Big Bear playoff site moved

As I alluded to in my picks yesterday, the site of tomorrow’s East Valley Division playoff game between Linfield Christian and Big Bear has been moved to Lucerne Valley High School. It was moved from the original site of Big Bear Middle School because of the threat of significant snow and high winds.

“Lucerne Valley has a permanent press box and we don’t, so we decided to make the change,” Big Bear coach/athletic director Dave Griffiths said. “We use scissor lifts and with the winds of 50-60 mph which may come, we didn’t want to take that risk. Plus, we didn’t want Linfield to be stuck up here because their buses aren’t meant for snow at all.”

The 1 p.m. time for the game remains as originally scheduled.

East Valley Division first-round predictions

Last but not least is the East Valley. Let them play in the snow is all I have to say leading in.

No. 1 Paraclete 30, Desert Hot Springs 20

Notre Dame 23, Grace Brethren 21

Linfield Christian at Big Bear
Snow or no snow, this should be a fun one on Saturday. The Bears have their option offense working at a level that hasn’t been seen since the days of Kriss Proctor, as Zakk Planz has Big Bear executing at a high level. Linfield Christian has playoff experience, winning the Northeast Division last year, but I don’t see their move up being as smooth as St. Margaret’s was.
Big Bear 28, Linfield Christian 18

No. 4 St. Margaret’s 27, Campbell Hall 21

No. 3 Sierra Canyon 38, Bishop Diego 14

Sage Hill at Twentynine Palms
The key question in this game is Twentynine Palms’ resiliency. The Wildcats had a chance for their fourth straight De Anza League title slip out of their grasp last week with a loss to Big Bear at home and now face a Sage Hill team with an effective running attack. 29 Palms is capable of a run, making the East Valley finals two years ago, but I see this run ending sooner rather than later.
Sage Hill 20, Twentynine Palms 14

Brentwood 28, Rubidoux 26

Yucca Valley at No. 2 Aquinas
The Falcons are the hottest team in the division to date, winning nine in a row thanks to the efforts of a balanced rushing attack led by junior RB Burrell Handy. Yucca Valley profitted from a credible nonleague schedule and a tough league to make it into the playoffs, but this is a tough haul for the Trojans, as the Falcons are clicking on all cylinders.
Aquinas 35, Yucca Valley 12

Eastern Division first-round playoff predictions

Now off to the Eastern Division, where the game is “Catch Kaiser if you can.”

Apple Valley at No. 1 Kaiser
If I’m the Sun Devils, I’m pretty bitter right about now. While Apple Valley’s 5-5 record wasn’t ground-breaking, the Sun Devils are hardly the worst team and shouldn’t be the sacrificial lamb to the undefeated Cats. But that’s precisely what they are. Apple Valley is intriguing on offense, but Kaiser has murdered people all year and will do the same tomorrow.
Kaiser 45, Apple Valley 6

Granite Hills at Beaumont
Granite Hills, which lost to Apple Valley in the regular season and had the exact same league record and finish in league as the Sun Devils, got a winnable draw, at least for the first round, as Beaumont isn’t exactly a dominating opponents. But the Mountain Pass League champs are good and will win a low-scoring, hard-hitting duel.
Beaumont 14, Granite Hills 12

Norte Vista at Victor Valley
This is a rough draw for the Jackrabbits, as Norte Vista’s grind-it-out, ball-control style netted it a trip to the semifinals a year ago. You can bet that the Braves will rely on Ryan Ruiz to play keep away from Victor’s potent offense. However, the Jackrabbits took a huge step in beating Burroughs for the Desert Sky League title last week and that confidence will carry over.
Victor Valley 24, Norte Vista 16

Oak Hills at No. 4 Elsinore
The continuation of the Bulldogs’ building process has Oak Hills in a tough spot, as the Bulldogs didn’t get much respect for being the No. 2 team in their league. Elsinore held it own in recent years in the Central Division, advancing to the finals in 2006, and will be a tough go of it. Marshaun Coprich and Jeremiah Armstead will have success, but not quite enough.
Elsinore 26, Oak Hills 17

