Boys cross country rankings

1. King City:
2. Pacific Grove:
3. San Benito:
4. Salinas:
5. Alisal:
6. Greenfield:
7. Palma:
8. Marina:
9. Gilroy:
10. Carmel:
 On the bubble: Monte Vista, Soledad, Alvarez, Watsonville.

Weekend thoughts
 A week after Marina's girls basketball team set a single-season school record for wins, the girls soccer team established a new school mark for wins, improving to 7-0-1 in league.

 Stevenson's girls basketball team became the first program in the PCAL to win a title, improving to 8-0 in the Cypress Division.

 J.T. Byrne celebrated being named to the Small School State second team offense and Junior Class third team in football, by erupting for 32 points in Carmel's win in basketball.

 Palma has established the longest current winning streak in the county, stretching it to 12 after beatin Alisal on Friday.

 Down by eight in the fourth quarter, Pacific Grove scores 20 of its 39 points in the final eight minutes to beat Salinas by a point for the second time this year in boys hoops

By John Devine
 CHARLOTTE: Still digesting his dismissal as the Carolina Panthers head coach, Ron Rivera seemed at piece with the body of work he put together in nine years.
 What has taken some time to get over was the shock of being fired with four games left in the season and the Panthers technically still in the wild card hunt. 
 "More than anything the timing surprised me," Rivera said. "Having the opportunity to sit down with the owner, listen and talk, it made me understand his reasons. But it's not acceptable."
 Rivera, 57, leaves Carolina as the franchises' all-time winningest coach with 76 -- 79 counting three playoffs wins -- three straight division titles and one Super Bowl appearance.
 Twice the 1980 Seaside High graduate was named the NFL's Coach of the Year, guiding Carolina to a franchise record 15-1 record in 2015, in which the team started the season 14-0.
 "Heck ya, it was a good run," Rivera said. "At the end of the day, change is good sometimes. I believe God has a plan. When one door closes, another opens. If it doesn't, kick it down."
 Ironically the last time Rivera was unemployed during a season came in his final year as a linebacker for the Bears. In both cases, is release as a player and coach came in his ninth year.
 "That's the natural of the game," Rivera said. "If you stick around long enough, it is going to happen. I have been through it. I'm an NFL coach. As the end of the day, I get it."
 It doesn't mean that it doesn't sting. Injuries have mounted this year for the Panthers, who haven't had quarterback Cam Newton since Week 2, and were without him last year after a 6-2 start
 At one point, the Panthers had rattled off four straight wins this fall with a backup quarterback before injuries crippled the interior lines on both sides of the ball.
 "If anything, this was really one of those things where we lost to nutrition," Rivera said. "It was kind of like my first two years. Look what happen to our offensive line. It was crazy."
 Injuries forced the Panthers to make 48 rosters moves since the start of the regular season, including 26 in the month of November.
 Rivera, who was hired in 2011, had said back then that he would reevaluate himself as a coach after eight to 10 years to see if the fire was still there. 
 "The plan was to take a step back and reassess." Rivera said. "What do I need to do to maintain this? I have the excitement and energy. I love the game. I love working with young people"
 The flame remains an inferno for Rivera. He's not interested in taking a break. He wants to get back into the fray when an opportunity presences itself in the off-season.
 "Coaching isn't just about X's and O's," Rivera said. "It's about developing personnel, finding players that fit. If you have a guy doing well in everyday life, you don't have off-the-field distractions."
 Rivera, who was coined the nickname 'Riverboat Ron' for what he called calculated risks rather than gambles, called his only regret not bringing the city of Charlotte a Super Bowl title.
 "I enjoyed it here," Rivera said. "I thought we were successful. I feel very fortunate I was around a lot of good coaches and players. But I'm excited about the next opportunity."
 With his resume, the Marina native is expected to be near the top of the list for a handful of jobs that will likely open up in the off-season.
  Rivera, a linebacker on the Bears Super Bowl XX title team, is considered a defensive guru, having been the defensive coordinator when the Bears went to their last Super Bowl 11 years ago. 
 "I'm looking for a challenge, for a team that has good potential," Rivera said. "I'm looking for a team that has talent and can grow. It's also about what a team wants and their needs."
 Based on the amount support that has come from current and former players that have played under the former Cal All-American, Rivera was well respected by players.
 "The phone will start ringing soon, said Rivera, whose parents still live in the Marina home he was raised in. "I'm in a good situation. I believe something positive will come from this situation."

