STATE GAMES OF THE WEEK

De La Salle-Evangel takes the national stage, but there's some other biggies that are just as important to the schools involved in the San Gabriel Valley, in Sacramento and just a few miles from Diablo Valley College.

1. Evangel Christian of Shreveport, La., vs. No. 1 in the state De La Salle of Concord, Friday at Diablo Valley College. There's been radio promotions for this game stating that it's a matchup of the No. 1 vs. No. 2 teams in the country. Too bad for the promoters that isn't true. Evangel has already lost twice and since the two teams the Eagles lost to -- Longview, Texas, and Hoover, Alabama -- have both also lost, they are no longer nationally-ranked. Still, Evangel's spread formation offense, featuring junior QB Denny Rodney Duron in the deepest shotgun you've ever seen, will present challenges to De La Salle that it has not seen before. Evangel also brings a wealth of experience of being in big games against out-of-state opponents as this will be the team's fifth out-of-state matchup this season alone. De La Salle is only facing its second out-of-state foe ever. It's easy to get caught up in the matchup of the De La Salle secondary and linebackers trying to stay with Evangel's receivers, but it could turn out to be a matchup of the De La Salle run defense vs. Evangel fullback Jacob Hester, although the 6-0, 235-pound University of Texas recruit may be slowed with a foot injury. Don't expect the disciplined Spartans to get too excited at being on national TV. If they play well and show their speed and quickness off the ball on that super-slick DVC astro turf, they should get through this game and we can start counting up the wins toward a 12th straight unbeaten season.

2. No. 10 in the state Hart of Newhall at No. 16 in the state Canyon of Canyon Country, Thursday. Once again, a Thursday game robs us of the chance to do much for this matchup. Canyon played last week on a Thursday as well and won a 52-45 shootout over Valencia. It's good that the Cowboys played Valencia before Hart, too. If they hadn't, Hart would have had a huge advantage in strength of previous schedule coming into the game. As it stands, the Indians still have played a much tougher schedule to this point, but at least Canyon has had one tough game as well. Most seem to think a similar type of game to last week's Canyon-Valencia matchup will take place here, with Hart QB Sean Norton matching aerials with Canyon QB Nate Longshore. If Hart wins, it will be the program's 60th straight league victory. Only three other schools in state history have been able to run up league win streaks of at least 60 games. They are Sylmar at 69-0 from 1989 to 1999, Palma of Salinas at 68-0 from 1988 to 1998 and De La Salle at 62-0 from 1989 to 1997. De La Salle's streak didn't end, but its wins since 1998 over Bay Valley Athletic League opponents have been part of an independent schedule and haven't been counted in league standings.

3. No. 9 in state Div. II South Hills of West Covina at No. 17 in the state Los Altos of Hacienda Heights, Friday. This one also involves the No. 1 vs. No. 2 teams in the San Gabriel Valley as well as the No. 1 team from Southern Section Div. VI (Los Altos) vs. No. 1 from Southern Section Div. VII (South Hills). Los Altos won last week 49-0 over Bonita of La Verne to improve to 6-0. The defending CIFSS Div. VI champs have been led by QB Daniel Sandello, RB Randall Brown, RB-DB Daniel Drayton, WR Travis Brown and DE Brigham Harwell. South Hills won last week 43-0 over Nogales of La Puente and also upped its record to 6-0. The Huskies may be without WR-DB Bryan Payton, who didn't play last week with a shoulder injury. They've still got the other Payton, Jeremy, who is among the state reception leaders, as well as up-and-coming sophomore RB Marquis Winbush. QB Philip Guerrero also has been outstanding.

4. No. 9 in NorCal Bellarmine of San Jose at No. 12 in NorCal Serra of San Mateo, Saturday. The host Padres have had an extra week to get ready for this game as well as fix their egos after a 21-19 upset loss to Mitty of San Jose. They should get rolling on offense against the Bells as QB Daniel Bocanegra and RB Angelo Fobbs-Valentino should be able to break some big plays. The major problem for Serra is stopping Bellarmine's offense. The Bells feature senior Darrin Bragg, who appears to be the top college prospect at the QB position this year in the Bay Area. Bragg has eight TD passes and no interceptions so far this season.

