Don’t miss the ultimate foodie event, The Baltimore Sun's Secret Supper

Jessy Cantinol was ferocious for Wildcats

There was a lot of talent that graduated out of the La Cañada Flintridge area after the 2010-11 school year, which left room for a group of new boys' athletes to grab headlines — and they did just that.

La Cañada High, Renaissance Academy, St. Francis and Flintridge Prep had a number of new athletes step into the limelight this past season.

Each school was responsible for its fair share of impressive playoff runs, from St. Francis football, La Cañada water polo and wrestling to Renaissance basketball, and each squad had a star that took center stage in the postseason.

After many of the previous year's selections graduated, there was plenty of space on the 2012 Athlete of the Year list and each school had someone step up and grab a spot.

Here is the list of La Cañada's top-10 male athletes in 2011-12:

1 Jessy Cantinol, Renaissance Academy basketball, senior — Attention isn't exactly what the normally reserved Cantinol was seeking this season, but he received plenty of it on the court.

Cantinol emerged as the Wildcats go-to player in the postseason, as he possessed a lethal post game to complement the solid wing play and shooting of guard Vince DeGuzman.

It was a bit of a coming-out year for Cantinol, who had always played, well but first grabbed national attention after being named the John R. Wooden Division VI Player of the Year. He averaged 15.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in leading the Wildcats to their first CIF Southern Section division title and a deep run CIF State playoff run that ended one game shy of the State Division V championship game in Sacramento.

Renaissance Academy Coach Sid Cooke said Cantinol was a tough defensive matchup at power forward.

"He's been around here and always worked hard," Cooke said. "He's a lot like Vince in that he could score inside the paint and also dribble well for a big guy."

As a result, the power forward hauled in a number of accolades, including All-CIF and Harbor League first-team awards.

All the praise was well deserved for a player who'd largely flown under the radar the previous three years, said Cooke after Cantinol received the John R. Wooden Award.

"He really became more of a leader this year and the kids really looked up to him," said Cooke, who earned his first CIF Southern Section VI title at the helm of the Wildcats this past year. "He got more verbal and really wanted to win."

2 Collin Morikawa, La Cañada High golf, freshman — After what he'd accomplished in junior tournaments, Morikawa had already made a name for himself before he even began his first season.

By the end of his first prep season, Morikawa established a reputation of dominance at the high school level. He became the first freshman to be named the Spartans most valuable player by leading them to an eighth straight Rio Hondo League title. He routinely took home medalist honors — doing so in six of eight league matches — and finished with a team-best 34.1 nine-hole scoring average.

"I didn't realize he was going to be a statistical leader," said La Cañada Coach Richard Tetu, whose team went 15-4, 7-1 in league. "I knew he was an experienced golfer and I heard the kids talk about him and a couple of teachers in his eighth-grade classes, who I knew from golf personally, and they said he was a good player. But I didn't think he would be as outstanding as he was."

In the Rio Hondo League individual tournament, Morikawa separated himself from the pack and won the league crown by eight strokes with a two-round, six-under-par 136.

Morikawa, who also won the De Bell Invitational with a two-under 69, followed his league success with a 72 in the first round of CIF play to advance to the CIF Southern Section Individual Final.

3 Marty Vardanian, La Cañada High wrestling/football, senior — It was a season of ups and downs on the mat for Vardanian, but he peaked at the right time to not only put together the best season of any area wrestler, but one of the best seasons in program history.

The 182-pounder advanced to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet and was two points away from advancing to the tournament's second day, but he suffered a pair of one-point losses and wrestled four matches in the double-elimination event.

"His skills as a wrestler have always been good, but I think what's developed the most in the past two or three weeks is his mental fortitude and ability to go out there and wrestle his heart out," La Cañada Coach Gavin Williams said after Masters. "There's no easy matches here. … I can't tell you how proud of him I am."

In football, Vardanian hauled in All-Rio Hondo League first-team honors as a guard on the offensive line. He played both ways and was a key part to the heart of La Cañada's defense at linebacker, posting 36 tackles (16 solo).

4 Armand Bagramyan, La Cañada High soccer, junior — The big question surrounding Bagramyan coming into 2012 was could he handle being the team's top-scoring threat for the first time?

The Spartans received the answer they needed, as the striker was named the All-Rio Hondo League Offensive Most Valuable Player, as well as earning All-Area and All-CIF Division V first-team awards.

The Spartans finished 14-6-5, 6-0-4 in league for their third straight league crown and advanced to the second round of CIF behind Bagramyan, who posted team highs in goals and assists with 23 and 15, respectively.

Bagramyan did it all while being hounded by opposing defenses, often drawing double or triple coverage while playing through an injury throughout most of the season.

