Coming soon '04 football playoffs

So few games left, so much time to think about them. So I stopped. I'm impatient you see, I've already moved past the Mission Viejo/Newhall Hart contest and Carson vs. Venice. I'm already looking at the playoffs in '04. What teams will be back, and what players are going to get them there. Scott Deke, Nathan Longshore, Cheyne Verhagen and company will be riding the bench as freshman as BIGTIME FOOTBALL UNIVERSITY but these guys will be stepping right in.

The Championship matchups are set, and we'll have all week to break them down, but this year featured some wonderful rematches of playoff games from last year. Hart and San Clemente battled in the semis for the 2nd year in a row, Mission Viejo and Canyon Country Canyon were pitted in the quarters last year, and then met again in the semis this past weekend. While the focus for the next week will be the teams that moved on, today I thought I'd see what these teams will be bringing back next year, and if we can expect rematches of the rematches in the 04 playoffs.

Newhall Hart is in a Championship game for the seventh year in a row and has a slew of junior receivers returning next year, none more potent than Ryan Wolfe. The question is will either Robbie Moore or Tyler Lyon be able to get them the ball.

San Clemente on the other hand is once again licking the wounds Hart inflicted and with the loss of stud running back Cheyne Verhagen and senior QB Cole Berquist there will be some choices to make. Junior RB Blaine Donahoe showed steadiness and versatility this year, but he doesn't appear to be the go to back that Verhagen was. Meanwhile Brad Donnelly, a junior, and Michael Cantwell, a sophomore, will compete for the QB job next year. While Cantwell has a canon for an arm, he hasn't been consistent, though another year of seasoning might settle him down and give him the edge for the starting spot.

Mission Viejo has that absurd winning steak and with the core of their offense back it should continue. QB Mark Sanchez will only get better next year during his senior season, and the Mack Truck known as Chane Moline might still be growing as he comes back for his junior campaign next year. If Moline gets even bigger, but maintains what is close to breakaway speed, Mission has to be an early favorite.

Canyon Country Canyon coach Harry Welch will bid Nathan Longshore a fond farewell as watch him at a D1 program on Saturdays. On Friday nights though he'll have a variety of options at QB. Juniors Michael Reeves and Will Brogan are the early favorites to land the job, and Welch made sure Longshore acted as a tutor for both this past season. In the backfield senior Louis Montano just tosses his jersey across the locker room to sophomore namesake Michael Montano, who's incredible speed more than makes up for his slight (150 lbs) frame. The younger Mantano will benefit from an offensive line that is young, but gaining size, strength, and experience and should be even more dominant next season.

Out in Dorsey Johnson and Johnson Inc. will be back in the backfield. In their loss to Carson Jeremiah Johnson was sidelined with a bad wheel, there's no doubt missing that game will bring him back for his senior season hungry. Meanwhile Stafon Johnson will only be a junior and WR David Gettis will enter his senior season with D1 schools calling and a lot to prove.

Speaking of Carson, their huge upset of Dorsey was piloted by Bo Napoleon, and he'll be back next season to try and do it again. Watch for the early season battle, and I'm guessing late season platoon for junior running backs Dwayne Sanders and Carlton Smith. Not that you could miss him, but for the emergence of 400+ lb defensive tackle Clint Alaimalo, only a junior this season. His technique needs work, but a body that big certainly could cause problems for a running team like - oh, I don't know, Dorsey?


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