Week 4 High School top 10

Not much in the way of movement this week, which makes sense because almost everyone won. I almost gave Summit a place in the rankings, but I couldn’t justify knocking anyone out to do it. So the SkyHawks are No. 11.

1. Redlands East Valley (3-0)
The REV offense improved a bit, with QB Tyler Shreve and WR Gary Walker making some big plays. But the Wildcats’ chances at making a CIF run is going to coincide with the effectiveness of their defense. So far, so good in that regard.

2. Upland (4-0)
The Highlanders smacked around Lancaster Eastside 47-14. Not exactly surprising, as Upland is rolling and should put on a clinic again this week against Bloomington. No, the most noteworthy news was Josh Nunes’ commitment switch from Tennessee to Stanford. I can’t blame him, the Tennessee orange is way too reminiscent of a creamsicle.

3. Miller (3-0)
Moving up during a bye week is always a good thing for the Rebels, who start Citrus Belt play Friday night at Rialto. Or wherever the mutant fire ants at Rialto High School decide the game should be played.

4. Hesperia (3-0)
The Scorpions beat Pacific, 54-0. Who cares you say? Well, Hesperia only scored 10 points on the Pirates last year. The offense has continued to improve, making the Scorpions an even tougher out this season.

5. Serrano (3-1)
I feel kind of bad for Palmdale Highland. After Serrano dropped a tough one to Upland, you knew that Highland was going to get the business. Like Hesperia, Serrano seems to have found a more explosive element in its offense.

6. Los Osos (2-1)
Maybe dropping Los Osos three spots for losing at Vista Murrieta was severe, but I think at this point Upland (who Serrano lost to) is better that the Broncos (who almost lost to Colton and Redlands). In fact, perhaps Colton will be annoyed by not being in this slot.

7. Colton (2-1)
Let’s be honest; the Yellowjackets’ offense is a work in progress, as the youngsters haven’t quite figured out the double-wing. But the Colton defense makes plays and these guys scrap, as evidenced by Devan Hussey’s 100-yard fumble return to turn a loss to Palm Springs into a heart-pounding win.

8. Cajon (3-1)
The Cowboys get a tough win over Kaiser. Cajon has quite a bit of flash, with perhaps a couple of the more talented athletes in the county, but the Cowboys responded to Kaiser’s physicality nicely.

9. Aquinas (4-0)
I saw these guys on Thursday and oh boy, the Falcons can play. Watching the Falcons be equally proficient spreading the field and throw as they are pounding up the middle on the ground in the power-I formation was pretty enlightening. These guys have a great chance at Josh Henderson’s third CIF title if they tighten up the defense some.

10. Rancho Cucamonga (3-0-1)
Normally a tie is looked down upon by me, but Charter Oak is a pretty darn good football team. No harm in tying them, as Rancho continues to look like a darkhorse for the Baseline League title.

Just missed the cut: Summit (4-0), Chino Hills (3-0), Ayala (3-1).

Burnard shows improvements

Sutton Burnard, the senior Big Bear linebacker who has been hospitalized since being injured in the Bears’ game Friday night, had a good day on Sunday – less than 48 hours after having emergency brain surgery at Riverside Community Medical Center in Moreno Valley.

“Things are looking a lot better right now,” said Big Bear coach Dave Griffiths, who drove down to the medical center to stay with Burnard today. “He’s made some strides and is progressing at a better rate than was expected.”

Burnard, who slipped into unconsciousness before surgery Friday night/Saturday morning, is still being held in intensive care at the facility, but was able to talk and interact with visitors without a breathing tube. He also was able to sit at a bit of an incline, enough to where he was able to watch television.

“We talked about a bunch of stuff,” Griffiths said. “He was awake and aware the entire time. We were watching the Chargers game for a while because Sutton is a big fan. He was definitely happy to see them win.”

No specific timetable is in place for Burnard’s departure from the hospital, and Griffiths plans on heading back down on Monday to check in on his progress. Either way though, it seems as if Burnard is on the right path after an extremely scary situation for himself, his family and the entire Big Bear community. We’ll keep updating the situation as news develops.

Week 5 top 25

This week pretty much took college football as we knew it and blew it up. You can thank Oregon State, Ole Miss and Michigan for that.

