Swimming official Kieth Pike remembered for deck excellence during 56-year career


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Kieth Pike, one of Southern California’s most experienced, respected and colorful swimming officials, died July 19 after a sudden bout with ketoacidosis, an acidic blood condition, his wife, Jo Ann, said Monday.

Pike, 84, started officiating high school meets in Southern California in 1962 and continued until 2017, the year he received the Ed Ruth Excellence in Officiating Award from Southern California Swimming.

“I respected him every time I had him deck,” veteran swimming official Richard Davis said. “I knew the deck was covered.”

Pike officiated the CIF-Southern Section swimming championships and was a fixture at Long Beach Wilson-hosted Klaus Barth Invitational.

The Westminster resident also officiated USA Swimming meets and high school water polo matches. He was past president of the Southern California Aquatics Federation.

“Kieth was one our best officials,” veteran referee John Montrella said.

Pike indeed spelled his first name Kieth, a unique flair picked by his mother.

Pike swam and played water polo at Long Beach Jordan High before serving in the Air Force from 1956-1962.

After the Air Force, he began working as the pool attendant/lifeguard at Long Beach Millikan High’s indoor pool. He balanced the position with his referee assignments.

“He enjoyed (officiating) because he was there for the students and the athletes,” Jo Ann said.

Pike met Jo Ann, his wife of nearly 35 years, while at the Long Beach Millikan pool.

He is survived by children, Keith, Kevin, Michael, Randy, Bryan and Wendi, ex-wife Suzanne and several grandchildren.

A funeral service is being planned for Riverside National Cemetery in August.

“His zest for life and laughter were contagious and irresistible,” the Pike family wrote in a tribute. “He was silly and loud, dedicated and strong, dynamic and deep. … Kieth’s voice will always be with us, cracking jokes, brightening our days and urging us to be be better.”

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High school swimming could encounter boosts, challenges in comeback from cancellation


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California’s high school swimming season ended abruptly in the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s scheduled comeback in 2021 offers intrigue and challenges.

In other words, it could feel a lot like just another swimming season in Southern California.

And considering the health crisis that has raged since March, that normalcy would be a welcomed vibe.

“We’re just hopeful we can have something this year,” Santa Margarita co-coach Rich Blanc said this week.

The revised sports calendar by the CIF-Southern Section pushes the swimming season back about three weeks to a start on March 13, 2021. The season will then operate in nearly its regular spring window.

The Southern Section championships are scheduled for the week of May 24, the last week before Memorial Day. The state championships remain and slotted for June 4-5.

Part of the intrigue and benefit for swimming in the new calendar is that many boys will enter the season directly from water polo. The water polo season will end for most teams in early March.

Traditionally, the boys play water polo in the fall and have an extended break before swimming. But with essentially no break between seasons this school year, the boys could be excellence shape early in the swimming campaign.

“I bet in the first two weeks of the season, you’ll see their best times until league,” Villa Park consultant John Kulisich said.

The boys, of course, will make the same transition that the girls have made for years from water polo to swimming. The girls usually play water polo in the winter and move right into swimming.

The swimming season also might experience a rehearsal of sorts in November. USA Swimming’s TYR Pro Swim Series is scheduled to make a stop in Irvine at Woollett Aquatics Center, Nov. 12-15, 2020.

Coach Ken LaMont of the host Irvine Novaquatics said his club will work with health officials leading up the meet but knows the pandemic makes the future uncertain.

“We’re excited about the possibility of the meet,” LaMont said Friday.

The high school season will face hurdles with scheduling.

The calendar’s stretch into late May and early June could conflict with high school graduations.

And there’s the typical, Olympic-year consideration. The early June conclusion of the season will be close to the start of the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials, June 13-20, in Omaha, Neb.

In past Olympic years, some elite high school swimmers alter their schedule and training in preparation of Trials.

“We will deal with it successfully,” Mission Viejo Nadadores coach Mark Schubert said the balance act. “I don’t think there is a negative.”

Yes, any type of comeback from a canceled season would certainly be a positive.

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Santa Margarita quarterback Colt Fulton motivated to improve while preparing for season

Colt Fulton wishes the high school football season could start this fall but he has important plans for the march toward kickoff.

