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West Valley preview: Mission Viejo vs. Vista Murrieta

STAFF WRITER

OCVarsity's preview and prediction for the CIF-SS West Valley Division championship game.

WEST VALLEY DIVISION

Vista Murrieta of Murrieta (12-1) vs. Mission Viejo (13-0)

Where, when: Vista Murrieta High, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

TV: Fox Sports West

Online: Foxsports.com Prep Zone (live streaming)

Fan info: Tickets $12 adult, $5 student; preferred parking $10

Vista Murrieta analysis: The Broncos, the West Valley runner-up last season to Mission Viejo, feature a balanced offense and strong special teams. The special teams are one of the signatures of Coach Coley Candaele. Quarterback Karson Greeley (6-5, 206) has thrown for 2,165 yards and 23 TDs, and junior Cole Dubots has rushed for 795 yards. Receivers Kyle Williams, an Arizona State commit, and Khalil Shakir have 47 and 45 receptions, respectively. Williams leads the special teams with more than 1,300 return yards and four kickoff returns and four punt returns for touchdowns. The senior paces the Broncos with 25 TDs. Vista Murrieta allows an average of about 23 points per game. The defense has been vulnerable at times this season, so stopping a high-powered Mission Viejo attack could be a concern. The Broncos won a five-overtime thriller against Rancho Cucamonga, 62-56, in the semifinals.

Mission Viejo analysis: The defending West Valley champion Diablos haven’t played a close game since rallying to defeat rival Tesoro, 39-33, in their South Coast League showdown in mid-October. Mission Viejo has won 25 consecutive games, the second longest active streak in the state. The Diablos’ offense averages about 45.5 points, slightly more than Vista Murrieta, while their defense allows 16.9 points. Quarterback Brock Johnson has passed for 3,091 yards and 35 TDs and has been hot in the playoffs. Sophomore wide receiver Austin Osborne had six receptions for over 200 yards against Chino Hills in the semifinals, and senior Jason Lee is another top target. Mission Viejo didn’t offer much of a ground attack last week. If Vista Murrieta slows Johnson, which few teams have this season, the Diablos could need a running game. The Schooler brothers, Colin and Brenden, have emerged as key players in the playoffs.

Player to watch: Mission Viejo’s Brock Johnson. The senior quarterback threw a school-record seven TDs in the semifinals against Chino Hills. He has been the Diablos’ leader on and off the field.

Prediction: Mission Viejo 35, Vista Murrieta 28. The Broncos are in the finals for the seventh consecutive season, so they’re no stranger to big games. They also have the revenge factor. But Mission Viejo also is motivated to defend its title and features a sizzling quarterback, so the Diablos are the pick to repeat.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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