One of the biggest weekends in the state kicks off with a great one tonight, in a game nationally televised. Big regional games are happening all throughout the state and several will have major postseason implications.
The country will have a chance to see one of the most anticipated games of the non-conference schedule when Sherman Oaks Notre Dame visits Van Nuys Birmingham tonight at Birmingham. The game, which starts at 8 p.m., features several of the elite players in the region. Notre Dame commit Dayne Crist leads the Knights offense while Anthony McDonald (Notre Dame) and Wes Horton (USC) lead the ND defense. Larry Thompson and Eric Jusko will have their work cut out for them against the Patriots defensive line. Running back Thaddeus Brown will try to keep the pressure off Crist while Hayden Hunter, who's starred in the early going, will also be a part of the Knights defensive plan to stop the Patriots running game.
The Patriots counter with a pair of UCLA commits, running back Milton Knox and linebacker Donovan Carter as well as Oregon bound tight end Mychal Rivera and the Jackson twins, Malik and Marquis. Quarterback Exavier Johnson is back and should be able to play a few series for the Patriots. The game also features a pair of juniors to watch: linebacker Jordan Barrett for Notre Dame and receiver Devon Flournoy from Birmingham. A win by the Patriots will be a huge step for them in their quest for the D-I SoCal spot, while the Knights are hoping to get a big non-league win as they aim for the D-II slot.
Westlake Village Oaks Christian will again visit Larabee Stadium at Ventura HS to take on Ventura St. Bonaventure, in a key Ventura County game with D-III implications. This was supposed to be the game of the year in California a season ago, but the Lions crushed the Seraphs. Oaks lost several key players from last year, while the Seraphs added the #1 running back in the country in Darrell Scott. But they are on a new coach, Todd Therrian. This game has huge implications for the state championship game in D-III, the winner being the frontrunner to represent SoCal.
The Seraphs have a stout offensive line, where the game was won for the Lions last year. Up front, Vaughn Dotsy, Andrew Sims, Ryan Medina, Chris Perham and Raphael Washington will look to open holes for Scott and protect Tony Mascarenas. Defensively, they're hoping for the return of Ryan Panapa.
In NorCal, top-ranked Concord De La Salle welcomes #6 Salinas Palma featuring two more teams looking to make a run for the state championship game. The Spartans, who haven't been tested in their first two games, blowouts against San Mateo Serra and Los Angeles Loyola, are hoping to get back to the D-I state championship game. Palma is sitting pretty in the D-III spot for NorCal thanks to losses by Santa Rosa Cardinal Newman and Modesto Central Catholic. Chad Davis is the leader of the Palma defense.
Stockton St. Mary's surprised Central Catholic and this week they get another shot at a top 25 NorCal team when they visit Mountain View St. Francis. St. Mary's features a stud junior quarterback in Cody Vaz, who threw for 392 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Central Catholic. St. Francis boasts a top defensive lineman in Je'Marcus Williams, who will try to get to Vaz early, and often.
Granite Bay knocked Napa out of the NorCal top 25 but their test this weekend will be much tougher when they visit #2 Vacaville, who features Terrance Dailey at running back and Josh Kaddu at linebacker.
The "Holy Bowl" between Carmichael Jesuit and Sacramento Christian Brothers, lost some of the intrigue when Jesuit dropped one to San Jose Bellarmine Prep. Isaiah Frey and Jordan Haynes will try to get Jesuit back on track but Christian Brothers will ride Asa Jackson and Marcus McDaniel on offense and junior linebacker Daniel Cox on defense.
Palo Alto will host San Jose Oak Grove, Sacramento Grant visits El Dorado Hills Oak Ridge and two San Francisco schools, St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart meet in more NorCal action.
Another top City-Southern contest features Santa Monica against Venice. SaMo is led by Ryan Katz, one of the better quarterbacks in the West, while Venice has the underrated but very prolific Richard Ragland behind center. Where the Gondos have the advantage is elsewhere, with running back Curtis McNeal and Jerry Johnson at receiver.
After missing the past two games while recovering from surgery to have his appendix removed, Huntington Beach Edison quarterback Nick Crissman, returns to action to lead the Chargers against Anaheim Servite. The game was originally scheduled for tonight at Huntington Beach, but has since moved to Friday at Orange Coast to accommodate a bigger crowd. Last year, the Chargers beat the Friars twice, but this time, the Friars will have D.J. Shoemate, a commit to USC, back after he missed most of last year with a foot injury.
Since an opening loss to Corona Centennial, Compton Dominguez has been playing with authority, evidenced by a 30+ point win against Crenshaw. REV has won two very tight games against good opponents in J.W. North and Colton.
When Westlake visits Hart, it will probably be a good one, as usual. These two teams have faced off in some classics over the years, and this year's game, at College of the Canyons, figures to be a good one. The Warriors are led by quarterback Nick Owens while the Indians are looking to get a big performance out of linebacker Patrick Larimore and B.R. Holbrook and Delano Howell in the backfield.
One of the better games in San Diego will involve the two top prospects in the county. Poway is led by stud tight end Ryan Deehan, one of the best tight ends in the West. El Camino is paced by Nelson Rosario, who will play both receiver, his primary position, and safety.