Fire-related postponements will push 2003 football season deeper in December than ever before.....Westchester boys basketball loading up on top transfers.....Candice Wiggins makes her unshocking college choice....Plus more from the best prep notes column in the state.

WILDFIRE AFTERMATH: Most of the devastating Southern California wildfires are coming under control, so it's time to start evaluating losses, begin rebuilding in some cases and assess the long-term impact.
We were sorry to hear that the house of former St. Louis Rams media relations director Rick Smith had burned down in the Scripps Ranch section of San Diego. When the fires were raging and the Scripps Ranch neighborhood was said to be in the middle of it, we thought of Smith because we know he has had a house there for a long time. He and his wife, Susie, escaped the flames unharmed, but the house was destroyed. All of Smith's extensive sports memorabilia was lost, although he did manage to grab a few things, including his 2001 Super Bowl ring.
Smith has been a regular in the press box for many years at the CIF state track meet, usually attending with long-time friend Steve Brand of the San Diego Union-Tribune. He told us last June that he had retired from the Rams and was looking forward to living fulltime back in San Diego, his hometown. Smith also has been a longtime subscriber to our newsletters and has passed them along to NFL coaches and players. He's helped us with our trivia knowledge of San Diego schools and in 1992 he even helped us obtain a Super Bowl media credential. Cal-Hi Sports was right next to CNN.
Rick, we've been thinking about you, and be sure to let us know if we can help in any way as you rebuild your sports memorabilia collection. All of our back issues, both Student Sports and Cal-Hi Sports, are yours for the asking.
As for the impact of the fires on the 2003 season, the San Diego Section will play all of the games it lost for the weekend of Oct. 31-Nov. 1 on the weekend of Nov. 21-22. The section playoff finals for Qualcomm Stadium were pushed back two days, from Monday, Dec. 15 to Wednesday, Dec. 17. There originally were no games for the weekend of Dec. 12-13, but now the semifinals will be played on that Friday night.
In the Southern Section, negotiations are said to be underway to push back the Division V section football playoffs one week. Many of the schools effected by the fires are from that division and since Division V isn't scheduled for the Home Depot Center, it's likely something will be worked out.
All of these late section finals, of course, also are going to push back our own final state rankings as well as the release of the annual all-state football teams. Now, the all-state teams definitely won't be out until after Christmas.

TRIPLEHEADER HEADED FOR HOME DEPOT CENTER: Ah, the section championship tripleheader. It's normally done for the CIF San Diego Section football finals at Qualcomm Stadium and now we're going to get another one at Carson's Home Depot Center. In an announcement last week by the CIF Southern Section, an agreement has been reached to hold six playoff games at the venue.
On Dec. 6, the CIFSS Div. I semifinals will go off in a doubleheader. The following weekend, on Dec. 12, the Div. I final is scheduled. That will be followed the next day, on Dec. 13, with the coup de grace, a tripleheader of finals. The action will commence at 12 noon with the Div. III title game and will end in the evening with the Div. II final. In between could be the best matchup of the weekend if Westlake of Westlake Village and St. Bonaventure of Ventura both get to the Div. IV final with identical 13-0 records. The only problem for us is going to be figuring out how to squeeze in seeing the Div. VI final, especially if it turns out to be 13-0 Orange Lutheran vs. 13-0 Los Altos.
If all goes well at the Home Depot Center, we think the facility also should be strongly considered if the CIF state football championship proposal ever gets approved. The seating capacity of the Home Depot Center (27,000) doesn't come close to what you have at either the L.A. Coliseum or Edison International Field, but it might be a better atmosphere than at the bigger venues and in only two or three cases have there ever been crowds for CIFSS football games that were more than 27,000.

AMIR JOHNSON CHECKS INTO WESTCHESTER: For the second time in two weeks, we've had to shuffle our proposed preseason state boys basketball rankings due to a late, major player transfer. This one impacts two-time defending CIF Div. I state champion Westchester of Los Angeles as 6-10 junior center Amir Johnson withdrew from Verbum Dei earlier this week and enrolled at Westchester.
Transfers to the Comets are becoming common, so Johnson's move figures to be scrutinized closely by the CIF L.A. City Section. Reporter Louis Johnson of the Long Beach Press-Telegram said Tuesday that Amir Johnson has physically moved and that he should be eligible at Westchester. His arrival gives the Comets an inside presence that was a questionmark heading into the fall. Amir Johnson will join a lineup that includes Gabe Pruitt and Ray Reese, who were high-profile transfers to Westchester last year but had to sit out one season for eligibility reasons.
Another transfer that the Comets have picked up is 6-4 swingman Rodgerick Craig from Valley Christian of San Jose. Craig is the son of former San Francisco 49er Roger Craig. Look for our preseason boys and girls basketball state rankings this weekend.

