Friday, December 9, 2011

Preview: CIF Southern Section Championship Games

Here is a quick look at the three Championship Games that will determine Southern California’s participants in the CIF State Bowl Games.

Northern Division Final: Westlake Village (13-0) vs. Oaks Christian (11-2) at Oaks Christian

This will be the 4th matchup between these two schools located across the street from each other since Oaks Christian joined the Marmonte League for the 2010-11 season. The Warriors have won regular season games against Oaks Christian but the Lions prevailed by a final score of 29-28 in last year’s thrilling Northern Division Final. Westlake Village has kept the memory of that stinging defeat fresh in their minds as they have rolled to a 13-0 record and the #1 ranking in the state. Junior Quarterback Justin Moore leads the way for the Warriors completing better than 65% of his passes for 2,436 yards with 27 touchdowns and only 4 interceptions. In addition Moore has rushed for 951 yards and scored 11 td’s and UCLA-bound Dashon Hunt has 1,077 yards rushing with 14 td’s. The Warriors have thoroughly dominated their playoff opponents outscoring the opposition 163-26 so far in three games.

Oaks Christian (11-2) started their season with a road defeat against eventual State 3A Champion Bellevue, Washington and also lost to Westlake Village, 43-21 back on October 6th. Sensational Sophomore Quarterback Brandon Dawkins leads the Lions attack having completed nearly 70% of his passes for 2,506 yards and 29 touchdowns. The backfield duo of Carlos Mendoza and Ishmael Adams combined for 1,500 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns. 6’3 Senior WR Jordan Payton is a legitimate Division I prospect has 60 receptions and 10 touchdowns. The Lions erased a 17-7 deficit against Marmonte League rival St. Bonaventure in last week’s semi-final matchup to defeat the Seraphs for the 2nd time this season. Oaks Christian lost the regular season matchup against Westlake Village last season as well, but came back to spring the upset on their rivals in the Championship Game. The Lions will look to repeat the trick Friday night at Oaks Christian. MY PICK: Westlake Village

Pac-5 Final: San Clemente (12-1) vs. Santa Margarita (11-2) at Anaheim Stadium (The Big A)
San Clemente ranked #2 in the state of California probably gained a break when league rival Tesoro upset former #1 ranked Servite in the 2nd round of the Pac-5 playoffs clearing this side of the bracket. But the Tritons most significant win of the season came on September 23rd when San Clemente went on the road and defeated Mater Dei 28-21, the very same Mater Dei team that defeated Santa Margarita 21-14 just two weeks later. San Clemente’s only defeat this season came on the road at the hands of the other Pac-5 semi-finalist Mission Viejo. Senior running back Mike Elesperu has rushed for 1,418 yards and 14 touchdowns and Senior Quarterback Travis Wilson has completed better than 60% of his passes for 24 touchdowns for the Tritons. San Clemente has defeated Lakewood, St John Bosco, and Tesoro on the way to the final.

Harry Welch has been coaching high school football, successfully since I was in High School. This Santa Margarita team, although twice defeated is among his best. Besides the afore-mentioned defeat to Mater Dei, Santa Margarita’s only other loss this season came at the hands of then #1 ranked Servite. Santa Margarita owns victories City Section finalist Carson as well as the only team that defeated San Clemente this year when the Eagles ended Mission Viejo’s season last week. QB Johnny Stanton powers the Santa Margarita attack nearly throwing for 2,000 yards and rushing for 1,084 yards and accounting for 26 touchdowns combined passing and running. Junior RB Ryan Wolpin has run for 1,289 and scored 23 touchdowns. In addition to the win over Mission Viejo, Santa Margarita hammered a talented Long Beach Poly team at Veteran’s Stadium in Long Beach in the 2nd round of the playoffs. MY PICK: Santa Margarita … but this was very difficult especially on a neutral field. (I saw the Santa Margarita vs. Long Beach Poly game and I think that influenced my pick.)

Inland Division Final: Vista Murrieta (8-5) vs. Corona Centennial (12-1) at Vista Murrieta
Like the Northern Division, this is a rematch of last year’s Inland Division Final won by Centennial. The Huskies are actually attempting to win their 4th Inland Division Championship in the last 5 seasons. Centennial’s only loss this year came at the hands of perennial Northern Division power St Bonaventure. The Huskies potent spread offense is powered by diminutive senior running back Romeo Goodman who has run for 2,581 yards on the season with almost 1,000 of those yards gained during the Huskies 3 playoff games. Goodman has scored an eye-popping 42 touchdowns rushing this season, including 8 in one game against Chaparral. During the season Centennial defeated Mater Dei, handed JW North their only regular season loss and ended Rancho Cucamonga’s year in convincing fashion last week.

Vista Murrieta has yet to lose a game on the field this year (all 5 losses come via forfeit) and the Broncos are making their third consecutive appearance in the Inland Division Championship game in search of their first title. Versatile Vista Murrieta comes from all angles as the Broncos scored on offense, defense, and special teams last week in their dominating win over previously undefeated and #2 ranked Upland. Junior Quarterback Nick Stevens directs a balanced Broncos attack on offense while ultra-talented linebacker Su’a Cravens leads the Broncos stingy defense and explosive special teams. Last week Vista Murrieta blocked a punt, and an extra-point attempt. Returned a punt for a TD, returned an interception for a TD, and had a 65-yard kickoff return that led to a field goal. MY PICK: Vista Murrieta (3rd time is the charm)

It’s a foregone conclusion that If Westlake Village prevails in the Northern Division then the Warriors, ranked #1 in the state, will represent SoCal in the Open Division Bowl Game. Due to strength of schedule and some common opponents it appears that the Inland Division Champions may have an inside track to the Division I Bowl game which could almost unbelievably leave the Pac-5 Champions home for the California state bowl season. Imagine that?

Rich Sharp

1 comment:

  1. San Clemente Tritons is the "Cinderella" team in this group of great teams.