2008 was another fine year in Santa Clarita sports. From High School to COC, and even the little
guys, the SCV continued to take home championships and establish itself as one
of the premier athletic breeding grounds in the country. Here's a look at the Top 10 sports stories
from around the valley in 2008.
There has always been plenty of hype surrounding Michael Montgomery. "Randy Johnson-like," one scout once called him. But 2008 was the year it all came together for the former Hart Indian. After being dismissed from the basketball team following an incident in week one of league play, Montgomery focused on his true passion: Baseball. And the 6-foot-5 lefty disappointed no one. Armed with a 95-mph fastball, Montgomery and teammate Trevor Bauer pitched Hart to a Foothill League Championship. Montgomery, who was committed to perennial power Cal State Fullerton, then sat back and watched as the Kansas City Royals made him pick number 36 in the 1st round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft.
After signing a deal much more lucrative than the one former Hart star James Shields signed a few years back, Montgomery packed his bags and left for the roller coaster that can be a minor league player's life. And then, Montgomery did what he has been doing his whole life: won. The Royals prospect went 2-1 with a 1.82 era in 12 outings, nine of which were starts. He was also selected as the Surprise Royals Pitcher of the Year, an award handed to only one pitcher in a organization of more than 60. It's safe to say that Montgomery chose the right sport.
9.- 2 Less than a Baker's Dozen, But Close Enough
Basketball has always been the one sport that the Foothill League can't win. CIF Championships elude the valley every year, despite producing some very good players, particularly on the women's side. 2008 might have started the turnaround though. Valencia was a step above everyone else on the men's side, and Hart and Saugus played to a tie on the women's side. The only one of the 12 varsity teams to miss the playoffs was Golden Valley's girl's team. Furthermore, a talented crop of youngsters await the 2009 league season, including sophomore Lonnie Jackson (Valencia) and junior Trevor Wiseman (Golden Valley), as well as junior Lindsey Hill (Valencia) on the girl's side. For the first time in anyone's memory, basketball might actually outgun football in the SCV. Only time will tell.
8. - Vikings Spike Their Way to a National Championship
After a disappointing end to 2007, the Valencia Vikings boy's volleyball squad was out for revenge. And the rest of the country took notice. The Vikings were named the 2008 rivals.com National Champions for high school volleyball following a stellar 36-2 season. Led by Jamey Ker and Jim Baughman, the Vikings cruised through league play and defeated Santa Barbara to lock up the CIF Division II Championship as well as the national accolade. On a side note, it must be nice to be a Ker. Dad Walt has three national championships at the college level as a coach from CSUN, mom was a stud player, oldest son Tony had one of the most prolific careers ever at UCLA, middle son Kevin has been great for the Bruins, and now Jamey will follow at UCLA. Let's just rename the Valencia court now: Ker Court at Valencia High School.
7. - Sophomore Slump? No Chance
Following a seventh place finish in the 2007 CIF State Cross Country meet, Saugus sophomore Kaylin Mahoney was expected to be the leader of the two-time defending state champs in 2008. But no one expected her to dominate everything she touched, including a 3-second win at the State Championships, helping her club to their 3rd straight state crown. Mahoney ran the course in a blistering 17 minutes and 34 seconds. Just think, we still get two more years of this. Call me crazy, but I think she might not have to worry about paying for college. Just a hunch.
6. - Twice as Nice for the Vikes
The Valencia Vikings softball team has long been plagued with the Boston Red Sox syndrome. Just good enough to get there, but not good enough to finish the job. Well in 2007 that changed as the Vikings finally won the CIF Championship and a National Championship on top of it all. 2008 had huge expectations, but following the graduation of 2007 California Gatorade Player of the Year Jordan Taylor, the Vikings needed a pitcher. Insert senior Jessica Spigner. The University of Tennessee bound senior moved from her home at 3rd base to the mound and dominated, leading the Vikings to their second straight CIF and State Championship. Spigner was named the 2008 winner of the California Gatorade Player of the Year after leading the team in home runs, runs batted in, wins, and strikeouts. The defining moment? In a showdown of the top 2 teams in the state, Spigner hit two homeruns and made the game saving catch on a line drive back at her in a win at Santiago of Corona. Spigner headed another senior class for the Vikings filled with Division I talent, and Valencia has now sent more than 20 girl's to Division I school's in their 8 year run atop the Foothill League.
