Week 14 top 25

Before I get into it, I’m going to say how it would be a sham if Oklahoma gets ranked ahead of Texas in the BCS. And no, its not because they are so bad on defense that Florida would be guaranteed to beat them by 20-plus points. And its not entirely because they lost to Texas at a neutral site – though that should be reason enough for anyone sane.

No, my reasons for Texas to get the nod over Oklahoma and Texas Tech in the Big 12 title game are as follows. Oh yeah, and boo to the Big 12 for making this a tiebreaker. Just awful.

1) Texas is the only one of the three not to get a home game over the other two.

2) Texas is the only one of the three to win away from home against the other two.

3) Texas had the toughest in-conference strength of schedule, having to play Big 12 North champion Missouri while the other two didn’t. With that said, if Oklahoma gets the nod, Texas will have beaten both participants in the Big 12 championship game by 10-plus points – participants that have equal or worse records than Texas.

4) Texas had the closest loss and Texas’ loss came in the toughest circumstances. Texas was on game four of a four-week gauntlet (Oklahoma, Missouri, Okla. State and Tech) without a bye. Tech had a bye before its loss and Oklahoma had its tough opponents divided evenly.

5) Texas had the toughest non-conference schedule according to win/loss record. Oklahoma did beat Cincinnati and TCU, but also played 0-11 Washington and 1-11 FCS Chattanooga. Tech played two FCS teams.

Yeah, the voters need to do the right thing here. We’ll see if they do. Now to the rankings:

1. Alabama (1) – Still undefeated and broke a six-game losing streak to Auburn. Has its hands full with Florida.

2. Florida (2) – The Gators are straight pile-driving fools right now. Look to be the favorites to win the title.

3. Texas (3) – Beat Texas A&M by 40. Explained the rest above.

4. Oklahoma (4) – The Oklahoma State victory was a good one. But I’m sorry, I’m not ranking them above Texas.

5. USC (5) – Embarrassed Notre Dame. What else is new.

6. Utah (6) – Still undefeated and will remain that way until January. Good enough for me.

7. Penn State (8) – They move up because Texas Tech struggled again. Nits should have a good Rose Bowl matchup with USC.

8. Texas Tech (7) – Almost made the BCS picture infinitely easier by almost losing to Baylor. Get penalized because they didn’t.

9. Boise State (9) – All I know is that it was 13-10 over Fresno State before I left to drive to Temecula Friday night and it ended up being 61-10.

10. Ohio State (10) – Oregon State loss likely sews up BCS bid.

11. Ball State (13) – Big win over Western Michigan moves undefeated Cardinals up.

12. TCU (15) – Move up 3 despite regular season being over. Must be nice.

13. Cincinnati (16) – The Bearcats locked up the Big East title and a BCS berth. And no, Bob Huggins had nothing to do with it.

14. Georgia Tech (19) – The Yellow Jackets put on a triple-option clinic against Georgia, getting a bump in the rankings in the process.

15. Boston College (20) – Eagles’ fourth win in a row sends them to ACC title game against Virginia Tech for the second straight year.

16. Oregon (21) – Ducks throw up 65 on Oregon State, ruining the Beavers’ BCS hopes while making USC and Ohio State very happy.

17. BYU (18) – Teams losing ahead of them give the Cougars a tiny bump up.

18. Oklahoma State (12) – 41 points should have been enough to beat Oklahoma. But it was 20 short.

19. Georgia (11) – The Bulldogs’ house of cards were crumbled by Georgia Tech. The preseason No. 1 leaves the regular season without a win over a ranked team.

20. Pittsburgh (23) – The Panthers take down West Virginia to win the Backyard Brawl for the second year in a row, driving the Mountaineers crazy again.

21. Missouri (14) – Loss to Kansas leaves Missouri in same boat as Georgia, great against inferior teams and inferior to great teams. Could really screw things up with a Big 12 upset next week.

