Predicting Saturday’s CIF-Southern Section Central Division championship game between the Charter Oak and San Marino high school football teams is no easy task.
One team, San Marino, is 13-0. The other, Charter Oak, is 12-1. One team, San Marino, scores 49 points per game and allows only 10, while the other, Charter Oak, scores 43 and allows 15.
Perhaps the best way to get to the bottom of this match up is by looking at common opponents. The teams have two common foes this season — Diamond Ranch and Monrovia.
San Marino beat Monrovia, 49-14. Charter Oak beat the Wildcats, 52-14. Diamond Ranch gave San Marino its second-best game this season, in a 35-14 loss in the first round of the playoffs. Charter Oak beat Diamond Ranch in Hacienda League play, 34-7.
Diamond Ranch head coach Jimmy Welker has seen what both powerhouses can do up close and he thinks there’s lots more than meets the eye to be impressed about as it pertains to both teams. He shared his thoughts on certain aspects of each team.
“They both do a great job of getting the ball into the hands of their play makers and they let them earn the scholarships they’re earning,” Welker said. “There’s a reason that (Charter Oak running back) Zion Echols is going to Cal, and I don’t know what the reason is that (San Marino receiver) J.P. Shofhi hasn’t been offered by anybody yet. But both offenses do a great job putting the ball into the hands of their play makers.
“And their offensive lines do a great job of making sure their quarterbacks rarely get hit. That was something we were able to do against Charter Oak a little bit, not much, but we couldn’t get to San Marino one iota.”
Echols is the biggest home run threat in the game. He is among the Southern Section’s leading rushers with 2,033 yards and 36 touchdowns. Echols recently backed off his verbal commitment to Cal and has opened his college recruitment again.
Shohfi is among the state’s top receivers with 1,753 yards and 26 touchdowns. His lack of college offers remains one of the biggest mysteries in the area.
Although both teams get tons of headlines due to offense, neither would have such lofty records without defenses that have also put up stellar numbers only to be overshadowed by all the firepower on the other side of the ball.
“I think both defenses are disciplined in what they do and they both do a great job tackling,” Welker said. “They both do a great job causing turnovers. You can’t really give an edge one way or the other because it’s two completely different styles of defense.
“Both do an efficient job of getting to the football and kind of forcing offenses to get off of their game plan.”
When asked if there was a surprise that fans may not realize about either team, Welker wasted no time pointing to San Marino’s team speed and Charter Oak’s toughness.
“The speed of San Marino is underrated and the physicality of Charter Oak is underrated,” Welker said. “Charter Oak is a very physical football team on both sides of the ball and San Marino flies to the ball offensively and defensively.
“But both things are underrated from what you watch on film. Or, I should say the film doesn’t do them justice as to how physical Charter Oak is and how fast San Marino is.”
As for a prediction on the game? Welker wouldn’t offer a side, citing the game being that much of a toss-up.
“I can’t really give you a prediction, it’s too close to call,” Welker said. “I don’t know who should be favored or who shouldn’t be. The team that’s going to win is the team that’s going to win the turnover battle. They’re both good teams and whoever executes their game plan is going to be the victor on Saturday night.”