1. Oklahoma (3) – The Sooners were the only team in the top 4 not to totally vomit on itself, and that is good enough to give it this top spot. Enjoy it Sooners.

2. Alabama (8) – The Tide makes a massive jump up, but that tends to happen when you go on the road and destroy the No. 2 team. Nick Saban has it rolling.

3. LSU (6) – Yeah, it wasn’t the most impressive win over Mississippi State. But it, coupled with the Auburn win last week, jumps the defending champs up a few notches.

4. Missouri (5) – I guess I could have kept Mizzou above LSU, but I don’t like jumping people too high during bye weeks. Call me a freak or whatever.

5. Texas (7) – The Horns made a mockery of Arkansas and are quietly moving up the rankings. The Red River Shootout in a couple weeks could be epic.

6. Penn State (13) – The Nittany Lions move up a ton, half because of the losses of other top teams and half because they finally played a team (Illinois) with a pulse and won. Oh yeah, the Oregon State win a few weeks back gained significance too.

7. Texas Tech (8) – Red Raiders move up just cause. They still haven’t played anyone yet. We’ll see how long they stay up here.

8. Georgia (2) – I basically switched them out with Alabama. I was tempted to put them lower, but losing to Alabama isn’t nearly as bad as losing to some of the teams other high-ranked teams fell to.

9. USC (1) – That Oregon State game was bad and quite frankly, the Trojans are fortunate that Florida and Wisconsin had similar brain farts, or this would be worse.

10. Ohio State (11) – I’ve been slow to move the Buckeyes up, partially because I’m self-correcting where I ranked them after the USC loss. I can’t rank them ahead of USC by
any means, but Terrelle Pryor looked good against the Gophers.

11. BYU (12) – Creeping up the polls. The Cougars still have the nation’s longest win streak, but they had a bye. And you know what that means.

12. Florida (4) – Of all the losses this weekend, the Gators falling to Ole Miss might have been the most shocking. At least Georgia was playing a top 10 team and USC and Wisconsin were on the road. Florida has no such excuses.

13. South Florida (14) – Another team that’s quietly keeping its nose clean and winning. If they continue that, the Bulls will be a factor in the national title race.

14. Auburn (15) – The Tigers won. I guess that’s good. Still, Auburn isn’t losing style points and will be passed if they continue to scuffle on offense.

15. Utah (18) – The Utes continued to roll by beating Weber State. But better than that, they got a big prestige bump by Michigan’s win over Wisconsin. Makes the season-opening win look better.

16. Kansas (17) – The Jayhawks got a week off to sort through the carnage around them. With four Big 12 teams in the top 7, plenty of opportunities for the Jayhawks to erase the South Florida loss.

17. Wisconsin (9) – The Badgers will be kicking themselves all year for their collapse against Michigan. Being up 19-0 at halftime and losing is definitely a kick to the head.

18. Vanderbilt (20) – Don’t look, but the Commodores are actually leading the SEC East right now. If they beat Auburn next week, which isn’t a pipe dream, look out.

19. Boise State (21) – The Broncos were on a bye, but they are where they always seem to be at this time of the year, undefeated and slowly climbing the polls.

20. Oregon (22) – After losing at home to Boise State, the Ducks were peeved. They made Washington State pay with a 63-14 beatdown. Ouch.

21. Virginia Tech (23) – The Hokies got a nice win tonight, winning at Nebraska. I don’t care how down the Huskers are, that’s never an easy place to get a W.

22. Fresno State (NR) – UCLA certainly didn’t lie down against the Bulldogs. But Fresno came down and got a big victory, for morale and recruiting.

23. Oklahoma State (NR) – The Cowboys’ spread offense is putting up points at a ridiculous clip. Sure, they are playing terrible teams, but wins are wins. Ask USC.

24. Wake Forest (16) – It’s weird. I moved every ranked team that lost 8 spots except for Georgia. Not sure if Wake had a letdown game, but you can’t overlook Navy.

25. Northwestern (NR) – More undefeated smart people. After a comeback road victory at Iowa, the Wildcats move to 5-0 for the first time since 1962. That’s good enough to make it on here.

On the cusp: Connecticut, Kentucky, California.

