Author: Rucker Group

Follow The Leader

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.


Jake Turner

Damien High School

Class of 2018

Remembering Tyler Hilinski

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”

The “BullDog” Mentality

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.

Mathew Lawson Colony 

     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

Player Spotlight: Simon Samarzich

Simon Samarzich Character Still Counts

    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.

J.R. Rucker

IE Preps Magazine

IE Preps Magazine POWER 20 High School Football Rankings (After Week 1)


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

IE Preps Magazine High School Football POWER 20 Ranking (Week 0)

Chase Williams POWER 20 Ranking

1. Corona Centennial – You have to respect success, and you have to really respect sustained success. It’s a new season, but its the same old Matt Logan. The Huskies may have their best quarterback  ever in the super talented Tanner McKee.

2. Upland – Coach Salter has a talented crew of underclassmen who may be a year away, which makes us think this might actually be their year! Baldwin, Flowe, Samarzich, and Jones have us seeing “green this season”.

3. Norco – We happens when you play a really aggressive pre-season schedule, is you either get better or get beat down. Norco has gotten better and seems to love playing the best schools and this says alot about their mentality. Alabama commit Jarrett Bell leads a nasty bunch of bruisers for Coach Chastain this season.

4. Rancho Cucamonga – What you need to know about this team is that they may have the best running back tandem in the IE and potentially school history with Dollars & Alexander. The defense, as always, is talented with tons of hungry secondary players. Jeremiah Criddell may be the best player in the class of 2019.

5. Murrieta Valley – Junior QB Hank Bachmeier is a touchdown passing machine. This season he still has Mr. Spiker to throw to and possibly break state records in receiving. Look for more of the same from the Nighthawks, high scoring and fast paced. If the defense shows up big, look out.

6. Vista Murrieta – Since IE Preps Magazine has covered high school football Vista Murrieta has never been lower than #3 in our pre-season rankings. The Broncos has an adjustment year losing Candale and having a new man in Coach Olson. We believe this year Vista Murrieta bounces back, the game versus Murrieta Valley this season will never mean more.

7. Cajon – Guess what Inland Empire? Cajon is good, and we must say LOADED. Coach Rogers has a bevy of talented players suiting up this season for the Cowboys. QB Jayden Daniels, is a real problem for opposing defenses and defensive end Jeremiah Martin looks like he belongs in the SEC right now! Remember these other 3 names for Cajon as well: Jones, Perkins, and Fortune.

8. Redlands East Valley – It’s still in REV we trust, but finding a quarterback to run the machine is not always easy. Not to mention losing perhaps the defensive player in the nation in Jaelan Phillips, the Wildcats will look for new leaders.

9. Heritage – You already know the Patriots are one of the best football programs in the IE every season. This year is more of the same, the only question is will they continue to hold off Paloma Valley?

10. Citrus Hill – Zomalt’s teams always seem to be in the thick of things at the end of the season. We have no doubt that this season will be

11. Aquinas – Please don’t label this team small time. Aquinas is a super talented team and good have the IE’s most underrated player in Branden Rankins.

12. Paloma Valley – The new coach at Paloma Valley is blessed with veteran QB Chance Nolan and defensive studs Mills and Bradshaw. If they could only find a way to be Heritage.

13. Roosevelt – Coach Leach has his Mustangs ready to make a run this season. All World Chase Williams should make plays all season, while QB Jeremy Moussa will be ready to spread the ball all over the field.

14. Chino Hills – This is a young Huskies team, but don’t be fooled by their youth. Coach Stevens has his guys fired up to make some noise in the Baseline

15. Yucaipa – This has to be one of the most physical teams in the IE. Add some speed to that hard hitting and you have a heck of a team. Coach Price is one of the IE’s most underrated coaches. He will have the fastest man in Asani Hampton.

16. Don Lugo – Bethley might be the best running back in the IE, and offensive lineman Randazzo is a dancing bear who can maul anyone he faces.

17. Rancho Verde – The Mustangs always have talent. Coach Steinberg always gets the most out of his teams on and off the field.

18. Redlands – The Terriers are back! We have Redlands shaking up things this season in their league. The city of Redlands has been warned.

19. Oak Hills – A new coach, who is the old coach.. is back. The Bulldogs will be fine this season even with a coaching change. Look out for offensive lineman Jason Rodriguez.

20. Corona –  Coach Gueringer fresh off a CIF title moves over to Corona. Look for highly rated wide out Manuel Allen to put up big numbers at his new school.


TEAMS TO WATCH: Citrus Valley, Colony, Etiwanda, Great Oak, Pacific

Scout Me Day 17

Scout Me 4     Our Scout Me Day 17 event held at the Pacific Athletic Center in Claremont on June 24th was a huge day. Football programs such as A.B. Miller, Yucaipa, Chino Hills, Grand Terrace, and many more participated in the media day interviews and photoshoot. Victory Training had athletes in attendance run a battery of drills to test speed, strength, agility, and much more.

    Stay tuned for more upcoming events with IE Preps Magazine & Pacific Athletic Training in the 2017-2018 school year.


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