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East Valley: Previews & predictions for Friday's games

STAFF WRITER

OCVarsity's previews and predictions for the second round playoff games on Friday.

Brethren Christian (10-1) vs. Rancho Christian (8-3)

Where, when: Rancho Christian High, 7 p.m.

Outlook: The Warriors put 41 points on the scoreboard last week … in the first quarter. With a running clock in place before halftime, Brethren Christian cruised to a 51-0 victory over Sherman Indian of Riverside. Rancho Christian, led by former Orange Lutheran and Canyon coach Jim Kunau, will be a much tougher opponent for the Warriors. Rancho Christian has won five straight and scored at least 45 points in each of those wins. Rancho’s offense has been slowed at different points this season, failing to score more than 10 points in any of its three losses. No team has been able to limit the Warriors arsenal, which include the county’s leading rusher, Jordan Leonard. Brethren Christian has scored at least 31 points in each of its games, and it appears capable of doing it again tonight.

Prediction: Brethren Christian

Calvary Murrieta (11-0) vs. Crean Lutheran (8-3)

Where, when: Irvine High, 7 p.m.

Outlook: Statistically speaking, Calvary Murrieta boasts one of the top defensive units still alive in a division known for racking up the points. The Warriors have generated 30 takeaways – just shy of three per game – and opponents are scoring less than 10 points per game. Toss in running back Micah Roth, who is approaching the 2,000-yard mark, and a capable quarterback in Adam Schwab, and you’ve got one of the division’s most balanced squads. In Crean Lutheran’s favor is its challenging schedule. Having played Saddleback Valley Christian, Brethren Christian and St. Margaret’s, the Saints are battle-tested. Garrett Cox will be the focal point of the offense, but the onus lies on the defense to play as well as it did in last week’s 21-6 win against St. Anthony.

Prediction: Calvary Murrieta

Saddleback Valley Christian (11-0) vs. St. Margaret's (9-2)

Where, when: St. Margaret’s High, 7 p.m.

Outlook: The winner of this south county showdown becomes the favorite to represent the bottom half of the bracket in the East Valley final. These two teams are loaded with talent and, realistically, are only playing this early in the postseason because St. Margaret’s lost a pair of coin flips and ended up as an at-large entry. The Tartans knocked off an unbeaten SVC squad in the semifinals last year. Quarterback George Krantz leads the county with 41 touchdown passes and his 2,974 yards is good for third in the county. Warriors quarterback Cade Henjum counters with 29 touchdowns passes and just three interceptions as SVC has steamrolled through its schedule. With home-field advantage and arguably the top playmaker on the field in Nick Shanks, the Tartans win a game that has all the makings of a thriller.

Prediction: St. Margaret’s

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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