STATE GAMES OF THE WEEK

Mission Viejo puts its Orange County-record win streak on the line in tough matchup at San Clemente.....Serra hopes to further confuse WCAL standings with a win at St. Francis.....Plus eight other matchups we'll be following with extra interest...

1. No. 2 in the state Mission Viejo at No. 14 in SoCal San Clemente, Friday. With Cheyne Verhagen back in the lineup at runningback, the Tritons have been on a roll in recent weeks, including that 55-35 win over Corona Centennial, which was No. 5 in the state at the time. Verhagen leads a strong ground game, while Cole Bergquist can throw the ball at quarterback. The Diablos beat San Clemente by just 21-18 two years ago and it's a team that traditionally seems to play well against them, notwithstanding last year's 49-14 score. Mission Viejo will be going for its 36th straight win and if that happens it would just about wrap up the top seed in the CIF Southern Section Div. II playoffs. Marty Tadman has been the MVP for the Diablos so far this year and his versatility on offense could be the difference once again.

2. No. 11 in NorCal Serra of San Mateo at No. 12 in the state St. Francis of Mountain View, Friday. The host Lancers are coming off an easy win over St. Ignatius, while the Padres have to still be walking on air after they rallied from 28-7 down to beat Bellarmine, 31-28, on a field goal with 15 seconds left. St. Francis has lost its only game to De La Salle and has wins over 6-1 Los Gatos and 6-1 Valley Christian. A win here would go a long way toward the Lancers winning the West Catholic Athletic League title. A win for Serra would throw the league race into more of a scramble and would turn the Padres into Bellarmine fans as the Bells and St. Francis have yet to play.

3. No. 19 in the state St. John Bosco of Bellflower vs. No. 20 in the state Loyola of Los Angeles, Saturday at Glendale High. These are two of the six 1-1 teams in the Serra League and the winner will be guaranteed a spot in next week's state top 20. Loyola would appear to be the favorite as the Cubs are playing at home after winning on the road in overtime against a Mater Dei of Santa Ana team that defeated St. John Bosco the week before. Watch out for the battle up front with UCLA-bound Ken Lombard of the Braves going up against Mark Gray and the rest of Loyola's line.

4. No. 13 in Bay Area Monte Vista of Danville at No. 14 in NorCal Foothill of Pleasanton, Friday. There's no Kyle Wright anymore at Monte Vista, but the Mustangs have won six in a row after a season-opening one- point loss to Antioch. The status of RB Tom Haug, who missed last week's game with an injury, will greatly impact this game. Foothill has lost only to De La Salle in a 6-1 season so far, but the Falcons have only played one other team with much of a ranking and that was Skyline of Oakland, which they basically beat on a 100-yard interception return. Last week, Joey Munn had a 99-yard interception return in a 47-9 win vs. San Ramon Valley.

5. No. 9 in state Div. III Morningside of Inglewood at No. 3 in state Div. III Culver City, Friday. Morningside is one of the state's best turnaround teams this season, going from 3-7 in 2002 to a 7-0 mark so far in 2003. Among the wins is one of 12-8 vs. Inglewood and 42-30 vs. South of Torrance. Culver City beat that same South team, 31-6, last weekend. The Centaurs' only loss was in their first game to nationally-ranked Los Alamitos. Culver City's twosome of Michael Bumpus and Jaison Williams has colleges throughout the nation interested.

6. No. 13 in the state Lincoln of Stockton at Edison of Stockton, Friday. This would appear to be a rout in favor of Lincoln, if you look at what the Trojans did to Lodi (won, 68-0) one week after Lodi knocked off Edison, 17-14. But Edison has won in six other starts this year and if the Vikings play like they did in their 32-27 win over St. Mary's of Stockton you never know what could happen. Edison's Lavelle Hawkins will no doubt draw plenty of attention from the best defenders from Lincoln, so the other Vikings are going to have to step up big if they have a chance. Some coaches in the area think Lincoln's defense might be able to be passed on, but the front lines on both sides of the ball are among the best in the area in a long time. What we love about Lincoln's linemen -- particularly Chris Matsuoka (6-2, 275), Stephen Eberly (6-3, 300), Josh Casteel (6-2, 270) and junior Alex Stipe (6-7, 245) -- is that they never take a play off. Contstant in-your-face intensity. Edison has a young line and it's going to be severely tested.

7. No. 10 in state Div. IV Hilmar at No. 2 in state Div. IV Escalon, Friday. We have to admit that Hilmar snuck up on us and our first thought upon seeing last week's score -- 31-10 over previously on-the-field unbeaten Ripon -- was that it might be a typo. But in checking over Hilmar's game-by-game scores so far, it's a team that is very good. The only loss in a 6-1 season so far was by 17-7 to Dos Palos, which also happens to be among the state's best small school teams. This week, though, Hilmar is playing an opponent that is on another level than even Dos Palos. If Escalon wins big again, we say let's just cancel the rest of the season and the playoffs and start negotiations immediately for an Escalon-Central Catholic game.

8. No. 8 in state Div. III Yosemite of Oakhurst at No. 7 in state Div. IV Dos Palos, Friday. With Yosemite in the Div. III state rankings and Washington of Easton not currently among that top 10, this game will provide a nice reference point for Washington as well as the Badgers and Broncos. Washington, you see, has a win over Dos Palos, so if DP does well it will make the Panthers look better. Yosemite's only loss was by two points to Div. III No. 4 Oakdale and it won last week by 33-14 over San Joaquin Memorial. Dos Palos also has a tie vs. Garces of Bakersfield and won last week, 23-13, over Coalinga.

9. Unbeaten Pittsburg at Clayton Valley of Concord, Friday. We might be able to get a little interested in Pittsburg's matchup next week at home against mighty De La Salle if the Pirates show us something in this game. Pitt won last week 55-14 over Freedom of Oakley and seems to be getting better each week. The team's only blemish in a 6-0-1 season was a 20-20 tie vs. James Logan of Union City. Clayton Valley comes in at 6-1 after a 28-20 win last week over Liberty of Brentwood. The Eagles feature one of the top prospects in the Bay Area in LB Joe Mortenson. Both teams also are Bay Area ranked with the Pirates at No. 9 and Clayton Valley at No. 16.

10. Corona at Centennial of Corona, Friday. The particulars over this city rivalry game could change as both schools have had schedule changes due to the massive outbreak of wildfires in the region. The reason we're paying close attention is that it's also one of those recruiting specials. Corona is led by perhaps the top QB recruit in the state, Brian Hildebrand, while Centennial, of course, features perhaps the top RB recruit in the state, Terrell Jackson.


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