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State final preview: Saddleback Valley Christian vs. St. Bernard's

STAFF WRITER

OCVarsity’s preview and prediction for Saturday’s CIF-State Football Championship game.

CIF STATE FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

Division V-A

Saddleback Valley Christian (15-0) vs. St. Bernard’s of Eureka (13-1)

Where, when: Laguna Hills High, Saturday, 6 p.m.

Fan info: tickets, $12 for adults, $8 for students (with valid ASB card), seniors (65 and older), and children. ... live streamed at twccommunity.com.

Saddleback Valley Christian scouting report: The Warriors racked up 59 points and more than 550 yards of offense in last week’s victory over Kennedy of Delano, 59-45, and they’ll look to keep their feet on the gas pedal tonight. Junior quarterback Cade Henjum should continue to feed David Molina and Savai’i Cravens as much as possible, as that duo accounted for nearly 400 yards on 24 touches last Saturday. Henjum tossed three interceptions in the regional, and he can ill-afford to do the same tonight. Like it has done all season, SVC found a way last week to win in crunch time. That grit will be tested again tonight.

St. Bernard’s scouting report: St. Bernard’s can go score-for-score with SVC thanks to a plethora of playmakers on offense. It starts with dual-threat junior quarterback Jack Rice, who is coming off a seven-touchdown performance in last week’s 55-0 regional victory over Fall River of McArthur. Rice accounts for close to 350 yards of offense a game, averaging 258 yards passing and 90 more on the ground in the read-option attack. Micha Fontenot-Cornely and Isaac Drake have each hauled in double-digit touchdown passes. Defensively, St. Bernard’s has held six of its last eight opponents to 18 points or less. With their offense, just a couple of stops from the ‘D’ pays major dividends. The Crusaders have played several games this season in inclement weather, so if there is rain tonight, they’ll be accustomed to the elements.

Player to watch: The Warriors’ Cravens. The junior receiver has five straight games of at least 100 yards receiving, and he has hauled in nine touchdowns in that stretch. In what’s shaping up to be a high-scoring game with a state championship on the line, SVC will likely try to get its best playmaker the ball as much as possible.

Prediction: St. Bernard’s 49, Saddleback Valley Christian 42. Both teams are capable of putting up 50 points or more. The team with the defense that generates a few punts will likely be the victor. Rice is coming off a pair of 150-yard rushing performances. His ability to run and extend plays is likely the difference in what should be a thriller.

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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