5. - Vikings Like Gatorade
Just how special was Jessica Spigner's awarding of the 2008 California Gatorade Player of the Year? The win made Valencia the first school ever to have a different player win the award in back-to-back years, in any sport, in any state. Not much else needs to be said other than this, Spigner's stat line from 2008:
.480 avg, 12 hr, 7 dbl, 37 rbi, 38 r, 24 bb, 8 k, 124 pa
Let's break that down. In 124 plate appearances, she had 24 walks, 48 hits, 20 for extra bases, 37 runs batted in, scored 38 times, and only struck out 8 times. Oh yeah, her pitching stats:
0.62 era, .176 baa, 236 inn, 21 er, 149 h, 222 k, 64 bb
Again, this is a third baseman pitching, and she gave up 21 earned runs in 236 innings. 222 strikeouts, almost one per inning. Only 64 walks, less than 3 per game. These are numbers that any high school would like to get from their pitcher, let alone their third baseman masquerading as one. Jordan Taylor had her number retired at the start of the 2008 season. If Jessica Spigner doesn't have the same honor soon it would be a shame.
4. - Coll Me Crazy
Pop Quiz: Name the only football team in Santa Clarita to play for the CIF Championship this year?
SANTA CLARITA CHRISTIAN
That's right; you don't have to adjust your monitor. The private school in Canyon Country ran their way to a CIF 8-man Division I football championship behind a team mostly full of juniors. Junior Collin Keoshian led the way with 2,226 yards rushing and 45 total touchdown's, and fellow Junior Steven Borden (Yes, that is the professional wrestler Sting's son) 2,000 all-purpose-yards and 18 scores. Both are men amongst boys, Keoshian at 6-3, 225 and Borden not far behind at 6-3, 210, and both were key in the Cardinal's amazing season. Finishing at 11-2, the Cardinal crushed their Heritage league rival and league Champion, Faith Baptist in the CIF Championship game, 50-28. The Cardinal even led both games they lost at halftime, only to suffer the ill-effects of a young team. Ladies and Gentleman let it be known that Cardinals can play football too.
3. - Who Are Who Are Who Are We?
The famous chant reigns on into the offseason at Cougar Stadium, where College of the Canyons was 10 seconds from playing for their second state championship. The Cougars football team spent most of the year ranked number one in the country, and if not for a last second touchdown by Mt. Sac in the Southern California Championship game, probably would have won the National Championship. Behind an infinite number of future Division I players (I'm not kidding, there are at least 10 this year, and that's being a little shallow in my estimate) including All-Americans Marquis Jackson and Hayo Carpenter, the Cougars ran wild most of the year, averaging well over 40 points a game under second year Head Coach Garrett Tujague. The defense was terrific until the second half of the Mt. Sac game, and every team has it's letdowns. The Cougars lose a lot of talent this year, but who's to say they won't be back next year just as strong. No Junior College does more with less recruiting ability than COC. Remember, in California no scholarships are awarded at the JC level. Look for a recruiting insider in the next few weeks as we approach National Signing Day on hometownstation.com.
2. - 3rd Times Still 2nd Best
The Saugus girl's cross country team ran away with the State Championship at Division II, completing the three-peat. The girl's still could not secure a national championship, but no one is putting that past this team in the future. In fact, this team may win 5 or 6 straight state championships before they are done. The Centurions could have taken away their top 2 times at state, and added their two lowest times, and still won the meet by over a minute. In layman's terms, no one had any chance at all. With the aforementioned Mahoney due back along with junior Amber Murakami and freshman Karis Frankian, the Centurions are sure to be a dominant force for years at the sports top levels. My prediction? They run away with every possible award next year, before Mayor Frank Ferry renames the Paseo's in honor of the runners.
1. - Stop Counting Already
After 27 years, Saugus High School Alumni can rejoice. The Centurions ran away with their first ever Foothill League crown (in 27 years). And I mean ran away, literally. Foothill League MVP QB Desi Rodriguez had 1,783 yards on the ground and 20 touchdowns, while Offensive Player of the Year Ryan Zirbel had 1,722 and 22 touchdowns. Desi added 1,655 passing yards and 16 touchdowns, making him the first ever Foothill League QB to throw and run for 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns. The defense, which lost all 11 starters from a second place team a year ago, exceeded everyone's expectations. Saugus ended the year 9-4, loosing for the second straight year in the Northern Division semi-finals at St. Bonaventure. For the second straight year, Boni won the State Championship. Not a bad way to go out. Although next year looks to be a rebuilding year for Saugus, no one will ever again doubt what heart, will, and head coach Jason Bornn can accomplish when they put their minds to it.