And then there were two.
When the prep football season reaches its quarterfinals stage Friday , two local teams, Edison and Huntington Beach, will be among the teams still alive in the hunt for a CIF Southern Section championship. The Chargers and Oilers both advanced to the elite eight of the Southwest Division playoffs after picking up first-round victories last week.
Brethren Christian was the third local team playing in the postseason, but the Warriors had their playoff hopes dashed in the cold last Saturday against Big Bear.
'We're excited to be moving on," said Huntington Beach Coach Eric Lo whose Oilers play host to No. 2-seed Tustin Friday.
Tustin has been a juggernaut the past five years. The Tillers are 11-0 overall and have won 19 straight games dating to October of last year. Win No. 8 in that streak gave them the 2011 Southwest Division championship. The Tillers defeated El Toro, 35-28, in that final.
Veteran Coach Myron Miller, in his 18th year at the helm, has taken Tustin to the Southwest Division championship game in three of the last four years.
"This is quite a bit of a senior team, I'd say," Miller said. "It's a good group of kids who won league as freshmen and played some varsity as sophomores."
Tustin, which cruised to the Empire League championship, can grind it out on the ground. The run game is their strength, and the Tillers share the wealth among a stable of talented runners. Terence Martinez is the team's leading rusher with 1,686 yards with 25 touchdowns and averages 11 yards per carry. DaVonte Young has the best yards per carry average (13.0) and in nine games played, has rushed for 1,184 yards and 16 TDs. Edward Tandy and 225-pound fullback Marshaun Daniel, also wreak havoc on opponents.
"This is probably, as a group, the fastest set of backs we had since DeShaun [Foster]," Miller said. "We have four backs who run 4.6 or faster. We like to like to include everybody and spread out the carries in our run game."
The Tillers opened playoff action last Friday with a 35-6 win over El Dorado, despite not having Young (infection) available for the game. Martinez raced for 208 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Tandy added 126 yards and two scores also on 15 carries, as the Tiller racked up 392 rushing yards against the Golden Hawks.
Miller said that Young will play Friday.
The 35 points tied for the fewest scored in a game this year by Tustin which put up a season-high 82 points on Western in an 82-7 win on Oct. 25. The Tillers come into Friday's quarterfinal game averaging 49 points on offense. Defensively, the Tillers have posted two shutouts this year.
"They are a very good football team, very physical," Lo said of the Tillers. "They just like to pound the ball, and don't do anything too tricky. I'm impressed with their running backs. They like to wear teams out."
Huntington, 6-5 overall and the No. 3 team from the Sunset League, is in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the second straight year. The Oilers last week picked up an impressive playoff road win by knocking off South Coast League co-champion Capistrano Valley, 34-17, in a first-round game.
Maurice Barber scored on a 24-yard interception return, Macro Valenzuela rushed for a touchdown and scored on a pass from quarterback Kay Ross, and Wyatt Marlow kicked two field goals for Huntington which stormed to a 17-0 lead and never trailed. The Oilers amassed 345 yards rushing on the Cougars.
"I thought we ran the ball really well, and our offensive line did a great job of blocking and controlling the line of scrimmage," Lo said. "Bo [Breunig] ran hard all night and Kai [Ross] did a great job of directing the game. Our defense also played really well.
"We've got to continue to get better, though. We have to do a better job of scoring in the red zone, which is something we didn't do against Capo. We reached the red zone on four occasions where we didn't come away with a single point."
In the first-round win, Ross threw for 125 yards and picked up 71 more on the ground. The junior leads the Oilers in rushing with 766 yards and also has thrown for 1,336 yards with 16 touchdowns. Senior running back Bo Breunig powered his way for a game-high 217 yards. Breunig is right behind Ross with 732 yards rushing.
"That quarterback (Ross) scares me a lot," Miller said. "He's pretty athletic and dangerous back there. You can do everything right on defense, but then he makes a big play on you. He can really run and has a good arm. Our goal is to try to contain him from breaking away on a big run, and make sure he throws more."
