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NEWS AND NOTES FROM PRESS ROW – Artesia football keeps running and running, advances to Division 14 semifinals

November 16, 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

The top-ranked football team in the CIF-Southern Section’s Division 14 has not been a part of the upset bug as, for the second time in six seasons, Artesia High is in the semifinals. The Pioneers knocked off Santa Rosa Academy 21-12 on the road last Friday, improving to 8-4 as they travel to Bell Gardens High on Friday.

Artesia, the second place team from the 605 League, advanced to the Division 12 finals in 2018 losing to Linfield Christian High 70-32. The Pioneers have already exceeded their combined win total of the past four seasons and are one of eight top-ranked teams in the 14 divisions to still be alive. Junior quarterback Charlie Lopez completed one pass, which went for four yards to junior wide receiver Ahkil Sampson. But he rushed for 124 yards on 14 carries and scored all three touchdowns-one yard and 14 yards in the second quarter and 40 yards in the third quarter.  He leads the team with 1,778 yards and 23 touchdowns while junior running back Julius Padilla, who gained 203 yards on 28 carries, has gained 739 yards with nine touchdowns to his season resume. 

The Pioneers have won four of their past five games, scoring at least 21 points in those four victories and have reached the 20-point mark in all their wins while their four setbacks have all been within 20 points and by a combined 55 points.

Bell Gardens enters the game with a 7-5 mark and defeated fourth-ranked Ocean View High 28-21 last Friday. The Lancers finished in third place in the Almont League and have a point differential of eight points. Common opponents for Artesia and Bell Gardens are Mark Keppel High and Pioneer High. Mark Keppel was dominated by the Pioneers, 41-0 on Aug. 25, and by the Lancers, 70-6, in regular season finale, while Pioneer fell to Artesia 37-19 on Oct. 12 and to Bell Gardens 46-30 on Sept. 1.

When the Lancers have fallen this season, they have lost bad. They were shutout twice, scored a touchdown each in two other losses and was on the short end of a 34-16 decision to San Gabriel High. Complete statistics were not made available.

The winner of this game will face either third-ranked Hawthorne High or Lynwood High. It Artesia wins, it will host the championship game.

Prediction: Artesia 35, Bell Gardens 20


#1 Coachella Valley High (10-2) @ #13 Cerritos High (7-5)-See Cerritos/Western Christian High game story.

Cerritos has never been to the semifinals and has won seven games for the first time since 2001 when that team finished at 9-2. Coachella Valley, which finished second in the Desert Valley League, is seeking the program’s fourth trip to a divisional championship game. The last time occurred in 1968 when it lost to St. Bonaventure High 27-20 in the ‘A’ finals. Coachella Valley has eight straight winning seasons after five straight losing campaigns.

A Cerritos win means the Dons will host either Santa Fe High or Yucca Valley High in the championship game.

Prediction: Coachella Valley 56, Cerritos 49

Last week’s predictions: 2-0

Season to date: 52-16


The CIF-SS preliminaries took place last Friday and Saturday at Mt. San Atonio college and none of the area teams had enough points to move on to the finals.

On the boys side in Division 2 action, Cerritos finished with 403 points and in 14th out of 15 teams in its heat. The top five Cerritos runners were sophomore Marlon Zarate (18:20, 78th), seniors Elliot Kim (18:39, 83rd), Ben Giordano (18:55, 87th) and senior Preston Yi (19:15, 90th) and junior Howard Lee (19:26, 94th).

Norwalk High finished in 10th place in another heat with 270 points as sophomore Leonardo Diaz was its top runner (16:01, 12th). The next four Norwalk runners were junior Erick Gallardo Barrios (17:12, 54th), sophomore Angeldavid Anaya (17:28, 57th) and juniors Diego Lopez (16:13, 79th) and Ethan Meza (18:38, 85th).

On the girls side Cerritos finished in 11th place in its heat with 286 points. The top five Cerritos runners were freshman Kalana Nguyen (20:56, 43rd), sophomore Dani Romero (21:42, 55th), juniors Anna Field (21:43, 56th) and Zilian Liu (22:29, 71st) and freshman Daisy Lee (23:23, 80th). Also in the division, but in a different heat, Norwalk placed 8th with 273 points, led by senior Vanessa Felix (20:32, 32nd). After her were juniors Isabella Reyes (21:58, 52nd) and Jazmin Gallegos (22:14, 55th) and sophomores Aaliyah Taylor (23:36, 73rd) and Daniela Raya (23:43, 76th).

In Division 3 action, sophomore Amanda Palomino represented La Mirada High and finished in 55th place with a time of 22:16 while the Gahr girls came in 11th place in its heat with 298 points. It’s top five runners were seniors Ananya Patel (22:25, 55th), Elena Windsor (23:17, 59th) and Katherine Ante (24:05, 73rd), junior Desiree Garcia (24:46, 78th) and senior Sylin Thai (26:08, 85th).

