Two weeks down, three to go.
For the past 14 days, the football races in the Sunset and Golden West leagues have started to shake out, spit out and lay out their respective order. Today and Friday, those standings certainly can change as both races reach pivotal points with teams vying to stay in title and playoff contention.
Today's schedule has Fountain Valley at Huntington Beach and Marina at Los Alamitos in Sunset action. Friday's Sunset schedule has Edison entertaining Newport Harbor and Ocean View hosting Westminster in its homecoming game in Golden West play.
For Brethren Christian, it also boils down to a three-week season as the Academy League season gets underway for the Warriors on Saturday against Crean Lutheran South of Irvine.
Fountain Valley (3-3-1, 1-1) vs. Huntington Beach (4-3, 0-2), 7 p.m. today at Huntington Beach High: Fountain Valley picked up its first Sunset League win last week at the expense of Marina, beating the Vikings, 31-8. Running back Montana Merhoff rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns, Ryan Balzer ran for another score, Jesse Quintana took in an eight-yard touchdown pass from Josiah Fernandez and Derek Huynen booted a 32-yard field goal for the Barons.
Huntington opened league play with a loss at Newport Harbor and last week fell to Edison. In their two losses, the Oilers have scored just 13 points, six of those on quarterback Michael Chislock's touchdown run in last week's 30-7 setback to the Chargers.
Chislock also threw for 155 yards.
"We're definitely in a spot now where we need to play better," Huntington Beach Coach Eric Lo said. "The kids are still excited to play and are looking forward to taking on Fountain Valley.
"One thing we need to do better than we have been doing the past few weeks is run the football better. That's been our big challenge this week and we've had two good days of practice."
Marina (3-4, 0-2) vs. Los Alamitos (5-2, 2-0), 7 p.m. today at Veterans Stadium, Long Beach: After beginning Sunset League play with losses to Edison and Fountain Valley, Marina now has the challenge of taking on league co-leader Los Alamitos.
Los Al has been on a roll since the second half of their league opener against Fountain Valley. Since trailing, 7-3, to the Barons at halftime of that Oct. 15 game, the Griffins have racked up 51 points without allowing a point.
Last week, they rolled past Newport Harbor, 30-0, handing the Sailors their first shutout of the season. They received a huge boost on offense when junior running back Nick Richardson, who had injured his foot earlier in the season and missed the previous three games, returned to the lineup and rushed for one touchdown.
In addition to the rushing and receiving talents of Richardson, Marina will need to stop a potent Los Al run game that features speedy backs Richard Turner and Cody Paul, who last week rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown.
Marina never led in its 31-8 loss last week to Fountain Valley, getting its lone score on a four-yard touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to Brayde Hill.
The Vikings have dropped consecutive games for the first time this season. Prior to falling to Fountain Valley, they lost to Edison on Oct. 14.
Los Al, meanwhile, is on a two-game win streak.
"We can't control what Los Al has done in the past," Marina Coach George Pascoe said. "We need to focus on the task at hand and play like there is no tomorrow. Upsets happen because a group of players will not give up. That's what needs to happen.
"We did not play our best game last Friday, Fountain Valley did, and we got beat. Letdowns happen and we had ours at the wrong time. We needed to play better and didn't. We still can be better and maybe this is the week. After every game in the Sunset League, people get beat up. With a short week, I hope everyone is ready by [today]."
Newport Harbor (4-3, 1-1) vs. Edison (5-2, 2-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Huntington Beach High: Simply put, Edison coach Dave White called Friday night's meeting between the Chargers and Sailors "huge."
Edison enters the game on a two-game run and holding a share of the Sunset League lead with Los Alamitos. A victory by the Chargers keeps them in line for a repeat title and would also go a long way in securing a playoff berth.
Newport Harbor is coming off a 30-0 drubbing from Los Alamitos and needs a win to stay both in the league race and consideration for a playoff berth.
"It's a big game for both teams," White said. "Newport's always very tough. They're good, they run the ball well and do a nice job with the play-action pass. They're a tough challenge for us. They lost a tough one last week to Los Al and need a win if they want to stay in the (league) race.
"This is huge for them, and huge for us, as well."
Edison last week defeated Huntington Beach, 30-7. Troy Baljeu (61 yards) and Roland Blackiston (65 yards) each had long touchdown runs, Nicholas Masaniai scored on a one-yard run, Chase Favreu and Curren Provost teamed up on a 47-yard touchdown pass and Gavin Perdomo opened the game's scoring with a 42-yard field goal.
The Chargers, however, will be without the services Friday of multi-purpose athlete Blackiston, a top linebacker, receiver and punt returner who last week broke his humerus, "a spiral fracture," White said, in the win over Huntington.
"It's a real tough loss for us," White said. "Roland is one of our key players and we'll need to find a way to fill that void."
Newport Harbor is led on offense by senior quarterback Austin Rios. Senior tackle J.B. Salem keys the defensive line and senior Parker Norton Is a threat as a receiver, cornerback and kick and punt returner.
Edison has had success against Newport Harbor, going 4-0 since the Sailors rejoined the league at the start of the 2006-2007 school year. The teams first met in 1974 and played annually through 1979 before the series took a break until the Sunset League realigned in 2006. Edison leads the all-time series, 7-4. Newport's last victory over the Chargers came in 1979.
Westminster (2-5, 1-1) vs. Ocean View (5-2, 1-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Westminster High: Both the Lions and Seahawks need a win to stay in the chase for the Golden West League championship when they meet in Ocean View's homecoming game on Westminster's home field.
"Not only is this our homecoming game, but it's our rivalry game, as well," said Eli Atol, Ocean View's offensive coordinator, said. "Both teams are 1-1 in league, we both lost last week, and we both need a win. Its going to come down to who wants it more, simple as that."
Last week, Ocean View had a five-game win streak snapped by Loara, 31-24. Quarterback Nolan Tippy threw for a season-high 282 yards and three touchdowns, linebacker Timmy Robinson had a season-high 18 tackles and senior defensive back Josh Clay recovered two fumbles for the Seahawks.
"We knew it was going to be a tough game," Atol said. "They came in looking to shut down our rushing attack, and our quarterback and receivers did a great job stepping up for us. We found ourselves down late in the game and we are very proud of the way the kids fought back in the fourth quarter. They never gave up."
Westminster had toppled Loara, 42-35, the week prior but last Friday was ambushed by league-leader Segerstrom, 59-19. In their five losses, the Lions have given up 28 or more points a game and three times have given up more than 40 points to an opponent.
Two of the Lions' losses are to Marina (28-26) and Huntington Beach (31-7).
Brethren Christian (3-4) vs. Crean Lutheran South (0-7), 1 p.m. Saturday at Irvine High: It's the start of a fresh season for Brethren Christian and Crean Lutheran South of Irvine as they face off in a Academy League.
Brethren Christian is coming off a 39-15 loss to Xavier College Preparatory in Palm Desert. In that game, quarterback Sam Franklin rushed for 122 yards and a pair of scores and Brandon White ran for 102 yards. Coach Bruce Eigen also noted the play of middle linebacker Bryant Freeze, who gave a solid performance with several stops.
The Warriors have dropped two straight.
Crean Lutheran is searching for its first win in 2010. The Saints have been shut out three times and have been held to 12 or less points on two other occasions. They are coming off a 42-6 loss to Desert Christian.
"It's great to start league, as we get a fresh start toward our goal of making the playoffs," Eien said. "Your nonleague record means nothing if you don't win in league, so this fresh start allows us to reaffirm our directive."