Sunny Hills football sheds stereotypes, captures CIF title with neighborhood kids

FULLERTON A small group of Sunny Hills players stayed after practice this week to toss the football around and joke with each other until darkness nearly covered their field.

The players seemed to soak up each precious minute, recognizing the time and place were indeed special.

Sunny Hills’ once-struggling football program actually held practices this week as a reigning CIF-SS champion.

“Nothing better than this,” senior quarterback and captain Luke Duxbury said.

Sunny Hills (12-2) will load into a bus Saturday morning and head north for a showdown in the CIF State SoCal Division 3-A regionals at Bakersfield Christian (10-3) at 6 p.m.

It will be a remarkable road trip, full of hip hop music on the bus and another football clash, for a school that started the 2019 playoffs seeking its first postseason victory of any kind since 1996.

It will be a remarkable trip for a program once dubbed as a “hard” school to win at.

So how have the Lancers become winners? One ingredient fifth-year coach Pete Karavedas pointed to this week was Sunny Hills’ success attracting its neighborhood kids from Parks Junior High.

And sure enough, those were the kids on the field enjoying themselves in the near darkness this week.

Duxbury (6-1,m 175) and fellow star senior Wilson Cal (6-1, 190) were classmates at Parks Junior High.

Rising junior linebacker Carson Irons (6-0, 190) also attended Parks along with junior tight end/outside linebacker Noah Brown (6-0, 210) and Arnold Beltran.

And the list goes on.

“Pretty much everybody, or (they attended) Fisler,” Duxbury explained.

In years past as the Lancers struggled, the top athletes from Parks landed at other schools such as Troy or Fullerton.

Sunny Hills has worked hard to win them back with activities such as youth camps but they still needed standouts such as Duxbury and Cal to take a leap of faith.

They were Pop Warner teammates with the Fullerton Titans and both decided to attend Sunny Hills in 2016 despite the school not having a winning season since 2008.

“I was going to follow him where ever he went and he was following me where ever I went,” Duxbury said of Cal, who plays wide receiver and defensive back. “We knew if we both went to the same school, we could do some damage.”

Duxbury was a ball boy at Fullerton High as an eighth grader but saw the Lancers making progress on and off the field.

In the fall of 2015, in Karavedas’ first season, the Lancers beat Fullerton in Week 10 34-27 and made the playoffs as an at-large entry.

“They had coaches who put their players in position to make plays,” Duxbury recalled at the time. “We figured this would be our best opportunity to win a title.”

The Lancers did just last weekend in Santa Barbara, defeating the Dons 24-21 in the CIF-SS Division 8 final after a late interception by Cal.

Sunny Hills knows its not on the level of Freeway League rival La Habra but they’re defending their local turf. The Lancers have swept Fullerton and Troy the past two seasons.

They’re also changing the reputation of Sunny Hills football.

“This means so much to us because it breaks the stereotype, ‘Oh, Sunny Hills has been so garbage at football for the past 20 years,’ ” Duxbury said.

And the Lancers aren’t done. Their roster is a diverse mix of ethnic groups and they’ve already developed a position group to watch next year: “LBU”. Sunny Hills starts four junior linebackers in Irons, Kevin Hu, Brown and Vince Silva.

And there’s the opportunity on Saturday in Bakersfield to keep the magical run alive. Imagine, Sunny Hills as a California state champion?

“It’s a good feeling when there’s years of hard work behind (this),” Duxbury said. “We’ve been working all offseason, pretty much our whole lives to get to this moment.”


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Has OC learned key bankruptcy lessons?

When Orange County declared bankruptcy 25 years ago on Dec. 6, 1994, the move unnerved financial markets across the country. And for good reason.

This affluent bastion of conservatism was, at the time, the largest municipality in the United States to ever file Chapter 9.

It was embarrassing — and almost unfathomable that nobody had noticed the warning signs.

Maybe not nobody. Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, was a private accountant who was being prodded by some GOP leaders into running against Democratic treasurer Bob Citron. Moorlach initially resisted, but then looked at the county’s financial statements and was shocked by what he saw. He ran a campaign warning of potential fiscal calamity, but lost the race by a wide margin. He was proven correct about the county’s shaky finances and the rest, as they say, is history.

