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UCLA Back on Top?

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Bruins Maul Colorado to Gain Control of Pac-12 South Division

By G. Montgomery, BVN Staff –

The 2011 football season could most aptly be remembered by borrowing the dormant NBA’s tag line ‘Where Amazing Happens”.

UCLA’s 44-6 thrashing of the wounded Colorado Buffaloes propelled the Bruins right to the top of the Pac-12 South division and a shot at playing in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship game.

“We’re playing SC for the championship. That’s the way it should be. That’s the way it used to be. When I was in school, this was the game you always pointed to,” said Rick Neuheisel.

Amazingly, Neuheisel and his team, left for dead at least twice this season, have risen from the ashes and could not only play in the Pac-12 championship game but also land a big postseason bowl payday.

But before we go there, let’s examine the reality of UCLA’s current situation. It is something akin to Tebow Mania. It’s unfolding in plain view so there is no sleight of hand or optical illusion involved but still you have to question how a 6-5 team could possibly be in such a strong position.

“Say all you want about the lack of great teams on this side of the division or blah blah blah, but the bottom line is that we’re playing for the championship,” said Neuheisel.

Neuheisel seized the moment to accentuate the positive and sublimly lobby for the final year of his contract. However, Colorado (2-10; 1-7 Pac-12) is not having much fun in its inaugural Pac-12 season.

Coach Jon Embree is rebuilding a program that has suffered nearly a decade of mediocrity from a variety of administrative and personnel wounds.

The Buffaloes entered Saturdays contest with 68 players on the roster and 15 freshmen in the lineup, the team with the seventh most true freshmen playing in the nation.

Coming off its lone Pac-12 victory over Arizona last week, the Buffaloes were looking for a better showing against UCLA.

“You have to come out and match their energy and passion and we didn’t do that. We were OK early, but the first pick that turned into six and having a chance to come back and do something after that, we just couldn’t sustain anything” said Coach Jon Embry.

To add to his misery, Emery was coaching against his son Taylor a senior Bruins’ wide receiver playing behind Nelson Rosario. Taylor was held to just 2 catches for 13-yards.

“Never want to do that again (coach against his son). I’m glad it’s a one-time deal. It’s awkward. You’re cheering against him. After the game, I told him I loved him. I told him congratulations for getting bowl eligible, because that was his goal going into his senior year. He didn’t want to finish by not going to a bowl game,” said Embry.

To say the game was a one-sided affair is an understatement. Kevin Prince was 15-19 for 225-yards and 4 touchdowns. Prince also rushed for 91-yards. Jonathan Franklin rushed for 162-yards on 15 carries. UCLA had 328-yards of total rushing yards.

Unfortunately, amidst all of the celebration, a brief examination of UCLA’s season record offers a somewhat troubling pattern going into Saturday’s game against USC.

After nearly every win, UCLA has lost the next game on the road. And even more troubling, Neuheisel’s Bruins have barely shown-up on those road losses. UCLA is 5-1 at home and 1-4 away from the Rose Bowl this season.

The Bruins have won consecutive games only once this season, beating Cal and Arizona State, both at home.

With USC and Matt Barkley seemingly peaking. UCLA will have to break their season long pattern and play the best road game they have played all season.

G. Montgomery can be reached at sports@blackvoicenews.com

Aquinas Tops Citrus Valley in CIF First Round Playoffs

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BVN Sports –

Citrus Valley’s stingy defense could not stop Aquinas running back Burrell Handy as he scored twice to beat the Blackhawks 19-9 this past Friday night.

The evenly matched teams battled each other on the line of scrimmage during the first half, as Aquinas took a narrow 3-2 lead going into halftime.

Citrus Valley, fielding senior players for the first time, have come a long way since their initial meeting, two years ago. In that regular season game, the Falcons ran up 74 unanswered points against the Blackhawks.

Both teams entered the rematch with impressive 2011 records, Aquinas at (8-2) and Citrus Valley at (9-1). The narrow margin of the first half score would bear that out.

That score would hold until the fourth quarter when Senior Blackhawk running back Andrew Gonzales had a series of nifty runs to put his team into the red zone. Moments later, quarterback Justin Lopez ran the ball over the goal line for a 9-3 lead.

After stopping the Aquinas offense, Citrus Valley marched down the field behind the running of Andrew Gonzales and an impressive offensive line. The Blackhawks were poised to add another touchdown, when Gonzales fumbled on the Falcon’s 10- yard line. Blayne Rojas scooped up the loose ball and ran it back to the Blackhawk’s 22.

Player of the game, Burrell Handy took over from there, scoring from 20-yards out with only 40 seconds on the clock.

Citrus Valley started another drive and was moving down the field when Handy, once again, rose to the occasion and intercepted a Dalton Douglass pass for another touchdown. Final score 19-9.

