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The Calhoun Countdown to the semifinals

OCVARSITY.COM

Working on Thanksgiving.

It is the one thing no one in my business wants to do. I did it once and it was the worst night of my life … except for the free meal.

However, there is one group of people that love working on Thanksgiving and that’s high school football coaches.

So, if you’re hitting the football field on Thanksgiving, congrats. You’re one step away from the finals.

Now, the Thanksgiving edition of the Calhoun Countdown … somebody pass the sweet potato pie please.

10. The rush for the title is done … or is it?

The county rushing leader, Jerry Saldivar’s season is done after Los Amigos was eliminated by Corona del Mar. Saldivar gained 2,227 yards in 12 games. Is that enough to be crowned the OCVarsity Rushing champion of the year? Austin DeFreitas (Woodbridge) is in second place with 2,029 yards. Terence Martinez (Tustin) is also still alive, but he’s at 1,867 … that’s 360 yards behind Salidvar. That might be too big of an obstacle to overcome. So it is down to DeFreitas who is facing Corona del Mar in a Southern Division semifinal. In the first meeting, DeFreitas gained 84 yards. He’s going to need a bigger output this time around. Can he get it?

Prediction: Salidvar will eventually wear the crown as the OCVarsity Rushing King.

9. Martinez and Martinez

It took a long time, a very long time, but someone finally caught Drake Martinez. Last week, Drake Martinez had a 30-28 touchdown lead on Terence Martinez (Tustin). Drake scored three touchdowns against Northwood. Terence went for five against Huntington Beach. Now, the Martinez vs. Martinez showdown is set for the semifinal round. Drake and Laguna Beach are taking on Garden Grove. Terence and Tustin are facing Villa Park. I expect there to be a lot of scoring in the Laguna Beach-Garden Grove game. I’m not sure about the Villa Park-Tustin game.

Prediction: Martinez will take over the lead … Drake Martinez, that is.

8. Have you heard about Jacob Taylor?

OK, Jacob Taylor doesn’t play for a county school, but last week, the Rim of the World senior running back ran past St. Margaret’s in the East Valley Division second round. Taylor rushed for 303 yards on 51 carries and scored four touchdowns. That was his fourth consecutive 300-plus yard performance. He has rushed for at least 300 yards in seven games this season. His highest was 396 in the first round against Twentynine Palms. That came after Twentynine Palms held him to 67 when the teams met in the regular season. Talk about payback. Rim of the World faces Banning this week. Banning defeated Rim, 49-41 in the Mountain Valley regular season finale. Taylor rushed for 389 in that game. Is there a 400-yard night in his future?

Prediction: Taylor runs wild on Banning, going for nearly 500 yards.

7. The revenge of the Warriors

Somebody forgot to tell Woodbridge that the Southern Division semifinals were supposed to be for league champions only. Woodbridge, who finished third in the Pacific Coast League, knocked off Golden West League champ Westminster (20-17) and then followed that with a 21-19 victory over Orange League champ Katella. Friday, Woodbridge gets a second shot at a team it knows well…Corona del Mar. The teams met Oct. 26 with CdM winning 33-16. Woodbridge hasn’t lost since then. Meanwhile, CdM has allowed only seven since then. CdM hasn’t allowed a point in the playoffs. It is going to take a big-time effort from Austin DeFreitas and company to continue their upset-minded run through the Southern Division.

Prediction: CdM gets defensive and heads back to the finals.

6. Light up that scoreboard

There could be points and points and points scored in the Garden Grove-Laguna Beach game. The Breakers are averaging 46.8 points a game. Garden Grove averages 39.5 points on the season, but over its last seven games, the Argonauts’ average is up to 51 points. Laguna Beach’s red zone extends to its own 30. The Breakers needed a late touchdown pass with four seconds left from Larry Stewart to Jake Hexberg to get past Northwood last week, 28-21. Garden Grove rushed for 251 yards and five touchdowns in the 49-21 victory over Segerstrom. The Argonauts will look to get its ground going Friday, but if it can’t stop Drake Martinez, then it could be a long night. This will be the third consecutive home game for Garden Grove. The Argonauts would be happy to not be the home team next week at Angel Stadium.