Citron, who was elected tax collector before the county merged the office with the treasurer, was personally frugal, but lacked investment experience and savvy. Grand jury testimony suggested he even consulted an astrologist on financial matters. Citron’s “exotic” investment scheme created incredible returns for a while, which convinced a lot of officials not to look too closely.

The investments were based on heavily leveraging the county’s investment pool to buy bonds — lots of them — and essentially wagering “on the difference between the short-term interest he paid on the cash loans, and the long-term interest he earned on the bonds,” as a 2013 Register obituary explained.

Like so many gambles, it eventually collapsed — in this case after the Fed started boosting interest rates. Citron pleaded guilty to charges related to falsifying the books and faded from view.

“He was like the sun god,” Moorlach told us. No one said anything — not the rating agencies, bond holders or elected officials. Moorlach tried, but was accused of being a partisan hack. What advice does he offer on the anniversary? “Be careful about underestimating the marketplace and overestimating how smart we are.”

We’d add this one: Government should live within its means rather than gambling with public money to cover up its overspending.

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Capping consumer interest rates isn’t in the best interest of consumers

There seems to be no shortage of policy ideas proposed by Democrats in Washington that would harm taxpayers, limit consumer choice, or interfere in America’s free market. And next week, misguided consumer-credit legislation that does all three is poised to pass the House Financial Services Committee. It’s a proposal that purports to protect low-income Americans from high interest rate lending, but would actually cut them off from access to credit markets that can be vital for day-to-day life.

The committee’s proposal, titled the “Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act” is a particularly disastrous bill that attempts to lock millions of low to middle-income Americans out of short-term credit markets with government applied price controls. If enacted, the government would place a cap on the interest rate a short-term lender is permitted to charge a consumer who is seeking loan. As we’ve seen with nearly every price control, it can do substantial harm – especially to the most vulnerable of our society.

Short-term loans are already highly regulated at the state level, yet the businesses providing them survive because many customers prefer the hours of service and convenient approval that traditional banks may not provide. Insistent that they know what’s best for everyone else, proponents of federal legislation view small dollar short-term lenders as predatory institutions whose sole purpose is to keep their customers in an endless cycle of debt. They like to highlight high Annual Percentage Rates (APR) – which is simply the rate of interest a borrower will pay over the course of a year due to compounding – as their evidence. While these short-term loans typically do carry a high APR, it is extremely rare for a loan to be outstanding for an entire year.

Short-term loans act as a cash advance that are paid back in full at the borrower’s next pay period. So while the loans may indeed carry a high APR, the vast majority of loans are paid back in a matter of weeks or months, not extended for an entire year. It’s misguided to paint an entire industry with a broad brush, and even worse to try legislate or regulate an industry out of business.

Contrary to some of the claims made by proponents of this legislation, small dollar lenders tend to help rather than hurt the people they serve. At a time when fifty percent of low-income families aren’t able to afford a $400 emergency expense, having ready access to providers of immediate credit could be life-saving. According to Pew Charitable Trusts, “sixty-nine percent used it to cover a recurring expense, such as utilities, credit card bills, rent or mortgage payments, or food; and sixteen percent dealt with an unexpected expense, such as a car repair or emergency medical expense.” These are individuals who have nowhere else to turn to obtain a loan in order to pay an immediate bill.

Without this access potential borrowers may either have to miss a payment or default, or spend their efforts seeking an illicit, unregulated market for a loan.

And here, of course, is where taxpayers come in. Eager to ride to the rescue of a disaster scene they would create for consumers, most Members of Congress who support interest rate controls also back schemes authorizing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to engage in banking and even small dollar lending. These include Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Considering that USPS has run up massive losses for 12 consecutive years despite having a monopoly over mailbox delivery  U.S., it is foolish to believe that this government-chartered entity could manage a banking network on a break-even basis, much less profitably. Small-dollar loans have high default rates, and would continue to be that way under USPS management unless qualifications were tightened. The latter outcome is politically unlikely.

