There may not be a game in the West this year that has more college-level talent on the field than this one. The Lions look to win their seventh straight CIF-SS title and extend their CIF-SS playoff winning streak to 29 games. To do so, they'll have to beat Serra in the finals, which they did a year ago. Both teams come in at 13-0, and the winner of this game all but wraps up the CIF State D-III bowl berth, with Oaks a candidate for the Open Division title game, thanks to a win over Washington state champs Skyline. A year ago, behind a dominant performance by UCLA commit Malcolm Jones, the Lions cruised to a win over the Cavs. The bright spot for Serra was Robert Woods, who's looking to exact some revenge on Oaks. Both teams are loaded with elite talent in this class and in the next. Both teams defenses are solid, but it's the offenses that are the things to watch in this one. Serra will use the three-headed monster at receiver in Woods, elite 2011 prospect George Farmer and UCLA recruit Paul Richardson while Oaks will mix it up between Jones and the passing game led by Nick Montana. Defensively, Jones and Zac Stout lead a formidable Oaks unit while Woods and elite 2011 prospect Jason Gibson spearhead the Cavs defensive squad.
Prediction: Oaks Christian 31, Serra 27
Concord De La Salle vs. Pittsburg
De La Salle looks at Oaks' attempt for seven straight section titles and smirks; the Spartans are shooting for their 18th straight. To do so, they too will have to beat the same opponent from a year ago, Pittsburg. The Spartans are in line to play in the Open Division title game should they win; their two losses are to two of the top ten programs in the country. They use Terron Ward and Tyler Anderson to run the ball in their vaunted rushing attack while 2011 stud Dylan Wynn leads their defense. The Pirates hit some early season trouble, losing three games in the early going, but they've been bolstered by the return of four-star safety Erick Dargan from a knee injury, and the Pirates look to turn the tables on De La Salle and snap their section title streak. The last team to beat De La Salle in the CIF Finals? Pittsburg in 1991.
Prediction: De La Salle 28, Pittsburg 14
Anaheim Servite vs. Huntington Beach Edison
This one is a rematch of an early season game that Edison won, 26-9. The Chargers are 13-0 and a win in this one puts them in the CIF State Open Division title game, thanks to a perfect record against the toughest schedule in the state. Offensively, Edison is led by Matt Viles at quarterback and Jordan Zumwalt, a Stanford commit whom UCLA is still recruiting, leads the defense at linebacker. Servite won a nail-biter a week ago, stopping a 2-point conversion try by Mission Viejo in the final minute. The Friars will have to do it without star lineman Kirifi Taula, who broke his arm for the second time this year. But Cody Fajardo, the Friars gifted quarterback, has been outstanding during the playoffs and is the reason there is hope for Servite.
Prediction: Edison 24, Servite 20
Fresno Edison vs. Bakersfield Frontier
For all the talent that has come through Edison over the years, the Tigers have struggled in the playoffs, including two years ago when their absolutely loaded team lost in the semifinals. The star power may not be as strong as it has in years past, but here are the Tigers in the section finals. Head coach Tim McDonald told us earlier this year that this team can beat anyone, but also has times where it can lose to anyone. He's hoping for the former this week, and his son, Tevin McDonald, a UCLA commit, will try to carry the Tigers on his back on both sides of the ball and earn Edison a section title.
Prediction: Edison 19, Frontier 17
Crenshaw vs. Narbonne
In the first three years of the CIF State Bowl Games, the City Section has never had a representative. Their best bet, though, is Crenshaw, who's 13-0 and since a week two scare against Norco, has been manhandling their opponents. A win by the Cougars puts them in great position to make the CIF State D-II game (if Huntington Beach Edison wins) or even the CIF State Open game (if Servite wins). They'll be led by UCLA recruit Hayes Pullard, who leads a stingy Crenshaw defense while doubling as a running back, and the West's top prospect for 2011, DeAnthony Thomas, the "Black Mamba." But to do so, they'll have to stop a Narbonne team that is peaking at the right time after a 6-4 regular season. The Gauchos were co-champs in the City last year, and would like to win it outright this year. Sean Parker and Bryan Douglas lead the Narbonne defense with Chad Dashnaw and Melvin Davis their offensive stars.
Prediction: Crenshaw 35, Narbonne 14
Commits: Derrick Bryant (Columbus Brookhaven), Chris Ward (Santa Ana Mater Dei), John Young (Loyola), Jordon James (Corona), Aramide Olaniyan (Woodberry Forest), Eric Kendricks (Fresno Hoover, Kip Smith (Legacy Broomfield), Earnest Thomas (Orchard Lake St. Mary Prep), Kody Innes (Scottsdale Saguaro), Julious Moore (Bellevue)
Recruits: Anthony Barr (Loyola), Sil Ajawara (Los Flores Tesoro), Shaquille Richardson (Los Alamitos), Josh Shirley (Kaiser), Kenny Stills (La Costa Canyon)