Prep football: A look San Bernardino County’s early nonleague matchups

The 2013 prep football season will soon be upon us, with Week 0 games taking place in four weeks.

Although we are still in the preliminary stages of previews, I thought I’d take a look at some interesting storylines for matchups between San Bernardino County teams from Week 0 and Week 1:

  • Aug. 30 Rancho Cucamonga at Redlands: Redlands always plays a challenging local nonleague schedule, and this matchup off this year’s schedule. Both teams went to at least the second round in the Inland Division playoffs last year.
  • Aug. 30 Barstow at Adelanto: A first varsity game is always a big deal, and the Saints get to host in their first varsity tilt.
  • Aug. 30 Citrus Valley at San Gorgonio: A year ago, Citrus Valley was a favorite to win the East Valley Division title, but was derailed by San Gorgonio in its first game, and never fully recovered. Citrus Valley will look for revenge, but San G. is good.
  • Aug. 30 Eisenhower vs. Alta Loma at Chaffey HS: A year ago, a 54-0 Eisenhower win in this game showed it was a new era for the Eagles. But with coach Vinny Fazio’s departure after 1 year for Murrieta Valley, there are questions again about Ike and new head coach Mike Clark.
  • Sept. 5 Summit vs. Redlands East Valley at Citrus Valley HS: REV plays the most challenging nonleague schedule around, and this game is the only nonleague game for the Wildcats against a San Bernardino County team. It just happens to be against a Summit team that was 9-1 before losing in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Sept. 6 Carter at Redlands: A year ago, Carter went 12-1, but had only one nonleague opponent, Eisenhower, that finished with a winning record. This time, they add another former Citrus Belt League rival, Redlands.
  • Sept. 6 Indian Springs at Grand Terrace: A year ago, Grand Terrace was the host in its first-ever varsity game, a loss to Riverside Notre Dame in front of a large and vocal crowd. This time, the Titans get to host an Indian Springs team playing its first varsity game. The two coaches, Indian Springs’ Dave DeWoody and Grand Terrace’s Harold Strauss go back to their 8-man football days, when DeWoody was at Riverside Christian and Strauss was at Bloomington Christian.
  • Sept. 6 Apple Valley at Kaiser: Kaiser surprised some by winning a CIF title and this is its first game in its title defense. Apple Valley felt it got a raw deal in a playoff bid last year.

Sanchez signs with Blue Jays

Barstow pitcher Aaron Sanchez, the 34th pick of last week’s Major League Baseball draft, has signed with the Toronto Blue Jays and will head off to their rookie ball team in Dunedin, Florida this upcoming weekend.

Sanchez, the first player in the county to be selected, chose not to go into details on the terms of his contract, but Jim Callis of Baseball America indicated that Sanchez is receiving a $775,000 bonus in this tweet. Either way, Sanchez is excited about embarking on his professional career.

“It’s awesome,” said Sanchez, who had signed with the University of Oregon. “It’s made better by the fact that I’m still in school. It’s kind of cool being the only kid in high school that’s a professional baseball player.”

Sanchez graduates from Barstow this upcoming Thursday and will head to Florida three days later. Florida may seem like a different world from the High Desert, but Sanchez is ready for the challenge.

“The humidity will be something to get used to, but its hot up here and its hot down there,” Sanchez said. “I can’t wait to get going.”

Eastern Division breakdown

Next up is the Eastern Division, which saw very little surprise in the awarding the top 3 seeds to Perris Citrus Hill, Serrano and Silverado, respectively. It got a little nutty after that though.

The matchups:

Summit (5-5) at No. 1 Perris Citrus Hill (10-0)
Barstow (7-3) at Palm Springs (7-2)
Palm Desert (7-3) at Kaiser (7-3)
San Jacinto (7-3) at No. 4 Rim of the World (9-1)
Apple Valley (5-5) at No. 3 Silverado (8-2)
Riverside Notre Dame (8-2) at Riverside Norte Vista (9-1)
Ridgecrest Burroughs (5-5) at La Quinta (7-3)
Menifee Heritage (5-5) at No. 2 Serrano (8-2)

My initial impression is surprised that Rim of the World got the final seed. While the Fighting Scots have an impressive record, their nonleague record wasn’t as ambitious as teams like Kaiser or La Quinta, who were seeded below the Scots. Rim’s seeding had a chain effect, putting La Quinta in the same quarterfinal bracket as No. 2 seed Serrano. Serrano coach Ray Maholchic wasn’t too happy about the prospect of seeing the Desert Valley League champions that early. As for Kaiser, it will have a chance to prove it’s case against Rim in the second round, provided it can get by a tough Palm Desert team in round one.