Dropped out: No. 19 Clemson (lost to Maryland), No. 24 Illinois (lost to Penn State), No. 25 East Carolina (lost to Houston)

Week 4 NFL picks

I fell off a bit on my picks against the spread, but actually finished above .500 when it came to straight-up picks. I guess you have to take every little victory.

Denver (-9.5) at Kansas City
What’s worse? The Kansas City offense or the Denver defense? It’s hard to say, but the Denver offense doesn’t have to apologize. And if Kansas City can’t be competitive against the Raiders or Falcons, they won’t show up against the Broncos.
Denver 35, Kansas City 20

Cleveland (+3) at Cincinnati
Games between bad teams are always tough. Unlike the Missouri teams, which were supposed to stink, the Ohio teams were supposed to be decent. But they aren’t. I’ll go with the home team grudgingly here.
Cincinnati 26, Cleveland 21

Houston (+7) at Jacksonville
The Jags are coming off a pretty huge victory at Indianapolis, while the Texans are still a little frazzled with all of the outside Hurricane Ike influences. Houston typically plays the Jags tough, but I don’t see it this time.
Jacksonville 23, Houston 14

Arizona (+1) at N.Y. Jets
You have the NFC West there for the taking Cardinals. So take it. The Jets have had two tough losses since the opener, but they were playing some pretty darn good teams. I don’t know how good Arizona is, but I’m thinking a Cards win.
Arizona 23, N.Y. Jets 20

San Francisco (+4) at New Orleans
Dare I say it, but J.T. O’Sullivan kind of looked like a 49ers quarterback of yore last week. Then again, they were playing the Lions and I was sunburned. Either way, SF is showing a pulse, making this matchup a good one.
New Orleans 28, San Francisco 23

Atlanta (+6.5) at Carolina
This seems like really easy money. Yes, the Falcons are 2-1, but those two wins came against the Chiefs and Lions. The Panthers are a significant step up – a step the Falcons aren’t ready to make.
Carolina 28, Atlanta 9

Minnesota (+3) at Tennessee
This should be a good one. The Vikings are 1-2, but the one win (Carolina) was quality and the two losses (Green Bay and Indianapolis) weren’t to slouches. The Titans are 3-0, but its not a sound 3-0. I’ll take the upset.
Minnesota 21, Tennessee 17

Green Bay (+1.5) at Tampa Bay
Chris Berman always dubs this game “The Bay of Pigs”. Chris Berman is also highly annoying. This should be another good game to watch, as the Pack has looked pretty good and Brian Griese is coming off a 67-pass performance for the Bucs. I don’t see that happening again. Wow, what a limb I just went out on.
Green Bay 20, Tampa Bay 17

Buffalo (-8.5) at St. Louis
The Bills are a surprising 3-0 with Trent Edwards quarterbacking, but the Rams are terrible. And now apparently, they are a team divided between Marc Bulger and Trent Green. This game could be bad.
Buffalo 27, St. Louis 12

San Diego (-7.5) at Oakland
I think the Chargers have finally awoken, although their defense still is a concern. I think Lane Kiffin has done a wonderful job considering all the bull he has to put up with in Oakland, but the Raiders don’t have enough to hang in this game.
San Diego 34, Oakland 14

Washington (+10.5) at Dallas
The Cowboys are friggin good. No real way to say anything otherwise. They have the most talented roster in the NFL and they look like a force. However, their series with the Redskins always takes weird turns. No, Washington won’t win, but don’t be surprised if the Cowboys break a sweat.
Dallas 28, Washington 20

Philadelphia (-3) at Chicago
This is a tricky game for the Eagles, as the Bears might have the second-best 1-2 team out there besides San Diego. However, the Eagles are probably the second or third best team in the league right now. In fact, the NFC East has the three best teams, which is crazy. I’m tempted to pick the Bears, but I can’t.
Philadelphia 24, Chicago 19

Baltimore (+5) at Pittsburgh
The Steelers embarrassed the Ravens on Monday Night Football in Pittsburgh last November, pretty much sealing the fate of Redlands native Brian Billick as the coach of the Ravens. This Baltimore team is 2-0 and won’t be embarrassed, but I can’t see them winning at Heinz.
Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 10

Straight up: 22-24. Against the spread: 21-24-1.

Burnard update

I just got off the phone with Dave Griffiths, who filled me in on some details about the timeline between Burnard’s injury and the emergency surgery he faced last night.

