Prep Preview: Citrus Belt League

If the Citrus Belt League has been a league in transition, 2012 may unearth the long-awaited results.

First and foremost, San Bernardino Cajon has entered to fill the void left by Fontana’s exile to the Central Division.

The Cowboys (9-2) were co-San Andreas League champs last season but were beat up in a 1st Round playoff game, and have been in decline since QB Thomas Carter graduated in 2010. It appears that Coach Kim Battin’s participation numbers also may be down. Not a good sign.

Redlands East Valley (11-1) has established itself as the program of record in San Bernardino County. Coach Kurt Bruich has done a phenomenal job since 2005, leading the Wildcats to a 64-10-1 record. He’ll lean on senior DE Kylie Fitts, a monster in the trenches who has already committed to USC, and senior QB Levi Plante, a transfer from Corona HS.

Redlands (4-7) has the league’s most explosive running back in Craig Lee, who recently committed to UCLA. Lee had a torrid late-season stretch to get the Terriers to the playoffs in 2011, and should combine again with QB Jimmy Walker to push the chains and score a bunch of points.

Miller (5-5) hasn’t produced a winner in a couple of seasons now, and the heat will be on second-year Coach Marcus Soward to start competing with the Redlands schools. Barring the unforeseen, the Rebels should get into the playoffs; Coach Soward will feature a ton of speed and 6-foot-4 senior QB Tyler Schwartz.

Eisenhower (3-7) hasn’t been decent since the mid-1990s, and even then its glory days had passed. Thank goodness for basketball, right? Well the Eagles have a new coach — Vinny Fazio — and a new outlook on life going into post-Fontana CBL play. The old rivalry may be dead but a new day has dawned.

Yucaipa was 9-2 last season but will be without senior QB Tyler Leach-Mead, who sustained a serious knee injury, underwent surgery and will not play football in his final prep season. A major bummer.

PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. Redlands East Valley
2. Redlands
3. Fontana Miller
4. Rialto Eisenhower
5. Yucaipa
6. San Bernardino Cajon

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Cajon OL Desjon Burroughs (6-foot-4, 205 pounds)
Redlands East Valley DE Kylie Fitts (6-4, 240)
Eisenhower QB Marquane Harris (6-4, 190)
Redlands RB Craig Lee (6-2, 212)
Miller QB Tyler Schwartz (6-4, 215)
Yucaipa LB Nick Victoria (6-2, 182)

GAMES TO CONSIDER:
Redlands East Valley vs. Redlands, Oct. 19
Fontana Miller at Rialto Eisenhower, Oct. 19

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