The Citrus Belt League drips with tradition and history. It was founded in 1906 with Redlands High a charter member. It only took three seasons for the Terriers to win a state title (in rugby, not football).
Football now reigns and if history is an indicator, Cajon High will be tough to dethrone. The 2021 spring champion Cowboys have won four consecutive league titles. They also captured section and regional titles in 2017.
The Cowboys return dynamic running back Freddy Fletcher and have an impact transfer on defense in Brent Austin. But Cajon coach Nick Rogers is playing it cool.
“The league is the most balanced it’s been in years,” he said.
This is Beaumont’s second CBL season and star junior running back Armando Cuellar is primed. But the Cougars are as green as Beaumont farmland.
“Our kids will always compete but we’re young,” coach Jeff Steinberg said.
If Beaumont is a tad green, then Yucaipa is a St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“Nineteen out of our 22 starters [in the spring] were seniors,” Thunderbird coach Justin Price said. “We’re a work in progress on both sides of the ball.”
Redlands High won a section large-school title in 1961 (60 years ago), led by star running back “Big Lou” Ramirez. No section title is forecast this season, but the Terriers will move the ball.
New coach Gavin Pachot has moved over from San Gorgonio High to guide Redlands East Valley. REV won once last spring – 14-10 in the Smudge Pot Game against rival Redlands. But that game’s now history … and history is what all teams will make soon.
Coach: Kurt Bruich
Spring 2021 record: 3-2
Outlook: The Blackhawks averaged 38.4 points per game on offense last season but lose QB Dylan Wheatley (1,286 yards, 19 TDs) to graduation.
Citrus Valley is led by versatile QB Hunter Herrera who is up from junior varsity. Herrera will hand off frequently to RB Jeremiah Claiborne (395 yards, four TDs last season) and throw to outstanding WRs Brockton Lium (24 catches, 435 yards, five TDs) and Sergio Cervantes (23-383-6). The offensive line is led by massive James Burke (6-4, 350).
Lium, Jelani McLaughlin, Ra’id Bowers and transfer Matt Matthews form a strong defensive secondary. The Blackhawks’ ability to stop the run is a question mark.
Besides Matthews, another key transfer is strong-legged K/P Kristian James. Lium, a junior, averaged 42 yards per punt last spring with 8 tackles per game at safety, in addition to his pass-catching.
Extra point: Bruich and new REV coach Gavin Pachot were teammates on Fontana High’s 1987 14-0 mythical national champions (deemed No. 1 in the nation by two media outlets).
Season opener: Aug. 27 Rancho Verde, 7 p.m.