5. No. 15 in NorCal Woodland at No. 14 in NorCal Grant of Sacramento, Friday. We're still trying to get an accurate read on the Pacers. So far, they've routed five clearly inferior opponents and lost 24-6 to the only formidable foe they've faced, Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills. Grant won last week 56-18 over Kennedy of Sacramento. Gerwin Williams has scored 16 TDs and brother Worrell Williams has continued to star at LB and QB. Woodland is actually No. 3 in this week's Sacramento Bee rankings (Grant is fifth), with its biggest win being 17-14 in week two over Granite Bay. Last week, the Wolves were tested but came out on top, 21-18, vs. Bethel of Vallejo. Coach Mike Gimenez has been counting on QB Daniel Pinegar, the younger brother of Fresno State QB Paul Pinegar.

6. Vista at No. 18 in the state Torrey Pines of San Diego, Friday. Torrey Pines, at least in our view, has strengthened its case as the No. 1 team in the section with wins in its last few games, including last week's 49-0 romp past San Marcos. Now here come the Panthers, fresh off a 7-0 win over preseason section No. 1 Carlsbad. Vista's 3-3 record is misleading because one loss is by forfeit. The team's two on-the-field losses came in close games to Helix and Oceanside. If Vista gets the upset, the path will then be completely clear for small school Marian Catholic to run the table in Division III and earn the section's final No. 1 overall ranking.

7. No. 4 in state Div. III La Habra at No. 9 in state Div. III Fullerton, Friday. Standout QB Daniel Morales and the Highlanders take on the unbeaten Indians in a Freeway League showdown. La Habra has two losses, but is ranked higher because it is the defending CIFSS Div. VIII champions and its losses are to state top 20 members Los Alamitos and Los Altos. Fullerton's best win was 27-22 in its opener over La Mirada, a team that hasn't lost since.

8. Unbeaten Campolindo of Moraga at No. 2 in state Div. III Miramonte of Orinda, Friday. Since the De La Salle-Evangel Christian game starts so early, at 5 p.m., some of us who cover these games for a living may be arriving for this one to complete the evening. Campolindo's unbeaten record has included several routs, including 47-9 over 4-2 Acalanes of Lafayette. The Cougars feature big-time OL-DL David Felso along with QB Nick Graziano, who has passed for 18 TDs and more than 1,300 yards. Miramonte has been the established power in this area of Contra Costa County and its only loss so far was by one point to Pittsburg. The Matadors are led by QB Taylor Humphrey (1,000 yds passing) and RB Dominick Carrie.

9. Chino Hills vs. Diamond Bar at Ayala High, Friday. The most watched person in this game will be on the sidelines as Chino Hills coach Terry Roche goes up against the school he previously coached for many years. Chino Hills lost its first game last week to Ayala after a 5-0 start. Diamond Bar also got out of the gates quickly at 4-0, but lost its second straight game last week, 31-14, to Damien of La Verne. Roche was the head coach at Diamond Bar from 1985 to 1989 and again from 1992 to 2000. He had a record of 133-37-5. Chino Hills, a new school, started playing varsity games last season and is in its first full season as a member of the CIFSS Div. II Sierra League.

10. California School for the Deaf (Riverside) at California School for the Deaf (Fremont), Saturday. This is the only annual NorCal vs. SoCal matchup in the state each year and it's a game that tugs at your heart. CSD Fremont won in last year's game down in Riverside by a 23-0 score.

11. Arroyo Grande at Righetti of Santa Maria, Friday. A game highly-anticipated in the Central Coast region matches the rugged defense of the visiting Eagles against the high-flying offense of Righetti. Arroyo Grande's only loss in a 5-1 season was by one point to Valencia. The Eagles also are worth watching with 6-4, 240-pound sophomore Kyle Pollock at quarterback. Pollock has had his rough spots so far this season, but last week tossed a key 25-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter of Arroyo Grande's 17-14 win over Paso Robles. Righetti also only has one blemish on its record as it had a 20-20 tie three weeks ago against Dos Pueblos of Goleta. The Warriors will be led by RB Mark Malangko, who has rushed for 1,171 yards and 15 TDs even though he started the year as a backup to the injured Ryan Mole. Between Mole's first games and what Malangko has done since then, Righetti has produced more yards and touchdowns out of the running back position than any other team in the state.

12. No. 6 in Div. IV Sutter at Wheatland, Friday. Coach Scott Turner's team (7-0) has been on a tear in the Northern Section and heads to Wheatland to face perhaps its toughest game of the regular season. We say perhaps because Wheatland is 6-1, but its loss was by 31-14 to an Orland team that Sutter dominated, 42-7. Sutter features a sturdy defense led by LB David Heckman and DE Frank Rovito. Wheatland won last week 35-26 over Winters and has two runningbacks, Chauncey Rampersant and Adam McCleary, who both should surpass 1,000 yards rushing on the season.


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