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The Calhoun Countdown to the Week 10 games
It seems like it was just yesterday that we were given our assignments for the football preview, and now here we are approaching the final week of the regular season.
Where has the time gone?
In Week 10, there is still so much that needs to be decided. Will St. John Bosco go 5-0 in the Trinity League? Who will survive the El Toro-Mission Viejo shootout? Is the Sunset League ready for another triple coin flip toss?
There are so many more questions, but fortunately the answers will be provided by Friday night and then we can turn our attention toward the CIF-SS playoffs.
Here it is … the Calhoun Countdown for Week 10.
10. The final push is here
We are in the final days of the county touchdown passing race. One week remaining and here is how things stand: Conner Manning (El Toro) is in the lead with 38. Lurking back at 34 is Nathan Cole (Aliso Niguel). Jack McInally (Brethren Christian) joined the party in the 30s, but I think he’s a little too far back to make some noise. There is still a lot to be decided this week. Manning is taking on Mission Viejo in the South Coast League Brawl For It All. Cole and Aliso Niguel are taking on Capistrano Valley. I expect Manning and El Toro to be able to put up some point on the scoreboard. Cole is going to have to light it up big time to stop the Manning Express. Can it be done?
Prediction: Surprise. Manning ends the season as the TD King.
9. Saldivar trying to protect his lead
I predicted last week that Jerry Saldivar would be the county rushing leader going into the final week of the year. It wasn’t easy. Saldivar was “held” to 109 yards against Santiago, but Deven Boston (Buena Park) only gained 59 against La Habra and Austin DeFreitas (Woodbridge) went for 84 against CdM. Here is how things stand: Saldivar is in the lead with 1,633 yards. Boston is in second with 1,580, and DeFreitas is in third with 1,526. That’s 107 yards separating three guys. This is going to be too close to call.
Prediction: DeFreitas is my pick to win the crown.
8. Welcome to Operation: Stop Drake Martinez
The county’s TD machine Drake Martinez has scored 26 touchdowns heading into the final week. There are four players (Ryan Wolpin, David Perkins, Terence Martinez and Alex Suchesk) within four touchdowns of the The Machine. Normally, that would be cause for worry, but not in the case of Martinez. Martinez is averaging three touchdowns a game in October. He gets to the end zone anyway possible. In his career, Martinez has scored 17 touchdowns of 50 or more yards. When he’s on the field, the Breakers are always in the red zone, no matter where the line of scrimmage is. So with one week left and so many guys nipping at heels, can anybody take the TD crown from Martinez?
Prediction: No. Martinez scores a couple or 4 to retain his title.
7. Just a normal year in the Sunset League
What kind of football season would it be if we didn’t have late-season drama from the Sunset League? It would be quiet, that’s for sure. The league that gave us the Doomsday Scenario in 2008 (five teams tied for first) could be on the verge of some more mayhem. Edison (4-0) is closing in on the league title, but has to deal with city rival Huntington Beach (3-1) on Friday. On Thursday, Newport Harbor (3-1) meets Los Alamitos (2-2). A Los Alamitos victory over the Sailors forces a three-way tie for second place, leading to some Coin Flip Madness. Or a Huntington Beach victory over Edison and Newport Harbor victory over Los Alamitos leads us to a three-way tie for first place. Welcome to the Sunset League … be prepared for anything.
Prediction: I think Los Alamitos will bounce back from last week’s dismal showing against Huntington Beach.
6. Throwdown in Surf Town
Edison vs. Huntington Beach. Two weeks ago, the Oilers might have thought they had lost any hope of playing for the league title, but they rebounded from their loss to Newport Harbor with an upset victory over Los Alamitos. The Oilers defense haunted the Griffins all night, recording four sacks and intercepting five passes, including Kai Ross’ 70-yard return for a touchdown to seal the game. If the Oilers get another defensive performance like this, then the fans will be storming the field in celebration of another upset victory. But … Edison knows defense. The Chargers have four shutouts this season. Only one team (Mater Dei) has scored more than 14 points. How will Huntington Beach be able to score against Edison? Can Huntington Beach force Edison into mistakes (like Mater Dei did) and then capitalize?
Prediction: Edison wins and takes the keys to the city.