CANDICE WIGGINS TO STANFORD: With her combination of academics, basketball and volleyball prowess plus the fact her brother is going to college just a short bounce pass away, it was no surprise last Friday when California prep phenom Candice Wiggins announced she would sign a letter of intent later this month with Stanford. Wiggins, the three-time all-state basketball pick and the 2002-03 Cal-Hi Sports State Junior Athlete of the Year, was joined at a school press conference by teammate Marissa Rivera, who announced she's going to Texas Christian University. Duke, UCLA and USC were the others mentioned most in the Wiggins sweepstakes, but Stanford had it in the bag as soon as she stepped onto campus two weeks ago during her recruiting visit. "Stanford had everything I needed," Wiggins told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It was who I am. I've always thought academics first. It was close enough to visit my brother (Alan), who is really enjoying the University of San Francisco, and for my mom (Angela) to come see me." Wiggins won't play for Stanford's nationally-ranked volleyball team in her first year on campus, but hopes to be on the team as a sophomore.

ONIE HELPS LALO GET THE BIG ONE: The key play in L.A. Salesian's 20-14 upset win over Bell-Jeff of Burbank last week was a 90-yard fumble return TD by Onie Bernandez. Salesian entered the game with a 3-4 mark against the unbeaten Guards and the triumph earned career win No. 200 for head coach Lalo Mendoza. Mendoza's milestone win came just one week after Sylmar's Jeff Engilman joined the exclusive club. Mendoza piled up most of his career wins during a long stint at Verbum Dei of Los Angeles. It had previously been reported that Sherman Oaks Notre Dame head coach Kevin Rooney was on the verge of his 200th career win as well, but Eric Maddy of the L.A. Times (and the site) has confirmed that Rooney's total actually would be at 186 heading into this weekend.

HALL OF FAME QBS & THEIR HOOP DAUGHTERS: There probably won't be any sightings of Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana at Ursuline of Santa Rosa girls basketball games this season. Montana was spotted at several games last year watching his daughter, Liz, play for the Bears. This year, however, Liz has decided to give up basketball to concentrate on horseback riding. The daughter of a different Hall of Fame quarterback, Jessie Elway, is playing basketball this year at Cherry Creek High of Englewood, Colo. In fact, Jessie, the daughter of John Elway (perhaps the greatest QB ever from a California high school), has committed to play in college at Stanford.

OLDEST CURRENT RIVALRIES: St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral, both of San Francisco, first played each other in 1892 in a rugby game. This year, in September, St. Ignatius defeated Sacred Heart Cathedral 28-14 to extend its series record to 48-23-7. Santa Cruz and Watsonville first played in 1896. This year, Watsonville won over Santa Cruz 44-10 in a league game. Santa Rosa and Petaluma are now in different leagues and do not schedule each other. They first played in 1894 but the rivalry is not current.

OLDEST CONTINUOUS RIVALRIES: Three schools have played each other at least once every year since 1921: Central of El Central, Brawley and Calexico. No other California high schools have played each other for as many years without a single break.

MOST RIVALRY GAMES: Brawley defeated Central of El Centro 42-0 early in October to tie their all-time record at 70-70-10 (according to grid logs compiled by Bruce McIntosh of San Pedro). It was a non-league game and they'll play again on November 14 in a league game for the reported 151st meeting between the two schools. They've often played each other twice in a season. When Eureka defeated Arcata 67-0 in mid-October, it was the reported 145th meeting between the two schools. Eureka leads the series at 93-44-8. They've also often played each other twice in a season although not currently.

WINLESS STREAK ENDED: Baldwin Park defeated San Dimas 26-24 on Halloween might to end a 0-17-1 on-the-field losing streak.

WINLESS STREAK NOT ENDED: Bolsa Grande of Garden Grove lost to Orange 53-8 last week for its 42nd consecutive loss, now the state's third all-time longest losing streak. There's plenty of hope for the Matadors, though, as that league gameagainst La Quinta of Westminster looms on November 14. La Quinta lost to Garden Grove 63-0 last week and has only scored 13 points in a 0-8 season so far. Bolsa has scored 73 points.

CALIFORNIA VS. THE WORLD: There were only four games last week, all vs. Nevada, and California won them all: South Tahoe of South Lake Tahoe 42, Spanish Springs of Sparks 34; Needles 26, White Pine of Ely 14; Trona 46, Lund 0 (eight-man); Coleville 52, McDermitt 20 (eight-man). California now leads Nevada with a 35-26 record for the season and is 58-45 overall.

A QB WHO KNOWS HOW TO CONNECT: Here's a pair of perfect passing games from the CIF Northern Section. Well, sort of. Jacob Romano of Willows was 11 of 14 against Durham two weeks ago, but he had three passes intercepted. He therefore completed all 14 passes he threw. This past week at Trinity of Weaverville, Romano completed all 12 of the passes he attempted (no interceptions this time). If you're counting, that's 26 straight passes by this QB that have not hit the ground.

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