The 10th week of the prep football season will be an emotional one for the six local schools.
A league championship is on the line for two teams, possible playoff berths are in the cards for three others, possession of a victory trophy will go to one of two longtime rivals and the 10th game in the 2010 campaign will be mark the end of prep careers for several seniors.
The big game tonight has Edison facing Los Alamitos in a showdown for the Sunset League championship. On Friday, Brethren Christian can forge its way into a share of the Academy League title by knocking off defending league and CIF East Valley Division champion St. Margaret's.
Also Friday, Huntington Beach and Marina battle for the perpetual victory trophy in a game that has possible playoff implications for the Oilers, and in another game that also has postseason ramifications, Fountain Valley travels to face Newport Harbor.
Edison (7-2, 4-0) vs. Los Alamitos (7-2, 4-0), 7 p.m. today, Veterans Stadium, Long Beach: Edison Coach Dave White said at the outset of the Sunset League race that Los Alamitos had to be considered the favorite for the title. Los Al Coach John Barnes said Monday that he figured the road to a championship would run through defending-champion Edison.
The outlook from each veteran coach has come to fruition, as both rebounded from rocky finishes in nonleague play to find themselves atop the Sunset standings.
"They're a good team, as always," Barnes said of Edison. This game usually means so much, with so much on the line. In year's past, it was us battling Edison and Esperanza, with any of the three teams emerging as league champion."
Los Alamitos last earned a Sunset League title two years ago when a bizarre finish to the league season left five teams tied for the championship.
Both the Griffins and Chargers have won four straight games to get to this point of the league race.
Los Alamitos struggled in its final two nonleague games, losing to Valley Center and Santa Margarita, and lost a key component when junior running back Nick Richardson went down to a toe injury. Richardson missed three games but returned to the lineup two weeks ago against Newport Harbor. He was used as a decoy in a game the Griffins won with ease, 30-0.
"We've kind of hit our stride after that Santa Margarita loss," Barnes said. "The kids have made some things happen and it's turned out to be a very good season. If we close this out, I think this will be one of the best finishes we've had at this school."
Last week, Los Al beat Huntington Beach, 28-6. Running backs Cody Paul and Andrew Faraimo combined to rush for 159 yards, with Faraimo scoring three touchdowns.
The Griffins' defense has given up just 20 points in four league games.
"Los Al is really, really good, but we're excited to be playing them for the league championship," White said after his Chargers defeated archrival Fountain Valley, 35-17, in last Friday's Bell Game at Cerritos College in Norwalk. ""The key for us is that we can't turn the ball over or give up the big play, and they have big-play capabilities. It should be a great game.
"To beat Fountain Valley six straight times, to be 7-2 at this point in the season with a young team that some had written off awhile back, and be in line for a league championship, is a great feeling."
In Edison's win over Fountain Valley, junior quarterback Chase Favreau opened up the scoring with a 36-yard run and went on to throw touchdown passes to Troy Baljeu (12 yards), Dejean King (30 yards) and Curren Provost (16 yards). Just before half, sophomore running back Elijah Herrera, in for injured starter Nicholas Masaniai, scored on a 30-yard run.
"That first half for us was like clockwork," White said. "Our offense, defense and special teams haven't all clicked at one time in any game this season, but it did [Friday]. We had talked about doing that all week and the kids really responded. I thought our offensive line did a great job all night, as well. We really controlled things early and had things going our way."
Los Alamitos holds a 5-4-1 advantage in the series in the last 10 meetings between the teams. Edison won last year's game, 27-10.
Ocean View (6-3, 2-2) vs. Santa Ana (0-9, 0-4), 7 p.m. today, at Santa Ana Stadium: It doesn't get any simpler than this for Ocean View: a victory tonight against the winless Saints in the Golden West League finale for both teams puts the Seahawks in position to secure a playoff berth.
"It's a big game for us because we need a win to stay alive," Ocean View Coach Harold Eggers said after the Seahawks dropped a 29-22 showdown Nov. 4 to league-leading Segerstrom. "Our game, and the Loara-Segerstrom game, will have a big impact and who goes."
Turnovers doomed Ocean View in its loss to Segerstrom. The Jaguars seemingly had things in hand late, leading 29-8 with 5:44 to play, but Ocean View scored two quick touchdowns, recovered two onside kicks and had the ball with a chance to score again in the closing seconds. The Seahawks only succumbed when a fourth-down pass was batted down near the Segerstrom 10-yard line on the game's final play.
