Football playoffs: Previews for Friday's games
Previews of the CIF-SS football first round playoff games Friday:
Tesoro (6-4) vs. Mater Dei (10-0)
Where, when: Santa Ana Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Tesoro finished third in the five-team South Coast League and qualified as an-large entry. The Titans lost four in a row before a win last week over Trabuco Hills, 49-7. Mater Dei is the division’s top-seeded team and is No. 1 in the CalHiSports.com state top 25. Monarchs sophomore quarterback JT Daniels, breaking school season-season passing records by the week and moving along in the county record book, too, leads an offense averaging 54 points a game. The winner plays the Vista Murrieta-Bishop Amat winner.
Orange Lutheran (5-5) vs. Rancho Cucamonga (10-0)
Where, when: Rancho Cucamonga High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Orange Lutheran went 2-3 in the Trinity League and is an at-large entry. All of the Lancers’ losses were to playoff teams, including losses the past two weeks to Santa Margarita and St. John Bosco. Baseline League champion Rancho Cucamonga is No. 5 in the state top 25. The Cougars’ average margin of victory is 32 points. The winner plays the Servite-Mission Viejo winner.
Servite (4-6) vs. Mission Viejo (10-0)
Where, when: Mission Viejo High, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Servite finished 1-4 in the Trinity League and qualified as an at-large entry. The Friars played their usual demanding schedule, with nonleague games against Bishop Amat of La Puente, De La Salle of Concord and Villa Park. Their league win was over JSerra. Fourth-seeded Mission Viejo, ranked No. 4 in California, rolled to another South Coast League championship. The Diablos are led by running back/linebacker Colin Schooler, perhaps the best player in O.C.
Santa Margarita (6-4) vs. Serra of Gardena (7-3)
Where, when: Serra High of Gardena, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Santa Margarita went 2-3 in the Trinity League and is the league’s No. 3 playoff representative. The Eagles concluded the regular season with a 49-24 win over Servite as Chad Magyar rushed for 252 yards. Serra, No. 9 in the state top 25, went 6-0 to win the championship of the Mission League that has two other state top 25 teams in it, Bishop Amat and Chaminade of West Hills. Cavaliers quarterback Jalani Eason last week rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 159 yards in a win over Alemany of Mission Hills.
JSerra (5-5) vs. Centennial of Corona (9-1)
Where, when: Centennial High of Corona, 7 p.m.
Outlook: JSerra finished 1-4 in the Trinity League and qualified as an at-large entry. Since the league win over Santa Margarita the Lions lost to St. John Bosco and Mater Dei. Bosco is No. 3 in the state, Mater Dei is No. 1 and Centennial is No. 2. Centennial, averaging 53 points a game, has won eight in a row since a one-point loss to IMG Academy of Florida. The winner plays the Chaminade-Long Beach Poly winner.
El Toro (4-6) vs. Heritage of Romoland (10-0)
Where, when: Heritage High, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Chargers face the top-seeded Patriots, the runner-up last season in the Inland Division and the seven-time defending champion from the Sunbelt League. Heritage’s defense has been spectacular, allowing an average of 8.6 points per game. The unit has been especially tough in the first half all season. Heritage’s ground attack is potent with 3,505 yards. Junior Sherod White leads the Patriots in rushing yards (1,040) and interceptions (eight).
Chino Hills (6-4) vs. San Clemente (7-3)
Where, when: San Clemente, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Tritons look to rebound from a 41-3 loss last week against Mission Viejo in the South Coast League title game. The Tritons’ offense struggled to diversify beyond athlete Brandon Reaves but face a Chino Hills defense that has stumbled. The Huskies fell last week to undefeated Rancho Cucamonga, 45-7. San Clemente’s defense will focus on running back Walter Carl (1,242 yards), an impressive sophomore.
La Habra (6-4) vs. Oaks Christian of Westlake Village (8-2)
Where, when: Oaks Christian, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: La Habra coach Frank Mazzotta calls third-seeded Oaks Christian a Division 1 team competing in Division 2. “They’re big, fast, talented and well-coached,” he said. Oaks Christian junior QB Matt Corral (3,025 yards, 22 TDs) has committed to USC. Lions linebacker Bo Calvert, another USC commit, has 11.5 sacks for a defense that has struggled allowing big plays. Mazzotta said La Habra has improved since its loss against Buena Park.