"We had a scorer we could go to at any moment," La Cañada Coach Alex Harrison said of Bagramyan. "He is just really elusive and puts people on their heels. Once he gets past you and gets an open look, eight or nine times out of 10 he is going to stick it in the net."

5 Travis Talianko, St. Francis High football, senior — The Golden Knights assembled one of their finest seasons with the help of Talianko, who played both ways as a go-to wide receiver and safety.

St. Francis advanced to the CIF Western Division quarterfinals with the help of Talianko, who had 56 tackles and an interception he returned 90-plus yards for a score. On offense, he tallied 44 receptions for 687 yard and three touchdowns.

Talianko is currently looking to make an impact with the San Jose State football team after he finished off his high school career with All-CIF and All-Area first-team awards.

6 Trevor Roszkos, La Cañada High water polo/swimming, senior — The Spartans boasted arguably the most balanced boys' water polo team, as they reached the CIF Division III semifinals for the first time in five years and had five players named to the All-Area squad.

Roszkos became one of the most well-rounded players in the balanced La Cañada lineup, as he was the Rio Hondo League MVP and earned All-CIF first-team honors after posting 58 goals, 49 assists and 67 steals.

The postseason is where Roszkos excelled, with his best game coming in the quarterfinals — a five-goal performance in La Cañada's 9-7 win over Aliso Niguel.

"For us to succeed in the playoffs, the whole team has to work well together and that one guy has to stand out," former La Cañada Coach Steve Neville said. "Trevor was that guy."

7 Bo Mattix, La Cañada High swimming, senior — Mattix was torn in two different directions in 2012. He missed most of La Cañada's meets, as he spent a large part of his year looking to crack the U.S. Olympic team.

The MIT commit still had plenty of time to leave a mark on the Spartans program before the year was done. He returned to help La Cañada win its final dual-meet with South Pasadena by contributing to three wins. That enabled the team to win its 11th straight Rio Hondo League championship with a 5-0 league record.

Mattix also had a hand in two new records at league finals, breaking his own mark in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 50.89 seconds. He also teamed with Brandon Nguyen, Garrett Chin and Peter Loakes to take first and set a record in the 200-medley relay (1:36.82).

Mattix bested his own league mark and set a new La Cañada record in the 100 backstroke at CIF Division I Finals when he touched the wall in 50.03 for third place. He also took eighth in the 100 butterfly in 51.64 and his 200-medley relay team took fourth in 1:34.27. The same group took ninth in the 400-freestyle relay (3:12.78).

8 Vince DeGuzman, Renaissance Academy basketball, senior — The Wildcats had a knock-down shooter and slasher in DeGuzman, who could make defenses pay, especially if teams collapsed on Cantinol.

The guard was Renaissance's second-best scorer with 15.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game and was the All-CIF Division VI Player of the Year and an All-Area second-team selection.

"He's one of the best people that you are going to find," Cooke said. "He doesn't complain and he's always listening in order to get better.

"He had a lot of big games for us. Sometimes, he would get a lot of points. Other games, he'd grab some rebounds or do something else that would help us win."

9 Kory Hamane, Flintridge Prep volleyball/basketball, senior — Hamane played a big role for the Rebels, as he earned All-Prep League honors in both basketball and volleyball.

Basketball is where Hamane had the greatest impact, as he averaged a team-high 15 points, 2.8 assists and 2.2 steals per game en route to earning league's MVP and CIF Division V-A first-team honors.

It was a comeback season for Hamane, as it took surgery and nearly six months of rehabilitation for him to bounce back from a torn left anterior and mediate cruciate ligament he suffered in 2011.

"It's four years of hard work and he came back from the injury because he was so dedicated to being that much stronger," Prep Coach Garrett Ohara said. "He stepped up his game that much more and he became the focus of other opponents.

"He's deserving of the [Prep League MVP] award."

Prep won the league title for the 10th time in 11 years, but was knocked out in the first round of the CIF Division V-A playoffs to finish 17-8, 9-0 in league.

In volleyball, Hamane was an all-league second-team pick after contributing 190 kills and a team-best 216 digs.

10 Thomas Banks, St. Francis soccer/volleyball, senior — Banks was a dual-defensive threat for St. Francis, as he earned All-Mission League first- and All-CIF Division I third-team awards in soccer. He was also a defensive specialist for a volleyball squad that took third in a stacked league to reach the playoffs.

The Golden Knights asked Banks, who also had a goal and two assists, to convert to defender after he'd played midfielder and forward in 2011. It was a smooth transition for the senior, who earned his second straight first-team Mission League honor.

Honorable mention: Gareth Weiss, Flintridge Prep track and field; Kareem Ismail, Flintridge Prep basketball/volleyball; Chad Cosse, Flintridge Prep football/basketball/volleyball; Brandon Nguyen, La Cañada swimming.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad