.
Tyler Hilinski was and is a special young man. He was not the cocky, “me first” guy that sometimes comes with being a prominent student athlete. Hilinski was just really … cool. The kind of cool where you knew he was the guy you wanted under center if the game was on the line. Tyler was also the guy that you wanted your son to hang out with and your daughter to date.
During a break in our first photoshoot I had a chance to speak with Tyler’s Father, Mr. Hilinski. Like his son, Mr. Hilinski was really easy going and not the super intense sports Dad that we often see with star high school athletes. I could see where Tyler got his easy flow style from. On our 2nd photoshoot the plan was to have Ford of Upland bring a green Ford Mustang for the team to pose with. They were the #1 preseason team and we wanted the picture to make a big splash. I remember it being a really hot day and Tyler’s teammates began to get restless as we waited 30 minutes for the car to arrive. Tyler began to make conversation with everyone and started to throw the football around making the mood light and easy. Tyler was a leader without going out of his way to be one
I choose to remember Tyler as that gracious young man that was so easy to work with. Tyler shares the same birthday as my daughter, who is now two years old. One day I am going to tell her about an awesome young man that she shares her birthday with.
IE Preps Magazine asks that you support Hilinksi’s Hope Foundation and keep his family and loved ones in your prayers. Tyler we will see you soon and we miss you. – “BUD”
Colony Class of 2018 Star Defensive Lineman and Fresno State commit writes about his hard work on the football field and in the classroom. Matt has a 3.8 GPA while taking several AP classes.
Coming out of middle school I wasn’t really a stud in the classroom. I came out of middle school with 3 A’s & 3 F’s, the bare minimum to move on. I decided that my freshman year of high school that raising my grades would be my number one priority. After cutting time out of other activities I managed to get straight A’s that first semester. This was around the time a lot of students, parents, & teachers told me I should try out for football. I reluctantly caved in and tried out, making the team.
The Colony football team had just come off a CIF title & still had a lot of guys coming back so I was originally nervous at first. However once I applied the work ethic I had in the classroom to the field, I left a good impression on the coaches. After a couple months of practicing with the team I was informed by the coaches that I would be starting for the scrimmage at La Puente. I completely got destroyed on the line. When we did our first film study I got chewed out heavily for not getting off the ball quick enough & or aggressively. In my mind it wasnt that I couldn’t do it, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice for it. This was similar to what previously happened in the classroom. It wasn’t that I couldn’t get good grades. It was just that I didn’t want to sacrifice anything to get them.
Going forward into my first varsity game, I was nervous again. Was I going to be flop or a stud? Am I going to let my coaches down? First snap goes & I get held up at the line. The same thing happens the second play. I don’t know what took over my the third play but I bursted off the line, dove at the QB, & caused a sack/strip fumble. At the end of my that game I recorded 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, & 8 tackles. After that the rest was history. That sophomore season I made sure to let people know who I am.
Playing college football wasn’t really on my mind until the end of my Junior season after I received my first offer. After that everything changed. It wasn’t just my coaches expecting greatness out of me, it was everyone around me. My senior year rolls around and by this time I have about 10 offers. I’m not going to lie, I was a little cocky at this point. Luckily I had good high school coaches because they broke me down & built me back up. We also changed the defense to three down linemen so I was the only big guy in the middle. It didn’t really bother me & I had somewhat of a good season. Once it came around to choose a college I had a hard time. Luckily after my official visit to Fresno State I realized this was my home & became a bulldog. I don’t know how well I’ll do in college but if I apply myself like I did in the classroom I can say these next four years are going to really fun!
– Matt Lawson
Simon Samarzich is character. It is said that character is who you are when no one is looking. Your character is made of the decisions you make in your private life, that are the culmination of your beliefs, dreams, and moral compass. To understand Simon Samarzich you would have to first understand his family. Simon is a lifelong Upland Highlander, something that has been a part of his life since he could walk. The decision to move to Upland years ago was largely due to his Father, Dave Samarzich’s, commitment and belief in the Salter family coaching legacy. You see, character does not just happen, it has to be taught and modeled. Simon has not only witnessed his father and mother’s dedication to supporting the Upland Football Program and city, he has also witnessed it in his older brother Christian. Spending countless days in elementary as a “ball boy” for the Upland High Football Program watching older brother Christian practice, win, and graciously lose taught Simon how to do things the “right way”.
