Golden State Preps: Week One Preview

The first full weekend of football kicks off in California this week, with several intriguing intersectional and interstate games being played, as well as a handful of intrasectional contests...

Everyone gets started this weekend, with the official Week One of the prep football season getting underway in the Golden State. There are several intriguing interstate and intersectional matchups set to take place in Week One. Here are a look at the games of the week.

One of the top interstate games takes place in the Emerald City when Loomis Del Oro, the #2 team in the Sac-Joaquin Section, visits Burien (Wash.) Kennedy, ranked #8 in the 3A rankings in Washington. It's the opener for the Eagles, but Kennedy is coming off a surprising 30-0 loss to Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas last weekend. The game will be played at Memorial Stadium in Seattle in the shadows of the Space Needle, and the Eagles are bringing a big traveling party to watch Cole Saunders, Jason Heath, Ryan Otten, Hunter Pahl, Jack Reynoso and others take on Kennedy, who's led by Everette Thompson.

Carson will host Aurora (Colo.) Grandview on Friday night and La Mesa Helix will host Highland (Utah) Lone Peak on Friday as well in two more interstate games involving prominent California schools.

The three state representatives from Northern California in 2006 all play key intersectional games, the highlight being a rematch of Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman and Modesto Central Catholic and the top CCS and top NCS teams, San Mateo Serra and Concord De La Salle.

Last year, Cardinal Newman held off Central Catholic 22-14 and that win sprung the Cardinals past the Raiders into the D-III berth, where the Cards gave Oaks Christian all they could handle. The Raiders haven't lost since that game in September and with Louis Bland and Dominic Galas, they're more than ready to welcome the Cardinals to their home.

De La Salle ended the year with a loss for the first time in what seems like forever, dropping the D-I title game to Canyon, but they just plain don't lose to NorCal teams. So their game against the top-ranked team in the Central Coast Section, Serra, ought to be a battle. Tiuke Tuipulotu, Deleon Eskridge and Cody Jackson lead the Padres offense, while J.P. Hurrell, who'll make his home on the East Bay next year at Cal, paces the defense. The Spartans counter with Mike MacGillivray and Brady Amack as their headliners.

Palo Alto, the D-II runner up will also make a trip to the other side of the bay when they visit Oakland McClymonds. Sacramento Grant, who many felt should have been NorCal's D-I pick, was beaten last week by Bakersfield. They'll try to right the ship this weekend against Stockton Franklin. Oakland Skyline, ranked #3 in the Oakland Section, will visit Salinas Palma, ranked #6 in the CCS.

In Central California, Merced, fresh off a 21-14 win over Los Angeles Crenshaw, will visit Madera. The Coyotes are 0-2, with their two losses coming to a loaded Fresno Edison and Las Vegas HS team that is the defending Nevada 5A champions. Edison is looking to keep their train rolling when they host Modesto on Friday.

There are a handful of potentially great City-Southern Section showdowns this weekend, the first being Long Beach Poly against Birmingham and the other being Norco against Crenshaw.

Some of the shine has been taken off the Poly-Birmingham game after the Patriots were beaten in the opener by Crespi, but the Patriots are still the team to beat in the City. The Jackrabbits on the other hand are coming off a huge win over Glenville (Ohio) in the Herbstreit Classic and are happy to be back playing in the Golden State.

The two-time defending CIF-SS champion Norco Cougars visit City power Crenshaw. Norco, playing their opener, is led by Damion Whittington, Eric Hicks and Josh Foley while Crenshaw, who fell by a touchdown last week to Merced, counters with Carlton Hudson, Clint Floyd and Kemonte Bateman.

Another City Section game to watch will be Venice at Taft, in the first game of the post-Troy Starr era for the Toreadors. Taft kicks off at home against the Gondoliers. Led by elite defensive tackle Craig Noble, Taft looks to start a little better this year than last year, when they started 0-2. Venice, led by the three-headed monster of Jerry Johnson, Curtis McNeal and Richard Ragland, are looking for their second strong performance against a Valley team, having crushed San Fernando 41-14 in the opener.

One of the best individual matchups will take place in Anaheim when Servite faces Corona Santiago. Last year the Sharks stunned the Friars behind the running of Ryan McCants and the defense led by Anthony Dye. This year, Dye is back and his potential matchup against D.J. Shoemate will be one of the best individual matchups in the state this year. It pits the #1 receiver in California, Shoemate against the #2 cornerback in the state in Dye. Both teams won their openers a week ago.

Oceanside dropped their opener to Helix last week, so they'll be trying to bounce back when the visit La Costa Canyon, in a matchup of top 10 teams in San Diego. Mission Hills hosts Poway in another contest involving top 10 from San Diego.

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