UCLA-USC game: L.A. area high school coaches predict winner

Coaches of top 25 high schools teams are divided on whether Trojans or Bruins will win Saturday's rivalry game, but more lean toward Coach Orgeron's team.

Ask the coaches of the high school football teams in The Times' top 25 rankings (and an extra Herrington brother) to make a prediction on the UCLA-USC football game and many are torn.

Some are graduates of UCLA or USC, or have wives who graduated from either school, and their prediction could result in retaliation at home. Others have assistants with ties to one or the other school, and that could cause staff turmoil.

Most expressed strong feelings of support toward UCLA Coach Jim Mora and USC interim Coach Ed Orgeron. Several wanted to predict a tie. But in the end, they were forced to take a stand and offer reason. Here are their predictions:

Coach, high school; Prediction; Comment

Scott Altenberg, Gardena Serra; UCLA 31, USC 21; "UCLA will win because I've suffered enough in this rivalry, and I have plans. Specifically, 10 years of gloating I need to catch up on with my Trojan friends."

Larry Baker, Norco; USC 31, UCLA 28; "Our defensive coordinator is a big UCLA fan and we have Scott Starr and Nate Guertler playing at USC. We're torn. But I'm picking USC because of the attitude they have."

Nick Baiz, Rancho Cucamonga; UCLA 28, USC 27; "Someone is going to go for two points at the end and win it."

Jim Benkert, Westlake; UCLA 21, USC 17; "I love what Orgeron is doing with their defense, but I think UCLA has a little too much fire power on offense."

Jim Bonds, St. Francis; UCLA 29, USC 27; "Myles Jack will have four touchdowns and have a safety playing defense."

Coley Candaele, Vista Murrieta; UCLA 36, USC 35; "I have a former athlete at USC, Su'a Cravens. I have a former athlete at UCLA, Ryan Hofmeister. And I have a wife who graduated from UCLA. You know who I will be rooting for Saturday. My livelihood in my house will depend on the score."

Ed Croson, Chaminade; USC 43, UCLA 42; "I'm in the middle of everything. All of our coaches are from UCLA and I still have De'Von Flournoy at USC. I'm going with USC. They'll go for two and make it."

Robert Garrett, Crenshaw; USC 24, UCLA 21; "USC is hot and playing at home. That may give them an edge."

Angelo Gasca, Venice; USC 31, UCLA 23; "They've got the Coach O momentum going. They're playing hard for him."

A.J. Gass, Servite; USC 42, UCLA 31; "UCLA has not beaten a ranked team this year and USC has finally earned its ranking. USC will score on special teams."

Jim Hartigan, JSerra; USC 27, UCLA 21; "USC is the hot team."

Dean Herrington, Alemany; USC 24, UCLA 21; "UCLA's young offensive line will have their hands full with USC's front seven and Coach O will have them playing sky high."

Mike Herrington, Hart; USC 35, UCLA 31; "USC is going to win because the players want Orgeron to be the coach."

Bob Johnson, Mission Viejo; USC 28, UCLA 18; "USC is on a roll."

Raul Lara, Long Beach Poly; USC 38, UCLA 35; "This is a tough game, because I like both teams. It's special when they have our players. I love Jim Mora. I really like Ed Orgeron. USC runs like we run."

Matt Logan, Corona Centennial; USC 27, UCLA 21; "O equals W. Coach O equals a win."

Frank Mazzotta, La Habra; USC 35, UCLA 31; "They're playing in the Coliseum. Our tackle, Toa Lobendahn, will be happy. He's going to USC."

Scott Meyer, Corona del Mar; USC 24, UCLA 17; "I like USC's defensive line against UCLA's banged up offensive line."

John Muller, St. Bonaventure; USC 31, UCLA 28; "USC is my alma mater, and I think they're rolling at the right time, and I think Orgeron has them going in a good direction."

Larry Muir, Valencia; UCLA 24, USC 20; "In Mora we trust."

Jason Negro, St. John Bosco; UCLA 31, USC 28; "I think the biggest reason the Bruins are going to win is that they lost to ASU. It's going to motivate them to get back on the right track."

Chuck Petersen, Orange Lutheran; UCLA 28, USC 17; "I'm going with UCLA because we have an Orange Lutheran kid there, John Lopez."

Matt Poston, Tesoro; USC 28, UCLA 24; "I think the momentum Coach Orgeron has established will carry them."

Bruce Rollinson, Mater Dei; USC 24, UCLA 21; "Trojans are playing well and I feel good they made it a 5 o'clock game and I'll have the opportunity to see it and I'll be rooting for the Trojans."

Kevin Rooney, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame; USC 30, UCLA 27; "Coach O has USC playing great."

Jeff Woodruff, Oaks Christian; UCLA 28, USC 21; "Rivalry games can go either way. I've got friends on both staffs. Jim Mora played for me at Washington, so I'm going with him."

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