As he was being taken in an ambulance to the trauma center in Moreno Valley by the on-site EMS personnel at San Jacinto High School, Burnard was awake and aware, talking to his parents. He continued to talk with Griffiths and the Big Bear coaching staff and administration, which quickly made the trip to the trauma center at the conculsion of the game. At that point, Burnard was awake and conversing, asking the coaches about how the rest of the game went.

“He wanted to know how it ended,” Griffiths said. “We were talking about the game and things in general when his status went downward. We thought he was taken in for observation for a possible concussion and were shocked to see his condition go in that direction.”

Burnard lost consciousness and went into surgery, which took what Griffiths said was a few hours. The Big Bear contigent accompanied the Burnard family throughout the night, staying with the family until the neurologists came out of surgery.

“This is such a tough thing for everyone in the Big Bear community,” Griffiths said. “Sutton is one of the best young men I’ve ever come in contact with and you never want to see something like that happen to anyone, much less a great kid like him. I’ve never heard anyone say a critical thing about Sutton.”

Burnard made it through the surgery and is resting in ICU, where he has been all day today and where he will be for an undetermined amount of time as he undergoes further testing. According to Griffiths, Burnard has shown signs of improvement and has squeezed his father’s hand.

Griffiths returned to Big Bear Saturday to meet with his players and give them a status report on Burnard. He is planning on going back down to the trauma center Sunday to stay with the Burnard family and relay updates to a concerned Big Bear High School community, who is rallying behind Burnard with get-well cards and posters.

“You just want to make sure he’s OK and he makes it,” Griffiths said. “All you can do is sit and wait and hope for the best. Everyone is praying for Sutton right now.”

As far as the injury itself, the Big Bear coaching staff has gone over the film and still hasn’t positively identified which play it happened and how it might have been caused.

Big Bear linebacker in intensive care

Big Bear senior linebacker Sutton Burnard was in intensive care Saturday night at the Riverside Community Medical Center in Moreno Valley after suffering a severe head injury late in the Bears’ 14-14 tie at San Jacinto Friday night.

“He’s resting right now and from what I heard, he was improving,” Big Bear coach Dave Griffiths said. “It’s an extremely tough thing for him to go through and my heart is out to him and his family.”

After San Jacinto scored the tying touchdown, Burnard came over to the sideline and seemed off, according to what the Big Bear trainers told Griffiths. The EMS was called and Burnard was taken off in an ambulance and transferred to the medical center, which specializes in neurological treatment. He underwent surgery late Friday night.

“It’s a very scary situation,” Griffiths said. “I don’t even know what play it happened, but my trainers noticed something was wrong and called the EMS.

“He’s in intensive care, but he has passed a share of obstacles. I’m just praying that he makes it out of this all right.”

Nunes commits to Stanford

Three days after changing his verbal status from a solid verbal to a soft one, Upland quarterback Josh Nunes switched verbal commitments altogether, has he is now committed to Stanford University. Judging by his statements in a press release sent out by Tim Nunes, Josh’s father, his committment to the Cardinal looks to be rock solid.

Said Nunes: “I would like to apologize to the University of Tennessee as I had mistakenly thought that I would not have an opportunity to play at Stanford. Stanford has always been my dream to attend and for the past three years, ever since I’ve been coached by him at his camp, it’s been my dream to play for Coach (Jim) Harbaugh. Stanford is the only school I’ve camped at for the past few years and I believe that I have to follow my heart.”

Nunes is currently a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and Scout.com. He is the No. 12-rated pro-style quarterback and the No. 201-rated recruit overall according to Rivals.

Week 5 college picks

Doing this a day early thanks to the USC game being tonight. Decent week last week, going 6-4 against the spread. Hopefully I’ll surge back above .500 after this.

