CIF Champions

1973 • 1977 • 1979 • 1982

1990 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998

2000 • 2001 • 2005

2008 • 2011 • 2012 • 2023

CIF Runners-up

1972 • 1981 • 1983 • 1987

1995 • 2004 • 2009

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 57 Seasons of prep football
  • 45 CIF playoff appearances (.765 winning percentage in CIF playoffs, 85-26)
  • 28 League championships
  • 2 State Playoff appearances
  • 29 Consecutive CIF playoff appearances
  • 22 CIF championship game appearances
  • 15 CIF-SS championships
  • 6 Times named California small school team of the year
  • 5 Undefeated seasons
  • 2nd Only to Long Beach Poly
  • (19) in CIF-SS football titles
  • 1 Smallest school in California that plays 11-man football

HIGH SCHOOL BOYS FOOTBALL

Our Coaching Staff

Mark Carson
Mark CarsonHead Coach
Randy Johnson
Randy JohnsonOffensive Coordinator
Ed Drain
Ed DrainDefensive Coach
David Drain
David DrainOffensive Line
JT Parker
JT ParkerOffensive/Defensive Analyst
AJ Corsini
AJ CorsiniDefensive Line & JV Head Coach
Edwin Ixta
Edwin IxtaGame Day Operations
Mr. Harry Joe
Mr. Harry JoeTeam Statistician
Rocky Seto
Rocky SetoTeam Chaplain & Defensive Analyst
Will Torrico
Will TorricoOffensive Assistant
Jack Van Cleve
Jack Van CleveQuarterbacks
Andy Lang
Andy LangDefensive Backs & Kickers

Our Alma Mater
“A Charge to Keep I Have”
by Charles Wesley

A charge to keep I have,
A God to glorify,
A never-dying soul to save,
And fit it for the sky.

Arm me with jealous care,
As in Thy sight to live;
And O Thy servant, Lord, prepare
A strict account to give!

What is a Kare?

We are the Rio Hondo Prep “Kares”. This is a unique nickname, not only because of its creative spelling but because a Kare is more than a mascot; it is a way of life.

Rio Hondo students are expected to represent “Kare” not only on the field or court, but in everyday life. They Kare about their relationship with their Creator. They Kare for others, putting their own interests aside and learning to serve. They also demonstrate Kare in the classroom which encourages them to excel in academics, creating a Karing environment on campus and a place where the younger students are encouraged and supported.

At RHP we don’t have a picture or a costumed mascot to represent us, we just have our students. They are the “Kares.”

Passion • Hard Work • Toughness • Discipline
Competition • Brotherhood • gratitude

Media Coverage

THE RIO HONDO PREP FOOTBALL LEGACY

From its humble beginnings in six-man football to its current status as a small school 11-man power, the Rio Hondo Prep football program has established itself as a preeminent gridiron program in Southern California. The Kares have won 14 CIF Championships (1973, ‘77, ‘79, ‘82, ‘90, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98, 2000, ‘01, ‘05, ‘08, ‘11, ‘12), been seven times runners-up (1972, ‘81, ‘83, ‘87, ‘95, 2004, ‘09), were six-time state team of the year (‘73, ‘77, ‘79, ‘82, ‘96, ‘98), have won 26 league championships, and had over 125 players named All-CIF. Prep’s 14 Southern Section titles put them second, behind only Long Beach Poly’s 19, on the all-time Southern Section list for number of football championships won. In fact, since the 1970s, Rio has been on a phenomenal run of making at least four championship game appearances in each decade. Not bad for a school whose high school enrollment has never been more than 105 students.

The eight-man program started and flourished under the direction of 25-year Head Coach Randall Johnson. Johnson posted a 230-69 career record (.769 winning percentage) and rang up eight CIF championships. His innovative run-oriented offense featuring a tight, unbalanced formation with the running-backs only 2-3 yards off the line-of-scrimmage bewildered opponents year after year.

Ken Drain took the mantle from Johnson as the Kares’ offensive coordinator in 2000 and helped guide the Kares to championship number nine before taking over as head coach at the start of the 2001 season.

The Winds of Autumn – A Program History

Summer’s heat fades into cool fall nights, colors turn, school begins, and football enlivens the air on campus at Rio Hondo Prep. The season has arrived. A common thread of greatness runs through all those Kares who have stepped onto the gridiron clad in the black and white with the tri-color crest adorning their helmet. The thread emanates from a legacy of tradition and glory.

1964-69 A Football Powerhouse is Born

Rio Hondo Prep opened its doors in 1964, and it did not take long for RHP to establish itself as a gridiron power. In the 1964 and ‘65 seasons the Kares competed in the Prep League as a freelance team not eligible for league or CIF championships. The groundwork for the RHP tradition was laid in those early years at Friday night home games in front of an enthusiastic Kare Field crowd. The trademark black/white football pants (the 50/50 pants were part of the Prep uniform until 1994) also started early and were a fan favorite.

In 1966 the Kares, under Head Coach Mike Dowd, began play in the Academy League as an officially sanctioned member of CIF. The ‘66 squad, at the time competing in CIF’s six-man division, was led by quarterback Chuck Miller, halfbacks Larry Estes and Robert Krueger, and a trio of outstanding ends - Ronnie Hill, Tom Walker and Ken Drain.

The following year, with the addition of standout sophomore halfback Armand Maaskamp, the Kares went on to win the first of the school’s 25 league championships. The Kares skunked (45 point differential) every league opponent in their march to the playoffs. The season ended prematurely in a loss to eventual CIF champion Black-Foxe in the opening round of the CIF playoffs.

