Only one team will leave this matchup undefeated after Ayala (4-0) and Kaiser (4-0) meet tonight in what is likely the toughest game of the regular season for both teams.
Only getting tougher: Ayala’s nonleague schedule has included a first-place team, a two-time defending CIF champion, a ranked team from Nevada and a potential playoff team in the Baseline League. Kaiser, however, represents its most difficult test to date.
Ayala, which won three games last season, has surpassed that total in impressive fashion. The Bulldogs are trying to graduate from just being improved to being a contender in the deep Sierra League. Winning tonight would be one more big step in that direction.
“We’re going to get hit in the mouth tonight and we’ll see how we respond,” Ayala coach Randy Reams said. “It seems to work out that our opponents get tougher every week. I don’t think I could have scheduled it any better.”
Proving ground: Ayala is Kaiser’s most accomplished opponent this season and it may not be close. Cajon, which the Cats handed a 24-13 defeat on Sept. 7, is the only team that could be considered in Ayala’s class of Kaiser’s nonleague schedule.
Kaiser is averaging a 13.7-point margin of victory, but the Cats’ grinding, defensive style doesn’t promote high-scoring games. Kaiser is averaging a modest 26.7 points per game.
“They’ll be the best team we’ve seen so far,”Kaiser coach Phil Zelaya said. “They’re a 4-0 team that deserves to be 4-0.”
Ground and pound: To say Kaiser prefers to run the ball would be an understatement. The Cats’ two-headed monster at running back, seniors Marquette Washington and Taleeb Isom, don’t often force the team to go to the air.
Ayala will undoubtedly be stacking the box in an effort to slow down the duo.
“We’re going to try and force them to throw the ball,” Reams said. “They can throw it pretty well too, but in terms of taking the lesser of two evils, we’ll try to make them put it in the air.”
No breaks: It doesn’t get any easier for either of these teams next week when they open league play.
Kaiser drew defending CIF-SS Eastern Division champion Summit on Oct. 5 in a Sunkist League opener that will likely decide the league champion.
Ayala opens Sierra League play with Damien, the first of a three-game stretch that includes defending league champ Covina Charter Oak and Chino Hills.