22. Michigan State (24) – Spartans move up with losses by others and a newly-minted win over a top 25 team in Iowa.

23. Mississippi (25) – The Rebels killed Mississippi State to continue their late-season surge.

24. Oregon State (16) – Losing 65-38 in a must-win game is a tough end to what was a great season for the Beavers.

25. Iowa (NR) – The Hawkeyes sneak into the rankings. And hey, they can say they were the only ones to beat Penn State.

Under consideration: Northwestern, Florida State, Tulsa

Dropped out: No. 22 Florida State (lost to Florida).

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NFL picks

Went 2-1 on Thanksgiving. Sweet. Let’s keep it up.

Denver (+8) at N.Y. Jets – N.Y. Jets 31, Denver 17
San Francisco (+6.5) at Buffalo – Buffalo 30, San Francisco 21
New Orleans (+4) at Tampa Bay – Tampa Bay 28, New Orleans 20
Carolina (+3) at Green Bay – Carolina 24, Green Bay 23
N.Y. Giants (-3.5) at Washington – N.Y. Giants 27, Washington 17
Miami (-8) at St. Louis – Miami 24, St. Louis 17
Baltimore (-7) at Cincinnati – Baltimore 24, Cincinnati 9
Indianapolis (-5) at Cleveland – Indianapolis 34, Cleveland 21
Atlanta (+5) at San Diego – San Diego 27, Atlanta 23
Pittsburgh (+1) at New England – New England 28, Pittsburgh 17
Kansas City (+3) at Oakland – Oakland 24, Kansas City 16
Chicago (+3.5) at Minnesota – Minnesota 23, Chicago 20
Jacksonville (+3) at Houston – Houston 28, Jacksonville 23

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Rest of my college picks

Here are six more. Kind of disheveled this week, but its OK.

Notre Dame (+31.5) at USC: USC 38, Notre Dame 14
Oregon (+3) at Oregon State: Oregon State 28, Oregon 23
Washington State (+28.5) at Hawaii: Hawaii 51, Washington State 16
Oklahoma (-7.5) at Oklahoma State: Oklahoma 42, Oklahoma State 27
Auburn (+14.5) at Alabama: Alabama 28, Auburn 9
Florida (-16.5) at Florida State: Florida 38, Florida State 17

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Thanksgiving practice feature

This is the longer version of the story which ran in Thursday’s paper.

