While there have been a couple of leagues that have already started playing, league play will really get going this week. And this is when high school football gets good. I seem to finally be getting into some sort of groove, only dropping five games this week.
Redlands at Redlands East Valley
The battle of the Smudge Pot is always a battle and will be again. Both teams are smarting a bit, Redlands from three straight losses in this rivalry and REV from two consecutive losses where it was outscored 55-17. The Terriers are fresh off a bye week and confident after going 4-0-1 against a tough nonleague schedule and look to have the mojo going in. Which is why I’m going the other way. I think REV will circle the wagons and hoist the Smudge Pot again.
Redlands East Valley 17, Redlands 14
Silverado at Victor Valley
Another crosstown rivalry that should be a doozy, as the Jackrabbits have their best chance in a decade to knock off Silverado. Victor Valley has played well in going 5-0, winning The Bell over Apple Valley for the second straight year, but they haven’t faced the schedule Silverado has to date. And the Jackrabbits don’t have a win like Silverado’s victory over Summit two weeks ago. This is when the Hawks start to turn it on and I think Silverado wins a thriller.
Silverado 30, Victor Valley 28
Rancho Cucamonga at Los Osos
This was the Grizzlies’ coming-out party a year ago, as a struggling Los Osos team shocked Rancho, starting a seven-game winning streak that didn’t end until the Grizzlies lost to Upland in the Central Division title game. Los Osos isn’t struggling this year, sporting a solid 3-2 record, but they are the underdogs to a stout Rancho team led by senior RB Sateki Finau. The Cougars have had two weeks to overcome their loss to Redlands and will prevail tomorrow.
Rancho Cucamonga 26, Los Osos 20
Aquinas at Ontario Christian
The bellwether game of the Christian League is expected to be the same in the new Ambassador League, as this holy war is always one of the must-see games in the county. Aquinas has won the last three and comes in with momentum, having won four in a row after a season-opening loss to Desert Hot Springs. The Knights, meanwhile, have struggled, losing three in a row. They’ll get back to winning, but after this week, as I’m going with the Falcons.
Aquinas 34, Ontario Christian 23
Chino Hills at Claremont
The Baseline League has gotten the hype as the toughest league west of the 15, but that title may actually go to the Sierra. And that reason is due in large part to the play of these two teams. A senior-laden Claremont squad has erupted to a 4-1 start behind QB Daniel Kessler, who has thrown for 302 yards per game. The Wolfpack haven’t faced a defense nearly as stout or as talented as Chino Hills’ though and will be slowed down enough by the Huskies.
Chino Hills 27, Claremont 17
Arroyo Valley at San Gorgonio
The Hawks have been in a holding pattern on offense this year with the travails of quarterback Michael Yearwood, who has missed all but one series due to transfer paperwork and a knee injury. The latter will have him out for this key game, putting the onus on an impressive Arroyo Valley defense to shut down a potent San G attack. The Spartans got a big win last week at Carter and are thirsting at the chance to go on a winning streak. And I think they will.
San Gorgonio 20, Arroyo Valley 14
Serrano at Apple Valley
The Diamondbacks are the king poobah of the Mojave River League and despite having issues in the passing game during the nonleague season, always seem to be ready to roll this time of the year. Apple Valley has done a good job of adjusting to its personnel, going from a power-running option attack to a more balanced attack that has featured senior WR Cavion Flournoy. Serrano has size and experience in the trenches, which will tell the tale in this one.
Serrano 28, Apple Valley 13
Chino at Garey
Two of the surprises of the Mt. Baldy League meet to see who is the most for real. The Cowboys have been devastating offensively under first-year coach Matt McCain, averaging 45 points per game. Garey will be Chino’s toughest test to date, as the Vikings possess possibly the best player in the league in senior WR Dominique Williams. But I like the groove Chino is in and look for it to continue tonight.
Chino 35, Garey 24
Bloomington at Norte Vista
This league opener, which I’ll be at in a couple hours, could eventually decide the third Sunkist League playoff spot behind Kaiser and Summit. The Bruins have already equaled their win total from last year at 3, though were defeated handily by Paloma Valley last week, while the Braves are looking to recapture the form that brought them 11 wins and a Eastern Division semifinal appearance a year ago. I look for the Braves to do that and win a crucial game.
Norte Vista 23, Bloomington 18
Desert Hot Springs at Big Bear
Saturday afternoon brings a big matchup in the mountains, as both of these teams have taken tremendous steps forward from a year ago. DSH has already knocked off some name county foes, beating Aquinas and Rim of the World, while the Bears have sparkled behind the nifty option work of junior quarterback Zak Planz. The winner here takes a huge step toward ending Twentynine Palms’ reign atop the De Anza League and its basically a coin flip. So I’ll go with the home team.
Big Bear 35, Desert Hot Springs 32
Other games of note:
Linfield Christian 38, Arrowhead Christian 9
Western Christian 20, Calvary Murrieta 10
Glendora 35, Etiwanda 30
Upland 49, Alta Loma 0
Miller 45, Eisenhower 13
Yucaipa 28, Fontana 12
Twentynine Palms 36, Shadow Hills 10
Yucca Valley 47, Desert Mirage 0
Barstow 16, Granite Hills 14
Oak Hills 30, Sultana 10
Rubidoux 42, Jurupa Hills 6
Rim of the World 35, Citrus Valley 14
Colony 42, Chaffey 10
Ontario 23, Don Lugo 21
Colton 38, San Bernardino 12
Cajon 27, Rialto 14
Carter 54, Pacific 12
Bloomington Christian 20, Fairmont Prep 10
Charter Oak 24, Ayala 17
Kaiser 59, Jurupa Valley 0
Summit 38, Patriot 16
Last week: 21-5