Beyond the numbers, this CIF playoff football game had its share of unusual aspects. Starting with the first quarter, Aquinas coaches were able to bend the ear of the officials and demand penalties for what they perceived as aggressive play from Citrus Valley.

This tactic worked well, as some 25 personal fouls were called on the Blackhawks during the game. Not only did the Blackhawks walked backwards for what seemed like hundreds of yards, the excessive yellow flags definitely disrupted the natural flow of play.

Emotions can get the best of young players, no question, however, this CIF football contest was constantly disrupted by the adults who are hired to protect players as well as let them play the game. Unfortunately, Aquinas coaches refused to allow their players to shake the hands of their opponents, after the game.

Aquinas will travel this week to face Paraclete of Lancaster, in CIF’s second round.

Greatest American Trilogy – Frazier vs. Ali

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By Leland Stein III –

If one was to peruse the dictionary for the noun pugilist, Smokin’ Joe Frazier’s picture probably, and should be, firmly affixed next to that definition.

There have been bigger (George Foreman), stronger (Jack Johnson), faster (Rocky Marciano), smoother (Muhammad Ali) and prettier (Ali) heavyweight pugilist, but the adjective “warrior” is all one needs to say about the type of fighter Frazier was.

Born in Beaufort, S.C., Frazier recently transitioned after a brief battle with liver cancer at the age of 67. In his death we have all been reminded of the total man he was, and, ironically after living in the giant shadow of Ali, he finally had the world boxing stage to himself.

Frazier, like Ali (1960), won a boxing gold medal representing the United States.

Frazier corralled his medal in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo becoming the only American fighter to win gold in those Games.

After turning pro in 1965, Frazier quickly became known for his punching power and stamina, stopping his first 11 opponents. Within three years he was fighting worldclass opposition and, in 1970, beat Jimmy Ellis to win the heavyweight title that he would hold for more than two years.

“Joe Frazier should be remembered as one of the greatest fighters of all time and a real man,” promoter Bob Arum told reporters. “He’s a guy that stood up for himself. He didn’t compromise and always gave 100 percent in the ring. There was never a fight in the ring where Joe didn’t give 100 percent.”

I agree with Arum completely, but I did not always feel that way. I admit I was a victim of the Ali mystic. I just wanted Ali to win every fight he fought, and, unfortunately for Frazier, but historic for boxing, the two came along in the same era.

Possessing the gift of gab and having the gall and audacity to challenge the status quo, while changing and revolutionizing his given name of Cassius Clay, especially during the turbulent 60’s and 70’s, made Ali bigger than sports.

Frazier, ever the pugilist, labored on the only way he knew how – straight ahead with dogged determination. No matter that he became cast as an anti-hero, an establishment symbol at a time when many Americans, including Ali, were in protest over the Vietnam War.

As I grew and learned in the sporting community, I revised my attitude of Frazier. I did not have to dislike one to like the other. After getting into the national boxing circuit as a writer I had the pleasure to encounter Smokin’ Joe one-onone in a number of situations, and, I found him engaging and enlightening.

At too many world boxing championship fights to recall, it was my joy to converse with Frazier and listen to a true pugilist.

One of the contradictions that are ever present in the media is the giant hatred Frazier had for Ali. Sure it had some merit. Anytime two “Warriors” like Frazier and Ali had to try with all their heart to knock the other out, it was hard to maintain a friendship.

The fact of the matter is the two giants of boxing engaged each other three times. The first was the Fight of the Century at Madison Square Garden in 1971 where Frazier won a unanimous decision – giving Ali his first loss.

Ali would narrowly win their next two fights - the third the brutal and legendary “Thrilla in Manila” - and receive the adoration of a public that came to appreciate the courage he showed by standing on his principles.

Ali now mostly silenced by Parkinson’s disease, making him even more of a sympathetic figure, while Frazier silently struggled with his own financial and health issues, and all the while harboring a feeling Ali wronged him.

Frazier’s professed a dislike of Ali, who taunted him ruthlessly and callously. I was at the ESPY Awards in Los Angeles where they appeared arm-in-arm. Later Frazier he told me: “I don’t have the burning hate anymore. With the little time we have left, I’d like to live it clean and live it fine.”

Conversely Ali told me in an interview, that all he did before the Frazier fights was learned from wrestling and meant only to galvanize interest in the fights, especially since he was the one white America hated. He also noted that Frazier’s refusal to call him Ali fueled their discord. No matter, Frazier vs. Ali produced the greatest trilogy in boxing history.

“I will always remember Joe with respect and admiration,” Ali said in a statement. “In the end we both fought for the same things: Life, family, country and respect. Our paths to get there may have been different, but the journey took us to the same place.”

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @ LelandSteinIII.

