Southwest: Previews, predictions for Friday's games


OCVarsity's previews and predictions for the first-round games for the Orange County teams.



La Habra (9-1) vs. Kennedy (5-5)

Where, when: La Habra High, 7 p.m.

Live coverage: CA Sports Zone Online Radio:

Outlook: The Highlanders’ defense has been their Achilles heal in recent playoff appearances, but that doesn’t appear to be this case this season. La Habra posted consecutive shutouts in Weeks 9 and 10, and held opponents to a touchdown or less in six outings during the year. While Kennedy’s Anthony Johar has been one of the county’s most productive backs the second half of the season – rushing for 785 yards the past four weeks – he’ll face one of the division’s best front sevens on Friday night. La Habra has allowed only one 100-yard rusher this season, and if the Fighting Irish have any hopes of pulling an upset, Johar will have to have go for much more than 100 yards.

Prediction: La Habra

Woodbridge (6-4) vs. Laguna Hills (7-3)

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

Outlook: These two teams met back in September, where the Hawks toppled the Warriors, 42-20. The focus for Woodbridge has to be on eliminating the big play and tackling better in space. Laguna Hills scored five touchdowns of 40-yards or more in that preseason encounter, four of which were Mitch O’Hair touchdown passes. This meeting should be much closer than the first installment, especially the way the Warriors’ offensive line has opened up rushing lanes for Connor McBride. Bruce Ingalls’ squad finds a way to win in the end though.

Prediction: Laguna Hills

Villa Park (10-0) vs. Troy (5-5)

Where, when: El Modena High, 7 p.m.

Outlook: The Spartans defense has flown under the radar this season, but has played nothing short of sensational in actuality. Villa Park is holding opponents to just nine points a game, and it’s never allowed more than 14 points in a single contest this season. Troy could struggle moving the ball against the Spartans front, especially if senior running back, Dray Shaw, is hampered by a lingering ankle injury. With Shaw sidelined against La Habra last week, the Warriors failed to find the end zone and were shutout.

Prediction: Villa Park

Valencia (10-0) vs. University (8-2)

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

Outlook: The Tigers are never going to be the flashiest of teams, but as Mike Marrujo knows better than most, flashy doesn’t win football games. Discipline does. Valencia plays mistake-free on both sides of the ball and is one of the division’s most balanced squads. The Jahquon Speed-Darren Sandoval tandem has rushed for nearly 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns, while senior signal caller Tyler Switzer has tossed 27 touchdowns to just four interceptions. Add to that a defense that’s allowing less than eight points a game, and it could be a tough night for University.

Prediction: Valencia

Corona del Mar (8-2) vs. Trabuco Hills (3-7)

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

Live coverage:

Outlook: Chase Garbers was perfect in Week 10. The Sea Kings junior quarterback connected on all 23 of his pass attempts for 335 yards and five touchdowns in a lopsided win over Irvine. It’s crazy to think he’ll duplicate such a performance against the Mustangs, but he’s got an opportunity to pile up some big numbers against a defense that’s been reeling. While CdM has scored at least 42 points in its last four outings, Trabuco Hills’ defense has surrendered 35 or more each of the past two weeks.

Prediction: Corona del Mar

Buena Park (8-2) vs. Yorba Linda (4-6)

Where, when: Buena Park High, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: It was just a season ago Jeremiah Hawkins suited up for Yorba Linda. On Friday night, the junior transfer will be one of several Buena Park weapons the Mustangs’ defense will attempt to slow down in hopes of pulling the upset. Hawkins is coming off back-to-back games where he’s totaled at least 125 yards of offense, and with Zach Taylor pressing all the right buttons at the moment, the Coyotes have scored 42, 42 and 56 points in their last three outings. Yorba Linda receiver Zack Sowder has caught six touchdowns the past two weeks, but the last things the Mustangs want is to get into a shootout with the Coyotes.

Prediction: Buena Park

Tustin (8-2) vs. Sonora (8-2)

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

Outlook: This might be the best first round matchup the county has to offer, regardless of the division. Tustin has not allowed a 100-yard rusher since its Week 1 loss to Foothill, while Sonora has had either Jacob Fimbres or Cole McDonald rack up triple-digit rushing totals every week during the regular season. The Tillers and Raiders have each played in four games decided by a touchdown or less. Everything points to this first round tilt coming down to the final possession or two of the fourth quarter.

Prediction: Sonora

San Clemente (8-2) vs. Sunny Hills (5-5)

Where, when: San Clemente High, 7 p.m.

Live coverage:

Outlook: Sunny Hills received the Southwest Division’s final at-large bid after snapping its 29-game Freeway League losing streak in Week 10. The Lancers lost to the division’s top seed (La Habra) just two weeks ago, and now get to play second-seeded San Clemente on the road. The Tritons averaged 44 points and 450 yards of offense per game over the regular season, and they’re coming off a 70-point showing against Aliso Niguel. With so many weapons on the field at one time, San Clemente continues to roll into the second round.

Prediction: San Clemente

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