David Franklin, senior
West Ranch High School
Last year, West Ranch surprised everyone with a 19-9 record, going 6-4 in the Foothill in the process and taking fourth overall. Guard David Franklin was a big reason. The 6-foot senior is one of the Wildcats' most consistent scorers. Leave him along on the perimeter and he'll drop the three-pointer.
If track and field weren't so cruel, this would be a happier article. I would be able to tell you that two or perhaps all three of the Santa Clarita Valley runners vying for a spot of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team are on their way to Beijing.
After Daniel Swarbrick's first two turns at the shot put during last month's CIF-Southern Section Division I track and field finals, the weight of the metal ball he was there to throw must have seemed light - at least by comparison.
After fouling in both attempts, the pressure on the Saugus junior to register a legal throw was much, much heavier.
As soon as I hung up the phone, my mind began to wrestle with a dilemma: What should I wear?
In light of world events, the question seemed somewhat silly. But the debate over what to wear, it turns out, was a debate over which my personal security hung.
In the realm of Santa Clarita Valley boys volleyball, the Valencia Vikings are the definition of a dynasty. They have won eight consecutive Foothill League championships, compiling 73 straight league wins in the process.
And they are only getting better.
Q: I can't stop slicing the ball. What can I do to avoid this?
A: Slicing the ball can be caused by a variety of body motions and by several different transgressions occurring in your hands and arms. Mostly, it is the result of beginning the downswing while turning the upper body towards the ball before you begin to rotate your hips.
Tournament Players Club Valencia
Valencia 288-1995 www.tpcatvalencia.com
The course: TPC Valencia reflects the vision and distinction associated with the TPC Network of courses. Designed by PGA Tour Design Services under consultation from two-time Major Champion Mark O'Meara, the TPC Valencia offers 18 holes of challenging, breathtaking play.
Nicole Johnson's most exciting moment on a softball field occurred in Colorado three years ago. She was playing in the championship game for her summer travel team, the Krushers, against a team that had beaten them the day before.
If thoughts were like voices, the sound reverberating from CYCL headquarters Wednesday and Friday evenings would be deafening. The clamor would be unbearable.
Some have called the period between 2001 and 2006 the golden age of girls high school basketball in the Santa Clarita Valley. They might be right. Night after night, fans witnessed a parade of college-bound talent.
My car rolls to a stop just beyond Highway 14 at about 6:20 on an impossibly cold Newhall morning. San Fernando Road dead ends here, but my journey is just beginning.
It happens every season. Somewhere, on some field, an athlete does something spectacular. It could occur on a single play - the diving grab at the back on the end zone as time expires or the walk-off home run with two outs.
Annie Kellogg is building something special at Valencia High School, but it's not what you think.
You could argue that she's building a girls tennis dynasty. History would certainly back you up. The Vikings have captured six consecutive Foothill League team championships.
And her team's success has extended beyond the Santa Clarita Valley. The Valencia girls tennis team appeared in back-to-back CIF-Southern Section Division III finals in 2005 and 2006 - a remarkable feat for a public school in the arena of high school tennis.
The seeds of Katie Dunn's success may be bearing fruit now that she's a senior, but they were sown two years ago, during the last mile of a race in the summer before her sophomore year.
At about the 750-meter mark of an 800-meter race, it began to look as if it wasn't going to happen for 2004 Canyon High graduate Alysia Johnson. That's where Johnson found herself suddenly behind a surging Hazel Clark, the defending 800-meter Olympic Champion and two-time world title-holder, at the 2007 U.S. Outdoor Track and Field Finals in Indianapolis on June 24. Johnson could have simply accepted second place. No one would have faulted her. Just a college junior at Cal-Berkeley, Johnson is years removed from her professional peak, after all.
In light of the kind of year our local high school athletes enjoyed in 2006-2007, you could argue that the Valencia softball team topped it off in fitting, if not inevitable, fashion. First, there was the Saugus girls cross country team, which won its California state title in November. Weeks later, the Canyon football team followed suit, capturing the state championship with an upset win over previously undefeated Concord de la Salle.
Canyon sprinter/hurdler Trevor Habberstad doesn't have to think very long to remember his worst day on the track. It took place at the Foothill league finals two years ago, when he was just a sophomore. Habberstad, already the surprise league champion in the 100 high hurdles, was coming around the turn, about 200 meters into the 300-meter hurdle finals. He had the lead and he had fuel to burn. He was on his way to another league title and he knew it.
Dave Munroe's career in coaching has been marked by two constants. The first is family. The second is winning. When he was a boy, he followed his dad, Phil, the first baseball coach at San Fernando Valley State College (Cal-State Northridge) from game to game. When he turned 21, he followed his uncle, Jerry Williams, who coached the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles from 1969-71, to training camp.
Canyon High shocked the high school football world last month at the Home Depot Center. Behind a near-perfect first half from quarterback Ben Longshore, a 146-yard rushing performance from senior J.J. DiLuigi and a stubborn, punishing defense, the Cowboys toppled Concord De La Salle, the number-one-ranked team in the nation, 27 to 13, to become CIF Division I state champions. Canyon (12-2) trailed just once, 7 to 6, early in the second quarter. But Longshore, who threw for 151 of his 163 yards in the first half, connected on a 30-yard score to Kenny Suber on the ensuing Cowboy drive to make it 12 to 7.
The object of the game is as simple as it is difficult. Put a round ball through an 18-inch hoop suspended 10 feet off the ground. Do this more than your opponent in a 32-minute time span and you win. But there are many factors which determine who will do it better. Which team is faster? Who is taller? Who can jump higher or shoot with greater accuracy? Which team plays the toughest defense or makes the crispest passes? Which team plays harder and which team has the best game plan? Who wants to win more? It is in discovering the answers to those questions that basketball becomes art - potentially beautiful and almost always unpredictable.