The Santa Margarita senior quarterback aims to improve a skill set that has landed him five college offers and positioned him for a breakout season come Jan. 8, 2021.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound left-handed passer wants to increase his strength and fine-tune throwing mechanics during the delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m just using this time as an opportunity to get better,” Fulton said this week. “I get an extra four months to really focus on what I need to get better at but also (the time) is a negative because I love playing in the fall. But as long as I’m playing (at some point), it’s not a big deal.”

Fulton flashed his upside last season at Santa Margarita, his first since transferring from Centennial of Corona. Despite playing with an inexperienced offense, he showed a strong arm, good footwork and toughness in the pocket in passing for 1,361 yards and seven touchdowns.

Fulton passed for season-high 274 yards and two TDs in a 35-21 loss against Sierra Canyon in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2 playoffs.

The Eagles finished 3-8 overall, 0-5 in the Trinity League but college scouts have noticed Fulton. He has been offered by San Diego, Bucknell, Yale, Northern Colorado and Florida Atlantic.

Fulton also is receiving interest from Cal, Rutgers and Houston.

“I feel thankful but there’s definitely some offers that I still waiting for,” he said. “It’s definitely going to have to be senior-year film for me.”

In January, Fulton will debut under new Santa Margarita coach Tim Walsh, the former Cal Poly SLO coach and returning offensive coordinator Tim Holt. The Eagles will continue to run the spread offense with the run-pass option.

Fulton recently began training privately with Chris Flores at STARS in Anaheim. Flores has also worked with quarterbacks such as Bryce Young (Mater Dei/Alabama), DJ Uiagalelei (St. John Bosco/Clemson) and Los Alamitos sophomore Malachi Nelson.

Another positive for Fulton will be his offensive line. The group now includes the return of Brody Crane from JSerra.

Senior Tyler Wetmore (5-10, 183) leads the receiving group. The slot was recently offered by Penn.

“Everyone is going to be pretty shocked how good we are and how improved we are,” Fulton said. “I’m excited.”

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Mater Dei All-County cornerback Jaylin Davies to forgo revised football season, enroll early at Oregon

Jaylin Davies watched the standouts before him at Mater Dei make the early leap to college football.

As a freshman, he saw quarterback JT Daniels blaze a new path, reclassifying to enroll at USC.

As a sophomore, it was wide receiver Bru McCoy who enrolled early with the Trojans.

And last year, all eyes were on quarterback Bryce Young, who graduated early to join Alabama.

Davies spotted the potential collegiate boost in the decisions and wanted to follow the same path.

The All-County cornerback never imagined he would need to miss his senior season to make it a reality.

But with Monday’s announcement that the high school football season will be delayed to an early January start, Davies (6-1, 165) has decided to forgo his senior season with the Monarchs to graduate early and enroll at Oregon.

“It’s tough but the decision was made a long time ago when I was a freshman,” he explained. “(I) just never thought my senior season would be pushed back until spring.”

The coronavirus pandemic has forced plenty of change, including the news that the football season in the CIF-SS aims to start Jan. 8, 2021 and play through mid-April. Davies aims to be part of the Ducks’ program by then.

He will miss more than the season.

Davies said he will miss Coach Bruce Rollinson and the coaching staff and going to In-N-Out Burger with his friends.

And the Monarchs will miss Davies. He will be remembered as clutch performer who filled big shoes after the unexpected transfers of cornerbacks Elias Ricks and Darion Green-Warren. Davies also helped seal a victory against St. John Bosco for Trinity League title last season.

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Tracking the fall sports plans for Orange County school districts and private schools

A look at what the Orange County school districts and private schools have announced about their plans for the start of the 2020-21 school year.

School campuses were shut down and all sports activities were stopped in mid-March during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are currently working on plans for the new school year while receiving recommendations, from health agencies and other groups, regarding how to protect the well-being of students and teachers during the pandemic.

OCVarsity will be tracking announcements about plans for sports activities and whether schools will open their campuses (for in-person instruction) or have closed campuses (distance learning only).

Administrators have been saying that schools with closed campuses aren’t expected to allow any sports activities until their campus is reopened.

Here is where things stand as of Tuesday, July 14:

ORANGE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Anaheim Union (starting Aug. 12): Plan is TBD

Brea Olinda Unified (starting Aug. 17): Plan is TBD

Notable: District board of education meeting on Thursday, July 16.