Even with the early exit, Maaskamp put up some impressive numbers. His single season scoring mark of 146 points stood as an RHP record up until 1979 when tailback Greg Bolinger eclipsed it with 168 points. Maaskamp also holds the distinction of becoming Rio Hondo’s first ever career 2,000 yard rusher.

1970s - Rivalries & First CIF Championship - “The Game”

During the initial years of Academy League play, the Kares developed a fierce rivalry with Brethren Christian from Paramount. The rivalry climaxed in the 1972 season when, after tying Brethren in the regular season, the two met in one of the most bizarre CIF championship games ever played.

The Kares were led on offense by All-CIF halfback Steve Martin, who rushed for 1,069 yards and threw for 1,293 yards that season, and receiver Ken Koopman (50 receptions -13 of those going for TDs), and on defense by the likes of two-way lineman Jim Struck and linebacker Casey Clevenger. Rio scored a touchdown on every possession yet still lost the game, 72-64. Brethren scored fewer touchdowns, but went home victorious because they were perfect on their kicked PAT’s, which in six-man days were worth two points.

With the bitter defeat of the 1972 championship game still resonating, the 1973 squad returned from a long summer determined to win it all - and win it all they did.

The senior-laden squad including the likes of Steve Tuttle, Charles Parsons, Jay Lindemann, John Martin, Steve Hershey and juniors Eric Martin and Jim Parker, went undefeated and capped the season with a 54-28 win over new League rival, Flintridge Prep. Parker threw for 1,231 yards that season and Tuttle recorded an amazing 157 tackles, putting him second on RHP’s all-time single-season list, behind only Jerry Sullivan’s 167 in 1981.

The 2001 and 2012 championship games notwithstanding, there is probably little argument that the 1977 CIF championship game is the greatest game ever played at Kare Field. In front of a standing room only crowd, estimated at 2,100, the Kares and Mounties of Montclair Prep battled into triple overtime before the Kares finally prevailed, 51-45.

Arguably the game’s most tense moment occurred with under two minutes remaining in regulation and the Kares near midfield. Head Coach Randall Johnson gambled on a fourth and inches call with a gadget play in which center Mike McGaharn hiked the ball through QB Scott Wideman’s legs to fullback Chuck Mariotti who sprinted 47 yards down the right sideline for the game-tying touchdown. Craig Clingman added the pressure-filled extra point to send the game into overtime.

Jim Hanna’s interception in the third OT set up Mariotti’s winning touchdown on a dive-play from two yards out.

The ‘77 title was the school’s second and the first of eight for the coaching trio of Johnson, defensive coordinator Gary Lunney, and offensive assistant Orrick Hampton, as the eight-man era began. Standouts from the ‘77 squad included Hanna, Wideman, McGaharn (117 tackles), Doug Walsh, Mike Murphy, Gary Shintaku and inspirational leader Ken Fuller, who starred at linebacker in the championship game despite torn knee ligaments.

The 1979 team was the second in Prep history to go undefeated. They capped off their perfect 12-0 season with a resounding championship win, 42-28, over Prep League rival Pasadena Poly at San Marino High.

The Kares were led on offense by the quarterback-receiver combo of Ed Morales and Phil Horton, and by what many consider the best backfield tandem in RHP history, Dave McLelland and Greg Bolinger. Defensively the Kares were anchored by nose guard Byron Candel (114 tackles), linebacker and current varsity girls coach Joe Parker, and end Jay Windley.

1980s - The Tradition Continues

An 8-3 season and early exit from the playoffs in 1980 followed the championship season of ‘79, but by 1981 the Kares were once again in the title hunt.

The ‘81 squad (11-2) avenged a regular season loss to Montclair in the CIF semi-finals when they shut out the Mounties, 25-0, in the midst of a torrential downpour. In the finals they ran up against perennial power Templeton from the Central Coast and were soundly defeated, 54-26.

Several outstanding individual performances were turned in that year including Jerry Sullivan’s 167 tackles, Scott Lukesh’s 430 yards in punt returns (still a school record), and Mark Hartwig’s 11 interceptions, which was the school record until 2000 when Kyle Corral set the new school mark with 15.

Over half the starters from the ‘81 team returned for the ‘82 season, which bode well for Coach Johnson and the Kares. The Kares boasted a multi-dimensional offense and stifling defense.

Offensively the Kares featured the inside-out running of fullback Don Bedoya (1,251 yds rushing) and tailback Scot Moore (1,129 yds rushing), and an aerial attack led by quarterback Dave Guerrero (1,218 yds passing) with his favorite targets, tight end Derek Durden and split end Don Aydon. The “D” was led by nose guard Mark Acosta (126 tackles) and linebacker Norm Shultz.

On its march to the championship and a perfect 13-0 season, the ‘82 team played a grueling schedule. They defeated Templeton twice (including 35-12 in the finals) El Paso de Robles twice, Masada, San Diego champion Francis Parker, and of course, the Prep League teams. The 13 wins in a season still stands as both a school and CIF record for eight-man teams. The ‘82 team also holds the distinction of being named one of the Pasadena Star News’ top ten area teams of the decade.

The Kares came right back in ‘83 with another championship game appearance. Led by seniors Guerrero, Shultz, Mike Doerr, Steve Mendoza and juniors Paul Clark, Todd Bell, Jeff Widick and Steve Jones, the Kares went 10-2 and lost to El Paso de Robles, 48-36, in the CIF finals.

Regular season match ups with Templeton had become the norm in the 1980s. Almost as routine were the championship games between the two.

