Sunset League on the line

Friday marks the end of league play for six local prep football teams. For some, it is the end of the road in the 2012 season. For others, it offers one final shot at earning automatic bids to the CIF Southern Section playoffs.

The Sunset League champion, or co-champions, will emerge late that night. The scramble for other top league finishes, as well as the possibility of coin flip scenarios being held to determine the fate and league placements for the postseason, also will be revealed.

The CIF-SS playoff pairings will be announced Sunday . Postseason play starts Nov. 9.


Huntington Beach (5-4, 3-1) vs. Edison (8-1, 4-0)

(7 p.m., Huntington Beach High)

The Sunset League championship is on the line in this showdown between Huntington and Edison. The Oilers can earn a share of the title with a victory. The Chargers, who last week clinched a share of the title, can earn it outright with a win here.

"We're excited for another big game," said Edison Coach Dave White whose team is coming off another key game. Last week, the Chargers downed archrival Fountain Valley, 21-3.

"We just beat Fountain Valley for the eighth straight year and clinched a piece of the title, and now we come right back to go up against a team (Huntington) that I think will be the best team we'll face in league," White said. "We have a lot of respect for Huntington and Coach (Eric) Lo's program, and I think it will be a very hard-fought game."

Just one week after suffering a disappointing loss at Newport Harbor, Huntington showed its resolve by taking down fourth-ranked Los Alamitos, 28-7. The win allowed the Oilers to climb back into a share of second-place with Newport Harbor (5-4, 3-1) and it dropped Los Alamitos (6-3, 2-2) from a share of second and left the Griffins a game behind both the Oilers and Sailors.

The win also vaulted Huntington back into the Southwest Division rankings. The Oilers, who have won four of their last five outings, come into the game ranked No. 6.

"This is definitely a reflection of their character," Lo said of his team's win last Friday. "Our backs were against the wall but the kids responded really well. We needed this, after that tough (Newport) loss. Now, we get to play for a championship."

Huntington's defense was spectacular the entire game. The Oilers intercepted five passes, four off Los Al quarterback Cody Marshall, and held the Griffins to a season-low in points scored. Three of the interceptions came in the third quarter when the Oilers took control of the game.

Senior lineman Milo Aviles and senior linebacker Jeff Wiederkehr also had big games for the Huntington defense which has held three league opponents to 10 or fewer points.

Quarterback Kai Ross threw for 111 yards with touchdown passes to Wyatt Marlow and Marco Valenzuela, and the junior, who also starts at cornerback, put the game away with a 72-yard interception return for a touchdown to take the score to 28-7 with 2:27 left to play. Senior running back Bo Breunig scored the game's first touchdown on a 22-yard run in the opening quarter, and racked up a game-high 144 rushing yards.

Ross' theft, which Lo said set a school record for longest interception return for a touchdown, ended a five-interception spree for Huntington which knocked off Los Al for the second straight year. Sophomore free safety Brayden McRae recorded the first pick late in the first half. Junior defensive back Tucker deCamp, senior lineman Sebastian Demartini, and McRae, again, had interceptions on each of Los Al's three possessions to start the second half.

Defending league champion Edison, the top-ranked team in the Southwest Division, broke away from a tight game with Fountain Valley by scoring two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take a 21-3 victory in the Bell Game. Quarterback Aleksander Torgersen threw a touchdown pass to receiver Marcus Stepancich and running back Marquis Ross ran for a score in the fourth quarter. It was the second TD pass for Torgersen. Senior receiver Trevor Borkowski scored on a tackle-breaking, 39-yard pass on fourth down, on the first possession of the game.

Edison's defense has given up just three points in the last two weeks. The Chargers have outscored their previous four league opponents, 158-17.

The defenses of both teams could dictate play Friday.

"We played a tough preseason schedule and I think it has helped prepare us for league," White said. "We've played pretty well in the fourth quarter of every game this year.

"Huntington's a big test for us. They are athletic, have a very good defense, good linemen, a dangerous quarterback (Ross), and a hard-nosed running back (Breunig). I think their offense will be the best we've faced in a long time, probably since the Mater Dei game."

Edison played Mater Dei in nonleague play on Sept. 21. The 20-14 loss is the lone setback for the Chargers who bring a five-game win streak into Friday's game.