Capistrano Unified (starting Aug. 18): Plan is TBD

Notable: District board of trustees meeting on Wednesday, July 15.

Fullerton Joint Union (starting Aug. 11): Plan is TBD

Garden Grove (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Huntington Beach Union (starting Sept. 3): Plan is TBD

Irvine Unified (starting Aug. 20): Plan is TBD

Notable: District board meeting on Tuesday, July 14.

Laguna Beach (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Los Alamitos (starting Aug. 31): Plan is TBD

Newport-Mesa Unified (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Orange Unified (starting Aug. 19): Plan is TBD

Placentia-Yorba Linda (starting Sept. 1): Plan is TBD

Saddleback Valley (starting Aug. 17): Plan is TBD

Santa Ana Unified (starting date Aug. 10): Announced July 14 it will begin the year with distance learning only, campus closed. Plan for sports is TBD.

Tustin Unified (starting Aug. 13): Plan is TBD

 

PRIVATE  SCHOOLS                         

JSerra (starting Aug. 10): In-class instruction, campus open. Sports plan is TBD.

Mater Dei (starting Aug. 10): Plan is TBD

Orange Lutheran (starting Aug. 17): Plan is TBD

Santa Margarita (starting Aug. 12): Plan is TBD

Servite (starting Aug. 11): Plan is TBD

Rosary (starting Aug. 10): Plan is TBD

St. Margaret’s (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Crean Lutheran (starting Aug. 18): On-campus instruction or online-only options; campus is open. Sports plan is TBD.

Capistrano Valley Christian (starting Aug. 19): On-campus instruction or online-only options; campus is open. Sports plan is TBD.

Orangewood Academy (starting Aug. 17): Plan is TBD

Fairmont Prep (starting Aug. 17:) On-campus instruction or online-only options; campus is open. Sports plan is TBD.

Fairmont SJC (starting Aug. 17:) On-campus instruction or online-only options; campus is open. Sports plan is TBD.

Sage Hill (starting Aug. 24): Plan is TBD

Pacifica Christian (start date TBD): Plan is TBD

Samueli Academy (starting Aug. 12) Plan is TBD

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California community colleges shift all sports to spring season for 2020-21 academic year


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The CIF State is expected to announce its plans for sports in 2020-21 on July 20 but the organization received a look Thursday at an approved collegiate model in the state.

The California Community College Athletic Association announced that all its sports — even the socially-distanced friendly ones — will be played in the spring of 2021 this coming school year.

The schedule depends on local and state guidelines regarding the coronavirus pandemic, which is forcing high school, college and professional sports to reconsider their schedules.

The junior colleges will feature early and late spring seasons, with football starting practices on Jan. 18, 2021 in the early spring season.

The football season kickoffs about four weeks later on Feb. 13, 2021 and ends April 17.

Basketball and soccer are among the other sports in the early spring season.

The late spring season will run from March 27 through June 23.

All sports also playing seasons shortened by about 30 percent. Football, for example, will feature seven games.

There will be regional playoffs but no state championships.

The CCCAA features 110 colleges throughout the state and approximately 24,000 athletes.

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County of Orange defends messaging about youth sports postponement


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The County of Orange on Thursday defended its messaging about youth sports, which at the high school level were abruptly halted this week after receiving clearance by the county on June 15.

Frank Kim, Executive Officer for Orange County, said during a press conference about the coronavirus pandemic that youth sports were suspended after the California Department of Public Health modified guidelines.

He also said that the county re-opened athletics June 15 after other counties were given the clearance from the state.

Kim referenced a news report from Sacramento earlier this month that mentioned other counties.

“When the state provides that guidance and authority to one particular county (to allow modified, socially-distanced youth sports),” Kim said, “many of us began opening that program that was consistent with the guidance some counties had received directly from the state.

“And the state recently had modified their guidance on that so we did the exact appropriate thing, which  was we re-issued the press release and we had conversations with the Department of Education. … I see this being a completely open and transparent process.”

The O.C. Department of Education ended up delivering the news first Monday.

Through its legal counsel, the department advised schools to postpone summer workouts based on a clarification it received from the California Department of Public Health.

