Yes, I realize I still have a few more teams to highlight, but high school football action starts tonight with Colony-Los Osos and Montclair-Ganesha. So we will do our Week 0 picks, where I try to look smart and end up sounding like something else. On that note…
Colony at Los Osos
The namepower of this game is pretty intense, as the Titans are just a season removed from back-to-back Central Division titles while the Grizzlies are just a season removed from three straight Baseline League titles. But both come into 2009 with something to prove.
Colony, which backslid to third place in the Mt. Baldy League last year, needs to show that 2008 was an aberration – not a trend. Los Osos loses quarterback Richard Brehaut and running back Arby Fields and will depend on 6-foot-5 senior quarterback Blake Loncar, who was accomplished at the JV level.
I’ll go with Osos on this one due to homefield advantage and general skepticism about Colony.
Los Osos 21, Colony 13
Miller at Upland
Just wrote a bunch about this game for Friday’s paper, but the main focus is on two things. First off, how will Miller do with Jeff Strycula taking over for Jeff Steinberg? He has some offensive weapons in QB Juan Flores and RB David Dash, but a new coaching staff plus some drama from the hazing incident leaves questions.
Upland has to replace a three-year starting QB in Josh Nunes (Stanford), RB Davion Fleming (Northwestern) and CB Osahon Irabor (Arizona State), which will be a tough task. How well are they able to do that in the early season?
I’m tempted to pick Upland here, but I have Miller ranked higher. I’ll stay true to my rankings at this point.
Miller 26, Upland 24
Summit at Etiwanda
The SkyHawks are stepping up their game a notch as far as nonleague scheduling, with Etiwanda joining Redlands and Silverado on a ratched-up slate. Summit broke through with an 8-3 record last year and have a talented QB duo in juniors Josh Owes and Devon Blackmon, who will see a lot of time at WR.
Etiwanda was a mere point away from upsetting Cajon and had several other close losses in a 5-6 season this year. I’d expect a couple of those losses to turn into wins for the Eagles this year.
Etiwanda 34, Summit 23
Serrano at Paraclete
Ray Maholchic and the Diamondbacks don’t exactly screw around during the nonleague schedule and this is no different, as Paraclete won the Mid-Valley championship a year ago. This will be a doozy, as Serrano outlasted Paraclete 35-28 at home a year ago and are going into the Antelope Valley for a rematch.
Expect another classic, but the result to be the same.
Serrano 27, Paraclete 24
Silverado at Gardena Serra
I just got done trumping up Serrano’s schedule, but no one has a more masochistic nonleague schedule year in and year out than Silverado. I’m pretty sure if USC has a bye week next year, Carl Posey will be on the phone to Pete Carroll trying to set something up. Ok, I’m overreacting but still, starting with the Northwest Division champions is pretty crazy. Should be a fun game at the very least.
Serra 38, Silverado 26
Redlands at Temecula Oak
The senior-laden Terriers weren’t able to fulfill their high expectations a year ago, going 5-6 with several close losses. Redlands will be younger but still should be tough in the trenches, which will be essential against a Temecula Oak team that comes from the tough Southwestern League.
Redlands 19, Temecula Oak 16
Damien at Rancho Cucamonga
A rout of Damien in the opener last year got the Cougars rolling last year, a roll that didn’t stop until they won the Central Division championship. Damien has a new coach and a new approach, but that won’t matter at all against the No. 1 team in the coverage area.
Rancho Cucamonga 35, Damien 16
Don Lugo at Ayala
If you look at last year, this should be a mismatch, as the Bulldogs were co-Sierra League champions while the Conquistadores couldn’t make the playoffs in a questionable Mt. Baldy League. But Don Lugo has the top end talent in DT George Uko and DB Steven Bethley to make things uncomfortable for Ayala. I’m expecting a Bulldog victory, but it’ll be tough.
Ayala 23, Don Lugo 17
Rim of the World at Banning
Two years ago, this game would have been a laugher, as Banning was one of the worst teams in the Southern Section. But they had a renaissance last year, sending out Dick Bruich and Kaiser in the first round of the playoffs last year. Against a Rim team that will be feeling its way early, Banning should have its way.
Banning 27, Rim of the World 10
Alta Loma at Chaffey
The Jose Fuentes era at Alta Loma starts with a tough matchup against the physical Tigers, led by RB Ronald Douglas and OL Jesus Cortez. Beating Chaffey is probably a little too much to ask of the Braves at this point.
Chaffey 23, Alta Loma 12
Other games of note:
Montclair 23, Ganesha 18
Big Bear 49, Simi Valley Grace Brethren 31
Cajon 26, Duarte 13
Yucca Valley 24, El Centro Central 20
Chino Hills 30, Lakewood Mayfair 25
Ontario Christian 38, Whittier Christian 17
Twentynine Palms 28, Indio 23
Western Christian 21, Covina Gladstone 6
Ontario 34, La Verne Lutheran 10