Prep football game of week: San Dimas at Baldwin Park

Last season San Dimas and Baldwin Park met in the final game of the regular season to determine the Valle Vista League champion, with San Dimas emerging to not only take the league title but the CIF-SS Mid-Valley Division championship as well. The two teams play a little earlier this season and with records not as shiny as the 8-1 mark with which each entered last season’s clash, but a league championship could be on the line just the same when they meet Friday at San Dimas.

Schedule changes: San Dimas (3-2) and Baldwin Park (1-4) may not win any beauty contests at this point but difficult nonleague schedules in 2010 may have each playing better than last season.

Until last week Baldwin Park was winless before routing a one-loss Pomona team in its Valle Vista League opener. It’s first four opponents, however, are a combined 13-4.

San Dimas just crested the .500 mark for the first time this season with a blowout of La Puente Nogales last week but the Saints have already defeated the same Monrovia team it met in the CIF title game last year in an overtime thriller Sept. 24. On Sept. 17, a 21-10 loss to a formidable Rancho Cucamonga team may have been more positive than negative for the Saints.

“I think we’ve both scheduled up a little this year and that’s why are records aren’t where they should be,” San Dimas coach Bill Zernickow said. “But I think we’re both better teams for it.”

High Wattage: After averaging 319 rushing yards per game last season, the San Dimas offense has taken to the air in 2010 behind transfer quarterback Codee Watts. The senior has already thrown for 744 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions, including 239- and 231-yard games against Rancho Cucamonga and Monrovia, respectively. The Saints ground game hasn’t been as potent as usual but is still netting 238 yards per game.

“Our running game hasn’t been as productive for us as in the past but maybe that’s because we haven’t practiced it as much as we’ve been throwing the ball,” Zernickow said. “Our offensive line has really gotten a lot better and more physical the last couple of weeks, so we like where we’re going.”

Baldwin Park’s Crutch: Having trailed the majority of the time this season, Baldwin Park hasn’t been allowed to establish its running game but the Braves are assuredly hoping that will change in league play.

Bruising running back Wardell Crutchfield III will be the focus of Baldwin Park’s ground game with the versatile Demetrius Jackson serving as a change of pace back. The 6-foot, 217-pound Crutchfield has carried just 37 times in five games but has averaged six yards a carry on the way to 237 yards. Jackson has 207 yards on the ground but has been most dangerous as a receiver with 580 yards and six touchdown receptions.

“They’re pretty big and pretty physical and Crutchfield and Demetrius Jackson can really run around and make plays,” Zernickow said. “Our guys have gotten better and more physical every week but we know we’re in for a tough game every time we play Baldwin Park.”