Football kicks off in earnest in the Central & Northern sections with a smattering of games elsewhere in the state. Some of the state's most hotly-recruited players are off to strong starts.

Cal-Hi teams around the world: Two teams from the San Diego Section played Friday night in Havana, Cuba, while another team from the same section played later the same night in Alaska. In the Cuba matchup, Bonita Vista of Chula Vista and La Jolla culminated a weeklong cultural exchange trip to the Communist nation with a game against each other at Pan American Stadium. It was reported to be the first organized football game played in Cuba since 1958. A sparse crowd of 400 was on hand, but the players and traveling party from San Diego all glowed about the experience they had. Bonita Vista won the game, 31-22. Parker of San Diego, meanwhile, played on Friday against Ketchican, Alaska, and rolled to a 64-0 win. Ketchican is a struggling small-school program that has even had to cancel one game this season, so the rout was not a surprise. This week, Dimond of Anchorage, Alaska, is traveling for a game to play Colfax of the Sac-Joaquin Section. We follow Alaska as part of our StudentSports.com FAB 50 rankings research and we can say with some expertise that Colfax should win rather easily. Dimond is not one of the state's top teams this season.

San Diego Section: The result we were waiting for the most was Marian Catholic vs. Monte Vista of Spring Valley since we slotted Marian at No. 1 in our preseason Division IV state rankings and Monte Vista figured to be if not the toughest test for that team then at least one of the toughest. Marian passed the test, barely, with a 32-31 win over the Monarchs. Patrick Gates rushed for 196 yards on 14 carries and scored three TDs for Marian. A 56-yard TD pass from Scotty Goodloe to Jonathan Alvarado with 3:29 left on a fourth-down play provided Marian with the winning points. Also from San Diego, Helix of La Mesa edged St. Augustine, 22-21; La Costa Canyon crushed Granite Hills of El Cajon, 52-0; Vista defeated Bishop Amat of the Southern Section, 17-7, and Rancho Bernardo blanked Mira Mesa, 37-0.

Southern Section: No. 1 Los Alamitos was one of the few highly-ranked teams to start early and did so with a resounding 49-0 romp past Culver City. The defense, with a front seven looking every bit as effective as the vaunted secondary, helped limit Culver City to just 65 yards offense. All-American Randy Estes returned an interception 31 yards for a score and added a pair of TDs as a running back. Sean Clark, a linebacker, also scored on a pick for the Griffins as he took one back 59 yards. The state's best stat star of the week was running back Ryan Mole from Righetti of Santa Maria. He piled up 350 yards on 14 carries and scored four TDs as Righetti impressed in a 62-28 triumph over Ayala of Chino Hills. Mole scored on a 61-yard scamper on his first carry and later added TDs of 70, 69 and 68 yards.

Northern Section: Lassen of Susanville pushed its winning streak to 25 games with a 35-7 victory over Foothill of Palo Cedro. Lassen was said to be in more of a rebuilding mode this year, but looked at least comparable to its previous title teams in turning back an opponent that has been expected to be among the section's top teams. A controversial head coaching change, however, may have more impact at Foothill than first thought.

Central Section: Preseason No. 1 Clovis West got 202 yards on 29 carries and two TDs from Jose Rojas in downing Granite Hills of Porterville, 31-14. Defending Yosemite Large School champ Clovis also looked good in its first game, crushing Madera, 34-7. QB Adam O'Daniel led the Cougars by going 26 of 40 for 229 yds and two TDs. He also scored on a 12-yard run. Meanwhile, all the talk surrounding Sanger as perhaps being the section's No. 1 team can end. The Apaches dropped their first game, 21-19, to rival Reedley. Bakersfield, which made it into the Cal-Hi Sports preseason state top 50, backed up that pick with a nice 26-7 victory over Stockdale. Finally, preseason all-state RB Le'Andre Matthews bolted out to 206 yards on 24 carries and had three TDs as his East Bakersfield team defeated Garces of Bakersfield, 34-9. Garces was a 13-0 team a year ago.

Central Coast Section: The most significant early opener in the San Francisco Bay Area saw Serra of San Mateo defeat Skyline of Oakland, 41-32. Last year, Skyline downed head coach Patrick Walsh's squad, 32-6. Angelo Fobbs-Valentino sped for 123 yards on nine carries and scored three TDs to lead the winners. Also in the Central Coast Section, defending Div. I champ Valley Christian blanked San Benito of Hollister, 16-0. All-American DL Jeff Schweiger starred for that defense with 12 tackles.

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