In 1987 the two met for the third time in the CIF finals. The Kares entered the championship game at Kare Field, 10-0, with a 27-21 regular season win over Templeton already under their belts. Templeton, however, won the rematch in convincing fashion, 42-20, by outscoring the Kares 21-0 in the second half. The loss brought to an end the careers of three outstanding seniors, quarterback Randy Johnson, tight end Dave Carson, and fullback Rod Heaton. Johnson concluded his career with 3,794 yards passing- still an RHP record, with 2,077 of those completion yards falling in the hands of Carson. Heaton wound up with 2,172 yards career rushing - putting him fifth on Prep’s all-time list.

1990s - Five championship appearances

After losing in the CIF semi-finals twice as lower-classmen, the senior-laden group of 1990 appeared invincible and entered the season atop the eight-man poll. The 1990 Kares would never relinquish that top spot as they rolled through the opposition and finished a perfect 10-0 (Ribet Academy & Campbell Hall cancelled their games with the Kares ...thus the paltry 10-game schedule).

The Kares concluded the season with a 35-6 win at Faith Baptist in the CIF finals. Looking at the numbers, one may be able to say that the ‘90 team was Rio Hondo’s best ever. They averaged 48.6 points per game while allowing only 10.4 per game all the while playing with an offensive line that averaged 156 pounds (including John Carrillo, Jeff Valdez, Bill Lee and David Joe) and a defensive line that averaged 150 pounds. Running-backs Rick Johnson and Mike Whiteside both rushed for over 900 yards that season.

Johnson would also finish atop the RHP career scoring list with 491 points and career rushing list with 2,865 yards.

Quarterback Todd Carson and wideouts Jeff Fairley and Pete Clark complemented the running game with a lethal passing attack. The defense was led by the linebacking corps of Johnson and Joe whose 294 and 274 career tackles put them third and fifth respectively on RHP’s all-time list.

The Kares only made the playoffs in one of the next four seasons, and that was in 1992, led by seniors Wally Ashby, Mark Carson, Carl Graham and Tim Lunney. Carson would lead the team in tackles that year with 98, followed close behind by junior Ken Lee with 95, both of whom would go on to earn All-League and All-CIF honors.

From 1995 to 1999 the Kares played in four CIF championship games and came out victorious in three of the four.

The 1995 season was the final season of eight-man football in the Prep League and appeared to be a rebuilding year for the Kares. However, behind the 1,472 yards rushing of senior fullback Ed Maldonado, and the leadership of quarterback Andy Chang, the Kares went 9-3 ending the season with a controversial loss to Antelope Valley Christian, 24-22, in the CIF Championship game at Kare Field.

With much of the team from ‘95 intact, the ‘96 version of the Kares entered the season with high expectations. They didn’t disappoint. Behind the offensive line of Marcello Taglioni, Edwin Biagas, Matt Bradley and David Ramos, fullback Jason Lett rushed for 1,306 yards, averaging 13.7 yards a pop. Senior tailback Josh Creager (1,759 career yds. rushing) and junior QB Josh Coulter were also instrumental in the Kares’ perfect 12-0 season. That year’s championship game, a 45-0 pounding of previously unbeaten Cal Lutheran, perhaps best exemplified what kind of season the Kares had. The ‘96 team still holds the state record for point differential in a season, 563, outscoring their opponents 605-42.

Except for a season opening loss, the ‘97 campaign looked a lot like the year before with the Kares dominating both league and CIF play. Senior returnees Coulter, Biagas, B.J. Jacobs, Sean Telles, Matt Gil, Yoshi Nagaoka, and Josh Guerry were the backbone of the team, which concluded the season with a 51-12 victory over Lighthouse Christian in the CIF Championship at Kare Field.

Season highlights included another great year for Coulter (140 points) and the emergence of junior Jacob Blake (160 points) as a big time threat.

With Blake at tailback, Sergio Villalobos at quarterback, Jason Ramos at fullback, and Seth Dinius anchoring the O-line at tight end the ‘98 Kare offense was unstoppable. End Perry Hampton, and linebackers Arthur Tashkesen and Ramos excelled on defense as the Kares looked for an unprecedented third straight CIF crown. Riverside Christian provided the opposition in the ‘98 final, which was once again a one-sided affair...RHP 51, Riverside 7.

Villalobos passed for 1,430 yards, Ramos led the team in tackles (posting 230 in his career), Hampton recorded 16 sacks, but it was Blake who stole the show - setting records that probably will never be broken. The lightning quick tailback rushed for 1,948 yards, averaged 13.9 yards per carry and scored 292 points - all school records. Coach Johnson was honored for the first time as California Small School’s Coach of the Year - an award never-before given to an eight-man coach.

2000s - Decade of Dominance - A new era

Following a disappointing 7-3 season in 1999 the Kares bounced back in 2000 going 11-1, winning the school’s ninth CIF championship and sending Coach Johnson out a winner with his eighth title.

After a narrow victory over Cuyama Valley in the middle of the season the Kares met the Bears again in the finals at Kare Field and had little trouble in their 54-14 championship performance.

Once again it was Rio Hondo’s stout senior leadership that propelled them to victory. On defense it was linemen Ryan Prest, Dave Hong, and linebacker Jason Dinius (110 tackles). On offense the Kares featured a devastating ground game with Corral at quarterback and running-backs Dinius, Jon Echevarria and Chris Rossiter combining for over 3,000 yards rushing. Split end Will Orsburn and guard J.R. Calderon also had outstanding seasons.

Rio Hondo Prep posted its tenth CIF championship in 2001 at the tail-end of a tumultuous season, a season riddled with injuries, sprinkled with three losses (the most ever by a RHP championship team) and filled with plenty of drama and intrigue.