Prediction: Upset city … Garden Grove in a squeaker.

4. The game I really wanted to cover

St. John Bosco. Long Beach Poly. Veterans Stadium. 10-15 minutes from my house …that sounded like a perfect combination. Unfortunately, the boss didn’t agree. Oh well, now to the game. Let me be the first or the 100th to offer my apology to Long Beach Poly. Wow. The Jackrabbits hit the road to Mission Viejo and came away with the upset victory over the second-round Diablos. St. John Bosco defeated Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks in the second round. This game comes down the Long Beach Poly’s ability to get its ground game on track. Against Mission Viejo, Manusamoa Luuga went for 135 and Gerard Wicks rushed for 76. Also, defensively, LBP held Mission Viejo to seven yards on the ground. This week, the Jackrabbits are facing a diverse ground game of the Braves, led by Darren Walker. Sophomore quarterback Josh Rosen has completed 30 of 48 passes (62.5 percent) in last two games for 407 yards and four touchdowns. So that’s another concern for the Poly defense.

Prediction: St. John Bosco

3. Mater Dei hits the road

The Monarchs are finally hitting the road as they will travel up to Ventura to face top-seeded St. Bonaventure. The Seraphs survived an overtime game with Santa Margarita to advance. Mater Dei has been on the attack in its first two playoff games. The Monarchs scored 71 points against Lakewood and then 53 against Alemany, including 21 consecutive in the fourth quarter to win. Mater Dei will have to keep an eye on St. Bonaventure’s Zack Green. Green rushed for 195 yards on 33 carries and four touchdowns against Santa Margarita. Senior linebacker Patrick Kenney will be out to cause trouble for the Mater Dei that is lighting up opponents in the first two playoff games. In two games, Chase Forrest has completed 27 of 40 (67.5 percent) for 480 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception. What’s in store for his third playoff start?

Prediction: St. Bonaventure wins

2. Third time a charm or more of the same?

For the third consecutive year, Tustin and Villa Park will line up for a smash mouth meeting in the CIF playoffs. Tustin has grounded out the first two victories, but could this be the time Villa Park gets its revenge? The Tillers are the same Tillers you have come to know. Bruising offensive line, dangerous backs (Ed Tandy, DaVonte Young, Terence Martinez) … you know the routine. Villa Park has the same mentality. Meki Tafuna getting the tough yards, Justin Mottram flying all around the field, both lines smashing the opposition. In the past, Tustin would be able to wear Villa Park down in the fourth quarter, but that’s probably not going to happen this year. Villa Park has saved its best for late this season. The Spartans have won six games by 10 points or less. The fourth quarter is where this team strives and survives. Two years ago, Tustin unleashed an 18-play drive that sealed the victory. Last year, Tustin scored 35 straight to put the game away. This game is going to be like classic heavyweight title fight (the old ones, not this new school heavyweight class). Who will be able to survive the body punches?

Prediction: Villa Park finally gets its victory.

1. The darkhorse meets the favorite

When the Southwest Division bracket was released, everybody point toward Foothill as the darkhorse. The team you didn’t want to see and one that could find itself in the final. The Knights, who were a semifinalist last year, opened the playoffs with a 17-7 victory over Laguna Hills and last week’s 30-27 victory over La Habra. The Knights two losses are games they probably should have won. In the second week, Foothill lost to Tustin 35-28. The Knights were driving for the potential tying touchdown, but committed a turnover. Oct. 5, Foothill lost to Villa Park, 25-21, but again turned the ball over late in the red zone. Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. You can’t do that against a team like Edison. You might not get many chances against the Chargers. Edison has recorded five shutouts this season and just 58 points all year. Will Foothill be able to pull off the upset of the year?

Prediction: I expect the game to be close, but look for Edison to pull it off. 

My pick for O.C. player to watch this week ...

Meki Tafuna, Villa Park. Last week, Tafuna played was busy, rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns and playing a lot on defense. Now, with Tustin on the horizon, keep an eye on Tafuna’s impact on the game.


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