Prep Preview: Mountain Pass League

The Mountain Pass League has been the playground of Perris Citrus Hill.

The Hawks’ program, which won back-to-back CIF title in 2007 and ’08, has practically run roughshod over the MPL, winning 30 of 32 league games the last seven seasons.

By its ridiculously high standards, last year was more of a normal season, making it back to the Semifinal Round for the first time since ’08, and following two consecutive 1st Round defeats in ’09 and ’10.

Coach Eric Zomalt isn’t shy about scheduling neighbors to play his team, which finished 12-1 last season; Riverside Poly, Riverside Arlington, Riverside North and Riverside King are all on the Hawks’ non-league schedule.

Hemet West Valley (5-6) is perhaps the most enticing team to look at in the MPL. Coach Tom Wallace returns scads of guys from a team which won five of six down the stretch but lost a shootout to Elsinore in the 1st Round. And there’s a couple of junior brothers with a last name of Hedlund that will probably fly under the rader most of the season.

San Jacinto (7-4) finished 2011 losing three of its last four games. We’ll find out immediately where these Tigers stand when they host Sunbelt League champion and CIF-SS finalist Menifee Heritage in Week 0.

Hemet Tahquitz (2-8) was a hare’s breath away from earning an elusive third victory in Week 10, but proved exhausted in allowing 15 4th-quarter points to Hemet in a six-point loss. The Titans have non-league games vs. Murrieta Mesa, Riverside La Sierra and Temecula Valley — all potential losses.

Beaumont (2-8) may have some good days ahead with a deep list of returners, while it continues to be be dog days for Hemet (3-7) and the Bulldogs.

PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. Perris Citrus Hill
2. Hemet West Valley
3. San Jacinto
4. Hemet Tahquitz
5. Beaumont
6. Hemet

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
West Valley RB Chris Anderson (5-foot-10, 190 pounds)
Citrus Hill QB Trevor Hodge (6-2, 190)
Beaumont QB Josh Martin (6-4, 200)
Tahquitz QB Ben Moreno (6-foot, 180)
Hemet QB Austin Rozell (6-1, 180)
San Jacinto RB/LB Noah Widgens (6-3, 190)

GAMES TO CONSIDER:
Citrus Hill at San Jacinto, Oct. 5
West Valley at Citrus Hill, Nov. 2

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