Sorting the wheat from the chaff, the feats from the gaffes, with a slightly beyond mid-season look at the high school football league races in the county:
Channel League: If somebody can apply the brakes to no-huddle, no-nonsense Buena High, the championship should be determined by a shoot-out between Oxnard and Santa Barbara on Nov. 4. Both teams have opened league play 3-0, a game ahead of Buena and Dos Pueblos.
Yet as Oxnard Coach Jack Davis pointed out, things happen in a league as balanced as the Channel. Oxnard, for example, would appear to have a breather Friday in last-place Rio Mesa. But the Spartans' only win is an upset of Channel Islands, a team that handed Oxnard its only loss.
"Rio Mesa is the only team in our league with a losing record and Rio Mesa beat an excellent football team," Davis said. "We won't look to Santa Barbara until the week we play them."
And don't count out Buena, which has flustered opponents with its no-huddle offense.
"I think a no-huddle offense causes other teams to panic. They expect to have time to catch their breath before going back into alignment. Then all of sudden, they have to rush to get into position because we're ready to hike the ball," Buena Coach Rick Scott said.
Marmonte League: This isn't a race, it's a rerun. Channel Islands and Thousand Oaks are both undefeated in league play and, for the third year in a row, are the only teams that matter. They square off Nov. 12.
Camarillo and Newbury Park are the only teams with a chance to push Thousand Oaks and Channel Islands. Every other team has at least 2 losses. However, Camarillo was flattened by Thousand Oaks 2 weeks ago and Newbury Park has an overall record of 1-4-1.
Frontier League: A ticket to the playoffs in this league might require a Santa clause. Santa Clara, Santa Ynez and Santa Paula share the top spot after a week of league play and Agoura will have to scramble to land its customary playoff berth.
Santa Paula's shotgun formation has accounted for 1,331 passing yards, but the Cardinals will need both barrels blazing the next 2 weeks against Santa Ynez and Santa Clara.
"We don't match up physically," Coach Mike Tsoutsouvas lamented. "I expect Santa Ynez to come at us hard, but we've been working in practice on picking up the blitz."
Santa Ynez and Agoura has physical strength on their sides, Santa Paula has finesse, but Santa Clara has the best blend.
Tri-Valley: Simply put, the title will be decided Friday night when Carpinteria visits unbeaten Oak Park. Carpinteria, the perennial league champion, is 4-2, but played a difficult nonleague schedule. Oak Park has outscored 6 opponents, 175-21, and boasts 2 of the top rushers in the Southern Section in Jason Stein and Jess Garner.