Silverado at No. 3 Heritage
If there was any proof necessary to validate the theory that tough nonleague schedules mean something, it came with the selection of 5-4-1 Silverado to the playoffs over 7-3 San Jacinto. The Hawks’ philosophy of taking on all comers worked once again, albeit in a different way than normal. However, a 10-0 Heritage team is a tough draw for the Hawks, who just don’t have the guns this year for a long run.
Heritage 34, Silverado 20

West Valley at Summit
West Valley has been a playoff underachiever recently, getting bounced in the first round as a higher seed in each of the last three years. They don’t have to worry about that, as they’ll be the clear underdogs against a Summit team with the best skill-position talent in the division. Summit is prone to lapses, but if the SkyHawks are on, this will get ugly quick.
Summit 38, West Valley 6

Ridgecrest Burroughs 35, Citrus Hill 30

Temescal Canyon at No. 2 Serrano
Kaiser is getting the hype in this division, and for good reason, but seasonal progression indicates that it’s the year of the Diamondback. Serrano has gone from losing in the first round (2006) to the quarters (2007) to the semis (2008) to the championship game last year (2009). So the logical progression is a title. While that may not happen, a comfortable win over Temescal Canyon will.
Serrano 28, Temescal Canyon 7

Central Division first-round playoff predictions

Now we move on to the Central Division, where San Bernardino and Ontario/Chino teams await.

No. 1 Rancho Verde 48, Garey 12

Palm Desert at San Gorgonio
This should be an entertaining one, as the Spartans rose up during the San Andreas League season to win six games in a row and grab second place and this home game against a potent Aztecs team. San G’s offense was helped by the emergence of RB Jamie Snowten in the second half of the season and I expect Snowten to score a couple in a barnburner.
San Gorgonio 35, Palm Desert 31

Carter at Chino
Predicting Chino results, for the most part, was pretty easy during the Mt. Baldy League season – pick a random number between 42 and 49 and watch my prediction to come within 3-5 points. Can’t really do that this week, as Carter’s defense held Arroyo Valley to 3 yards last week. That’s right, 3. Chino will obviously get more, but this won’t be a rout by any means.
Chino 23, Carter 14

La Quinta 28, Valley View 6

Montclair at No. 3 Arlington
Making the playoffs is an achievement in itself for the Cavaliers, who deserve a ton of credit for grabbing third place in the Mt. Baldy League and winning five games. However, the Cavs are in for a world of hurt against Arlington’s physical rushing attack. Running back Superiorr Reed has 27 touchdowns and 1,634 yards rushing for the Lions, figures that are sure to grow tomorrow.
Arlington 41, Montclair 13

Coachella Valley at Cajon
The only reason that San G isn’t the hottest team in the county right now is due to the presence of Cajon, which has won seven in a row since a shutout loss to Kaiser in September. Dual-threat QB Thomas Carter and DB/WR Demontae Kazee are playing at high levels right now and will be too much for the Arabs, who earned the at-large berth out of the Desert Valley League.
Cajon 27, Coachella Valley 12

Colton at Colony
These two teams have tapdanced around each other in the playoffs in recent years, never meeting up despite being among the Central Divisions elite. So for that alone, this game is worth watching. Can a banged-up Colton hold tough against a Colony team that flew under the radar a bit with a 7-3 finish? I think the Yellowjackets are a bit more physical and battle-tested.
Colton 17, Colony 14

No. 2 Palm Springs 35, La Sierra 6

Inland Division first-round playoff predictions

I love this time of year, as the weather gets colder and the hitting gets harder. Which makes me sad that the CIF is thinking of moving the Linfield Christian-Big Bear game Saturday to Lucerne Valley because of snow. I understand the safety concerns Linfield might have of traveling up and down the mountain, but I fail to see how transitioning those concerns from Linfield to Big Bear, which has to travel up and down the mountain to get to Lucerne Valley, is productive in any way. Plus, I love football in the snow.

With that off my chest, on to the predictions starting with the Inland Division.