By John Devine
 SALINAS - The Pacific Coast Athletic League Board of Managers has approved the athletic directors proposal to bring up Alisal, Monte Vista and Seaside in the Gabilan Division next fall for football.
 The three Mission Division tri-champions will join Christopher, Alvarez, Palma, San Benito, Salinas and Aptos to form a nine-team division.
 "I wish it would have been 10 teams," Palma coach Jeff Carnazzo said.
 Sent down will be Carmel, who was 3-4 in its one year in the Gabilan Division, and Gilroy, who was winless before forfeiting its final six games following sexually assault allegations.
 "I think it's straight up prejudice," Seaside coach Al Avila said. "This board makes these rules as they go. It's a joke. There's no credibility. They should be ashame of themselves."
 The Spartans are coming off a 9-1 regular season, gaining a share of the Mission Division title on the final week of the season with an overtime win over Monte Vista.
 The numbers in the program, though, continue to shrink. Seaside finished last season with 57 players for two levels. It will graduate 20 seniors from this team.
 "Why did Carmel go down?" Avila said. "They see us as different programs. There is no fairness to this. I knew after we beat Bishop O'Dowd in Week 2 our fate was sealed."
 Avila had eight sophomores and 16 freshman at the junior varsity level this past year. He brought up a handful of underclassmen this fall to put his varsity roster over 30 players.
 "We are bringing up kids that aren't ready for the physicality of this level," Avila said. "Where is the safety in that? Our injury rate is higher than its ever been."
 Seaside spent the 2018 season the Gabilan Division, finishing 1-9. The year before it was 3-4 in the Gabilan and 6-5 overall.
 "It's not sustainable with a program of our size," Avila said. "I am tired of hearing we have athletes. Have you really done your homework? We were 1-9 two years ago and they tried to keep us."
 Instead, it was Carmel that was thrown to the wolves last year at the 13th hour, without any previous discussion from the Board of Managers.
 "Me personally, this has more to do with people that they want to see in the Gabilan," Carmel coach Golden Anderson said. "The motives are not always in line with the mission state of the league."
 In an effort to keep his varsity program afloat this past fall, Anderson dumped his JV program and had just a freshman program, bring up players to fill out a varsity roster.
 "As soon as we were placed in that division, our numbers shrunk," Anderson said. "You're asking schools with different ingredients to compete. It continues to create problems."
  Carmel started last season with 41 players in the entire program, eventually building it up to 53 with an infusion freshman playing football for the first time.
  The Padres freshman program was 2-6 overall last year and winless in the Gabilan Division.
 The league is proving it doesn't work for football," said Anderson, who is also an athletic director. "At least not in my mind. It hasn't solved the problem it was set out to solve."
 Which is competitive balance in the Gabilan Division.
 "No one argues about being misplaced in the Cypress or Mission," Anderson said. "The board has approved every recommendation for every other sport the last two years accept football."
  The objective for Alisal has always been to get to a level to where it could compete in the Gabilan Division. Ideally, head coach Cesar Chaidez felt he needed one more year.
 Instead, the reward for the programs first league title in 16 years was a hastened move up to the 'A' League for 2020.
 "It's tough," Alisal coach Cesar Chaidez said. "I'm having a hard time seeing where they are coming from. I can only worry about what we control."
 Chaidez has helped raise the level of play over the last four years, as Alisal had 110 players filling out three levels this past season.
 "We're just going to train hard in the off-season and go about our business," Chaidez said. "Hopefully it will be enough to be competitive. We're going to be forced to get better."
 Chaidez does has a solid core returning from last year's 7-4 team, as well as a 6-4 JV team to build his program.
 "I guess the board believes we're good enough to compete," Chaidez said. "Let see if we can prove some people that think we don't wrong. The goal was to get to the Gabilan. It's happening sooner than we expected it to be."
 Avila would like to see a board established that has no affiliation with the schools, to provide more of a fair playing field when it comes to voting on realignment.
 "Why ask me these question if you're not looking into it," Avila said. "It's what the perceive. It's not reality. There's no fairness to this. There aren't nine teams that deserve to be up there."
 Having nine teams did get the approval of several of the coaches in the Gabilan Division, including Salinas coach Steve Zenk.
 "More local matchups makes it better for fan bases so attendance at games can go back up and we can spark a resurgence in  high school sports in the 831," Zenk said.
 Anderson, though, doesn't see the number increasing in football, particuarly when schools are thrown in the league.
 Teams that have been moved to the Gabilan Division in the last five years have all seen their numbers decline.
 "I know my numbers went down," Anderson said. "Teams that get moved into the Gabilan Division are not growing their numbers. 