By T.J. Berka
Staff Writer
Being one of eight teams in a division alive for a CIF championship is what practicing on Thanksgiving Day is all about, as the chosen few teams get to continue their seasons while most around them have been eliminated.
“Practicing on Thanksgiving is something we take a lot of pride in,” Aquinas coach Josh Henderson said. “We’ve done it five years in a row and six times since I’ve been here. You are one of eight teams still left playing in your division, which is a standard which we are proud to have in our program.”
Thanksgiving practice is typically held in the morning, giving players plenty of time to spend the rest of the holiday with their respective families. Coming a day before quarterfinal games are typically played, the practices are mostly walk-throughs — last-minute workouts and fine-tuning before game day.
But Thanksgiving walkthroughs have taken on a life of their own over the years. That is especially true among the Dick Bruich Fontana High School coaching tree, as “The Turkey Story” has almost become as big of a part of Thanksgiving practice as finalizing game plans.
“The Turkey Story is great,” Redlands East Valley junior quarterback Tyler Shreve said. “It’s one thing we all rally around. Last week we were telling each other ‘If we win, we get to practice and hear the Turkey Story’ It’s a fun thing we all enjoy.”
Both REV coach Kurt Bruich and Henderson played their high school football at Fohi under Dick Bruich, whose legendary 292-win, four CIF-title career concluded at Kaiser High School with a 13-12 loss to Banning in the first round of the CIF-SS Eastern Division playoffs last week.
During his 23 years at Fontana from 1976-98, Thanksgiving practices could have been scheduled as early as July, as the Steelers were regular players in late-November, early-December football. Because of that, there was some conflict between Thanksgiving pigouts and playoff football.
“It actually came about by mistake in the mid-70s,” Dick Bruich said. “We’d have an assistant telling kids not to pig out until Saturday, and that lasted a few years. Then we’d have assistants telling the kids to pig out, and that went for a few years. Finally it turned into a story.
“Some were really funny, others were terrible, but everyone seemed to enjoy them. The kids treated it like a bedtime story — if they were good and got past the first round of the playoffs, they could hear it.”
Its effects last 30 years later, as the Fohi Thanksgiving tradition has spread its wings around the Inland Empire.
“It’s really a fun thing,” Kurt Bruich said. “I’m pretty different from my dad and I don’t do a lot of the same things he did, but that’s one thing that I brought from him that I’ll always do.”
Kurt was a wide receiver on Fohi’s 1987 mythical national championship team, preceding Henderson and Aquinas assistant Jeff McCarthy, who both last played at Fohi in 1992.
The story had kicked into high gear by then, something that stuck with McCarthy.
“There are things that are really talked up that let you down,” McCarthy said. “The Turkey Story is one of those things that always delivers. It’s one of the more enjoyable things we do.”
McCarthy is in control of the Turkey Story duties, a job that has taken a life of its own since he joined Henderson at Aquinas in 2000. It’s an exclusive, almost invitation-only event, with Falcon alumni returning Thanksgiving morning to hear the latest installment alongside the current players. He also assigns the reader of the Turkey Story, something he’s done himself in 2000 and 2005 — CIF championship years for the Falcons.
“Coach Henderson is challenging all the coaches,” said McCarthy jokingly. “He’s challenging them to read well and lead us to a CIF title, since I’m the only one that’s had that happen.”
The Turkey Story also has been the foundation of further Aquinas hijinks, such as coaches splicing goofy home videos into game film, implementing hilarity into what is supposed to be a serious instructional session.
“It’s one of those stupid things that just breaks up the tension,” McCarthy said. “Coach Henderson will be doing his thing, just tearing into this and that and harping on players to fulfill this or that assignment and a clip of a coach fooling around will pop up.
“Most of the kids sit there shocked, as if they’ll get in trouble if they laugh. The ‘tough guys,’ the ones who don’t care about being yelled at, will chuckle, but the rest of them are pretty confused on whether its OK to laugh.”
While McCarthy runs the Turkey Story festivities at Aquinas, defensive backs coach Citos Marinez is the creative force at REV.
The 27-year old Marinez, who played under Kurt Bruich when Bruich was an assistant at Rowland Heights Rowland, was chosen due to his youth and hipness.
“Citos is a young guy, so the players think he’s cool or something,” Kurt Bruich said. “They think he’s funny and he does a great job with it. They all love it.”
Marinez, like McCarthy at Aquinas, takes his job as the Turkey Story czar seriously. After Tuesday morning practices Thanksgiving week, Marinez and the REV coaching staff go out to eat, brainstorming about story ideas.
“It’s always something that sounded cool to me,” Marinez said. “When I was playing at Rowland, Coach Bruich would always talk about the Turkey Story and how cool it was.
“We never got to play Thanksgiving weekend, so I never heard one. But once I got here, it was something that I was excited about being a part of.”
Marinez tends to try to incorporate the upcoming opponent (this year, it’s the Temecula Chaparral Pumas) and movies into his story, which he tells on the hill overlooking the REV practice field.
Last year before the Wildcats played Norco, Marinez based his story on the movie ‘300’, which the Wildcats watched as a team earlier that season.
“I would tell part of the story and then give them the line ‘Wildcats, what is our profession?'” Marinez said. “They’d say ‘Hooo! Hooo!’ real loud and I’d continue.
“I gave players Greek nicknames in the story to keep them involved. Tyler Shreve was ‘The Tall One’, Chris Polk was ‘Flashitis’ and Coach Bruich was ‘Bruitis.'”
While Dick Bruich never gave his players Greek nicknames, or really told the stories for the most part, he’s proud of their legacy.
“I was hoping to do one last one for my Kaiser kids this week, but it didn’t work out,” Bruich said. “I’m proud that something like this has had a positive effect. It shows that we must have been doing something right over the years.”