INLAND DIVISION
Yucaipa at No. 1 Corona Centennial
The forecast here is for pain for Yucaipa. I feel bad for the Thunderbirds, as Justin Price did a wonderful job leading Yucaipa to the playoffs in his first year as coach. But Centennial is playing on a level that’s nationally elite right now and I have a hard time seeing Yucaipa holding them below 60 points.
Centennial 63, Yucaipa 13

Chaparral at Upland
The defending Inland champions take on last year’s Central Division champions in what should be a good one. Chaparral’s record looks weak at 4-6, but the Pumas finished second in a tough Southwestern League and played a ridiculous nonleague state. Upland is too smart to overlook Chaparral, but they’ll be surprised by the intensity and physicality that the Pumas possess.
Chaparral 24, Upland 17

Etiwanda at Redlands East Valley
This is where I’ll be tomorrow and quite frankly, I’m looking forward to it. it’s a battle of strengths, as Etiwanda’s explosive offense takes on REV’s stifling defense. If REV can be attacked defensively, its in the secondary, which makes it imperative that the Wildcats get a pass rush on Eagle QB Larry Cutbirth. REV’s offense doesn’t get much pub, but it’ll be good enough to win.
Redlands East Valley 27, Etiwanda 21

Corona at No. 4 Chino Hills
This is a potentially tricky first-round matchup for the Huskies, as Corona is talented and athletic. But Chino Hills has added an explosive offense to what was already a stout defense. The Huskies woke up in Sierra League play and are more than capable of playing in a shootout, but I think they’ll slow Corona down enough to where that won’t be necessary.
Chino Hills 35, Corona 20

Murrieta Valley at No. 3 Rancho Cucamonga
After six Central Division playoff wins during the last two years, the Cougars are moving into the Inland Division with a posh seed and a tough first-round matchup. However, the Rancho offense has been rounding into form during the Baseline League season and should be a little too potent for the Nighthawks.
Rancho Cucamonga 34, Murrieta Valley 30

Roosevelt 42, Claremont 24

Norco at Redlands
This should be a dandy, as these two teams faced each other in the 2006 semifinals. Norco is more versatile than usual, as they have the throwing ability of freshman QB Colt Gerhart (yes, there’s another one) to go along with the explosiveness of Stanford-committed RB Kelsey Young. The Redlands defense is pretty stout and will battle, but I think Norco has a few too many weapons.
Norco 28, Redlands 17

No. 2 Vista Murrieta 45, Charter Oak 14

East Valley Division playoff predictions

St. Margaret’s has been the bully in this division the last two years, taking out county teams in the title game both times (Twentynine Palms in 2008 and Ontario Christian last year). Can someone else crash the party?

First Round
No. 1 Paraclete over Desert Hot Springs
Riverside Notre Dame over Grace Brethren
Big Bear over Linfield Christian
No. 4 St. Margaret’s over Campbell Hall
No. 3 Sierra Canyon over Bishop Diego
Sage Hill over Twentynine Palms
Brentwood over Rubidoux
No. 2 Aquinas over Yucca Valley

Quarterfinals
Paraclete over Notre Dame
St. Margaret’s over Big Bear
Sierra Canyon over Sage Hill
Aquinas over Brentwood

Semifinals
St. Margaret’s over Paraclete
Aquinas over Sierra Canyon

Championship
Aquinas over St. Margaret’s

Eastern Division playoff predictions

If you want to see county teams do their thing, this is the division for you. With No. 1 Kaiser destroying people and No. 2 Serrano being, well, Serrano, we could have an all-county championship game.

First Round
No. 1 Kaiser over Apple Valley
Beaumont over Granite Hills
Victor Valley over Norte Vista
No. 4 Elsinore over Oak Hills
No. 3 Heritage over Silverado
Summit over West Valley
Ridgecrest Burroughs over Citrus Hill
No. 2 Serrano over Temescal Canyon

Quarterfinals
Kaiser over Beaumont
Elsinore over Victor Valley
Summit over Heritage
Serrano over Burroughs

Semifinals
Kaiser over Elsinore
Serrano over Summit

Championship
Kaiser over Serrano

Central Division playoff predictions

On to the Central Division, where county teams have been shut out of the seedings. Is there any that are capable of making a run though. Rancho Verde is the no-brainer No. 1 and has the most talent in the division, but the playoffs have been their undoing in recent years. So I could see one of the Desert Valley teams taking charge here.