Rio Hondo arrived at the championship game, which had all the elements of a classic David vs. Goliath championship match-up. Rio went in bruised and battered. Junior tailback Paul Hampton suited up, but could not play due to an injury sustained the week before at Kings Christian, and junior Jordan Ross was still out with an ankle injury.

Their opponent, on the other hand, was running on all cylinders. Joshua Springs, featuring CIF MVP tailback Collin Woodbury, had outscored its opponents 50-4, on average over the course of the season, while Prep’s regular season had been more of an up and down affair. Rio Hondo was 8-3: Joshua Springs was 11-0.

Perhaps the only thing working in the Kares’ favor was that they had been battle-tested...Joshua Springs had not.

Labeled a classic even before kickoff, the game lived up to its billing. In front of a packed house at Kare Field the Kares and Lightning put on quite a show - rivaling the 1977 triple-overtime championship thriller at Kare Field as the greatest game in RHP history.

Scoring was almost schematic as the teams traded blows with vicious rushing attacks. Behind the offensive line play of Ryan Westervoorde, Brad Hanna, Alfredo Diaz and Joe Wellman, Prep fullback Victor Almacellas scored first for the Kares, then Woodbury for the Lightning. Freshman tailback Landon Goodwell for the Kares, Woodbury for the Lightning. Halftime score: 14-14. Almacellas capped his big night with Prep’s final TD in regulation, but it wasn’t enough as, you guessed it, Woodbury scored his fourth touchdown of the game with under two minutes remaining. End of regulation: Rio Hondo 28, Joshua Springs 28.

Overtime: The California tie-breaker was in effect as both teams would get a shot to score from the 25-yard line. Joshua Springs went first and was denied as the RHP defense put the clamps on Woodbury and forced the Lightning to turn the ball over on downs. Junior QB Matt Heersema led a six-play drive with Almacellas doing most of the damage and Heersema putting on the finishing touches as he wiggled into the end zone on a keeper from a yard out. Players and fans stormed the field...the Kares were once again kings of eight-man football.

Rio’s first two years of 11-man football were successful, but not quite up to RHP standards. Prep made the playoffs both seasons, yet only mustered one playoff win. In 2004 that all changed.

Landon Goodwell led a talented group of seniors to the Kares’ first 11-man championship game. Although the season ended on a cold December night in Anza with a heartbreaking 13-0 loss to Hamilton, there were countless accomplishments throughout the season that made it one to remember.

For starters, the 14 games played marked the most ever by an RHP team, eclipsing the 13- game season of the 1982 squad. After starting the season 1-2, the Kares chalked up 10 straight wins before falling in the title game. Included in the 10 in a row was a 4-0 mark in league play, giving Rio its first outright league title since it began 11-man ball in 2002.

The Kares also saw six players named to the All-CIF team. On offense they were QB Dan Pastor (1,272 yds passing, 14 TDs), wide receiver Thom Bragger (23.4 ypc, 9 TDs), and offensive lineman Gabe Perez (297 blocks). Those named to the defense were safety Andrew Garcia (73 tackles, 4 INTs), defensive lineman A.J. Corsini (64 tackles), and linebacker Landon Goodwell (100 tackles, 11 TFLs). The six players mentioned above were also named to the All-League team, along with safety Fred Monteblanco and tackle Carlos Ortega. Pastor was named Prep League Offensive Player of the Year, while Goodwell was awarded League MVP. On top of that, Goodwell was named to CIF’s All-Southern Section team, which is made up from the section’s 500-plus schools. His selection was the first-ever in the history of the Rio Hondo Prep football program.

Fresh off the devastating loss in the 2004 CIF championship, the 2005 Kares were poised to take it one step further and win the school’s elusive first 11-man title. Many speculated that the squad had lost too much talent to graduation, but the Kares showed early that they would be contenders for the title.

The season opened with consecutive wins over Malibu and Western Christian by a combined score of 77-6. A 28-27 loss to Arrowhead Christian in game three jolted the Kares who responded the following game with a 50-0 thrashing of unbeaten Maranatha.

Picked to repeat as Prep League champions, Rio did just that rolling through league competition punctuated by a 23-13 win at Poly in what was, for all intents and purposes, the league championship game. Rio was behind at half for the first time all year, trailing 7-3. Sparked by interceptions by junior corner Joe Padilla and junior linebacker Mike Galvan, and powered by a devastating ground game featuring a veteran offensive line of Sam Heersema, Darren Sullivan, Dave Guerrero, Pete Amundson, Edwin Ixta and John Collins, the Kares scored 20 unanswered points en route to the victory.

A defense that had only allowed 9.1 points per game in the regular season got even stingier in the playoffs as they gave up a total of 14 points (3.5 per game) during the four-game march to the title.

Senior linebacker and eventual CIF Defensive Player of The Year, Kurt Coulter, led the defense with 112 solo tackles and eight sacks.

After shutout wins in the first two rounds of the playoffs, the Kares hosted unbeaten and #1 ranked St. Margaret's in the CIF semi-finals under a constant, light rainfall, and in front of a standing room only crowd. The Kares jumped to 10-0 lead in the first quarter and carried that margin into the middle of the third when St. Margaret’s got on the board to make it 10-7. A botched bubble screen by Rio almost turned the game when a St. Margaret’s defensive back picked up the backwards pass and appeared headed for the end zone before senior Bill Baumgartner made a shoestring tackle near the Kares’ 30 yard line. The defense held and the Kares would go on to add some insurance with a fourth quarter touchdown.

