1. No. 8 in the state Clovis East vs. No. 9 in the state Clovis West at
Buchanan High Stadium, Friday.
Both programs are coming in with big wins over CIF Southern Section teams already on their ledger -- Clovis East over Long Beach Poly (17-13) and Clovis West over Centennial of Corona (44-40). Clovis West's win over Centennial has lessened a bit in significance with that team's loss last week to San Clemente, but there's no denying the Golden Eagles are playing one of the toughest schedules in the state. Despite that, Clovis West's defense has allowed just more than 240 yards per game, which is among the leaders in the Central Section. The Golden Eagles will be in good shape against Clovis East if they play defense like they did in their tie against Fresno Edison (7-7) and they play offense like they did against Centennial. Head coach Jim Hartigan plans to continue using alternating quarterbacks, senior Jeff Schott and junior J.J. Jelmini. Clovis East's strength has been ball control offense with halfback Rodney Oliver and fullback Alex Prevender, who has bulled his way for eight TDs on the season. The key for the Timberwolves, if it doesn't come this week then later on, is what happens when an opponent is able to neutralize that ball control running game. Will they be versatile enough in other aspects of their game to overcome it? Last week against Tulare Western, head coach Tim Murphy's team didn't need to pass. In fact, Clovis East ran for 503 yards and had a total offense figure of 598.
2. No. 14 in the state Loyola of Los Angeles vs. No. 12 Hart of Newhall at College of the Canyons, Friday.
That gigantic sigh of relief you'll be feeling at about 10 p.m. in the Santa Clarita Valley on Friday is coming from Hart, which is wrapping up one of the toughest five-game nonleague schedules anybody in the state has played in recent years. The Cubs are following Los Alamitos, St. Bonaventure, Westlake and Birmingham of Lake Balboa. Of course, Hart's Foothill League schedule isn't exactly chopped liver, either. Both Canyon of Canyon Country and Valencia could be 5-0 at the beginning of league play. Loyola's defense has traditionally held down Hart's passing attack in these games, and the Cubs only gave up one score last week against Antelope Valley. Having already gone against a similar pass-oriented team with super-quick receivers, Venice, may play into the Cubs' hands, although Hart's already been up against just about everything. Both QBs in this game will be Division I college signers. Loyola's Scott Deke has committed to Virginia. Sean Norton is uncommitted, but has received a firm offer from Wyoming and should get more from similar programs.
3. No. 10 in state Div. II Agoura of Agoura Hills at No. 6 in the state Westlake of Westlake Village, Friday.
This also is a battle between the No. 3 and No. 2 teams in Ventura County (St. Bonaventure is No. 1) and it figures to be the best team that Westlake will face in the Marmonte League (apologies, Moorpark). Agoura's Bryan Walker has already thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 TDs and has a prolific pass catcher to look for in Braden Lepisto. Agoura comes in after a 42-14 win over Buena of Ventura. Westlake's high ranking is based mostly on wins over Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks and Hart. The Warriors have been getting that balance on offense that coach Jim Benkert strives for with Rudy Carpenter throwing to the likes of Michael Stuart and Jimmy Miller and Tahj Mowry running it.
4. Unbeaten Valencia at No. 7 in state Div. II Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, Friday.
The Vikings, who will be visiting the Golden Knights, barely kept their perfect record intact last week against Arroyo Grande, rallying from a 10-0 deficit at halftime to a 14-13 win. It'll be another test for Valencia sophomore quarterback Michael Herrick, who already has a 400-yard game this season. Valencia also has a win over Bishop Amat. Notre Dame dropped its second game to Westlake in a game it was tied at halftime, which was one week after an impressive season-opening win over Birmingham. The Golden Knights then bounced back after their loss to defeat Palmdale and Crespi of Encino.
5. No. 10 in NorCal St. Mary's of Stockton at unbeaten Edison of Stockton, Friday.
St. Mary's lost to Edison a year ago at home with the most spectacular play coming on a diving catch by Vikings' wideout Lavelle Hawkins. Edison struggled last week in a 27-25 win over Tokay of Lodi and will have to play much better to beat the Rams this time. St. Mary's opened the season with a pulsating 29-28 win over Jesuit of Carmichael, the defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I champ. It's been cruise city since then for the Rams. St. Mary's QBs Barry Enright and Willie Tuitama have shown they like to throw the slant pass, but Edison's DBs, led by Hawkins, have the athleticism and quickness to play up close, bump-and-run, man-to-man coverage. If all the juniors from St. Mary's haven't gotten caught up in the hype of being No. 1 locally and have focused intently on Edison, the Rams should get through this game. If they haven't, the Vikings do have the ability to bust a few big plays and produce the upset.
