VIEW FROM ABOVE: Volleyball Senior Night are first-class events … Polo training was local effort … CBL call coming for Beaumont? … Steinberg saw tough league schedule ahead.
Some food for thought as the Prep Fall sports season winds down:
Beaumont High’s showdown against its arch-rival Hemet in a Mountain Pass League volleyball championship showdown came over a month ago. The Lady Cougars lost.
A week after that showdown, Coachella Valley invaded Banning High’s gym in search of the Lady Arabs’ first-ever league volleyball championship. The Lady Broncos lost.
There were other patterns to both duels.
On both occasions, schools were celebrating Senior Night. Flowers and balloons all around.
Traditionally, Senior Night is held on the final home match of the regular season. Face it. Seniors have given a lot over four seasons of grinding it out — sweat, practice, sacrifice, all the highs and lows. All would agree, I think, that seniors deserve some recognition from the school, coach and parents.
In a spirit of sportsmanship and, dare we say it, maturity, onlookers witnessed the home team players offer flowers to the visiting seniors in those pre-game activities.
Smiles. Hugs. Good cheer.
After the visiting players received their flowers, they took them to family or friends sitting in the stands. Then it was onto a volleyball court war.
Let’s review this: Flowers to the visitors?
Can anyone see Beaumont High’s senior football players, on Senior Night of course, offer flowers to, say, the seniors from Citrus Hill High of Perris.
How about Banning High holding a pre-game ceremony in which visiting Indio High seniors are offered, perhaps, candy and flowers?
You gotta believe this: The girls might have something going here.
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Beaumont High water polo coach Nick Jenson made it clear that the Cougars, ranked as high as third in this season’s CIF Southern Section poll, learned polo play in the school pool and not part of club programs.
“None of our players play at the club level,” said Jenson, noting that “100 percent of their skills and abilities were built in our pool together as one unit.
“This group of guys have been grinding it out together for three years, which really builds the trust and team chemistry that is necessary for a championship level team.”
It’s not normal, however.
Most championship prep-level programs are knee-deep into the club-playing circuit.
The Cougars seem to be the exception to the rule. In other words, Jenson and assistant Trevor Tripp were doing their jobs.
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Speaking of tough football schedules: Banning High coach Qua’sand Lewis, Jr. says he received some criticism for scheduling the likes of Indio Shadow Hills, Hemet and Beaumont — all top-ranked teams — during pre-season.
The Broncos lost every game, but Lewis’ proclamation was that each game — each knock, each block, each run, each pass, each tackle — toughened their hide for a strong Desert Valley League run.
All of which wound up as a near Desert Valley League championship, folks.
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Don’t be surprised; in fact, you should expect this, that Beaumont will land in the Citrus Belt League when February re-leaguing meetings commence. The Cougars’ current stature is solid through 2019-2020, but it’s likely they’ll be re-aligned by area principals.
One Mountain Pass League administrator claims that Beaumont’s just too big — “and they’re growing” — to stay in their current alignment.
The Citrus Belt League’s well over a century old. Only one school, Redlands High, is an original. The current CBL includes neighboring Yucaipa.
The common thread here is that Yucaipa and Beaumont are one-high school communities. The trio of Redlands schools — Redlands, Citrus Valley and Redlands East Valley — would likely be part of that Citrus Belt League mix. The sixth campus could either be San Bernardino Cajon or even Grand Terrace.
Or, says a Citrus Belt League administrator, it could be an 8-team league.
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One nice feature of Beaumont joining the Citrus Belt League is aquatics. Current Mountain Pass League campuses Citrus Hill and San Jacinto don’t offer those sports, but Yucaipa and all three Redlands schools are heavily involved in swimming and polo.
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Hopes are that Beaumont would continue scheduling Hemet schools and San Jacinto in various sports — cross country, track & field, volleyball and football, to name a few — for non-league options. Those are great rivalries.
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Can’t wait for that first cross country showdown against neighboring Yucaipa. Thunderbird cross country has been legendary, dating back to the girls’ three-time state championship in the mid-1990s.
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Beaumont’s first-year football-coaching guru Jeff Steinberg must’ve known something when he noted that Perris High School a few years back went 5-0 during its non-league schedule.
“They only won once in league that year,” Steinberg said.
It’s noteworthy because the Cougars took a 4-1 record into Mountain Pass League play — a fully-loaded league schedule, in fact — that was similar to the Panthers’ 2016 season.
Incidentally, the Panthers reached the playoffs off a 1-4 Sunbelt League record. Beaumont reached its playoff destination off a 2-3, fourth place finish.
The Cougars came within a safety of reaching the CIF championship game.