Campbell Hall awaited RHP in the finals played at Birmingham High School in Los Angeles. Again the Kares would jump to the early lead, doing all the scoring in quarter number two on a 45-yard pass from senior QB Will Torrico to flanker Kurt Coulter and a 29-yard field goal by sophomore Trevor Finchamp. The story of the game, however, was turnovers as Rio forced five, including interceptions by Padilla, Collins, and senior corner Nick Gonzalez. Prep, on the other hand, never turned it over. The five takeaways gave RHP a total of 32 on the season.

Rio finished 12-1, and as is the case with any championship season, was accorded a host of individual honors. Joining Coulter on the defensive side of All-CIF were Torrico (DB) and Galvan (LB). Receiving first-team offensive All-CIF honors were Collins (TE), Ixta (OL) and Baumgartner (RB) who finished the season with 1,066 yards and 14 touchdowns. Coach Drain was recognized as Coach of the Year in CIF and the Prep League.

The 2006 season was marked by the CIF’s realignment of the playoff divisions moving Rio Hondo and the rest of the Prep League (average enrollment of 323) into a division with leagues averaging over 1,400 students per school. Although drastically altering the playoff picture, the Kares kept it rolling in the regular season. Behind returning two-way starters in seniors Peter Amundson, Mike Galvan, Edwin Ixta, Joe Padilla, and Sean Piper, Rio rattled off eight more wins that extended the school’s winning streak to 18 games. The above mentioned would end up garnering All-League honors along with fellow seniors James Corsini and Victor Ortega, as well as juniors Trevor Finchamp and Taylor Dinius.

In the first four non-league games, Prep outscored its opponents 167-14. The Kares continued on the same course through Prep League action, extending their league consecutive wins streak to 12 before falling to Poly 20-0 at home. The following week RHP was eliminated from the playoffs in the first round for only the third time in school history when they fell to defending Division XII champions, Aquinas of San Bernardino.

The season brought to a close the career of several outstanding players - most notably three year varsity starters Joe Padilla (who would finish with 24 career TDs and 12 interceptions) and Mike Galvan who ended his career with 161 solo tackles.

Rio Hondo took on its most difficult non-league schedule in 2007 losing to four teams who went a combined 43-10 and accounted for a CIF Championship (Bakersfield Christian) and a CIF runners-up (Brentwood). However, the Kares stormed through the Prep League going 5-0 before a first round playoff loss to defending CIF Champion, Big Bear.

Tailback/linebacker/kicker Trevor Finchamp closed out his career garnering Prep League MVP and All-CIF honors.

The graduating Class of 2008 with its 16 boys (the largest group ever to graduate from RHP) will be remembered best as the class that firmly established Rio’s 11-man football program during their four-year careers. The group, led by Finchamp, Alex McNees, Chaz Hanna, Eric Wong, Greg Gatdula, Taylor Dinius, Ben Kamel, Danny Castro and Cody Mendoza was an integral part of the 2005 CIF championship team and finished their career with an amazing 16-1 mark in combined JV and Varsity Prep League games.

The 2008 season did not get off to the start the Kares envisioned when they set out for what all hoped would be another deep run into the playoffs after getting placed back into Division XIII by the CIF.

Rio lost three of its first four including a 20-7 defeat at Chadwick to open league. From there, however, the Kares got rolling winning their final four regular season games to capture their fourth Prep League title in the last five years. Flintridge Prep hosted Rio at Occidental College to conclude the regular season with the league title on the line. The Kares’ 54-7 win that night propelled them into the playoffs where they would win four more games en route to the CIF Championship.

Prep was led by a quartet of seniors all of whom garnered All-CIF recognition. Antonio Alaniz and Tim Esguerra finished with 1,270 and 1,157 yards rushing respectively and accounted for nearly 60% of Rio’s total offense.

Ed Garcia and Julian Hernandez were defensive stalwarts. Garcia led the team in total tackles with 60 and sacks with 4.5. Hernandez was a lock down corner who tallied 32 tackles himself.

Other key contributors included two-way senior lineman Dylan Santizo and a host of juniors, namely DB/WR J.T. Parker, LB/TE Cody Cowell, QB/LB Chris Llamas and OL/DL Daniel Morales.

Precocious sophomores Charles Quintero, Nick Preciado and Andrew Amundson should also be recognized for their contributions on both sides of the ball.

The Kares playoff run began with a 48-14 home win over St. Anthony.

Rio, who was unseeded, then traveled to Boron to face the #2 seeded Boron Bobcats who were averaging 47 points per game and won their first round playoff game 72-7. Rio shut down the Boron ground game holding them to their lowest point total of the season. That effort typified RHP’s defense over the course of the season, a defense that allowed just 9.0 points per game.

Whether it was luck or providence, the Kares would end up hosting both the semi-final and finals at Kare Field. Linfield Christian out of Temecula gave Prep all they could handle in the semi’s. A back and forth game wasn’t decided until the final minutes when the Kares finally prevailed 28-21.

The championship featured another team from the Inland Empire - Riverside Christian. Behind All-CIF and Cal bound running back Jonathan Harris, the Cougars presented a more than formidable challenge. Rio was turned away at the goal line to end the first half in a huge swing of momentum keeping the score tied at 6-6 as the teams filed into their locker rooms. Alaniz would score the go-ahead touchdown early in the third quarter to put Rio up 13-6. That’s how it would end as Amundson forced a Harris fumble on the 30-yard line as the Cougars were driving to tie the score in the game’s final minutes and Preciado fell on it to secure the win.