6. No. 1 in the state De La Salle of Concord at La Costa Canyon of Carlsbad, Saturday.
This one isn't on the list because it projects to be that much of a test for the Spartans and their national record 142-game winning streak. Down in the San Diego Section, though, it's the major game of the week and a huge sellout crowd is expected. De La Salle has never been about putting on a show -- it's more like going to work -- but this team is better than the other DLS team that played once at Vista High against Rancho Buena Vista in 1996. La Costa Canyon was idle last week, giving coach Darren Brown and his staff an extra week to prepare for the Spartans, and comes in at 3-1. The Mavericks rolled to easy wins over less-than-stellar opponents the first three weeks of the season, then lost 23-0 to Torrey Pines. They're going to have to get a bushel of turnovers in their favor to have a shot here. De La Salle receiver deluxe Cameron Colvin was planning to go on the trip as of Thursday morning and may be in uniform. Whether Colvin actually plays or not depends on how quickly results of a Spanish test he took on Thursday morning get approved. Colvin has been academically ineligible for De La Salle so far this season.
7. Unbeaten Burroughs of Ridgecrest vs. No. 5 in the state St. Bonaventure of Ventura at Moorpark College, Friday.
Another example of just how far St. Bonaventure has come as a dominant, big-time program could be shown here. Burroughs is just coming off a 59-9 pasting of Lancaster Paraclete, which just a few short years ago was the equivalent of St. Bonaventure on the state small school scene. Burroughs won't win by 59-9 against the Seraphs, although the score could be closer to that the other way. Burroughs has one of the state's best WRs in Anthony Celestine, but St. Bonnie will counter with QB Brian Stevens, DB Terrail Lambert and junior RB Matt Lee.
8. Unbeaten Colton at unbeaten Redlands East Valley, Friday.
This looks like the game of the week in the Inland Empire as Colton will face a major test against REV. Two weeks ago, Colton powered past Fontana, 44-20, and followed that up last week with a 52-7 triumph over Pacific of San Bernardino. REV actually has a 22-22 tie on its record, which was against Riverside Poly. QB Nate Johns led a 55-7 romp last week over Quartz Hill.
9. Crenshaw of Los Angeles at McClymonds of Oakland, Friday.
The last time we remember these two schools getting together was in the 1978 championship game of the old boys basketball Tournament of Champions at the Oakland Coliseum Arena. The Cougars were heavy favorites, but the scrappy Oaklanders rose up and knocked off the L.A. City champs. Both schools are, of course, well-known for basketball. Crenshaw has won eight CIF Div. I state titles -- more than any other school -- and McClymonds has alums like Bill Russell, Paul Silas, Nate Williams and Antonio Davis. This year's McClymonds football team has played a difficult schedule that has included games against Valley Christian of San Jose, Logan of Union City and Bellarmine of San Jose. Warrior QB Kyle Reed, a junior, already has turned many heads and is reported to have already received Div. I college scholarship offers.
10. No. 8 in Div. IV Garces of Bakersfield at No. 9 in Div. IV Taft, Friday.
This has been a long awaited South Sequoia League opener in Kern County with Taft picked by many in the preseason to be the favorite, despite Garces' recent run of titles, including last year's perfect record and section title. Taft lost its opener by just 14-13 to Hanford West, but has rolled since then, including wins of 42-0 vs. Porterville and 60-6 vs. Kern Valley. Garces is 2-2-1, but the losses were to large schools East Bakersfield and Liberty of Bakersfield and the tie was against Div. IV state-ranked Dos Palos.
11. No. 5 in Div. V Middletown at Cloverdale, Friday.
Cloverdale was No. 7 in the Division V state rankings until it ran into the Fort Bragg buzzsaw and lost, 34-8, last week. Fort Bragg, though, would be a Division IV school, so the Eagles still should be seen as a tough test, especially on the road, for Middletown. In last week's 48-7 win by Middletown over Berean Christian of Walnut Creek, Stephen Rodrigues rushed for 166 yards on 16 carries and scored one TD. He also picked off two passes on defense.
12. Vista at Carlsbad, Friday.
This is a rematch of last year's CIF San Diego Section Division I final that Carlsbad won, 14-13. The Lancers were the preseason pick of many in the section, but stumbled badly in a 34-7 loss two weeks ago Chula Vista. They did much better last week, though, with a 33-21 win over Rancho Bernardo, which was 3-0 coming in. Vista may be one of the best 1-3 teams around. On the field, the Panthers actually are 2-2 with a win over Bishop Amat now officially listed as a forfeit loss. Vista's other losses were 27-24 to Oceanside and 19-10 to Helix of La Mesa. Ignore the records and the current rankings, these are two of the top teams in the section. It is a bigger game for Vista to win than Carlsbad so look for the Panthers to play with just a bit more urgency.