The Tustin-Huntington Beach winner advances to face the winner of Friday's quarterfinal game between Newport Harbor and No. 3-seed Villa Park, in the semifinals on Nov. 23.
Edison (10-1) vs. Valencia (8-3)
(7 p.m., Valencia High)
Top-ranked Edison has not lost on the road this year and will put that mark on the line when they head to Placentia to take on the Tigers.
Valencia brings a five-game win streak into the meeting which is the first between the schools. The Tigers finished second to Tustin in the Empire League and last week started the playoffs with a 31-13 home first-round victory over Sonora. The win allowed the Tigers to avenge a 13-10 loss to the Raiders in their third game of the season.
Levi Perez rushed for 84 yards and two touchdowns on just four carries, quarterback Jesse Godoy rushed for 89 yards and threw for 73 yards before leaving the game (knee injury) in the third quarter , and Tom Torres rushed for a game-best 111 yards.
Valencia's other loss this year is to Villa Park, the No. 3 seed in the playoffs.
"Valencia is a solid football team and I think their offensive line maybe as good of a line as we've faced all year," White said. "They are pretty much straight-forward on offense but what they do, they do well. They favor the run, and we've been pretty successful this year against the run."
Edison is on a seven-game win streak. The Chargers started their postseason campaign last Friday by defeating visiting Esperanza, 27-3, at Orange Coast College. Senior quarterback Aleksander Torgersen was 17 of 29 for 200 yards with a 14-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to Marcus Stepancich, and earlier had scored in the second quarter on a 36-yard keeper. Stepancich, a senior receiver, made a nifty, over-the-shoulder catch just inside the end zone sideline, to increase Edison's lead to 24-3.
Torgersen has thrown for 1,805 yards and 14 touchdowns this year.
Junior defensive back Kiante Goudeau started the game's scoring when he returned an interception 87 yards for a touchdown early in the first quarter. Hunter Kelley kicked field goals of 32 and 37 yards.
"I thought we played much better defensively in the second half," White said. "We only gave up three points and 120 yards of offense, overall, and we had 62 plays to their 40. We did a lot of good things except for all those penalties."
Penalties, 13, in all, totaling 135 yards, derailed the Chargers throughout the game.
The Edison defense has now held eight of 11 opponents to a field goal or less. The unit, which has a school-record five shutouts this season, has given up only six points in the last four games.
Edison's leading rusher, Marquis Ross, missed the Esperanza game due to a strained knee. White said the senior, who has rushed for more than 700 yards, "might be back this week."
"We're excited and the kids are hungry," White said. "We need to continue to keep turnovers and mistakes to a minimum. This is another big game for us."
The winner of the Edison-Valencia game advances to face the winner of Friday's quarterfinal game between La Habra and No. 4 seed Foothill, in the semifinals on Nov. 23. White said that whomever is the opponent, Edison will host the semifinal game at 7 p.m. at Orange Coast College, should the Chargers advance.
The Warriors traveled Saturday to face Big Bear and on a cold, windy day, fell to the Bears, 27-20, in a first-round game of the East Valley Division playoffs at Lucerne Valley High.
Junior Jared Fuga rushed for a touchdown and junior quarterback Jack McInally threw a TD pass to sophomore Guy Demazeliere for the Warriors who held a 13-6 halftime lead on the Bears (9-2).
BC, which finished in second place in the Academy League, finished the season 6-5.
"Twenty-five percent of our starters were lost for the season through injuries, so it was great to have such a successful year," BC Coach Pat McInally said. "We had a lot of players step up big-time.
"As the season progressed, our defense really improved, led by our D-line and the secondary, which was strong all year. Our O-line got our running game going, and our pass protection allowed for significant improvement through the air. Although we had many fine individual performances, it was the way we grew as a team that most impressed our coaching staff. We played the season with 15-18 players on varsity. Pretty amazing toughness and talent."