I also think that the top half of the bracket is loaded. You have the defending CIF champions in Citrus Hill, you have the CIF runner-ups in Barstow, which would have two rematch games if it beats Palm Springs in round one. You have Kaiser, Rim, Palm Desert – all teams capable of making long runs. Meanwhile, the bottom half of the bracket seems more negotiable. I like Silverado’s draw a lot, as they should be able to take Apple Valley and will have a talent advantage over the Norte Vista-Notre Dame winner.

As far as a sleeper, I like Kaiser. In watching Citrus Hill’s semifinal and championship wins last year, the Hawks had issues with Serrano and Barstow coming right at them physically. While it’s possible that Citrus Hill has become more hard-nosed, there isn’t a team in this draw that’s as good at mixing it up as much as Kaiser is. I see Kaiser being able to overpower its first-round and quarterfinal opponents and having a puncher’s chance against Citrus Hill.

Eastern Division predictions

This is another division with huge local representation, as the High Desert schools and Sunkist League go at it here.

Rim of the World at No. 1 Perris Citrus Hill
It’s impressive that the Fighting Scots are here, having made a 21-point second-half comeback at Apple Valley to do it. But Citrus Hill, with QB Caleb Herring having committed to UNLV and RB Deontae Cooper receiving D-1 interest as a junior, has way too much firepower. This will be like a 16-1 matchup you’d see in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.
Citrus Hill 48, Rim of the World 6

Riverside Notre Dame at No. 2 Hesperia
Speaking of Division I players, Notre Dame probably wishes it had RB Kenjon Barner, now a freshman at Oregon, back this year. The Titans will have a hard time matching up with Hesperia’s physicality up front. And the Scorpions, with RB Gavin Santos and WR Jay Waddell, can beat you up top too.
Hesperia 38, Notre Dame 7

Summit at No. 3 Palm Springs
A lot of people are calling this upset. Ok, well maybe one reader, but still, this is an interesting matchup. The SkyHawks are young, but have a lot of speed, athleticism and moxie, as evidenced by their comebacks against Norte Vista and Bloomington. Palm Springs may be lacking in the speed department, but the Indians have size. Its that size that will make the difference late.
Palm Springs 23, Summit 20

Banning at No. 4 Kaiser
The Dick Bruich watch is going on, as any game could be the last for the legendary coach. But it won’t be this game. Kaiser hasn’t lost in six straight games and are coming off a dominating 435 rushing-yard performance against Riverside Patriot. Banning, which was 0-10 two years ago, is a great story, but it won’t be the team that ends Bruich’s career.
Kaiser 36, Banning 7

La Quinta at Serrano
As far as name matchups go, this one might be the most vibrant. Both of these schools are always in the CIF title discussion, but it might be far-fetched to get much of a run out of either school this year. La Quinta, though second in the Desert Valley League, was 0-5 and usually noncompetitive during the nonleague season, while Serrano lost three games as well. But I can’t see the D-backs going down at Snowline Stadium.
Serrano 31, La Quinta 17

Barstow at San Jacinto
San Jac was a power in the East Valley Division, playing runner-up the last two years to Big Bear and Citrus Hill, respectively. I’m not sure they’ve gone up against a running attack as comphrensive as Barstow’s double-wing though. It will be a physical matchup, but I think the Desert Sky represents here. Then again, I’m always wrong on Barstow predictions.
Barstow 24, San Jacinto 19

Silverado at Riverside Patriot
One look at the Hawks’ 3-7 record could cause one to shudder, but Silverado took on one of the more brutal nonleague schedules in the section. That rugged slate will help Silverado immensely, as Patriot’s physical running attack won’t seem nearly as intimidating. It’s been a long time for Patriot/Rubidoux, and it will be a short time in the postseason.
Silverado 20, Patriot 14

The other game of note between teams that aren’t in San Bernardino County:
Palm Desert 34, Ridgecrest Burroughs 23

Quarterfinals
No. 1 Citrus Hill over Palm Desert
Serrano over No. 4 Kaiser
No. 2 Hesperia over Silverado
No. 3 Palm Springs over Barstow

Semifinals
No. 1 Citrus Hill over Serrano
No. 2 Hesperia over No. 3 Palm Springs

Final
No. 1 Citrus Hill over No. 2 Hesperia