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The Sierra League and CBL take it on the chin, while the Baseline and Desert Sky League take care of business.

No. 1 Rancho Cucamonga 28, Menifee Paloma Valley 20
No. 4 Cajon 34, Ayala 14
No. 2 Los Osos 28, Chino Hills 24
Upland 54, Glendora 14

No. 1 Perris Citrus Hill 56, Palm Desert 28
Serrano 21, Banning 12
Silverado 59, No. 2 Hesperia 44
Barstow 34, No. 3 Palm Springs 20

No. 1 St. Margaret’s 17, Yucca Valley 6
Maranatha at Big Bear, Saturday
Twentynine Palms 40, No. 3 Aquinas 0
Fillmore 21, No. 2 Brentwood 14

No. 1 Corona Centennial 41, Vista Murrieta 14
Murrieta Valley 27, No. 4 Miller 6
Norco 40, Riverside North 26
No. 3 Temecula Chaparral 20, Redlands East Valley 0

Rosemead 59, San Dimas 22
Monrovia 41, Duarte 21
Temple City 17, Azusa 0

Charter Oak 40, Crescenta Valley 9
Diamond Ranch 15, West Covina South Hills 12 (OT)
Rowland Heights Rowland 52, La Serna 28
West Covina 49, Burbank 28

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Thursday college, pro picks

Don’t really got time to do the whole slate now, so here’s the quickie. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Texas A&M (+35) at Texas: Texas 40, Texas A&M 13

Tennessee (-10.5) at Detroit: Tennessee 34, Detroit 13
Seattle (+12) at Dallas: Dallas 31, Seattle 10
Arizona (+3) at Philadelphia: Arizona 27, Philadelphia 21

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High school playoff predictions

Doing this a little early, as I’m off doing the holiday thing for the next two days. Not a bad week last week, though its fair to say that I screwed up games involving public schools in the Redlands Metropolitan Area.


Paloma Valley at No. 1 Rancho Cucamonga
So my upset special wasn’t special. Actually, my real upset special was Glendora, but it’s all good. Paloma Valley did well, but they’ll have their hands full with Rancho, which received quite a scare last week for Colton. Look for Greg Watson and the Rancho passing attack to carry their big fourth quarter over.
Rancho Cucamonga 33, Paloma Valley 20

No. 4 Cajon at Ayala
I was at the Cajon-Etiwanda game last week and it was a hum-dinger, as both teams played their hearts out. The win was big for the Cowboys’ psyche, just because they don’t have to hear the ‘Well, you are just a product of the SAL’ talk as much. What they will have to deal with is a darn good Ayala team that can come at you in waves. I picked Ayala before the playoffs and am sticking with that.
Ayala 30, Cajon 27

Glendora at Upland
The jaw-dropping score of the week definitely came from Glendora, which destroyed No. 3 Hemet West Valley. I’ll pat my back because I predicted an upset, but I didn’t expect the beatdown that took place. Upland beat down Chaffey, which was expected, and plays the Tartans for the third time since last November. Each team has one, and I’m predicting Upland to win the rubber match.
Upland 34, Glendora 28

No. 2 Los Osos at Chino Hills
Richard Brehaut used his legs more than his arm to lead the Grizzlies to victory last week. That’s nice, but that ain’t going to fly against Chino Hills. The Huskies bulldozed San Gorgonio 52-14 thanks to a monster day from RB A.J. Johnson. Chino Hills keeps plugging along to little fan fare (despite Fowler’s exemplary article) and will do so again, “upsetting” Los Osos.
Chino Hills 27, Los Osos 21


No. 1 Perris Citrus Hill 36, Palm Desert 25

Serrano at Banning
I’m not going to lie, Banning’s win over Kaiser shocked me. I did not see that coming. I guess i should get to know more about Banning, but I don’t think they are going to knock off another Eastern power. Serrano trounced La Quinta behind junior RB Dionza Bradford and could very well be the dark horse in this bracket. The Banning story is a good one, but one that will end.
Serrano 28, Banning 14