The title was RHP’s 12th overall and second of the 11-man era. Coach Drain was once again named CIF coach of the year.

Rio would go on to finish ranked #3 in the state behind only Small School Bowl Champion St. Margaret’s of San Juan Capistrano and Francis Parker of San Diego.

The 2009 team capped off an amazing decade in the history of Rio Hondo Prep football as they ripped off 13 wins (tied with the 1982 team for most in RHP history) and extended the school-record win streak to 21 games...until the CIF championship.

A tough non-league schedule, included wins over Brentwood (23-13) - after falling to the Eagles the previous two seasons, and two wins in the high desert. The first came at Boron (28-20), and the second came at Desert High School (40-6) located on Edwards Air Force Base.

The Kares cruised through Prep League play. The Chadwick game figured to be for the league title even though it was played in early October. The Dolphins, however, weren't up to the task that night as Rio won 43-7. Chadwick would go on to reach the CIF semi-finals.

The Kares opened the CIF playoffs with a stingy Desert Christian at home, and prevailed 34-0. That was followed by a Thanksgiving weekend trip to San Jaun Capistrano to play Saddleback Valley. After trading touchdowns in the first quarter, RHP scored 27 points in the second, and 60 unanswered for the game, en route to the 68-6 win.

Rio hosted Salesian in the semi’s in a game that will forever go down in RHP football lore. With the Kares up 14-0 in the 2nd quarter and threatening to score again senior quarterback Chris Llamas was hit from behind and driven into the dirt-packed turf forcing him out of the game. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that Llamas’ back up - fellow senior J.T. Parker, had been injured on the game’s opening kickoff and was also unavailable.

The Kares were turned away on that drive and subsequently gave up a TD to make it 14-7 at half. Junior Jake Hanna, who’s last snap had been a season ago on JV, led the Kares on a touchdown drive to start the 3rd-quarter capped by junior Charles Quintero’s 29-yard TD jaunt. Salesian answered with an 80-yard TD scamper on their next drive, but were unable to muster the go-ahead score as time and again Rio turned them away. The Kares put the game away with a clock melting drive to end the game. Final score: 20-14.

The championship game was played on a Saturday after week-long showers and a full-on deluge the night before and day of the big game. Because Kare Field wasn’t playable, the game was moved to District Field in Covina.

Rio’s opponent was 13-0 Linfield Christian of Temecula, and the two teams had a history. The Kares had eliminated Linfield from the playoffs on their march to CIF title games in both 2004 and 2008. The 2008 game was a 28-20 thriller in which the Kares knocked off the favored Lions at Kare Field.

Played in ankle-deep mud and a steady rain, the conditions favored the bigger team from Linfield and neutralized Rio’s decided speed advantage. However, Rio made it a game to remember and almost pulled it out. After trailing 9-0 at half, Rio scored on its first possession of the second half to make it 9-6. But, that’s how it would end, despite the fact that the Kares out-gained the Lions and won the turnover battle 4-1.

The 2009 team was distinguished by what might be the best defense in school history - a defense that allowed just 5.8 points per game (just one touchdown in Prep League action), and forced a school record 54 turnovers.

Senior linebacker and co-captain Cody Cowell was named CIF Defensive Player of the Year as he tallied 100 tackles, two sacks, five interceptions, and four fumble recoveries.

Joining Cowell on the All-CIF first team defense were seniors Jimmy Davis (DB), senior co-captain Chris Llamas (LB) and junior Nick Preciado (DL).

The Kares were also outstanding on the offensive side of the ball averaging 35.3 points per game. Quintero made All-CIF as a running back. Seniors Jason Sterris and Wes Mosher earned All-CIF honors for their play on the offensive line, and fellow senior and co-captain J.T. Parker earned All-CIF honors as a utility player.

2010s - A promising future

The new decade of Rio football was ushered in by quite a memorable season, albeit one that did not end with a championship but very easily could have.

The Kares rigorous pre-league schedule included a showdown with newfound rival Boron. All-CIF tailback and three-year starting safety Charles Quintero was injured in the game’s first quarter. That, among other things, led to an entertaining back and forth game that saw Boron eventually prevail 36-28. The same teams met in the CIF quarter-finals, this time at Boron, marking the third time in a two year span that the Kares had played there. Trailing 6-0 in the fourth quarter, sophomore QB Colby Rivera led the Kares on a touchdown drive to tie the score. However, what should have been a foregone conclusion, the PAT, was anything but due to the bone-chilling 20-degree temperatures. The visiting crowd’s groan and the home crowd’s cheers as the PAT failed told the story, but the game was not over and appeared to be headed to OT. Boron was stifled on their next drive putting Rio in position to drive down for the win with under three minutes remaining. The upset was not to be as Boron ALL-CIF DB Reggie Heard intercepted a pass and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown. Boron converted the two-point conversion to take the 14-6, which was how it would finish as the Kares’ last second drive fell short.

So, Rio would finish 2010 with a 9-2 record, both losses coming to eventual CIF runner-up Boron. However, the Kares had impressive wins over what would turn out to be very good teams. The thrilling 27-26 win over Village Christian has to be considered the game of the year and one of the most impressive wins of the 11-man era, especially considering Village would go on to the Div XI semi-finals where they lost to Whittier Christian 43-42, who in turn lost to Monrovia in the championship game.

Rio’s other notable win came over Poly, 40-27, and secured Rio’s fourth consecutive Prep League title. Poly would go on to lose in the Div XII semi-finals to eventual champion Bishop.