In Division 4 action, the Whitney High boys finished in 11th place in its heat with 269 points as the top five runners for the Wildcats were sophomore Cristian Ishiki (18:22, 48th), junior Ethan Choi (18:28, 53rd), senior Moises Reyes (18:37, 56th), sophomore Avery Chen (18:52, 60th) and junior Damian Moreno (18:57, 61st).

The Whitney girls finished in 12th place in its heat and picked up 338 points as freshman Katherine Low came in 35th place with a time of 21:48. Her next four teammates were seniors Amanda Ang (25:39, 74th) and Kasmine Brar (26:12, 76th), freshman Mohana Sai (27:24, 88th) and sophomore Alyson Kang (27:45, 91st).

The Valley Christian High boys team had the best finish of any area team, coming in seventh place in its heat, racking up 166 points. The Defenders fell 15 points shy of qualifying for the finals. Junior Jack Gisler was the top V.C. runner as his time of 17:24 was good for 16th place. Sophomore Carter Wegman was the next V.C. runner (17:55, 32nd) followed by seniors Caleb O’Conner (18:09, 36th), Brandon Teng (18:28, 45th) and Matthew Vreeke (18:44, 51st). 

The V.C girls piled up 272 points, good for ninth place in its heat, but 149 points away from qualifying. The top five V.C. runners were freshman Lauren Sampson (24:30, 52nd), junior Karla Ramos (24:31, 53rd), sophomore Brianna Ramirez (24:39, 54th), freshman Madeleine Maillet (25:47, 65th) and junior Grace Najarian (26:55, 77th).


Artesia had no problems with Calvary Chapel Downey High in its 79-33 season-opening win this past Tuesday. The Pioneers go to Sylmar High on Friday before hosting its own tournament where it will face Downey High on Monday, St. Anthony High on Tuesday, and Paramount High on Wednesday.

Cerritos will face St. Monica High on Saturday at St. John Bosco High and hosts Orange High on Tuesday while John Glenn High fell to Magnolia Science Academy 44-43 in overtime this past Monday and hosted Vista Meridian High this past Wednesday and will be home to Amino Pat Brown High on Friday.

La Mirada defeated Torrance High 79-49 this past Monday and El Segundo High 67-49 the next day in the 6th Annual Rumble for Rosecrans Ave. Tournament. The Matadores faced Los Altos High this past Wednesday in a quarterfinal tilt and will play wrap up the tournament on Friday and Saturday before facing Villa Park High on Tuesday.

Norwalk went to Rancho Alamitos High this past Wednesday in its season opener and will travel to Bassett High on Friday before going to Santa Fe on Wednesday.

V.C., also in the Rumble for Rosecrans Ave. Tournament, defeated Quartz Hill High 65-49 this past Monday but lost to Los Altos 72-71 in triple overtime this past Tuesday. The Defenders squared off against El Segundo this past Wednesday and will visit Marina High on Wednesday. 

Finally, Whitney squeaked past Loara High 59-57 this past Tuesday and will go to El Rancho High on Tuesday.


Artesia travels to Gahr on Saturday in its season opener and goes to Fountain Valley High on Wednesday while Cerritos is in the Corona Del Mar Tournament next week where the Dons will play Murrieta Valley High on Monday and Westwood High on Wednesday in pool play action.

Gahr defeated Lawndale High 54-36 this past Monday in its season opener and hosted Compton High on Nov. 16. The Gladiators will be home to Mountain View High on Friday before its contest with Artesia.

Glenn defeated Magnolia Science Academy 41-15 this past Monday and hosted South El Monte High this past Wednesday before going to Gardena High on Nov. 16. The Eagles will host Workman High on Saturday and Blair High on Monday. 

Norwalk lost to Millikan High 65-31 this past Monday and travelled to Wiseburn-Da Vinci High this past Wednesday and Western High on Nov. 16. The Lancers stay on the road for Friday’s meeting with Loara and Katella High on Monday.

V.C. fell to Santa Fe 54-24 this past Monday to kick off the season and will go to St. Joseph High on Saturday before hosting Long Beach Wilson High on Monday and Oxford Academy on Tuesday.

Whitney went to Walnut High this past Wednesday and will host Covina High on Friday before going to Mayfair High on Monday.


Artesia hosted Paramount this past Wednesday in its season opener while Cerritos hosted La Serna High on Nov. 16 and entertains Mayfair on Tuesday.

Gahr tied V.C. 1-1 this past Monday and was home to Oxford Academy on Nov. 16 while Glenn shutout Mark Keppel High 1-0 this past Tuesday and went to V.C. on Nov. 16. The Eagles will also travel to Lynwood on Tuesday.

Norwalk hosts Montebello High on Tuesday while V.C. welcomes California High on Tuesday and Whitney is home to Calvary Chapel Downey on Friday before travelling to Tarbut V’ Torah High on Monday.


Artesia begins its season at Santa Fe on Wednesday while Glenn entertained Rancho Alamitos on Nov. 16 and will go to Buena Park High on Monday. 

Norwalk edged Pioneer 1-0 this past Tuesday and went to Bell Gardens on Nov. 16 before venturing to Montebello on Tuesday