College Prep Professional Sports

SPORTS DIGEST: High school football season begins this week

Getting a week’s head start on the colleges — and two weeks on the National Football League — the 2015 high school football begins this week for most area schools.

Ten area teams made the pre-season top-10 rankings in their respective division in the CIF Southern Section and L.A. City Section schools are also ready to begin the schedule, which culminates in December with the section finals and the state tournament.

The best team in the area beginning the season is St. John Bosco of Bellflower. The Braves are ranked second in the Southern Section’s top division, the Pac 5.

Seven area teams made the rankings in the Southeast Division, topped by number-one Downey and followed by Cathedral, No. 3; La Serna, No. 5; Paramount, No. 6; Dominguez, No. 8, Salesian, No. 9; and El Rancho, No. 10.

In the Mid-West Division, Almont League rivals Bell Gardens and Montebello are ranked No. 7 and No. 9, respectively.

Pioneer High School in West Whittier will open its season Aug. 27 in a brand new campus stadium against Artesia. Norwalk John Glenn High also opens Aug. 27 against Anaheim Magnolia.

Here is the remaining schedule, with all games Aug. 28 unless otherwise noted:

Dorsey at Hamilton

South Gate Legacy at Jordan

Grenada Hills at Venice

Westchester at South Gate

Garfield at Alemany

San Pedro at Dorsey

Gardena at Santa Clara Oxnard

Sotomayor at Fremont

Norwalk at Bell

El Sereno Wilson at Roybal

Rivera at Huntington Park Marquez

Hawkins at View Park

Arleta at Eagle Rock

Fairfax at Roosevelt

George Washington Prep at Santee

South Gate South East at Banning

Crenshaw at San Marcos Mission Hills

Torres at Huntington Park

Jefferson at Lincoln

Franklin at North Hollywood

Pico Rivera El Rancho at Claremont

Cathedral at Pasadena Muir

Workman at Cantwell Sacred Heart of Mary

St. John Bosco at La Mirada

Whittier La Serna at Chula Vista Eastlake

Leuzinger at Morningside

Long Beach Milikan at Lynwood

Burbank Burroughs at Warren

Loyola at Harvard Westlake

Santa Fe at Santa Maria St. Joseph

Whittier at Sonora

Verbum Dei at La Canada

Anaheim Western at Alhambra

Bishop Montgomery at Bellflower

Serra at Lakewood

Ganesha at Mark Keppel

Long Beach Wilson at Paramount

Bell Gardens at Arcadia

Montebello at El Monte

Orange Lutheran at Dominguez

Schurr at Bonita

Agoura at St. Paul

Santa Ana Calvary at Firebaugh (Aug. 29)

Gahr at Whittier California (Aug. 29)

Vallejo Bethel @ Salesian (Aug. 29)

USC football coach Steve Sarkisian finds himself in hot water after an outburst fueled by medications and alcohol at the annual Salute to Troy event Aug. 22. (Photo by Mario Villegas)
USC football coach Steve Sarkisian finds himself in hot water after an outburst fueled by medications and alcohol at the annual Salute to Troy event Aug. 22. (Photo by Mario Villegas)

SARKISIAN’S MISTAKE: By now most have heard about (if you haven’t seen the video) of USC football coach Steve Sarkisian making a fool of himself at the annual Salute to Troy event Aug. 22. Salute to Troy is the annual kickoff to the football season where the players and their parents mingle with top boosters and donors to the football program and top university officials.

Sarkisian claimed he inadvertently mixed medication with alcohol before he got in front of a microphone and disparaged most of USC’s opponents with a word that includes three of the school’s letters in a different order.

He also added an expletive adjective when referring to the school’s motto, “Fight On.”

Sarkisian fell on his Trojan sword Aug. 25 with a public apology, after apologizing in a statement issued by USC that also included a tongue lashing from athletic director Pat Haden.

“First and foremost, I’d like to apologize for my behavior Saturday night,” Sarkisian told reporters. “It was inappropriate.

“I feel bad for the University of Southern California, I feel bad for [USC President] Max Nikias, and Pat Haden; I feel bad for our players, and I feel bad for my own kids, that the way I acted was irresponsible, and something that I obviously don’t condone.”

Sarkisian said he was hoping to put the issue behind him and lead his football team to a successful season.

“I think the moral of the story is this: when you mix meds with alcohol, sometimes you say things and/or do things that you regret, and I regret it,” he said.

Sarkisian declined to elaborate on what medication he had taken or for what condition he had taken the medication.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated. “I’m sorry for all of our fans, and donors, and all of the people that were in attendance, but I’m going to move forward, and we’re going to be great.”

Sarkisian said he was going “to go to treatment” and deal with his problems.

“I don’t know if I even need rehab,” he said. “That’s part of the process … to have meetings, to figure that out.”

Sarkisian’s outburst was the last thing the Trojans needed with the season opener nine days away now.

The Trojans are picked as high as eighth in some pre-season polls and are favored to win the Pac 12 title this season, according to the media that voted at the Pac 12 media day earlier this month.

They have the talent to warrant their pre-season status, but talent only can take them so far.

Sarkisian wasn’t a popular choice among all of the Trojans’ supporters when he was named to replace Lane Kiffin after the 2013 season and his team’s 9-4 record last year didn’t make him any more popular.

If the Trojans fail to play in the Pac 12 championship game this year, look for many Trojan boosters who were present for his outburst Aug. 22 to be calling for his ouster in December.

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook

WESTBROOK RETURNS: Oklahoma Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook attended 75th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles from the third through fifth grade.

Last week he returned to his former school for the dedication of Russell’s Reading Room in the school’s library. The new wing of the library was filled with books — 1,400 — that were donated by Westbrook to the school.

One of Westbrook’s former teachers, Maria Vasquez, is now the school’s assistant principal. And two of Westbrook’s former classmates are now part of the faculty. Maria Ramirez is a fourth-grade teacher and David Walton is a kindergarten aide.

Of the new reading room, school Principal Miguel Campa said: “This will be a place for students to fall in love with books, strengthen their reading skills and build their vocabulary. Putting books in children’s hands opens the world to them, provides opportunities to ensure equity and empowers them with the four essential 21st century skills: creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.

NEW BASKETBALL COACH: West Los Angeles College has announced the hiring of Anthony Jones as the new head coach for men’s basketball.

Jones brings more than 20 years of coaching experience at a variety of levels including high school, travel ball, AAU, professional, community college and the university level. Most recently, he spent six years as an assistant coach at Cal State San Bernardino; three of which were in the capacity of head assistant coach.

Jones helped lead the Coyotes to post-season play in each of the seasons he was on staff. During his tenure the team won multiple conference titles and produced three National Association of Basketball Coaches All-Americans.

At the professional level, Jones has been a personal trainer for several NBA players and spent 2000 and 2001 training members of the Atlanta Hawks organization.