Los Angeles Times

High School Football: Let's get it started

Eric Lo said it's time to go.

That's the mindset of several other prep football teams, too.

Lo's Huntington Beach High football team is one of five local teams that are excited, anxious — you name it, to launch the 2013 season. The five squads will do so Friday in the opening week of a season that will extend into December.

"We're ready," Lo said. "The kids have worked hard all spring and summer, and now it's time to put that hard work to the test."

Huntington, Edison, Fountain Valley, Marina and Brethren Christian each start season Friday, with the Oilers and Warriors opening with home games.

Huntington's first opponent is Bakersfield Christian. The team's are playing only this fall, and it should be a sturdy test for the Oilers. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Bakersfield Christian turned in a 10-3 season last year with two of those losses coming to South Sequoia League rival Wasco. The Eagles lost to Wasco in league play last October, won their next five games, but ended the season with a 29-22 loss to Wasco in the CIF Central Section Division 4 championship game.

The Eagles lost quarterback Jake Thompson (1,848 yards, 22 touchdowns) to graduation, but return junior running back Matt Smith (1,828 yards, 14 TDs) plus three of their starting receivers and their starting defensive backs.

"They're good," Lo said. "They were a CIF finalist last year, have a lot of speed and skill guys returning. It should be a good test for us right off the bat."

Huntington prepped for its season opener by scrimmaging Aug. 22 against a Bellflower St. John Bosco squad that is ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section preseason Pac-5 Division poll.

The Oilers enter the season tied with Placentia Valencia for the No. 6 preseason ranking in the Southwest Division.

"Scrimmaging Bosco was a good way for us to start the season," Lo said. "They are a nationally-ranked team and a great challenge for us. Our guys learned a lot from that scrimmage and the good thing is, we are healthy going into our opener."

In other season opening games Friday:

Edison vs. Compton Centennial

(Centennial High, 7 p.m.)

Defending CIF Southern Section Southwest Division champion Edison starts out the season with a preseason ranking of No. 1, and the Chargers begin a new campaign against a Compton Centennial team that closed strong in 2012.

Last year as an at-large entry from the Pioneer League to the CIF Southern Section playoffs, Centennial marched all the way to the Northwest Division semifinals, where the Apaches were edged, 13-8, by eventual division champion Nordhoff.

Centennial, which stunned No. 3-seed Pasadena La Salle in a first-round playoff game en route to its semifinal game appearance, finished the 2012 season with a 5-8 overall record. The Apaches averaged 20 points on offense last year. Their defense gave up an average of 17 points per game.

Centennial comes into the season with a preseason ranking of No. 4 in the Northwest Division.

"We don't know much about them, but I do know they had a pretty good end to their season last year," Edison Coach Dave White said of the Apaches. "They are fast and athletic and we have to be physical with them. For an opener, it's a tough one."

White said junior Matt Gane will likely start at quarterback for Friday's opener.

Edison has won its last seven season openers dating to 2005.


Fountain Valley vs. Foothill

(at Tustin High, 7 p.m.)

Fountain Valley begins its first season under veteran Coach Ray Fenton with a tough opener against Foothill.

"That's a tough way to get going, but I think that there's no better way to start the season than against a team of Foothill's caliber," Fenton said. "This game will show us where we stand."

Foothill last year went 10-3 and reached the Southwest Division semifinals where it was edged, 22-16, by Edison. The Knights return several key players from that 10-win team including wide receiver Bobby Okereke, who has committed to Stanford, and inside linebacker Robert Forkey. One key spot the Knights must fill is at quarterback where then-senior Jack Gilchrist threw for 2,442 yards and 22 touchdowns last year.

"They are a very good team," Fenton said of the Knights who enter the season ranked No. 4. "They are talented and play hard. They have a standout wide receiver (Okereke) and that inside linebacker (Forkey) is really aggressive."

Like Foothill, Fountain Valley is starting out new at quarterback. Fenton said the rotation includes Scott Schultz, a backup to starter Chris d'Entremont last year, and Travis Hood, a transfer from Buena Park.

The Barons scrimmaged two-time defending Southern Division champion Corona del Mar Friday.

"The kids are still learning about us, and we are still learning about them," Fenton said of the adjustments between his coaching staff and his initial team. "Overall, though, I think we are ready to go."


Marina vs. El Rancho

(at El Rancho High, 7 p.m.)

Marina and Pico Rivera El Rancho square off for the second-straight year in the season opener for both teams.

The Vikings won three games last year and dropped a close, 28-23 game to the Dons last year.

El Rancho went 5-5 in 2012. The Dons last year were led by senior quarterback Joe Sanchez, who amassed 3,184 total yards, and senior running back Johnny Garcia who had 1,556 total yards. They do return their top receiver, Javier Carrillo (658 yards).


Arrowhead Christian Academy vs. Brethren Christian

(at Ocean View High, 7 p.m.)

Brethren Christian opens its season at home against a familiar foe in Redlands Arrowhead Christian Academy.

The teams meet in the second week of the 2012 season where BC posted a 43-7 road victory.

This year, the Eagles are somewhat of a mystery to BC Coach Pat McInally.

"We played them last year, but other than that, we don't know much about them," he said. "We've played them throughout the years. They hit very hard and are a well-coached [John Beck] team."

In last year's meeting, BC quarterback Jack McInally threw for 295 yards and tied a school record with six touchdown passes. Junior receiver Guy Demazeliere had four TD receptions in that game.

McInally gets one more crack at the Eagles Friday.

"Right now, our skill positions are doing very well and our passing game is looking good," Pat McInally said. "We have an outstanding player on defense in Will Martin.

"Our other kids are maturing and we have been spending a lot of time getting our lines ready. I think a big key for us this year is staying healthy."

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