USC (-24) at Oregon State
This line has gone down a point over the past couple of days. Perhaps bettors just watched the ESPN segment profiling the Trojans’ recent troubles in Corvallis – a place where they are 1-2 this decade. However, this Oregon State team can’t stop anyone. So past OSU issues or not, USC will rule this game.
USC 40, Oregon State 10

Fresno State (-7.5) at UCLA
Ok, I think its safe to expunge the Tennessee victory out of the consciousness – especially since the Vols seem to have their own problems. UCLA is not good, nor will it be good this year. Fresno State almost lost to Toledo in a letdown game last week, but will be up for a trip to the Rose Bowl. That’s not good for the Bruins.
Fresno State 27, UCLA 16

Stanford (+2.5) at Washington
At this point, Tyrone Willingham would probably do just about anything – at least anything that won’t get him throw in jail – to get the Huskies a win. Stanford is improved, but they haven’t exactly lit the world on fire since beating Oregon State in the opener. However, they should win this.
Stanford 28, Washington 24

Oregon (-21.5) at Washington State
The Ducks were disappointing in losing to Boise State and now are down to a true freshman quarterback, but it doesn’t matter. Nothing really matters against Wazzu, which is truly and deeply horrible.
Oregon 38, Washington State 7

Alabama (+6.5) at Georgia
I guess Georgia is wearing black uniforms on Saturday. In the South, that must pass for breaking news. Either way, it doesn’t matter if these guys are wearing black uniforms or leisure suits, this game will be intense. This win would further prove that Bama is back, but I’ll take the Dogs.
Georgia 31, Alabama 20

TCU (+18) at Oklahoma
Their last meeting is September 2005 still gives Oklahoma fans nightmares, as a TCU team came into Norman and shocked the national runners-up 17-10. You know the Sooners will be talking about that loss in preparation for today and it should help, but TCU is too solid of a team to get blown out. Look for a weak backdoor cover.
Oklahoma 28, TCU 13

Illinois (+16) at Penn State
The Nittany Lions have been destroying everything in their path, but besides Oregon State, that path has been littered with the dregs of college football. This spread seems inflated to me, as Illinois has a darn good team, a team capable of going to PSU and winning. I think the Nits win, but don’t cover.
Penn State 33, Illinois 24

Virginia Tech (+7) at Nebraska
This is a benchmark game for the Huskers. While they are 3-0, it’s not like they’ve played the elite of the nation to get to that point. Va. Tech is winning ugly, but that’s pretty much their MO. I see another ugly game and another gory Hokie win.
Virginia Tech 19, Nebraska 17

Tennessee (+7) at Auburn
I’m really not sure what Vegas is seeing in this game. Tennessee has looked bad in losses to UCLA and Florida, while Auburn is a legitimate Top 15 team. I guess Vegas expects the Vols to step it up and show some pride, or Auburn to let down after losing late to LSU. I think Auburn rolls.
Auburn 27, Tennessee 10

Wisconsin (-6) at Michigan
I shouldn’t write about this game, but I will. This spread shot up from 3 to 6.5 before stabilzing and starting to move down a tiny bit. What does this mean? Who knows? I could see Michigan hanging tight with the Badgers, but it’s probably too much to ask for them to win this game.
Wisconsin 21, Michigan 17

Overall record: 30-10. Record against spread: 19-20-1

Week 3 high school picks

Perfection may be unattainable, but my performance last week was about as close as one could get to it. I went 22-1 last week, only missing the Twentynine Palms-San Jacinto game. Let’s see if we can do better this week.

Aquinas at Azusa
This game is set for tonight and that’s where I’ll be in a few hours. Aquinas continues to impress, smacking around Riverside Notre Dame for a prodigious “Holy War” victory. Azusa is surprisingly 3-0, but I don’t see them hanging with a red-hot Falcons team.
Aquinas 37, Azusa 19

Redlands East Valley at Compton Dominguez
This would typically be a battle of two heavyweights, but Dominguez is 0-3 after having lost to Compton High for the first time in a quarter-century. While REV isn’t hitting on all cylinders right now, it won’t have to be to win this.
REV 27, Dominguez 14

Los Osos at Vista Murrieta
Now this is a true battle of heavyweights. The Grizzlies come in an impressive 2-0 after wins over Bishop Amat and Cajon and have a week of rest. However, the Broncos have only lost twice in the past two-plus seasons and have two impressive pelts on their wall in Redlands and Colton. I expect Los Osos to join that wall, with the home team winning a classic.
Vista Murrieta 24, Los Osos 23

Hesperia at Pacific
The Pirates were actually pretty scrappy against Hesperia last year, only losing 10-0. However, this Hesperia squad is more explosive on offense, which will make it impossible for Pacific to hang around very long.
Hesperia 38, Pacific 0

