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DREW A. KELLEY , CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
At No. 22 in the Register's Top 25 is Brea Olinda, which is expected to contend for the North Hills League title this season behind the play of, from left, Michael Martinson, Jason Allen and Steven Hayes.

OCVarsity Kickoff '16: North Hills League preview

STAFF WRITER

OCVarsity's scouting report for the North Hills League:

OC VARSITY PREDICTS

1. Brea Olinda: Fourteen starters return from a team that fell just short of capturing the CIF-SS Southern Division crown a season ago. The Wildcats appear to be set at the skill positions, bringing back major contributors from last year’s team. Brea will have some new faces in the trenches and a new starter at quarterback, Dylan Flenniken.

2. El Dorado: The Golden Hawks are trending upwards. They did not technically win a game on the field in 2015, but snuck into the playoffs regardless. Second-year coach Zack LaMonda will not only notch his first career ‘W’ this fall, he should grab several of them.

3. El Modena: First-year coach Matt Mitchell takes over a group that graduated a lot of talent. If the Vanguards can play with the same amount of intensity they did in 2015, they’ll challenge El Dorado for the second spot in league.

4. Esperanza: Thomas Storing was the Aztecs’ defensive coordinator at the beginning of the month, but took over as head coach when Kevin Oberlander suddenly resigned on Aug. 3. Tough situation for all parties involved.

LEAGUE COACHES POLL

1. Brea Olinda, 8 poll points, (2)

2T. El Dorado, 5

2T. El Modena, 5

4. Esperanza, 2

How the poll works: The coaches do the voting. First-place votes (shown in parentheses) are worth 4 points, second are worth 3, etc. Note: Two league coaches abstained from voting.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

Michael Martinson, Brea Olinda: He’s got the wiggle to evade would-be tacklers, he’s got breakaway speed, and he’s sure to be the focal point of the Wildcats offense this season. Martinson was a first-team All-North Hills League selection as a junior, totaling 1,085 rushing yards and nine total touchdowns. Brea has the weapons to spread the ball around, but with a new starting quarterback in place, expect the Wildcats senior to receive double-digit touches every time he steps onto the field.

OTHER IMPACT PLAYERS

Noah Rivera, Brea Olinda, WR/CB: The Wildcats senior can do a little bit of everything on the offensive side of the ball, and he’ll start at corner on defense too.

Jack Strouse, El Dorado, QB: He took snaps in seven games as a sophomore, and now takes over as the starter under center in his junior campaign.

Dillon Keefe, El Modena, DE: He earned North Hills League lineman of the year in 2015 because of his knack for making big-time plays in crucial moments.

Treyden Buzzone, Esperanza, QB: After receiving valuable playing time as a freshman, the youngster will be asked to lead this offense as one of the youngest signal callers in the county.

MUST-SEE GAMES

Brea Olinda vs. Canyon, Sept. 30: The Wildcats welcome the Comanches back to campus for a rematch of last season’s Southern Division championship game.

Esperanza vs. Yorba Linda, Oct. 14: Bragging rights will be on the line in what has become one of the county’s best neighborhood rivalries.

El Dorado vs. El Modena, Oct. 20: With Brea still remaining on the schedule for both teams, the winner remains alive in the quest for the league title.

Brea Olinda vs. El Modena, Nov. 4: The Wildcats could clinch a league championship with a win in Week 10.

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Contact the writer: kconnolly@scng.com


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