Season Preview: Citrus Belt League

PREP FOOTBALL 2018 (PRESEASON)
CITRUS BELT LEAGUE PREVIEW

(2017 records in parenthesis)

The Citrus Belt League’s rather unique eight-team format made it different, and not always for the better. And so they jettisoned last year’s bottom two — Rialto Eisenhower and Fontana Miller — and have pared it back to just six teams for the first time this decade. San Bernardino Cajon may be riding the last of a great run with an all-time QB. One who, by the way, has most of his weapons back from a CIF-State title game appearance. Yucaipa is the metaphor for a small town that does big things, usually in football and often baseball, and will be challenged for a playoff spot by all the Redlands Unified Schools. Rialto Carter, never to be taken lightly, is probably not a playoff contender this season.

SAN BERNARDINO CAJON (14-2, 7-0 CBL) had the kind of season that makes student apathy disappear on campus. Sending players to big-time colleges on full-ride scholarships is great, but will the Cowboys be a little slow to wake up after their fun night out or did they go to bed as soon as they got home because they’re focused on the next goal?

YUCAIPA (10-2, 6-1) was a CIF-Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinalist and was one of the tougher outs in the Inland Area, playing tough for three quarters against Cajon and losing a shootout to Menifee Paloma Valley to end it season. QB Keo McChesney can be lightning-in-a-bottle for Thunderbirds.

REDLANDS EAST VALLEY (6-5, 5-2) demanded a young, energetic and disciplined coach to step in right away and the Wildcats got one with Rich Lunsford. He’s not going to let standards slip around the perennial playoff powerhouse, especially with the talent the program attracts on a yearly basis.

RIALTO CARTER (4-7, 4-3) was one of those rare teams with a winning league record but a losing overall record that still qualified for the playoffs. Not that the Lions did anything with the opportunity, getting blasted by Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley in the first round.

REDLANDS (4-6, 3-4) won its final three games of the season but couldn’t find a way to make the playoffs despite a senior-laden defense that never quit. The problem was finding offense, which shouldn’t be so much of an issue this season.

REDLANDS CITRUS VALLEY (5-6, 2-5) will be among the most-watched teams in the Inland Area this season with the hire of Kurt Bruich. Will playing in his own stadium make his teams better? Or just more comfortable?

PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
Cajon
Redlands East Valley
Yucaipa
Citrus Valley
Redlands
Carter

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
DB Devonta Bridges, Sr., Carter
QB Jayden Daniels, Sr., Cajon
RB/LB Christian Diaz, Sr., Redlands
WR Jakobie James, Sr., Redlands
WR Darren Jones, Sr., Cajon
QB Myles Herrera, Jr., Redlands East Valley
WR/RB Isaiah Holiness, Sr., Redlands East Valley
QB Servando Lopez, Jr., Carter
LB Kaden Masner, Sr., Yucaipa
QB Keo McChesney, Sr., Yucaipa
MLB Jonathan Perkins, Sr., Cajon
S Brandon Stallone, Sr., Redlands East Valley

PROMINENT GAMES:
Aug. 30 – Redlands East Valley at Upland
Aug. 31 – Cajon at Murrieta Valley
Sept. 21 – Menifee Heritage at Cajon
Oct. 12 – Redlands at Yucaipa
Oct. 19 – REV at Citrus Valley

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