Edison (9-1) vs. Newbury Park (7-3)
Where, when: Huntington Beach High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The second-seeded Chargers have been clicking on all cylinders of late, especially on offense, as junior quarterback Griffin O’Connor has passed for nearly 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in the last three weeks. O’Connor is up to 26 touchdown strikes on the season, and hasn’t tossed an interception since Sept. 16. He should continue to have success against a Newbury Park defense that has surrendered 40-plus points five times this season. Outside its loss to Mater Dei, Edison’s defense is holding opponents to 13 points per game. Newbury Park’s offense is the best the Chargers have seen in some time, though, as the Panthers are scoring 42 points an outing. Senior running back Ryan Matlock is averaging close to 9 yards per carry, and has run for 1,123 yards on just 126 carries. Containing him will be the key in moving forward.
Buena Park (9-1) vs. San Juan Hills (7-3)
Where, when: Buena Park High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: This has the makings of the best chess match in the first round, regardless of division. Buena Park possesses tremendous speed and athleticism at the skill positions, while San Juan Hills boasts an edge in size at the line of scrimmage. Which coach can cook up a game plan that plays into its strengths? Buena Park has made the switch to quarterback JD Rafkin in recent weeks, and the senior has responded by completing 76 percent of his passes. The Coyotes cannot afford to start slow as they have of late against a battle-tested Stallions squad. San Juan Hills has played Mission Viejo, San Clemente and Tesoro leading up to the postseason and should be fresh coming off a Week 10 bye. JJ Glass and River Stewart have combined for 21 sacks and will attempt to disrupt Rafkin’s timing.
Villa Park (9-1) vs. Los Alamitos (7-3)
Where, when: El Modena High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The margin for error is going to be razor thin in what appears to be a matchup between equals. Villa Park went 7-0 against Century Conference foes, but has not seen a team with Los Alamitos’ size and athleticism since its mid-September meeting with Servite. Spartans quarterback Nick Sipe has put together his best statistical outings the past two weeks, throwing for 357 and 390 yards in wins over Yorba Linda and Foothill. Senior John Stamos is as a consistent performer on both sides of the ball, and he’ll be counted on heavily in the rushing game and in stopping Griffins’ playmakers Dylan Laurent and Keanu Norman. Norman is coming off a 204-yard rushing performance against Newport Harbor and figures to be the focal point again this week.
Murrieta Mesa of Murrieta (5-5) vs. Corona del Mar (9-1)
Where, when: Estancia High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Third-seeded Corona del Mar has won nine in a row since a season-opening loss to Palos Verdes. Cal-committed senior quarterback Chase Garbers leads a Sea Kings offense that is averaging 45 points a game. Murrieta Mesa finished fourth in the six-teams Southwestern League, a league that includes Murrieta Valley and Vista Murrieta, and qualified as an at-large entry. The winner plays the Colony-Palm Springs winner.
Etiwanda (4-6) vs. Valencia (4-6)
Where, when: Valencia High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Etiwanda finished fourth in the six-team Baseline League in which state No. 5 Rancho Cucamonga was league champion. The Eagles had lost three in a row before a 46-42 win over Damien of La Verne last week. Valencia was 0-5 in nonleague play before going 4-1 in the Empire League to share the league title with Tustin. Valencia beat Tustin and Cypress over the past two weeks. The winner plays the Carter-Lompoc winner.
Troy (7-3) vs. St. Joseph of Santa Barbara (6-4)
Where, when: St. Joseph High, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Warriors play the well-tested runner-up from the Los Padres League. St. Joseph lost to three Division 2 schools in nonleague: Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks, St. Bonaventure and Arroyo Grande. The Warriors are coming off a 42-7 loss to Buena Park. They passed for only 22 yards and rushed for 90 but received two sacks from Asher Frow.
Foothill (5-5) vs. Capistrano Valley (9-1)
Where, when: Capistrano Valley, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The second-seeded Cougars should be well-prepared after scouting the at-large Knights on Oct. 27. While quarterback Kevin Brown (2,477 yards, 21 TDs) was Capistrano Valley’s headliner going into the season and has progressed, the Cougars’ defense has starred by holding opponents to 8.0 points per game. Junior DE Zach Ritner has 13.5 sacks. The unit faces a capable Foothill offense with quarterback Bobby Garcia (1,494 yards, 12 TDs) and running back Dante Swayne (703 yards). Capo Valley coach Ernie Bucher believes playing physically and avoiding turnovers will be keys to the game.