Despite high school athletic programs focusing on social distancing, wearing masks and taking temperature checks, they were advised that their modified workouts weren’t approved by the state.

While the O.C. Department of Education doesn’t govern high school athletics, districts throughout the county promptly followed the advice and started shutting down their summer programs on Monday night.

By the time the County of Orange issued its press release Wednesday night that youth sports were postponed, some private schools had already stopped their workouts as well and most of the county already knew the update.

“(The California Department of Public Health) again indicated that guidance specific to youth sports would be released in the future,” Jeffrey J. Riel, general counsel for the O.C. Department of Education, wrote to school superintendents.

“Once statewide guidance is released, we will collectively work with the local public health officer to consider local community conditions when implementing the statewide guidance.”

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Intriguing Servite linebacker Harrison Cofell enrolls at St. John Bosco

Servite linebacker Harrison Cofell has enrolled at Trinity League rival St. John Bosco, the senior confirmed Tuesday.

The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Cofell joins a group of St. John Bosco linebackers led by Andrew Simpson and Benny Lockhart among others. Simpson (6-1, 215) has committed to Kansas.

USC-committed linebacker Ma’a Gaoteote would be another name to watch with the Braves’ linebackers but he has transferred to Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas.

Cofell’s strong offseason makes him an intriguing contender for key playing time with the reigning state and national champion. His highlights last season with the Friars included eight tackles in an early-season game against Bishop Gorman.

Another new St. John Bosco defender with Servite ties is junior safety Sione “Riz” Hala (6-3, 200). He impressed last season with Paramount in the CIF-SS Division 4 semifinals against San Juan Hills.

RELATED COVERAGE

Trinity League Football Podcast: Top offseason developments / The Miller Moss impact at Mater Dei

Please send football news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter of Instagram

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Sunny Hills athletic director Jon Caffrey accepts new ‘challenge’ as assistant principal at Fullerton


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The diverse high school athletics career of Jon Caffrey has made another turn.

Sunny Hills’ successful athletic director and former football coach has left the Freeway League school and accepted an assistant principal post at nearby Fullerton, he confirmed Thursday.

Caffrey, 48, will oversee athletics, ASB and discipline at Fullerton.

“It’s always difficult to leave something that’s been home,” he said of Sunny Hills. “But I’m excited for this new challenge.”

As Sunny Hills’ athletic director the past six years, Caffrey replaced the legendary Ralph Trigsted and guided some of the best coaches in Orange County.

Six of Caffrey’s coaches earned Orange County Register coach of the year honors. They were: Pete Karavedas (football), Jae Byun (girls basketball), Keith Nighswonger (girls water polo), Arlie Kearney (baseball), Mike Schade (boys soccer) and Jeff Gordon (girls soccer).

Sunny Hills also won multiple CIF-SS titles and one CIF State SoCal crown during Caffrey’s tenure.

This past season, the Lancers’ football team captured its first section title since 1992. The boys and girls soccer teams have also claimed titles in recent years.

Byun led the girls basketball team to the SoCal regional title and a trip to the state championships three seasons ago.

“He has done an amazing job at Sunny Hills,” Karavedas said of Caffrey, who also coached softball for two years at the school.

Interestingly, Caffrey coached Karavedas (Calvary Chapel/Downey) and Byun (Sunny Hills) in high school and then mentored them into top coaches.

Caffrey arrived at Sunny Hills in 2009 to coach football. He previously coached football at Whittier Christian, the program his father Tom led to three section championships.

Sunny Hills has not announced a new athletic director.

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Foothill baseball names assistant Chris Price to replace Vince Brown as coach

Foothill’s baseball program has found a replacement for its acclaimed coach.

The Knights announced Tuesday the hiring of assistant Chris Price to replace Vince Brown, who recently retired as Foothill’s coach.

Price served as an assistant at Foothill the past six seasons.

His resume also includes working as an assistant under legendary Capistrano Valley coach Bob Zamora.

“He could not have had better mentors than Zamora and Brown,” Foothill athletic director Doug Case said of Price, who also teaches at Foothill. “We are truly fortunate to have him accept the position as head baseball coach at Foothill.”

Brown, 60, retired after 24 seasons as a head coach in Orange County to create more time to watch his sons play. His career record was 442-187 with 14 league titles

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