As Peter Conti-Brown put it in a report for the Brookings Institution, “It is difficult to imagine politicians, citizens, and customers having the stomach to abide the collection on nonperforming loans when the collector is the government itself.” Thus, the USPS banking  operation would either 1) require direct subsidies from taxpayers;  2) siphon cash from other USPS operations, hastening a taxpayer bailout of the entire postal system; or 3) induce the Service to lobby for expansion into more “profitable” banking areas that would compete with the private sector. Pick your poison, but taxpayers would suffer the ill effects.

In addition to directly crippling access to credit for lower-income Americans, an interest rate cap would interject the federal government between providers and consumers. Bringing the government into any market transaction like this inevitably has an effect on consumers’ ability to access the market. Price ceilings on any good or service reduce supply, and access to credit is certainly no exception.

No third party can objectively state that lenders are charging consumers “too much” for their services. That’s a determination made by customers when they opt to decline loan terms. The interest rate cap empowers government to second-guess consumers—imposing their judgment on how prospective borrowers should value goods and services.

Congress has a long history of imposing regulations intended to help low-income Americans that end up hurting – and they are poised to do so with short-term lending. This a valuable way that low-income Americans can access credit markets when they have financial emergencies. For the sake of low-income consumers as well as taxpayers, we hope this idea — and its postal banking companion — stays out of the legislative hopper and off the floor of the House or Senate.

Thomas Aiello is a Policy and Government Affairs Associate for the National Taxpayers Union.

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Another battle over crime looms in California

No California ballot would be complete without at least one measure about crime and punishment and 2020 will be no exception.

A referendum seeking to overturn California’s landmark ban on cash bail in criminal cases will once again test voters’ sentiments about the treatment of accused lawbreakers.

During previous decades, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, voters endorsed a tough, lock-‘em-up attitude, culminating in passage of the state’s famous — or infamous — three-strikes-and-you’re-out law aimed at repeat offenders.

At some point — roughly a decade ago — voter attitudes about crime softened and criminal justice reform advocates began winning in the political arena.

When Jerry Brown returned to the governorship in 2011, he strived to undo some of the punishment laws he had signed three decades earlier by reducing penalties for crimes deemed to be nonviolent, diverting more offenders into probation rather than putting them behind bars and making it easier for felons to win parole.

Law enforcement officials objected, saying that fewer offenders behind bars would imperil the public, but in 2014, Brown won passage of a key ballot measure, Proposition 47, encompassing his reforms.

As his second governorship was ending last year, Brown also championed and signed legislation, Senate Bill 10, to eliminate cash bail — a long-sought goal of civil rights and criminal justice advocacy groups.

They argued that the bail system discriminates against the poor who are unable to either post bail themselves or afford the fees of private bail bond agents.

Under the legislation, those accused of minor, non-violent offenses would almost automatically be freed while awaiting trial and other defendants would be evaluated for their flight risk with judges having the final word on who would remain locked up.

SB 10 would, in effect, erase an entire industry, California’s 3,000-plus bail bond agencies, and, not surprisingly, they decided to fight back. Very quickly, a bail industry coalition raised money to qualify a referendum for the 2020 ballot to overturn the new law, whose implementation is now suspended until the voters have spoken.

Bail agents are clearly poised to spend millions of dollars to preserve their livelihoods and now the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is committing itself to finance a pro-SB 10 campaign.

The SEIU has couched its support for SB 10 in terms of civil rights and protecting poor people from a rapacious industry. However, it also has a financial interest in the outcome because ending cash bail would mean adding thousands of new unionized workers to county probation departments for evaluating defendants.

So the stage is set for another political showdown on crime, with the particularly tricky procedure of a referendum. The question on the ballot will be whether voters want to keep SB10 in force, so the bail agent coalition will be seeking a “no” vote while SEIU and other supporters will want voters to say “yes.”

Initially, it’s difficult to say which side has a better chance of prevailing. A statewide poll conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies in September found that 39% of voters are inclined to vote “yes” to support the new law, while 32% are opposed and 29% are undecided.