Realignment for 2020 in Pacific Coast Athletic League
Gabilan Division
Monte Vista
San Benito

Mission Division
North Salinas
Santa Cruz

Cypress Division
King City
North County
Pacific Grove
Rancho San Juan
San Lorenzo Valley
Scotts Valley

Santa Lucia Division
Pajaro Valley
St. Francis

Rasmussen to retire at Lobos football coach
By John Devine
 MONTEREY - Few football coaches end their careers with a gatorade bath. Even fewer go out on their terms.
 Mike Rasmussen did both this past season, guiding Monterey Peninsula College to a Living Breath Foundation Bowl win, racking up 10 wins, and a dosing of ice water on a 48 degree afternoon.
 As a difficult of a decision as it was for the 69-year-old, Rasmussen felt it was time, as he is retiring as the Lobos football coach after 19 seasons.
 "We've talked about it over the last few years," MPC athletic director Lyndon Schultzer said. "I still think it was a difficult decision for him. He loves coaching."
 A former Michigan State quarterback, Rasmussen has been coaching college football for 48 seasons, taking the MPC job in 2001 and piling 118 wins.
 "My energy and passion is real good," Rasmussen said. "I still have the fire. But it's grind. It's been a process of figuring it out. Nothing will replace the love and service we have as coaches." 
 Rasmussen's win total is the second most in school history behind Hall of Fame coach Luke Phillips, who piled up a 163 wins over a two plus decade career.
 "He woke up each day thinking what can he do to make the program successful," Schutzler said. "He is an old school guy that wanted to win games, but valued creating men."
 During his tenure at MPC, the program won seven conference championships and appeared in eight bowl games, winning 10 or more games three times.
 "I've been very fortunate to have him," said Schutzler, who will retire as the schools athletic director in June. "I hoped he would last as long as I did."
 Rasmussen called coaching a 365-day, 24-7 commitment, one that he established the moment he set foot on the MPC campus. 
 "The standard we set is a total commitment," Rasmussen said. "We live it. I totally love coaching our athletes. It's just the year around grind that I want to retire from. I'm not wired to lower the bar. So if I feel that way, then it's time to make a move. I can't go to work giving less effort."
 The Lobos opened last season with seven straight wins. At one point, they were No. 2 in the state in scoring, and were a state leading plus-24 in turnover ratio.
 "We had a great group of coaches and players that played the game the right way," Rasmussen said. "We were building something special all year. It just felt like the time was right for me."
 A trio of players during Rasmussen's tenure ended up in the NFL, including current Jets quarterback David Fales.
 In addition, offensive lineman Terry Poole was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks and receiver Maurice Mann had a stint with the Cincinnati Bengals.
 Over 200 players have gone on and played at four year colleges after spending at least one season at MPC under Rasmussen.
 Rasmussen has also helped develop former players into coaches, including Poole, who served as his offensive line coach this past season, Anthony Garnett, who is a quality control analyst at Arizona State, and Brian Reader, who is a assistant coach at the University of Idaho.
 Garnett was Rasmussen's first quarterback in 2001, earning a scholarship to the Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
 "He was the first coach I had no prior relationship with," Garnett said. "He had such an influence on me as a quarterback. He was so beneficial for me getting to the next level."
 In fact, 18 years after taking his last snap for Rasmussen, Garnett still incorporates what he learned from his coach with how he breaks down film for the defensive coaches at ASU.
 "I use the knowledge he taught me when I was a quarterback when watching film," Garnett said. "I find their tendencies and try and exploit them to our coaches."
 Prior to arriving at MPC, Rasmussen served as the head coach at St. Mary's. He was an assistant as Cal, Stanford, Fresno State, Bowling Green and Michigan State.
 A junior college disciple himself, Rasmussen was a two-time All-American quarterback at Fresno City, guiding them to two state Junior College titles.
 Rasmussen knows it will be a transition, that he can't replace the fire that comes with being a football coach and developing players on and off the field for most of his live
 "I love helping young people make their lives better through the vehicle of football," Rasmussen said. "Coaching is being a parent and having a partnership. I'll miss it. But I have a lot of activities outside of football. I'm still young at heart. I have energy. I'll find my path and and led the good lord lead me."
 Schutzler already has a list of candidates to replace Rasmussen, although it will likely be on interim basis next year, as the position also included teaching full time on campus.
 "I think there will be a number of people that are interested," Schutzler said. "We will look to  hire someone as soon as possible. It may be an adjunct with the intent of hiring someone full time in 2021."
 One potential candidate could be Hartnell defensive coordinator Sunil Smith, who was a head coach at Alisal for eight years before joining the Panthers staff six years ago.
 Former Lobo linebacker and Mercyhurst assistant head coach Ryan Riemedio, as well as Garnett and Seaside defensive coordinator Justin Hansen could be candidates as well.
 Hansen has had stints as a defensive coordinator at Hartnell and Cabrillo College. Gonzales head coach Art Berlanga, a former Hartnell assistant, could also be on a the list.
 "I've gotten better as a coach in terms of what is really important in building a culture and making young peoples lives better," Rasmussen said. "Sometimes it's tough love. That's truly what wins. I'm so lucky to have had something I was so passionated about. I'll miss it. But this feels right."

Stevenson wraps up girls basketball title
By John Devine

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