Prep Preview: Citrus Belt League
CITRUS BELT LEAGUE PREVIEW
In a league where a coach doesn’t get much time before the games count, finding quality nonleague opponents is an essential part of the team-building process every season. Redlands East Valley, which has undergone a quietly dramatic coaching change, has only Riverside Poly and Norco on its preseason list of fixtures. Redlands, very much a CBL-title contender this season, has a couple of Top-10 teams in San Bernardino San Gorgonio and Temecula Chaparral among its nonleague games. What really matters, however, is how they compare after the 14-game CBL season.
REDLANDS EAST VALLEY (15-7-2 overall, 10-3-1 Citrus Belt) finally won the CBL title last season that Erin Rhodes-Glaser so coveted, then the young coach bolted to the East Coast. Fortunately, the Wildcats were left in really good shape as 16 players appear set to return. Junior Karley Weeks is the real deal. She has the touch and pace to put it past any defender and into the back of the net.
HEAD COACH: Daniel Graff
REDLANDS (13-10-3, 9-3-2) was right there in the race for last season’s league title and figures to go step-for-step with REV until the end of this campaign. Senior Karen Jacobs can score (13 goals in ’15-’16) but is better utilized as a playmaker. If she can find more space the Terriers will be more successful.
HEAD COACH: Amber Jacobsen
RIALTO CARTER (10-6-9, 8-3-3) won the final four games of the season to qualify for the playoffs. They’ve graduated their top scorer but the Lions have reason to be optimistic with the return of goalkeeper Sky Guisa and a contingent of talented midfield players.
HEAD COACH: Clif Hoover
REDLANDS CITRUS VALLEY (10-7-5, 7-4-3) went down to mid-table for the first time since moving over from the Mountain Valley League. The Blackhawks transitioned to different coaches, sure, but the level of talent isn’t as great as it was during the championship years.
HEAD COACH: Norma Mendez
YUCAIPA (10-10-2, 8-5-1) got off to a fast start but struggled to the finish, losing three of its last four including a 4-0 defeat at Irvine Northwood in a first-round playoff game to end the season.
HEAD COACH: Sarai Stamper
SAN BERNARDINO CAJON (11-8-4, 4-8-2) was outscored, 7-1, in three consecutive losses to Rialto Carter, Redlands East Valley and Redlands at the finish to the ’15-’16 season.
HEAD COACH: Not available
FONTANA MILLER (7-12-2, 4-10-0) took a big 1-0 home result from Yucaipa before drugging through a 5-0 season-ending loss at Rialto Carter.
HEAD COACH: Tim Gepford
RIALTO EISENHOWER (3-16-1, 0-14-0) is entering its eighth season without a victory in a CBL game.
HEAD COACH: Chris Jackson
PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
Redlands East Valley
Redlands Citrus Valley
San Bernardino Cajon
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
GK Madison Burke, Sr. (Redlands)
M Brenna Dolen, Sr. (Redlands East Valley)
F/M Vanessa Gaitan, Sr. (Redlands East Valley)
GK Sky Guisa, Sr. (Rialto Carter)
D Ciera Hammond, Sr. (Redlands)
M Karen Jacobs, Sr. (Redlands)
M Eileen Rojas, Sr. (Fontana Miller)
F/M Charlie Ruiz, Sr. (Rialto Eisenhower)
F/M Karley Weeks, Jr. (Redlands East Valley)
Dec. 1 – Riverside Poly at Citrus Valley, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 1 – San Gorgonio at Redlands, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 2 – Norco at Redlands East Valley, 3:15 p.m.
Dec. 20 – Redlands East Valley at Riverside King, 5 p.m.
Jan. 3 – Redlands East Valley at Redlands, 5 p.m.