STATE GAMES OF THE WEEK

As we move deeper into league schedules throughout the state, the list of potential showdowns involving ranked teams starts to dwindle.....unless your team plays in a tough league. Our top two choices for this week are Mater Dei at St. John Bosco and Cordova at Oak Ridge.

1. Mater Dei of Santa Ana at No. 13 in the state St. John Bosco of Bellflower, Friday. Based on last year, we know the host Braves are capable of beating anybody they'll play in the Serra League. It's just that so far this year, Bosco (5-0) has been a bit of a mystery. Sure, coach Kiki Mendoza's team has a high ranking, but that's based mostly on other teams losing and the fact that we knew it would run into a tough foe eventually. Here's where the Monarchs come in. They've won two in a row after losing the first three to teams that are all now among the top seven in the state -- Orange Lutheran, Mission Viejo and J.W. North. If Mater Dei is going to turn around its season, this is the place to start. If both QBs perform well, Jason Forcier for the Monarchs and Pat Cowan for the Braves, this game could go down the wire.

2. Unbeaten Cordova of Rancho Cordova at No. 15 in the state Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills, Friday. So just how good are these Lancers? Good enough to evoke memories of the glory years of the 1970s? We'll see on Friday as coach Max Miller's club heads up Highway 50 to take on a Trojan team that already beat Grant of Sacramento, 24-8, in a similar matchup earlier this season. Cordova's rankability was strengthened recently when Laguna Creek of Elk Grove, a team the Lancers beat 27-12 in their opener, knocked off defending Sac-Joaquin Section Div. I champ Jesuit. Two of the state's top sophomores also will be action on the same field -- RB James Montgomery for Cordova and QB Chandler Clemons for Oak Ridge.

3. No. 8 in the state Clovis West of Fresno vs. No. 12 in NorCal Clovis, Friday at Buchanan High. The Golden Eagles continue to play a terrific schedule. They've already met Fresno Edison, Corona Centennial, Carson and Clovis East so far this season and last week's 27-7 win over Clovis East showed they are a team progressing well. Coach Jim Hartigan finally went in a distinctly different direction away from the Wing-T in the win against Clovis East, but that direction is more to the style Clovis has been playing for several years. Clovis earned its way back into the NorCal rankings this week after a 21-17 triumph over Buchanan. The Cougars started the season high, then lost to Stockdale of Bakersfield, but later looked much better in a win on the road vs. Liberty of Bakersfield. Junior Adam O'Daniel appears to be the latest Clovis QB who can run, pass and lead a team to a championship.

4. Unbeaten Servite of Anaheim vs. No. 15 in SoCal Loyola of Angeles, Saturday at Glendale High. The Friars are a little like St. John Bosco in the untested department, but last week they did notch a big win with a 7-0 victory over Edison of Huntington Beach. The only score of that game was on a 27-yard fumble return by Mike Hernishin. Junior DB Eric Terrazas had the hit that caused that fumble and later came up with a jarring hit of the Edison QB that may have prevented a touchdown. Loyola has a win over Antelope Valley, but has losses to Venice and Hart of Newhall. The Cubs still have that physical presence they've always had, but still seem to be searching for the right formula on offense. QB Scott Deke completed four or four passes in the team's first series last week vs. Hart as the Cubs drove for a score. He wasn't nearly as effective during the rest of the game, however, and junior running Trason Bragg also was kept in check. To beat the Friars, it might be good for both Deke and Bragg to have strong games.

5. El Camino of Oceanside vs. Oceanside, Friday at Simcox Field. These two rivals bring respective 3-2 and 4-1 records into the game, although Oceanside's recent win over Vista not to mention last week's 31-14 win vs. San Pasqual of Escondido seems to make the Pirates the favorite. El Camino was good enough to beat Helix, but has losses to Mira Mesa and Rancho Buena Vista. The real story of this game, however, is the backdrop of it being the final Oceanside-El Camino game for retiring El Camino coach Herb Meyer. He started his long, storied coaching career at Oceanside in 1959 and moved to the new school when it opened in 1976.

6. Valencia vs. No. 19 in the state Canyon of Canyon Country, Thursday at College of the Canyons. Why couldn't the Hart-Burbank game have been played on Thursday and this more high-profile matchup moved to Friday? You can bet Canyon won't be looking past the Vikings to next week's game against Hart. Valencia was 4-0 as of last week and then lost by just 24-23 to Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks. The Vikings also have shown they can come back as they rallied from 10-0 down the week before to nip Arroyo Grande, 14-13. Valencia QB Mike Herrick, just a sophomore, has garnered a lot of attention so far this year as the Vikings have taken on a more Hart-like appearance on offense. Canyon counters with Nate Longshore, who only happens to be one of the top five or six QBs on the West Coast.

7. Edison of Huntington Beach vs. No. 2 in the state Los Alamitos, Thursday at Veterans Stadium. These two have played some memorable games in recent years, and the Chargers should be an angry bunch after losing by 6-0 and 7-0 to Mater Dei and Servite in the last two weeks. Edison's best win before that in its 3-0 start was its very first, 26-21, over San Clemente. Based on scores of all the teams in the Sunset League so far this year, Los Alamitos could, in fact, be playing its toughest league foe of the season. The Griffins have looked more like the nation's No. 4 team in the last two weeks in wins over La Habra (37-7) and Carson (31-6) than they did in earlier games vs. Hart of Newhall and Brea-Olinda.

8. Unbeaten Washington of Easton at No. 7 in state Div. IV Dos Palos, Friday. The host Broncos will start their quest for another league title against a Panthers' squad that hasn't exactly played a strong schedule so far (one notable exception was a 28-24 win over San Joaquin Memorial). Dos Palos has a tie vs. Garces of Bakersfield, but won last week 39-22 over Chowchilla. Joseph Munoz led Dos Palos with 40 carries for 275 yards. Washington rolled to a 39-3 win over Kerman as sophomore Evan Christin piled up 151 yards and a pair of scores. This game also features the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the CIF Central Section Sequoia-Sierra Division rankings.

9. Palmdale at Antelope Valley of Lancaster, Friday. This rivalry game is always a major attraction for the Antelope Valley area and this year's game brings together a pair of 4-1 teams that have both lost only to a powerful opponent. Palmdale's loss was to Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks while Antelope Valley's was to Loyola. Antelope Valley coach Brent Newcomb sure didn't have much time to celebrate last week after his 200th career victory (203 on-the-field).

10. Unbeaten Pioneer of San Jose at Oak Grove of San Jose, Friday. Our pick for the top matchup in the CIF Central Coast Section is one of those between a promising upstart vs. the established power. Pioneer assumed the role of promising upstart with a 21-20 win in its opener vs. Leland of San Jose. The Mustangs won last week 35-22 over Leigh and have developed a strong, balanced offense behind QB Jared Coblis and RB Jeremy Landucci. Oak Grove is the established power. The Eagles enter at 4-1 with their only loss being by 42-35 to St. Francis of Mountain View, the state's No. 12 team. In this week's Cal-Hi Sports Bay Area TV show ratnkings, Oak Grove was No. 12 and Pioneer was No. 18.


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