Featured Games : Los Alamitos vs. El Dorado
The records--Los Alamitos (5-1, 8-1), El Dorado (4-2, 6-3).
The site--Bradford Stadium.
The standings--Los Alamitos is tied with Pacifica for first place in the Empire League. El Dorado (4-2) is in fourth place, half a game behind Esperanza.
Los Alamitos update--The Griffins could be on their way to a share of their first league title in nine years. El Dorado is their last remaining obstacle. All season, Los Alamitos has combined an aggressive, underrated defense with one of the most potent passing games around. But the Griffins displayed a new facet in last week’s 31-7 victory against Katella. For the first time, they managed to create a rushing attack strong enough to complement the passing of quarterback J.T. Snow. Running back Pat Brown exploited Katella’s pass-conscious defense 22 times for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns. The problem with the Griffins’ new-found weapon is that Coach John Barnes also needs Brown at cornerback and is reluctant to wear him out on offense.
El Dorado update--The Golden Hawks pulled off their biggest victory of the season last week, a 28-7 upset of league-leading Pacifica, which kept El Dorado’s playoff drive alive. But the Golden Hawks will have to turn in a repeat performance tonight to earn a playoff berth. A win would guarantee them second place. A loss would drop them into a tie for fourth. One factor that hurts their chances is the injured knee of running back Rich Chamberlain, who missed a game and has not returned to 100%.
Key to the game--It is difficult to say which team will take tonight’s game more seriously--the Griffins, in search of their long-sought championship, or the Golden Hawks, trying to avoid missing the playoffs for a second straight year.
Consensus--If the Golden Hawks play as well as they did last week, they are clearly capable of achieving their second upset of a league leader. El Dorado seems to respond to pressure, but it has not shown enough consistency to predict a victory against steadier Los Alamitos.
Villa Park vs.Santa Ana
The records--Villa Park (6-3), Santa Ana (5-4).
The site--Santa Ana Stadium.
The standings--Villa Park (4-2) and Santa Ana (4-2) are tied for third in the Century League, one game behind El Modena and 2 1/2 behind Foothill.
Villa Park update--Fullback Dave Rose, who had arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips from his knee 4 1/2 weeks ago, has returned after missing two games. Rose, a senior, rushed for 80 yards and three touchdowns last week to help the Spartans defeat Orange, 33-7. Tailback Jamie Nelson also ran for 80 yards last week, and quarterback Mike Cederoth completed 6 of 11 passes for 182 yards and 1 touchdown. Villa Park still is playing without defensive end Rod Turner, who is in a cast after undergoing knee surgery three weeks ago.
Santa Ana update--After two poor passing games by quarterback Eric Turner, the Saints stayed on the ground to defeat Santa Ana Valley, 35-7, last week. Tailback Robert Lee rushed for 106 yards and 1 touchdown and fullback Emele Leausa rushed for 82 yards. Turner, who had completed 7 of 28 passes for 94 yards in the previous two games, threw 6 passes against the Falcons, but completed 3 for 105 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Key to the game--The Villa Park secondary, led by defensive back Mark Johnson, has performed well against passers. The Spartans have defeated passing teams such as Brea-Olinda and Canyon. But it appears that the Saints have added a formidable running attack to their offense. Santa Ana must continue to mix the run with the pass, and the Spartans must receive a solid passing performance from Cederoth.
Consensus--The winner will advance to the CIF Southern Conference playoffs as a third-place team. The Saints, who have had trouble with bigger teams, will have the size advantage tonight and should be able to control the line of scrimmage. That makes Santa Ana the favorite to win and advance to the playoffs.
The records--Brea-Olinda (5-4), Western (6-2-1).
The site--Handel Stadium.
The standings--Brea-Olinda (3-1) and Western (3-1) are tied for first place in the Orange League with Valencia.
Brea-Olinda update--The Wildcats, who opened league play with three victories before losing to Valencia last week, have clinched a Central Conference playoff berth. If Brea loses tonight, and Magnolia defeats Savanna Saturday night to create a tie for third place, the Wildcats still will advance to the playoffs by virtue of their win over the Sentinels. Fred Camarena, who had been playing running back, replaced Eric Oden at quarterback in the second league game, and the Wildcats, who run the option out of a wishbone formation, have become more of a rushing team. Oden, Mike Oziminski, Brett Phillips, Eric Brittsan, Toby Peruti and Mark Chase alternate at running back, and Camarena leads the defense at free safety.
Western update--The Pioneers must win to guarantee a playoff berth. If they lose and Magnolia wins, they’ll be tied with the Sentinels for third, but Magnolia will go to the playoffs because of its 14-10 victory over Western four weeks ago. The Pioneers have won three since opening league play with the loss to Magnolia. They also have emphasized the rushing game since Mike Huy replaced Rich Lodding at quarterback in the second league game. Huy has thrown 16 passes in three games but has completed nine, including four for touchdowns. Bob Posades, who has gained 546 yards on 108 carries, leads the running game.
Key to the game--The Wildcats have been averaging four turnovers a game, so they must eliminate those costly mistakes. Western must use its slight size advantage on the offensive line to make room for the running game.
Consensus--Western, which upset Valencia, 18-15, two weeks ago, is on a roll. The Pioneers have found the right offensive combinations and should be able to continue their winning streak against the Wildcats.