Penn State Sex Abuse: Wrong on so many levels

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OPINION-EDITORIAL

By Leland Stein III –

I wrote in a 2009 Michigan chronicle article that the “worlds of sports and politics are invariably intertwined in a multifaceted, complex and convoluted mixed.”

I acknowledge that on one hand, sport is entertainment, and an escape from the doldrums that permeate peoples’ everyday existence; yet on the other hand, sports entertainment presents itself as a much too serious endeavor for too many. Politics, sports and privilege unquestionably are a vehicle that generates laws and govern our everyday movements through humanity.

My interjections were brought to the international forefront recently as the Penn State sex scandal was thrust into all our consciousness and sensibilities.

All of America’s phobias have been propelled onto the national stage. White privilege, hero worship, money generation, school pride, homosexuality, friendships and cover-ups.

As the facts present themselves . . . it is all wrong on so many levels!!!!

One of America’s great sports centers and universities has been brought to its knees after allegations that former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested on 40 counts relating to sexual abuse of eight young boys over a 15-year period, including alleged incidents that occurred at Penn State.

A grand jury investigation reported that then-graduate assistant Mike McQueary told Paterno in 2002 that he had seen Sandusky abusing a 10-yearold boy in Penn State football’s shower facilities. According to the report, Paterno notified Athletic Director Tim Curley the next day about the incident.

I was sent the Grand Jury reports and the details of the case are morbid. Paterno in his so-called defense said McQueary informed him that “he had witnessed an incident in the shower,” but he at no time “related to me the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report.”

Okay Papa Joe, legally you are off the hook having done your minimum due diligence; however, the world was not buying it, as evident by you having more wins than any FBS coach, but got canned along with school President Graham Spanier, because sane minded people concluded that no one in the Penn State family did enough to stop, report or investigate the molestation of boys as young as 10 by former defensive coordinator Sandusky.

Being a father of two young men, a coach’s son and former athlete, I cannot understand how parents, coaches and administrators blindly closed their collective eyes to one of the most disturbing tragedies in American sports lore.

I guess Paterno and his holier than thou privilege did not, could not throw his good friend under the bus. I guess Penn State as a university just could not, did not want the stain of the molestation actions put upon its academia. I guess that police and investigators could not, did not want to bring down the lordly Paterno, who had fashioned a record winning career.

Paterno has 24 bowl victories, 46 seasons as the head coach of Penn State, and a record 409 career victories at Penn State, but Paterno professed to see no evil or hear no evil.

Stepping into the closed coaching fraternity, but breaking ranks is former Oklahoma University and Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer. He said members of the Penn State coaching staff had to be aware of former defensive coordinator Sandusky’s alleged behavior.

“Having been in this profession a long time and knowing how close coaching staffs are,” Switzer exclaimed, “I knew that this was a secret that was kept secret. Everyone on that staff had to have known. You think that a 13-year assistant ... hasn’t told someone else? His wife? His father? People knew. The community knew.”

I say there are so many more people culpable than just Paterno. Privilege and hero worship has been brought to its knees. All of it is so wrong on so many levels!!

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @ LelandSteinIII.

Citrus Valley Beats Rubidioux 35-23 Take Mountain Valley League Crown

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In a city of three high schools, the Citrus Valley Blackhawks (9-1) may have established a winning tradition, long before anyone thought they would.

Fielding senior players for the first time, Coach Pete Smolin’s, Citrus Valley Blackhawks have emerged as a football program. His players are a little bigger, faster, and hungrier in their third year as a school.

On Thursday night, in front of their initial ‘Senior Night’ crowd, Citrus Valley managed to overcome a 20-7 deficit at halftime and take the Mountain Valley League title, from a competitive Rubidioux team.

The Falcons from Rubidioux ran up nearly 50-points in last year’s contest and that fact could not be erased from Blackhawk players. In addition, Rubidioux handily won the MVL title in 2010.

Rubidioux’s Daniel Young broke for 66-yards and an early lead. The Falcons extended that lead to 20-7 at halftime and appeared to be in control of the game and their destiny.

Citrus Valley played the second half with passion and precision. Quarterback Justin Lopez connected with receiver Patrick Means for 77-yards and an eventual score. Junior quarterback Dalton Douglass (Blackhawks use two) then sprinted down the sideline for another score and a 12-point 4th quarter lead.

The roaring home crowd came to life in the second half and so did the Blackhawk offense. Running back Andrew Gonzales had 155-yards and a touchdown for CVHS.

The Rubidioux Falcons may have had any size advantage negated by a tenacious Blackhawk defense.

They swarm tackled nearly the second half play, eventually exhausting their opponent. They had no answer for Citrus Valley’s relentless running attack.

Both schools will play on as CIF parings were announced on Monday. Citrus Valley, the league winner will draw Aquinas High School of San Bernardino and play on their home field Friday night.

Rubidioux (8-2) will travel to the East and take on 29 Palms in the desert.

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