There’s a partisan division, with Democrats in support and Republicans opposed, so that should give SB10 supporters an edge. But voters now on the fence will have the final word and that’s where both sides will concentrate what is likely to be their emotion-laden appeals.

CalMatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to

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Whicker: Capitals’ John Carlson skates past Kings on the way to history

LOS ANGELES — The Kings have not yet reached the depths of the old Clippers, from their Sports Arena days, when they tried to entice fans by promoting the visiting stars.

On Wednesday night the Kings might have touted the arrival of John Carlson.

Carlson is not the most famous player on the Washington Capitals, but he is poised to make the type of history usually associated with Alex Ovechkin.

He scored the Caps’ first two goals in a 3-1 victory, and that gave him 11 goals and 42 points in 30 games.

That extrapolates to a 118-point pace. No defenseman has scored 100 points since the Rangers’ Brian Leetch got 102 in the 1991-92 season.

“That’s why he’s Johnny Norris,” T.J. Oshie said. “That’s really all you need to say. He’s one of our leaders. The points are amazing, but he’s also a solid rock back there defensively.”

Carlson has not finished higher than third in the Norris Trophy balloting, given to the best all-around defenseman. It usually winds up in the hands of a high scorer, and Carlson has led the NHL’s defenseman in scoring before, but he only needed 68 points to do so in 2018. He came into Wednesday night’s game 12 points ahead of Carolina’s Dougie Hamilton.

In 2004, the last year of Old Hockey, Sergei Gonchar of Washington led the league’s D-men with 58 points. After a year-long lockout, the NHL sped up the game with new rules, and Nicklas Lidstrom of Detroit led with 80 points in 2006.

But even last season there were only four defensemen with 70 or more. Carlson had 70, 18 fewer than league leader Brent Burns.

“Scoring is up across the board,” Carlson said. “There’s a lot more unpredictability, and guys are learning new ways to score. It’s the way the league is right now.”

Carlson found two ways to score in this one, both in the first period. He separated Trevor Lewis from the puck at his own blue line and sped down the right side.

“I thought I heard somebody yell 2-on-1, but when I looked up it wasn’t there,” he said. So he shot it at, and then past, Jonathan Quick.

On the second goal, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty got involved in a puck scrum along the boards and partner Joakim Ryan shaded over to help. Oshie freed the puck and swung it to the right side, to find Carlson with nearly half the zone to work with. Carlson skated in on Quick, got behind him and caromed the puck off his back for the 2-0 lead.

“There has to be a stronger belief system at the beginning of games,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan, whose team is now 11-16-2. “The start seems to be a bit of an issue. We got down two (goals) and it seemed like we said, OK, we’ve got nothing to lose, and then we became a better team. We’re struggling to score goals right now.”

The Kings had abundant chances but their power play remained arthritic. They got four shots on goal in six minutes of man-advantage time and scored none.

But early in the third period, Washington goalie Alex Samsonov indecisively played the puck behind his net. Kings’ rookie Blake Lizotte, who had just charged off the bench, ambushed Samsonov, making it 2-1.

With Quick on the bench, Dustin Brown got a pass from Alex Iafallo in front of Samsonov but couldn’t make his backhand shot work. Tom Wilson quickly turned it into an empty-net goal.

Washington, which won the Stanley Cup two years ago but was eliminated by Carolina in the first round last season, now has a 21-4-5 record and, with Carlson, has five players who have scored 10 or more goals. The Kings only have Anze Kopitar, with 10.

The Capitals won at San Jose on Tuesday night without a point from Ovechkin, and he didn’t score here either, which is not a comforting image for the rest of the Eastern Conference.

Carlson has steadily grown into NHL royalty, but the hockey world has known him for years. He scored an overtime goal for the U.S. team that beat Canada for the World Juniors championship in Saskatoon, nine years ago. A few months ago he got the game-winner as the Hershey Bears won the Calder Cup, the championship of the American Hockey League.

Eight of the Kings’ next nine games are on the road before a Dec. 23 match at Staples Center with the St. Louis Blues, who won the Stanley Cup in June. Clear your calendar; center Ryan O’Reilly and goalie Jordan Binnington might be worth a look.

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