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MICHAEL FERNANDEZ, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Brethren Christian could cruise to a first-round victory behind the running of Jordan Leonard, who is averaging 13.7 yards per carry.

East Valley playoffs: First round previews, predictions

STAFF WRITER

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

ALL GAMES FRIDAY

EAST VALLEY DIVISION

Brethren Christian (9-1) vs. Sherman Indian of Riverside (2-7)

Where, when: Ocean View High, Friday, 7 p.m.

Outlook: Two league wins is all Sherman Indian needed to secure its spot in the playoffs, despite giving three times the points (338) that it actually scored (112) over the season. Brethren Christian tallied exactly 100 points in its week 9 and 10 wins over Sage Hill and Crean Lutheran. With running back Jordan Leonard averaging a gaudy 13.7 yards per carry, look for the Warriors to ease past the overmatched Braves.

Prediction: Brethren Christian

Crean Lutheran (7-3) vs. St. Anthony of Long Beach (6-4)

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

Outlook: The Saints have the potential to make a run in the East Valley bracket if they can perform the way they did against St. Margaret’s just two weeks ago. The key to that formula requires an offense that controls the clock. Crean Lutheran running back Garrett Cox is averaging 126 yards on the ground over the last four games, and he’ll continue to be the focal point. In a game between two evenly matched squads, look for Cox to be the difference on Friday night.

Prediction: Crean Lutheran

Hamilton of Anza (6-4) vs. St. Margaret’s (8-2)

Where, when: Hamilton High, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: St. Margaret’s could very well be the most dangerous at-large team in the Southern Section playoffs. The Tartans’ two regular-season losses have come by a combined nine points, but by losing a coin flip, the defending East Valley champs must open the postseason 80-plus miles away from home. St. Margaret’s and Hamilton played a common opponent in The Webb Schools this season. The Tartans won that game by 42 points, while the Bobcats lost by 31.

Prediction: St. Margaret’s

Saddleback Valley Christian (10-0) vs. Santa Paula (5-5)

Where, when: San Juan Hills High, 7:30 p.m.

Outlook: The Warriors offense has steamrolled opposing defenses this year, scoring 40-plus points in nine of their 10 outings. The Cardinals have had such success just twice this season, topping the 40-point plateau in Weeks 0 and 1, but never again after that. With Cade Henjum and Dalton Lohman leading the way, SVC’s fire power proves to be too much for Santa Paula to contend with.

Prediction: Saddleback Valley Christian

Contact the writer: kconnolly@ocregister.com


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