Five Kares would earn All-CIF honors indicating the respect the Div. XIII coaches had for Rio’s body of work. Quintero, who was also named Prep League MVP, would be joined by Prep League Defensive MVP Nick Preciado. Also making All-CIF were sophomore Jake Holguin, junior K.J. Moore, and senior Ryan Horton.

The 2011 season saw RHP reel off 13 straight wins en route to the school’s thirteenth CIF championship.

Rio opened the season with a 26-12 loss in San Diego at Francis Parker, but the Kares never looked back after that outscoring their remaining opponents 537-126.

Behind two shutout performances by the Prep defense (RHP would tally six shutouts on the season) the Kares beat Big Bear and Kilpatrick at home before traveling to Boron for what should have been Rio’s second road test of the season.

The supposed road game turned into another home game when less than an hour before kickoff the game was called because of a wind storm that downed power lines in Boron, setting up an unusual Saturday night showdown at Kare Field.

The game didn’t disappoint as the two rivals, who had met six times since 2008, put on quite a show. Rio pulled out the 40-38 win after junior QB Colby Rivera capped a 76-yard drive in the game’s final minute with a TD pass to fellow junior Jake Holguin.

Behind a devastating ground game paced by a dominating offensive line with seniors Javier Rodriguez and Dave Drain at the helm, the Kares beat Division XI power Village Christian 31-13 before marching through Prep League play. The Rio offense displayed a plethora of backs with four different runners being the leading ground gainers in the five Prep League games. Junior Ty Loomis led the way against Viewpoint, sophomore Isaac Holguin against Poly, senior K.J. Moore against Flintridge, and senior Alex Tayco against Chadwick and Webb.

The Kares notched their fifth straight Prep League title and eighth in 10 years since rejoining the Prep League in 2002.

Prep entered the post-season as the No. 2 seed in CIF behind returning champion Bishop. Rio received the benefits of their good seed by posting two easy victories, a 61-0 win over Hamilton, and a 55-0 win over California City.

The Kares then ventured back to the high desert for a rematch with Boron in the semi’s. Behind 152 yards rushing from Tayco and a stifling defensive performance, the Kares won 27-8.

Rio returned home for the championship game and beat upset minded Desert Christian 34-13 in front of a standing room only crowd at Kare Field and a live broadcast by Fox Sports West.

Once again it was the offensive line and Tayco leading the way as the senior rushed for 174 yards in his final game.

The Kares were edged by Sierra Canyon for the Division IV state bowl game nod (Rio would finish No. 2 in the state), however, plenty of Kares were acknowledged with post-season accolades.

Eight Kares earned All-CIF honors (Drain, I. Holguin, J. Holguin, Moore, Rico Perez, Rivera, Sebby Rosales, Tayco) with Jake Holguin getting CIF Defensive Player of the Year honors, and Tayco getting the same award for offense.

All the above players were first team all-leaguers with Rivera earning the league overall MVP award, and Jake Holguin earning the defensive MVP. In addition, Rodriguez and Tyler Heap earned second team honors.

One never knows for certain, but an argument could be made that the 2012 team was the greatest in RHP history. Whether or not that’s true, it can be said without a doubt that the 2012 season was one of the greatest in the illustrious history of RHP football.

The season began with a much anticipated opener at Arcadia, pitting the two neighboring schools, with an enrollment discrepancy of over 4,000, against each other for the first time. Rio dominated the contest, 29-7, and helped garner the program some well-deserved respect in the San Gabriel Valley.

The Kares were overwhelmed the following week by Mission Prep 47-14, in a game that set in motion a rematch for the ages with the team from San Luis Obispo.

The Kares rebounded the next week with a 35-21 win over San Diego power Francis Parker. That game was broadcast by Fox Sports West, as were the CIF finals, and the State Regional game (Time Warner).

Rio then proceeded to win 11 straight capturing their sixth straight Prep League title along the way. In league play Rio outscored their opponents 201-18.

The playoff run included wins over Bell-Jeff, Desert, and St. Monica en route to the title game rematch with Mission Prep who was coming off a 54-26 semi-final win over Salesian and appeared unbeatable.

A standing room only crowd of close to 3,000 packed Kare Field to see if the Kares could muster another improbable championship victory. After scoring on the last play of the half the Royals took a 21-14 lead into the locker room.

Rio responded with two more rushing touchdowns by junior Nate Tayco (he had four on the night) in the third quarter and shutout the Royals in the second half. The shutout was preserved when junior linebacker Dave Guerrero fell on a fumble on the Rio 24 yard line as Mission was driving to tie the game. Rio then went on a drive for the ages eating up nearly all of the remaining six-plus minutes on the clock - running the ball every play. Mission got the ball with seconds left, but one play was all they could get off as Rio prevailed 28-21 to capture the school’s 14th CIF championship.

The season was extended when Rio received its first-ever invite to the State Regional Championship in San Diego where the Kares were dealt a 30-28 loss to Sante Fe Christian.

Interestingly, 18 of the 35 players on the 2012 roster had a brother or father who played at Rio, 10 of those Kares would go on to earn All-CIF honors – a school record. Leading the way were seniors Jake Holguin, Rico Perez and Colby Rivera, who also earned all three of the Prep League MVP awards. Holguin was also CIF player of the year and was named to the All-State team for the second consecutive year. Joining those three on All-CIF were seniors Christian Torrico, Jared White, Sebby Rosales and Ryan Wiley as well as juniors Nate Tayco, Zach Stiver, and Isaac Holguin. A record five Kares (J. Holguin, Rivera, Perez, Tayco, and senior Kevin Horton) were also named to the Pasadena Star News All-Area team with Tayco taking home the Offensive MVP award.