No. 3 Palm Springs at Barstow
The Aztecs are another one of those teams that doesn’t get hype but wins. They can throw three RBs at you in the double-wing and have some massive hombres blocking. But Palm Springs is red-hot and this is pretty much what they do. After whipping Summit, Palm Springs will have its way with Barstow late.
Palm Springs 23, Barstow 16

No. 2 Hesperia at Silverado
Don’t look now but the Hawks, who started 0-6, are amazingly still alive and quite a threat behind QB Jemeryn Jenkins. Jenkins is a ridiculous talent, slicing and dicing Patriot for 406 yards last week. However, Hesperia put on a clinic against Notre Dame, barely breaking a sweat in winning 55-27. The rested Scorpions have a little too much sting.
Hesperia 31, Silverado 19


No. 1 St. Margaret’s at Yucca Valley
Yucca Valley has been an awesome story, recovering from several tattered years to win a De Anza League co-championship and a playoff game. It’s a great job Tim Connavo is doing out there. However, this isn’t going to be pretty. St. Margaret’s hasn’t been challenged all year and Yucca, for all their strengths, don’t have the ability to.
St. Margaret’s 41, Yucca Valley 16

Pasadena Maranatha at Big Bear
The Bears made me look smart, which is hard to do, coming up with the brassy 33-32 upset over No. 4 Santa Paula. It’s been a tough year at Big Bear, but you know the Bears will growl at playoff time. I’ll be up the hill to watch them take on Maranatha, which is just annoying to type. So I’ll predict. I am tempted to take the Bears, but I picked the other team (see what I did there?) last week. Can’t change now.
Maranatha 24, Big Bear 20

No. 3 Aquinas at Twentynine Palms
I kind of wish I was at this game Friday, because this one is going to be a war. Aquinas has been rolling over fools this year behind QB Tyler Stirewalt and his merry band of skill-position playmakers, but the Falcons’ only loss came to Twentynine Palms – a team that put 63 up on Brethren Christian last week. I expect the Palms to be jumping, but Aquinas to exact revenge.
Aquinas 28, Twentynine Palms 26

No. 2 Brentwood 27, Fillmore 13


No. 1 Corona Centennial 42, Vista Murrieta 10

No. 4 Miller at Murrieta Valley
The Rebels looked awesome on offense in their 48-21 victory over Roosevelt, gaining well over 500 yards and looking like the juggernaut unit it was last year under A.J. Springer. yeah, Juan Flores and David Dash next year could be mad scary. However, the defense has showed some signs of slippage lately, which won’t be helped by Murrieta Valley. I have the Rebels losing a heartbreaker on the road, similar to their loss to Chaparral last year.
Murrieta Valley 28, Miller 23

Redlands East Valley at No. 3 Temecula Chaparral
After impaling the Santiago Sharks, REV looks to take out a Chaparral team that’s been hell on the CBL in recent years. The Pumas took out REV two years ago and Miller this year, meaning they have run up quite a tab. The REV offense has erupted lately, but I don’t see them evening the bill this week. I will be at the game though to see if I’m wrong and to see if Lindsay Soto is there. I can always hope.
Chaparral 23, Redlands East Valley 19

Norco 27, Riverside North 17

Last week: 26-6. Overall: 232-54-4.

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Football time change list

Hesperia and Silverado is now at 7 p.m. at Victor Valley High School. If you guys know of any other games that have been moved, drop a comment or e-mail me at tj.berka@inlandnewspapers.com.

What we know so far:
Hesperia vs. Silverado at Victor Valley HS, 7 p.m.
Cajon at Ayala, 7 p.m.
Palm Springs at Barstow, 7 p.m.
Pasadena Maranatha vs. Big Bear at Big Bear Middle School, 1 p.m. Saturday.

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