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NICK AGRO , STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
La Habra, ranked No. 8 in the Register's preseason poll, will be led by, from left, Camron Rivas, Prince Ross and Madison Wheeler.

OCVarsity Kickoff '16: Freeway League preview

STAFF WRITER

OCVarsity's scouting report for the Freeway League:

OC VARSITY PREDICTS

1. La Habra: Can the Highlanders make it 10 league titles in a row? La Habra has yet to settle on a starting quarterback to replace Eric Barriere, but whoever gets the nod will have weapons to throw to on the outside. The defense is filled with proven playmakers.

2. Buena Park: The Coyotes again pose the best threat to overtake La Habra atop the league standings. There’s a wealth at talent at the skill positions, and plenty of speed throughout the roster. Junior quarterback Deshaun Harvey could be the difference in getting Buena Park over the hump.

3. Troy: The Warriors welcome back 14 starters, including all five offensive linemen and eight returners on defense. If Josiah Norwood continues to develop at quarterback, this could be a dangerous team in the Division 5 playoffs.

4. Sunny Hills: The Lancers snapped a 29-game league losing streak last season and made the postseason for the first time since 2008. Look for second-year coach Pete Karavedas to continue building off that success this fall.

5. Fullerton: The Indians find themselves in the midst of a youth movement. Not one single unit on the team welcomes back a pair of returning starters.

6. Sonora: Daniel Morales takes over a Raiders program that graduated 16 starters from a season ago.

LEAGUE COACHES POLL

1. La Habra, 12 poll points, (2)

2. Buena Park, 10

3. Troy, 8

4T. Fullerton, 5

4T. Sunny Hills, 5

6. Sonora, 2

How the poll works: The coaches do the voting. First-place votes (shown in parentheses) are worth 6 points, second are worth 5, etc. Note: Four of the coaches abstained from voting.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT

Prince Ross, La Habra: The star wideout simply could not be covered in postseason play a year ago. A game-breaker waiting to happen, Ross averaged 141 yards receiving in five playoff outings and hauled in 11 touchdowns in the process. He finished his junior campaign as Orange County’s leader in receiving yards (1,310), and was fourth with 18 touchdown grabs. Whether it’s Zach Fogel or Joe Hernandez starting at quarterback, in the long run, both would be wise to get the ball in Ross’ hands as often as possible.

OTHER IMPACT PLAYERS

Brandon Castelo, Sunny Hills, RB: Led the Lancers in touchdowns (12) and total yards (850 rushing, 239 receiving) as a junior last year.

Jeremiah Hawkins, Buena Park, WR: He’s in the conversation for fastest player in the county. Hawkins is a matchup nightmare for defenses, and is nearly impossible to tackle in space.

Josiah Norwood, Troy, QB: One of the most exciting young quarterbacks in Orange County. As a sophomore starter last season, he accounted for 2,500 yards of total offense.

Camron Rivas, La Habra, LB: A born leader who always found himself near the ball as a junior (150 tackles, 16 tackles for loss). The first-team All-County backer owns some of the best hair in the area too.

Cris Schroer, Fullerton, LB: A second-team All-Freeway League selection in 2015, the hard-hitting senior backer is the heart of the Indians defense.

Landon Williams, Sonora, WR/CB: He’s one of the few returning starters from last year’s team, but has proven himself capable of making plays on both sides of the football (506 receiving yards, 27 tackles).

MUST-SEE GAMES

La Habra vs. Tesoro, Sept. 2: A meeting with the South County power kicks off a three-game stretch where the Highlanders face off against the Titans, Mission Viejo and Los Alamitos.

Buena Park vs. St. Francis of La Canada, Sept. 30: The Coyotes finish their nonleague stretch of games against a potential Division 3 playoff opponent.

Troy vs. La Habra, Oct. 7: The Warriors are much improved. This will be a good measuring stick to see just how far they’ve come.

Buena Park vs. La Habra, Oct. 21: This one will be for all the marbles. Playing at home, can the Coyotes finally dethrone the Highlanders atop the league standings?

RELATED LINKS

Contact the writer: kconnolly@scng.com


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