Rowland’s Michael Ball won’t return for South Hills, but the playoffs are a strong possibility

Rowland quarterback Michael Ball will not suit up when the CIF-Southern Section Southeast Division’s No. 3 Raiders (8-1, 2-1) play host to No. 2 South Hills (7-3, 3-0) on Friday for a piece of the San Antonio League title. Ball broke his collarbone in a 27-17 victory over Walnut on Oct. 16 and is making steady improvement toward a possible return for the first round of the playoffs next week, although a second-round appearance is more likely should the Raiders advance that far. When Ball was healthy, the Raiders were undefeated and the top-ranked team in the division. As a sophomore he led the Raiders to the Southeast semifinals, where they lost to eventual champion Charter Oak. To continue, click thread

“Michael has been bouncing around, but he’s still a little tender to the touch,” Rowland Craig Schuster said. “He’s seeing a doctor and getting X-rays this week. But we’re hopeful we can get him back at some point. We just hope it’s not too late.”

This makes Friday’s game pivotal for the Raiders. They could create a three-way tie for first along with West Covina, assuming the Bulldogs defeat Nogales. That would leave coin flips to determine the top three playoff spots.

If the Raiders lose they will finish third and have to play a league champion on the road in the first round of the playoffs, not a direction Snyder wants to go without Ball.

“When you finish third you never know what CIF’s going to do with you,” Snyder said. “We’ve got a chance at home to help ourselves on Friday. South Hills is an awfully difficult team the way they’re playing right now, but we feel like we’re a better team than the one that lost to West Covina.”

That was the Raiders’ only loss, a 32-10 setback.

“We had six turnovers in that game,” Snyder said. “I thought we played well defensively, but six turnovers against any team is hard to overcome.”

With Ball out, running back Josh Onouvughe has taken over. He rushed for 240 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s 42-20 victory over Nogales and has rushed for 1,201 yards and 13 touchdowns overall.

But Snyder’s not sure he can keep up that pace if backup quarterback Leonardo Freeman doesn’t get going. He completed just four passes for 10 yards in the loss to West Covina and attempted only seven passes against Nogales.

“If we’re going to do anything, we have to be able to pass the football,” Snyder said. “Obviously you can’t turn the ball over, but if we don’t improve our passing game we could be in for a long night.”

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