Serrano at Palmdale Highland
The Diamondbacks may have lost 37-21 to Upland last week, but they made the Highlanders truly work hard for the victory. While Upland was able to victimize Serrano in the air and while Highland has a potent passing attack, the experience of playing Josh Nunes and company should help Serrano a ton in this game.
Serrano 34, Highland 17

Colton at Palm Springs
This is the game I’m covering tomorrow. Quite frankly, I’m excited to see what kind of hand the Yellowjackets have right now. From their first two games, it seems like they have a lockdown defense. The offense is still a work in progress, but the Colton D should suffocate Palm Springs.
Colton 17, Palm Springs 6

Cajon at Kaiser
This will be a great Xs and Os game. Cajon has the home-run athleticism on offense with running back Walter Kazee and wide receiver Marlon Pollard, but Kaiser’s stifling defense makes teams have to dink and dunk down the field. It will be low-scoring, but I think the Cowboys will get this win.
Cajon 16, Kaiser 14

Victor Valley at Apple Valley
The Battle for the Bell hasn’t been much of a battle lately, as Apple Valley has won the last four overall against Victor Valley teams that have had a hard time winning any games. But lo and behold, the Jackrabbits are undefeated and the Sun Devils are winless. I’ll go with Victor Valley to break the Sun Devil streak.
Victor Valley 27, Apple Valley 24

Granite Hills at Summit
We know one thing – one of these teams will be giving up their first points of the 2008 season. Actually, I guess this could end in a 0-0 tie, but I will guarantee that someone will score. Both of these teams are great stories, and one will continue into October undefeated. I’ll go Summit.
Summit 23, Granite Hills 14

San Gorgonio at Yucaipa
San G has had as tough of a two-game stretch as you would want, opening up with Hesperia and REV. They have the athleticism and speed capable of beating a lot of teams though. Yucaipa is included in that group, as the Thunderbirds will lose in a good one.
San Gorgonio 22, Yucaipa 17

Other games of note
Upland 37, Lancaster Eastside 10
Arrowhead Christian 12, San Diego Midway Baptist 6
Etiwanda 36, Carter 10
Eisenhower 34, Norte Vista 9
Covina Charter Oak 24, Rancho Cucamonga 23
San Bernardino 28, Fontana 12
Big Bear 25, San Jacinto 16
Twentynine Palms 23, Banning 19
Beaumont 30, Yucca Valley 14
Palm Desert 35, Silverado 20
Barstow 27, Quartz Hill 23
Rim of the World 20, Bishop 13
Palmdale Knight 27, Sultana 24
Arroyo Valley 21, Don Lugo 10

Overall record: 54-10-1

Nunes wavering on Tennessee?

According to Volquest.com, the Rivals website for the University of Tennessee, Upland quarterback Josh Nunes informed the Volunteers’ coaching staff that he is now a “soft verbal” commitment, meaning that he is opening up his recruitment a bit.

The story, which is available to premium customers on Rivals.com, had an e-mail from the Nunes family to the staff at Volquest.com, citing distance from Southern California as a primary concern. The e-mail read like this:

“I have changed my commitment at Tennessee to a soft verbal. My reason is based on the distance and difficulty getting there from my home. On my first trip, distance and flying posed a problem when we could not get home in the case of a family emergency. My recent official visit made me realize what I would put my family, grandparents, relatives and friends through in traveling and expense especially knowing my family would try to attend every game. I did inform the Tennessee coaches of my intentions before this past game and losing had nothing to do with this decision. I plan on taking my remaining official visits. I am not closing the doors at UT from my side and I still think highly about the program, especially the players, recruits, and coaches. I feel that I do owe UT the time to adjust their recruiting in case things change for me.”

Nunes picked Tennessee out of a final group of eight that included Arizona State, Florida, Stanford, BYU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Harvard. Considering that Florida and Harvard are even farther than Tennessee and Nebraska and Oklahoma represent significant hikes, it seems as if Stanford, where Nunes camped earlier this summer, could be a player, as could Arizona State – which has received a verbal commitment from Upland WR/DB Osahon Irabor. Nunes has only been on one official visit – to Tennessee this past weekend – and has not scheduled any others according to Volquest.com.

We’ll keep you posted on any further developments.