Also worth noting were the exploits of senior kicker Aaron Gutkind who set school single-season records with PATs made (64) and touchbacks (73).

After winning consecutive titles in 2011 and 2012, the 2013 team was laden with high expectations, and for good reason. The Kares boasted a group of 14 seniors with championship experience and were led by returning All-CIF performers Isaac Holguin, Zach Stiver, and Nate Tayco.

Following an easy win in its opener at Brentwood, Rio made the long trek to San Luis Obispo and newfound rival Mission Prep for a rematch of the 2012 title game. Rio was down 24-0 midway through the second quarter, but roared back behind 219 passing yards by QB Johnny Bolinger to get within three, 24-21. Rio’s last second drive ended inside Mission’s five-yard line, but the Royals prevailed and essentially secured the #1 seed in the forthcoming CIF playoffs.

Behind a suffocating defense and a nearly unstoppable running game on offense, the Kares rattled off 10 straight wins outscoring their opponents over that stretch by an average score of 49-15. The winning streak included Rio’s 7th-straight Prep League title and impressive playoff wins at home over St. Monica (62-28) and in the freezing rain of the high desert over Excelsior (46-15) in the CIF quarter-finals.

That set up a showdown with #2 seeded L.A. Salesian and their stockpile of future D-1 college players. Tayco posted his third 200+ yard rushing game of the playoffs, and the patchwork defense did what they could to slow down Salesian, but in the end it simply wasn’t enough as Salesian won 35-20, and would go on to a convincing 35-0 win in the title game over Mission Prep.

Once again Rio players were recognized for their outstanding season. Holguin, Tayco and Stiver made All-CIF again and they were joined by fellow seniors Parker Barrett and Dave Guerrero.

Those five, plus eight others, would earn Prep league honors as well. Bolinger, Domenico Chico, Robby Hanna, Jimmy Key, and Gio Perez joined the All-CIF five on first team, while Jon French, Oswaldo Rosales and Zach Walsh earned 2nd-team honors.

Tayco took home Prep League offensive MVP honors and Stiver became the first lineman in RHP history to win Overall League MVP.

The 2014 season was characterized by a resilient team that despite having half-a-dozen players on the 22-man roster being lost for the season due to injury they still managed to keep Rio’s 20-year playoff streak alive.

The 4-6 squad was the first to finish sub .500 in the Coach Drain era, yet there were still outstanding games, moments and players.

Seniors Gio Perez and Eric Mosher made first team all-league along with juniors Domenico Chico, Justin Chang, and Michael Cuda. Having surrendered the Prep League title in 2014, getting it back was one of the main goals of the 2015 squad. Led by League MVP and All-CIF performer Domenico Chico the Kares restored order in the Prep League clinching the league title with a hard-fought 35-21 win at Poly in the final week of the season.

Rio’s 6-4 record also included wins over local public schools Gabrielino (49-6) and La Canada (29-13). The Kares extended the school record 21 year playoff streak by advancing to CIF, but were defeated by the defending Division XI champions Nipomo in the first round.

Headlining the All-League team with Chico was League Defensive MVP Mikey Tsogt, only a sophomore. Eight more Kares would join those two on the first team - Clark Bolinger, Justin Chang, Stephen Santizo, Hayden Wideman, Kyle Horton, Anthony Pena, Victor Tsogt and Jayoung Wong.

Rio followed 2015 with another 6-4 season and third straight first round playoff exit. However, three of those four losses (Boron, Poly, South El Monte) were to teams that advanced to either the CIF semi or quarter-finals. Rio’s best win was the 14-0 victory at Big Bear handing Big Bear only their third shutout in the last 10 years (one of their other shutouts was also to RHP).

Seniors Steven Santizo, Steven Wheeler and Jayoung Wong closed out their careers with All-League selections. They were joined by 1st-team juniors Bailey Evans, James Popoff, Mikey Tsogt and sophomore 1st-teamer Martin Chang.

The 2017 campagin saw RHP reach the CIF playoffs for the 23rd straight year and advance past the first round for the first time since 2013. The Kares were led by senior captains Bailey Evans, Mikey Tosgt and Jordan Flores - all of whom would go on to earn All-League honors as well as an All-CIF nod for Tsogt. Joining them on All-League were fellow seniors JJ Chang, Lance Cardona and Jeffrey Lee as well as juniors Evan Foor, Matt Joe, Jake Lang and Martin Chang, and finally the precocious backfield tandem of sophomores Bryant Flores and Alex Esquiaqui.

The Kares finished the season 7-4 with the losses coming to a pair of eventual CIF champions (Big Bear and Orange) and Division X powers Brentwood and Poly.

Rio continued to confirm that the Kares belong among the elite programs in the San Gabriel Valley by posting a 56-0 win over La Canada and a 42-22 playoff win over Azusa.

The 2017 season marked the end of Head Coach Ken Drain’s illustrious 17-year tenure at the helm of RHP football.

In Coach Drain’s first year as Head Coach in 2001 he led Rio to its 11th CIF title and last of the 8-man era.

He then led Rio’s transition to 11-man football starting in 2002 and had quite a run of success finishing with CIF Hall of Fame type numbers. 

If his 150-50 career record and 75% winning percentage aren’t  impressive enough, just add to that his post-season success.

Coach Drain led the Kares to CIF titles in 2001, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2012 as well as runner-up finishes in 2004 and 2009, and made the playoffs in all 17 seasons.

Rio started Coach Drain’s tenure out of the Prep League, but when the Kares rejoined in 2002 they were dominant, recording a 60-8 record in 16 years with 11 league titles.