St. Margaret’s (8-2) vs. North Torrance (6-4)
Where, when: North Torrance High, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: After dominating the small schools ranks in years past, St. Margaret’s makes the jump up in divisions, looking to solidify its place with schools who boast much bigger attendance numbers. Tartans senior quarterback George Krantz – who tossed 34 touchdowns in the regular season – missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury, but sophomore James Mott threw for 223 yards and three scores in relief. Having Krantz’s presence and postseason experience would pay huge dividends Friday, but Mott proved himself more than capable if Krantz can’t go. North Torrance trots out a solid quarterback of its own in Glenn Searcy, and Nevada-bound senior Malik Welch is capable of changing a game as a receiver, defensive back or kick returner.
Tustin (8-2) vs. Huntington Beach (4-6)
Where, when: Tustin High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Forget what the record says, Huntington Beach is a tough opening round draw for Tustin. The Oilers have played playoff teams from Division 1 (Tesoro), Division 2 (San Clemente) and Division 3 (Edison, Los Alamitos, San Juan Hills), so it’s plenty ready for the physicality Tustin plays with. That being said, Huntington Beach has struggled to generate offense of late, scoring just 14 over the last three weeks. If the Tillers’ double-wing attack gets going, it can score points in a hurry. KC Carr finished the regular season as Orange County’s leading rusher (2,320 yards) and Zech Savage has emerged as a viable No. 2 option in recent weeks. The Tillers offense becomes even more dangerous if Sagel Simon can connect on the handful of play action passes he’s sure to air out.
Canyon (4-6) vs. El Segundo (9-1)
Where, when: El Segundo High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Canyon was awarded an at-large berth and has played much better than its sub-.500 record would indicate. Junior running back Cole Nequette leads the team with 610 yards rushing, and senior Jesse Lobato has returned from injury in recent weeks and added another dimension to the Comanches offense out of the backfield. In El Segundo, Canyon sees a team that hangs it hat on its defense. The Eagles have won four straight contests and have done so by holding opponents to a touchdown or less in those outings. On the season, they are holding foes to just 10 points a game. El Segundo’s senior defensive linemen, Dylan Radke and Adrian Johnson, have a combined 44 tackles for loss, wreaking havoc in opposing backfields. As a whole, the Eagles defense has racked up 45 sacks, 90 hurries, and 138 tackles for loss.
Kaiser of Fontana (3-6-1) vs. Yorba Linda (8-2)
Where, when: Yorba Linda High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Kaiser finished third in the six-team Sunkist League. All of the Cats’ wins were in league play. Yorba Linda finished second in the four-team Crestview League, behind Villa Park. The Mustangs’ losses were to Yorba Linda and to North Hills League champion El Modena.
Brea Olinda (4-6) vs. Burbank (7-3)
Where, when: Burroughs High of Burbank, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Burbank finished second in the eight-team Pacific League with a 6-1 league record. The Bulldogs are averaging 37 points a game. Brea finished second, to El Modena, in the four-team North Hills League. The Wildcats defeated Esperanza and El Dorado in back-to-back league games before last week’s 37-24 loss to El Modena. The winner plays the Chino-Northview winner.
Kennedy (5-5) vs. Valley Christian of Cerritos (8-2)
Where, when: Valley Christian High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: The Fighting Irish were the last at-large team added to the bracket, and as a result, were given a first-round matchup against the division’s top-seeded team. Kennedy has lost three straight by a combined 127-26 margin. Running back Alonzo Pineda has been held to less than 100 yards rushing in four straight appearances, while quarterback Christian Rodriguez has also failed to reach triple digits through the air the last three weeks. The Fighting Irish will need to generate points in some fashion because Valley Christian averaged 42-plus in the regular season. Crusaders junior running back Gianni Hurd has had a phenomenal season to this point, rushing for 1,435 and 24 touchdowns.
Cypress (6-4) vs. Woodbridge (4-6)
Where, when: University High, 7 p.m.
Outlook: These two teams played in Week 0 with Cypress edging Woodbridge, 20-14. All signs point to another close battle. The Centurions welcomed back wide receiver Dominique Thompson from an injury last week, and also add the speedy Cameron Covington into the equation. The game will ultimately come down to whether the Centurions defense can keep Warriors running back Connor McBride in check. Cypress’ defense gave up 379 yards rushing last week. McBride is the county’s fourth-leading rusher (1,471 yards) and is coming off a 40-carry, 233-yard performance. It’s no secret: He’s going to get the football a lot in this game. Can the Centurions limit the damage he does do?