Simon works as hard as any high school student athlete that I have ever witnessed. He is now (in our opinion) the best long snapper in the nation as well as a top area tight end prospect. Football practice, football camps, and constant training are the agenda items that make up Simon’s life. When he is not excelling on the field he is dominating in the classroom with a 4.0 GPA average and just for good measure he plays basketball for his high school as well. Quite simply put, Simon never quits. Watching Simon maneuver from being one of the top academic students at Upland High School, to transitioning to being a multi sport athlete who is one of the top class of 2019 prospects in the nation, is a sight to see. Simon is the type of student athlete that can put the world on his back and make it look easy.
Watching how Simon carries himself and the impact he has on his team to keep a positive attitude and care about his teammates builds unity and chemistry that is so often overlooked in team success. The Upland Football team went undefeated in the Baseline League this season and made a push in the CIF playoffs. With a talented group of juniors Upland made a huge statement for next season. Simon Samarzich was a BIG part of the success you saw in Upland this season. He is the type of young man that doesn’t come with excuses, he is about execution.
IE Preps Magazine
1. Corona Centennial (1-1) We got the super matchup that we were looking forward to in Centennial versus IMG. Centennial lost 40-20 in a game that saw players step up with their leader down. Tanner McKee’s injury could cost the Huskies more than a loss if it is anything long-term.
2. Rancho Cucamonga (2-0) The Cougars take over the #2 slot with a big win versus Norco 28-21. Biaz has a dangerous team that is full of specialty players like Super Sophomore Silas Bolden and Jeremiah Criddell. Quarterback Nick Acosta is coming into his own as a QB.
3. Upland (2-0) Upland QB David Baldwin’s Twitter handle is “The Franchise”, he played like it this week throwing 6 touchdowns in a 62-3 win over Claremont.
4. Norco (0-2) We can’t drop Norco too far, an ambitious schedule makes their record so far deceiving. They played tough versus Rancho Cucamonga this week in loss 28-21.
5. Cajon (1-0) Defensive end Jeremiah Martin is looking like an early Defensive Player of the Year Candidate. Cajon had a bye week.
6. Heritage (2-0) – In one word, Heritage is “Savage”, they play everyone and win 95% of the time. This week they bear Oak Hills 20-10.
7. Vista Murrieta (0-2) The Broncos faced a nasty Mission Viejo team this week losing 41-7. Another team in the ranking with a major league schedule, we can’t penalize that… right?
8. Citrus Hill (2-0) This team has already impressed us, beating a solid Santiago team 28-10.
9. Murrieta Valley (1-1) This week the Nighthawks bounce backwith an attitude winning big over Redlands 49-13. Spiker is the best wide receiver in the IE, scoring 6 touchdowns.
10. Murrieta Mesa (2-0) Quietly this team is positioning themselves to make a run. They beat Corona 42-7 in a route.
11. Paloma Valley (1-1) QB Chance Nolan was in classic form in a 35-30 win over Valley View.
12. Redlands East Valley (1-0) Win in a 59-55 shoot out versus Etiwanda.
13. Roosevelt (1-0) The Mustangs open up the season, by opening up a can of … on Eisenhower 44-3.
14. Etiwanda (1-1) This team is better than we thought, and Geordon Porter is better than you could ever imagine! The “Tesla” had 4 touchdowns, 7 catches with 260 receiving yards and 371 total yards in a
15. Aquinas (2-0) Branden Rankins becomes the all-time Aquinas rushing record holder and the Falcons beat Crespi 41-21.
16. Rancho Verde (2-0) Coach Steinberg has a good team and they proved it versus Carter winning 42-16. Their big time transfer will make a big difference this season.
17. Apple Valley (2-0) This program is legit, and they won big 60-7 over Granite Hills.
18. Oak Hills (1-1) The Bulldogs lose 20-10 to a strong Heritage team.
19. Damien (2-0) The Spartans win a slugfest versus Glendora 14-7.
20. Los Osos (2-0) The Grizzlies look good under new Head Coach Pierce, beating Northwood 45-7.
TEAMS TO WATCH: Chino Hills, Citrus Valley, Don Lugo, Pacific, Yucaipa