5. Rebirth of the Mighty Tritons
Reports of the Tritons’ demise were greatly exaggerated. In fact, I think former San Clemente homer Carlos Arias was the first one that tried to bury San Clemente. After last week’s come-from-behind victory over Tesoro, the Tritons have some life. San Clemente trailed Tesoro 21-7 heading into the fourth quarter. In a game that Tesoro desperately needed, San Clemente managed to snatch it away. The Tritons scored 22 consecutive points in the fourth quarter for the 29-21 victory. Sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold, in his first start, completed 66.7 percent of his passes, passed for a pair of touchdowns and rushed for another in the victory. Now, San Clemente has another tough task this week, taking on Trabuco Hills. A victory by San Clemente and that would make the Tritons 6-4 overall and 2-2 in the tough South Coast League. The Tritons would be eligible for an at-large berth, but would that be enough? But, first things first, will the Tritons be able to defeat the Mustangs?
Prediction: San Clemente continues its late-season push with a victory.
4. Mater Dei vs. Servite: The saga continues
Mater Dei. Servite. There really isn’t anything else to say … but I’ll try. The longtime rivals are certainly headed in different directions this season. Mater Dei has a chance at getting a share of the Trinity League title (with a victory and some help) and Servite is trying to avoid finishing in a tie for last place. Last year’s game was just another classic in this series. Mater Dei led in the third quarter, but Servite roared back with 21 consecutive points for a 35-28 victory, the third consecutive for the Friars. That loss last season ensured Mater Dei of a losing record for the first time since 1981. Now it could be time for Monarch Revenge. Mater Dei bounced back from its 27-19 loss to St. John Bosco to defeat Orange Lutheran 32-21. Mater Dei led Orange Lutheran 20-0, before the Lancers rallied with 21 consecutive points to take the lead. In the second half, however, Mater Dei’s defense shut out the Lancers. It will be interesting to see if Servite can score on Mater Dei.
Prediction: Mater Dei ends Servite's three-year streak.
3. Trinity League title resting in Bellflower?
There really should be a Trinity League trophy given out to the league champion every year. After all, the winner of this league deserves a trophy, or a pat on the back and a hug. This year, it appears the yet-to-be designed and created trophy will be headed to Bellflower and awarded to the St. John Bosco Braves. All they have to do is defeat Santa Margarita. That’s all. The Braves are 5-4, but in my world, they’re undefeated. As you might remember, Bosco had to forfeit its first four games due to an ineligible player. On the field, this team is 9-0, including four consecutive victories to open Trinity League play. Santa Margarita enters with a chance to grab a share of the league title (so does Mater Dei). The Eagles scored six rushing touchdowns last week against JSerra, but you can’t overlook the steady play of quarterback Kyle Sweet. In his limited time under center, Sweet has completed 41 of 60 passes (68.3 percent) for 476 yards. If he can deliver another solid performance and combined with Ryan Wolpin’s contribution, and the defense, the Eagles could in line for a share of the yet-to-be designed and created Trinity League title.
Prediction: St. John Bosco wins the title.
2. Long night in store in Mission Viejo
Welcome to the Game of the Year. Friday night, we will get the showdown we’ve all been waiting for: No. 1 Mission Viejo against No. 2 El Toro. The winner gets the South Coast League title. You better get your ticket right after you read this. These are two of the county’s more prolific offenses. Which means we’re in store for an old-fashioned shootout. Anything less and I’m going to be disappointed. The biggest question coming into this game is can either defense stop the opposing offense? Probably not. El Toro, led by Conner Manning is averaging 47.2 points a game. Mission Viejo (aka The Greatest Show on Turf) is averaging 49.5 points a game. Mission Viejo quarterback Ian Fieber has completed 69.4 percent of his passes. Manning has completed 67 percent of his passes. Both teams have dangerous running backs (Jacob Furnari – Alex Suchesk). Of course there are several wideouts that will cause the defensive coordinators some headaches. How can you pick a winner in this game?
Prediction: Mission Viejo outscores El Toro 84-81.
1. My pick for the O.C. player to watch is …
Alex Suchesk, Mission Viejo. Suchesk has had a steady year (829 yards, 21 touchdowns). He’s only topped 100 yards three times, one was a 203-yard performance against Tesoro. What does he have in store for El Toro?