Beckman (7-4) vs. Santa Fe of Santa Fe Springs (5-5)
Where, when: Irvine High, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Beckman comes into the playoffs with a three-game winning streak and back-to-back games of scoring over 40 points. Quarterback Dean Nagle led the last two Patriot outbursts by throwing three touchdowns in each, and five of those have gone to receiver Willie Lajoie. Santa Fe is coming off back-to-back blowouts, a 41-0 win over Pioneer and a 49-3 loss to Del Rio League champion La Serna. Those games followed two last-minute victories by a combined seven points. The Chiefs have an opportunistic defense and quarterback Chris Ramsey has come through with key plays when it counts.
Pacifica (6-4) vs. Pasadena Poly (10-0)
Where, when: South Pasadena High, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: Pacifica has scored over 40 points four times this season and over 30 seven times. Dual-threat quarterback Ben Jefferson has led the way for the Mariners by throwing for 1,868 yards and 26 touchdowns while running for 1,084 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior Raul Balderas completes the two-headed backfield having run for 1,104 yards and 13 touchdowns. Pasadena Poly is averaging nearly 40 points per game. The undefeated Panthers have only allowed 7.6 points per game with an average margin of victory at 32 points.
ZACH CAVANAGH, Contributing writer
Katella (10-0) vs. Westminster (5-5)
Where, when: Glover Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: Katella is one of just a handful of undefeated teams left in CIF-SS and ran roughshod over the Orange League. Katella scored at least 42 points in each of its five Orange League games, including 70 points against Santa Ana Valley. Katella has three big weapons with quarterback Nathan Arrington, receiver James Faitasia and running back Francisco Pineda. All three had big days in Katella’s 42-21 win over Westminster on Sept. 16. Westminster can respond with its big three of quarterback Noah Melbon, running back Josh Avila and receiver Isayah Anderson. Westminster scored at least 35 points in its five wins this season.
Rancho Alamitos (6-4) vs. Heritage Christian of Northridge (6-4)
Where, when: Bolsa Grande High, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: When things are clicking for Rancho Alamitos’ offense, it is a balanced unit. Quarterback Blake Culbert (1,417 yards) helms the offense with two dependable options out of the backfield in running backs Nathan Kanyavong (334 yards) and Miguel Rosales (457 yards). Jesse Candelario is the Vaqueros’ top receiver with 623 yards and five touchdowns. Heritage Christian focuses on the ground attack. Luke Ramos (1,317 yards) and Brandon Sanchez (1,074 yards) carry the load.
ZACH CAVANAGH, Contributing writer
Segerstrom (9-1) vs. Santa Ana Valley (5-5)
Where, when: Segerstrom, Friday, 7 p.m.
Outlook: It won’t be a long trip for Santa Ana Valley, just 1.6 miles as Greenville Street flows to Segerstrom. Both teams have the same record against common opponents. Santa Ana Valley forfeited a 33-6 win over Saddleback, while Segerstrom won, 16-8. Santa Ana Valley had a tough battle against rival Santa Ana, a 25-20 loss, but Santa Ana defeated a beat-up Segerstrom side 42-6. Both teams are physical runners with Santa Ana Valley’s Chris Hernandez (1,366 yards rushing, 24 touchdowns), and Segerstrom’s double-wing offense. Santamaria Denilson, Julian Vaglienty and Kishon Allen combined for 1,644 yards rushing for Segerstrom.
ZACH CAVANAGH, Contributing writer
Godinez (6-4) vs. La Puente (7-3)
Where, when: Santa Ana Valley High, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: After starting the season at 0-3, Godinez went on to win six of its last seven outings and enters the postseason riding a five-game winning streak. The Grizzlies defense held opposing offenses to less than a touchdown over the final seven weeks of the regular season. Sophomore Patrick McMorris is averaging 189 yards rushing the last three weeks and figures to be the focal point of the Godinez offensive attack. La Puente counters with a talented back of its own, Quinton Groves, who rushed for 1,444 yards and 14 touchdowns in the regular season.
Laguna Beach (6-4) vs. Duarte (7-3)
Where, when: Duarte High, 7:30 p.m.
Outlook: A year after the Breakers went 2-8, first-year coach John Shanahan has done a nice job guiding them back to the postseason. Junior quarterback Curtis Harrison has strung together a pair of solid performances, passing for nearly 500 yards and five touchdowns in lopsided wins over Estancia and Calvary Chapel. Laguna Beach’s defense picked off six passes a week ago and has generated 10 turnovers over in its last two outings. The Falcons are led offensively by dual-threat junior quarterback Devon Hemsley, who has passed for 1,600-plus yards and ran for an additional 335.