First Round
No. 1 Rancho Verde over Garey
San Gorgonio over Palm Desert
Chino over Carter
No. 4 La Quinta over Valley View
No. 3 Arlington over Montclair
Cajon over Coachella Valley
Colton over Colony
No. 2 Palm Springs over La Sierra

Quarterfinals
Rancho Verde over San Gorgonio
La Quinta over Chino
Arlington over Cajon
Palm Springs over Colton

Semifinals
La Quinta over Rancho Verde
Arlington over Palm Springs

Championship
La Quinta over Arlington

Inland Division playoff predictions

Before I get into the first-round predictions this week, I’ll do my annual predictions for each of the four divisions in the county and expose myself to ridicule and scorn. I’m starting with the Inland Division, which I think can be renamed the Centennial Division. I’m just not seeing any other possibilities.

First Round
No. 1 Corona Centennial over Yucaipa
Chaparral over Upland
Redlands East Valley over Etiwanda
No. 4 Chino Hills over Corona
No. 3 Rancho Cucamonga over Murrieta Valley
Roosevelt over Claremont
Norco over Redlands
No. 2 Vista Murrieta over Charter Oak

Quarterfinals
Centennial over Chaparral
REV over Chino Hills
Rancho Cucamonga over Roosevelt
Vista Murrieta over Norco

Semifinals
Centennial over REV
Vista Murrieta over Rancho Cucamonga

Championship
Centennial over Vista Murrieta

Week 11 top 25

Pretty uneventful week at the top of my rankings, though the bottom got quite a shake-up.

1. Oregon (1) – Ducks survive spirited upset bid by Cal to stay undefeated.
2. Auburn (2) – Paid to play or not, Cam Newton is pretty good.
3. TCU (3) – Horned Frogs got scare against San Diego State, took a blow with Utah’s loss.
4. Boise State (4) – Broncos have a chance to make big move in the next two weeks with Fresno State and Nevada on deck.
5. Wisconsin (5) – Badgers put 83 up on Indiana. That’s not a typo.
6. LSU (6) – Tigers get ho-hum blowout win against Louisiana-Monroe.
7. Stanford (7) – Stanford also got scare, as Arizona State made the Cardinal work.
8. Nebraska (8) – Huskers stand pat after ho-hum win over Kansas.
9. Ohio State (9) – Big second-half propels Buckeyes past Penn State.
10. Michigan State (11) – Spartans have another bye week coming up. It’s called Purdue.
11. Oklahoma State (12) – Cowboys add to the Texas misery with a blowout win in Austin.
12. Alabama (13) – Tide gets nice decisive win over Mississippi State.
13. Arkansas (14) – Razorbacks take out UTEP in quick order.
14. Virginia Tech (16) – Hokies have a big one this week at Miami.
15. Missouri (22) – Tigers move up a bunch with a win and some self-correction on my part.
16. Oklahoma (18) – Sooners win, but I couldn’t continue to have them ahead of a Missouri team that beat them. Doesn’t really make much sense.
17. Nevada (20) – Wolfpack pass huge test in winning at Fresno State.
18. Texas A&M (24) – Aggies are playing extremely well and can really make a mark this week against Nebraska.
19. South Carolina (NR) – Spurrier whips old team to clinch the Gamecocks’ first-ever SEC East title.
20. Iowa (10) – Hawkeyes lose to nemesis Northwestern again.
21. USC (NR) – Nice win at Arizona has Trojans back in the rankings.
22. Mississippi State (17) – Bulldogs aren’t quite ready for the big time, as Alabama proved.
23. Northern Illinois (NR) – MAC leaders make first appearance after seventh straight win.
24. Arizona (19) – Two straight losses have Wildcats hanging on by a thread.
25. Florida State (NR) – Seminoles best of the mess of Florida teams right now.

Just missed the cut: Michigan, Utah, Miami (Fla)

Dropped out: No. 15 Utah, No. 21 Central Florida, No. 23 San Diego State, No. 25 Florida