The Chargers already have sewn up a playoff berth. A win Friday gives them the No. 1 seed from the league and also figures to give them the top, overall seed, for the Southwest Division playoff. It gets convoluted, from there:

The top three teams from the Sunset League earn automatic postseason berths. If Huntington defeats Edison, and ninth-ranked Newport Harbor defeats No. 8 Los Alamitos, then Huntington, Edison, and Newport share the title. A coin flip would determine the league seedings for the three teams for the postseason. A Huntington win, coupled by a Newport loss, would give the Oilers the No. 1 league seed, and Edison would go as second-place.

If both Huntington and Newport lose Friday, then Huntington, Newport and Los Al would tie for second-place, and a coin flip would be held to determine which two of the three teams would get the second- and third-place league seedings for the playoffs.

The Sunset League also has strong chance of landing one of the two at-large playoff berths available in the Southwest Division. Should the scenario arise, Lo said that Huntington has already filed for consideration for an at-large berth with the CIF-SS office.


Fountain Valley (3-6, 0-4) vs. Marina (3-6, 0-4)

(7 p.m., Westminster High)

It's been a tough month for both Fountain Valley and Marina, and the winner of this game claims fifth-place in the final Sunset League standings.

Fountain Valley, which has had a season full of close-call games, is coming off a 21-3 loss to Edison. The Barons trailed, 7-3, heading into the fourth quarter, their points coming on a 27-yard field goal in the first half by senior Derek Huynen. They had the chance to take the lead late in the third quarter but had a touchdown pass negated by a holding call, and then missed on a 28-yard field goal attempt.

Marina also is coming off a loss, 37-0, at Newport Harbor on Oct. 25. The Vikings have managed three points in four previous league games.

"We need to get a do they," Marina Coach George Pascoe said. "It's going to be a hard fought contest from beginning to end. I think the team that puts the disappointing season behind them, will come out on top. Just play and have fun."

Marina has surpassed last year's win total (it went 1-8-1 in 2011) but getting a win in league play, has been elusive.

"We haven't won a league game in seven years," Pascoe said. "Any win will help wash away some of the bad taste created these past few years. Build on the positive. We won more games this year then last and we will build on that."


Ocean View (4-5, 2-2) vs. Loara (2-7, 1-3)

(7 p.m., Glover Stadium)

Ocean View plays its most important game of the regular season when the Seahawks travel to Anaheim for a Golden West League date with the Saxons.

Ocean View climbed back into CIF playoff berth contention by scoring an impressive, 30-22 victory over Orange. The Panthers the previous week had handed Segerstrom, then the top-ranked team in the Southern Division, its first and only loss of the season.

Senior Cristian Negrete kicked three field goals, senior tight end Speiser Alani scored on a six-yard pass from senior quarterback Dallas Broge, junior defensive back Tristan Wenschlag returned a fumble 75 yards for a TD, and junior running back Daniel Valencia scored on a school-record 99-yard run.

Seahawks Coach Luis Nunez said Valencia's 99-yard run was, "as 99 (yards), as it gets. The tip of ball was on the goal line."

Loara last week was defeated, 42-20, by league leader Westminster. Running back Connor O'Shea accounted for 125 yards of offense and rushed for two touchdowns, and quarterback David Gistlinck threw for 170 yards a score.

"It's going to be battle as it will take another great effort from our team to win," Nunez said. "We just need to win and worry how it plays out later."

The "later" Nunez is referring to, is the playoff scenario for the league. In two instances, if Ocean View defeats Loara, the Seahawks earn the No. 3 league seeding. The Seahawks would either have to take part in a coin flip, or be eliminated from playoff contention, in the other scenarios.

Westminster (4-0) travels to second-place Segerstrom (3-1) in a game that will determine the Golden West League champion. A Segerstrom win gives the Jaguars a share of the title with the Lions.


Brethren Christian (5-4, 1-1) vs. Crean Lutheran (5-4, 1-1)

(7 p.m., Crean Lutheran High)

Second-place and an automatic playoff berth hang in the balance when Brethren Christian goes to Irvine for a battle with Crean Lutheran.

Both teams have lost in league play to first-place St. Margaret's. BC lost, 51-14, last week to the Tartans (No. 2, East Valley Division) who broke open the game by scoring the final 20 points. Junior quarterback Jack McInally threw for 216 yards with two touchdown passes, both to sophomore receiver Guy Demazeliere, for the Warriors.

Crean Lutheran squared its league record last week by defeating winless Sage Hill, 28-7. The Saints rushed for more than 400 yards led by Blake Cox who ran for 252 and Adam Barrett who gained 123 and scored twice.

"This is so great. The winner goes to the playoffs," BC Coach Pat McInally said. "Crean continues to build its program and has a strong running game, which we will need to stop. Offensively, we need balance, a timely, effective mix of runs and passes."


Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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