With the preseason now behind them, five local high school football squads start on equal footing as both the Sunset and Golden West league races get underway this week. In Sunset play Thursday, Edison begins its title defense by hosting Newport Harbor and Marina travels to Long Beach to battle Los Alamitos. On Friday, rivals Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley go up against each other. Ocean View will launch its Golden West League season Saturday with a road game against Santa Ana.
"We're looking forward to league play," Edison Coach Dave White said. "I think our league has a lot of parity and on any given night, one team is capable of beating another. It's going to be a tough five-game stretch. Now is when it counts for everybody."
Brethren Christian is still in nonleague mode, as the Warriors host Fairmont Prep of Anaheim on Friday.
Newport Harbor (2-3) vs. Edison (4-1), 7 p.m., Huntington Beach High: The gauntlet continues for Edison as the Chargers take on a Newport Harbor team that has played well in the past month.
Edison, tied with Tustin for the No. 1 spot in the CIF Southern Section Southwest Division poll, bounced back impressively from a loss two weeks ago to Mater Dei to manhandle host San Clemente, 31-3. Once again, the Chargers defense — which hasn't allowed a touchdown in six quarters — turned in a dominating performance. Senior linebacker Elijah Herrera scored on a 51-yard fumble return in the second quarter to put the Chargers up, 21-0.
Senior wide receiver Trevor Borkowski scored on a 65-yard pass from senior quarterback Aleksander Torgersen to open the scoring in the first quarter. Torgersen also scored on a three-yard run in the second quarter, senior running back Marquis Ross had a 33-yard TD run in the third quarter and Hunter Kelley kicked a 24-yard field goal to close out the scoring.
"Our defense played great, once again, and it probably was the most complete game our offense has played this season," White said. "We took some strides (offensively) last week, and it's a good way to be heading into league."
Newport Harbor, ranked No. 8 in last week's Southwest Division poll, fell out of the rankings after a 26-14 loss Friday at Mira Costa (No. 5, Northern Division). The Sailors were on a two-game win streak heading into the game, having knocked off Back Bay rival Corona del Mar (No. 3, Southern Division) and San Clemente (then-No. 8, Pac-5 Division) the week before Edison took down the Tritons.
Newport held a 7-3 halftime lead on Mira Costa. Sophomore quarterback Cole Norris threw for 178 yards and a touchdown and running back Tala Teaupa rushed for 77 yards and a TD in the loss.
The Sailors' other two losses were to Trabuco Hills (4-2) and undefeated Loyola (6-0).
"They've played a tough schedule, too," White said. "They are a very disciplined team and are good at the run. There's a lot of respect between the two programs."
The teams have meet six times since 2006 in league play, with Edison winning all six meetings.
Marina (3-2) vs. Los Alamitos (4-1), 7 p.m., Veterans Stadium: Marina has had two weeks to prepare for its Sunset League opener against Los Alamitos.
The Vikings have already surpassed last year's win total (1-8-1) by two games. Of their two losses, one is to an undefeated San Juan Hills team.
"We have gotten better in all phases of the game," Marina Coach George Pascoe said. "When we don't beat ourselves, we play pretty good football."
Pascoe sees Los Alamitos as a Sunset contender.
"They have really good team speed," he said of the Griffins. "Their quarterback (Cody Marshall) is getting better and they seem to be able to run the ball."
Los Al, ranked third in the Southwest Division, is peaking at the right time. The Griffins struggled in the first two weeks of the season but bring a three-game win streak into Thursday's game. They wrapped up nonleague play last week with a 42-7 romp past Damien.
During the streak, the Griffins' defense —which feasted on four turnovers last week — has surrendered just 14 points. The offense has put up an average of 43 points.
Quarterback Cody Marshall was 11 of 17 for 221 yards, with two passing scores and one rushing touchdown in the win over Damien.
Griffins Coach John Barnes is one win shy of his 300th career victory.
Fountain Valley (3-2) vs. Huntington Beach (2-3), 7 p.m., Huntington Beach High: Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley are coming off a bye week and have had two weeks to prepare for each other.
Both teams received votes in this week's CIF-SS Southwest Division poll, but just missed making the top 10.
When Huntington last took the field, they pounced on Westminster for a 35-7 victory. Fountain Valley nearly came back against Trabuco Hills in its last performance on the gridiron, but the Barons ended up with a 21-14 defeat.
"They are a good team and you can tell that they are well-coached," Huntington Coach Eric Lo said of the Barons. "They have a lot of talent. Their quarterback can throw the ball, and their safeties are really good. It will be a tough test for us."
Fountain Valley Coach John Shipp said that two weeks preparation time has afforded his Barons the opportunity to work out some kinks.
"The one thing we've been looking to do is be consistent in all facets of our game," he said. "We've been working on trying to put together a complete game. Obviously, that's what all teams are working toward. But we've been really striving for that. We want to start strong, and end strong, in games.
"We can't give up the big play or the football Friday against Huntington. They are a talented, well-coached team. Both teams want to start off league play on the right foot."
Fairmont Prep (2-3) vs. Brethren Christian (3-2), 7 p.m., Ocean View High: Brethren Christian will attempt to put an end to a two-game skid in its homecoming game when it hosts Fairmont Prep of Anaheim in a nonleague game.
The Warriors were involved in a high-scoring game last week against Heritage Christian and suffered a 44-35 loss. BC took a 6-0 lead on a quarterback sneak by Jack McInally, but played catch-up the rest of the game. McInally also scored on a one-yard keeper in the third quarter and he hooked up with senior receiver Brandon Bryson on a 41-yard touchdown pass with under two minutes to play. Running backs Jake Roque and Anthony Moore also rushed for touchdowns.
"We missed too many tackles and let their quarterback get free on several occasions," BC Coach Pat McInally said. "We gave them two big scores that allowed them to get the lead, but I thought our guys still played hard. We have a lot of guys banged up."
Fairmont Prep snapped a three-game losing streak last week by defeating Riverside Christian, 40-14.
Both BC and Fairmont Prep have taken on and lost to St. Anthony this year, BC by a 42-25 score and the Huskies were shut out, 40-0.
Ocean View (2-3) vs. Santa Ana (0-5), 7 p.m., Santa Ana Stadium: Ocean View begins its Golden West League schedule with a road game at struggling Santa Ana.
Ocean View had a two-game win streak halted Saturday in a 42-0 loss at Los Amigos. The Seahawks were without running back Nate Kwon, who missed the game because of personal reasons, Ocean View Coach Luis Nunez said.
"It's been a Jekyll and Hyde season so far for us other than the first game against Calvary (Chapel)," Nunez said. "The team has grown up a lot from Week 1 against Calvary, but we still need to be able to raise our level of play against better competition.
"As a staff, I feel it is our job to do a better job of getting our kids ready to play against the Estancias and Los Amigos. We are excited about the direction the program is headed, even with a below .500 record kids are working hard and trying to be the best they can be on and off the field. This team is far from reaching its full potential and it is my job to make sure we keep working relentlessly to get the most out of the kids."
In Santa Ana's first give games, the Saints have been held to a touchdown or less four times. They closed out nonleague play last week and were limited to just 25 yards of offense in a 33-0 loss to Katella.
Santa Ana has lost 27 consecutive games.
"Santa Ana's record may not show it, but they are getting better, Nunez said. "Their coach (Carl Swanstrom) is doing a great job with his kids, as they are playing hard for him. They've got a stud in Brad Taliaia. He may be the best defensive linemen we've seen this year."