The Seahawks turned the ball over twice inside the red zone, once in each half.
Quarterback Nolan Tippy threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Josh Clay and Timmy Robinson scored on a one-yard run and five-yard pass from Robinson for Ocean View.
An Ocean View victory would have moved the Seahawks in a first-place tie with Segerstrom for the league lead.
"You just can't make mistakes like that against a team like Segerstrom," Eggers said. "You can't do that against that good a team. If we eliminate those mistakes in the red zone, then it could've been a different outcome."
Santa Ana last week was dealt a 42-14 loss by Westminster. The Saints have given up 50 more points in a game twice, 40 or more three times and 30 or more on three other occasions. They've struggled equally on offense and have scored a touchdown or less in five games.
Huntington Beach (5-4, 1-2) vs. Marina (3-6, 0-4), 7 p.m. Friday, at Westminster High: This game between city rivals dates back to 1965 and the 2010 meeting between the Oilers and Vikings has a few things riding on its outcome.
For Huntington, there's still a chance that the Oilers can stay in the hunt for a CIF playoff berth. First and foremost, they need to beat Marina. Then, they'll need Fountain Valley to upend Newport Harbor on Friday. If that scenario plays out, then Huntington, Fountain Valley and Newport Harbor would finish league in a three-way tie for third place and a coin flip then would determine the team that receives the league's third and final automatic playoff berth.
"We still have a chance," Huntington Coach Eric Lo said. "This is a real big game for both schools. These kids have grown up in the same community, played on the same youth teams growing up. It's a good rivalry and Marina is much improved from last year."
Huntington last week fell 28-6 to Los Alamitos, getting its points on a pair of Max Talbert field goals.
The week before that, the Oilers knocked off Fountain Valley, 14-9.
"We came out with a lot of emotion and a lot of excitement for the Los Al and Fountain Valley games, and we played well," Lo said. "We need that same type of intensity for Marina, as well. There's a lot riding on this game: the trophy, the last game for several seniors on both sides, and we have the opportunity to extend our season."
Marina last week was blanked, 41-0, by Newport Harbor.
"The game means so much, bragging rights when you see your friends, and this game gives us a chance to kick-start next year," Marina Coach George Pascoe said.
Pascoe should know. He was on the opposing side of the field, as head coach of Huntington, and led the Oilers into 14 meetings against the Vikings between 1983 to1996.
"When I was at H.B., Dave Thompson was on the other side for many years, and it was always fun to match it up with one of the Orange County legends," he said. "I've very quickly called Marina my home and nothing would be more exciting than beating the Oilers. Nothing can ever take away the great memories and all the exciting games, but life goes on and I'm excited about our chances Friday night. We are all ready to play."
Newport Harbor (5-4, 2-2) vs. Fountain Valley (3-5-1, 1-3), 7 p.m. Friday, at Huntington Beach High: Fountain Valley needs a win to stay in contention for a CIF playoff berth. A win by Newport Harbor sews up the league's third playoff berth.
The Barons are coming off a 35-17 loss to Edison. Derek Huynen kicked a 27-yard field goal, Sean Myers had a five-yard scoring pass from quarterback Ryan Balzer, who also scored on a 12-yard run. Courtland Drummond led all rushers with 134 yards.
Last week, the Sailors ended a two-game losing streak by shutting down Marina, 41-0. Quarterback Austin Rios threw three touchdown passes, two to Kellon Truxton and one to Parker Norton, who also scored on an interception return.
Brethren Christian (4-5, 1-1) vs. St. Margaret's (6-3, 2-0), 7 p.m. Friday, at St. Margaret's High: A victory by Brethren Christian against St. Margaret's would create a possible three-way tie for the Academy League championship, should Sage Hill defeat Crean Lutheran South on Friday. A coin flip would determine the top two teams who would get the league's two automatic playoff bids. A loss Friday to the Tartans, and the season's over for the Warriors.
A pair of turnovers last week cost Brethren Christian in a 34-26 homecoming loss to Sage Hill. Quarterback Sam Franklin rushed for three touchdowns and threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jazz Hill in defeat.
This week, the Warriors will need to pull in the reins on a potent St. Margaret's offense.
The Tartans were 49-0 winners last week against Crean Lutheran South.
"We need to stop their top wide receiver (James Murayama) and the great running combo of their quarterbacks (Brennan Smith and Joey Sego)," Brethren Christian Coach Bruce Eien said.