By Fred Robledo, SGVN
After four consecutive years of taking on Rancho Cucamonga and four years of coming up empty, with the exception of a tie in 2008, Charter Oak had enough of Rancho Cucamonga and left the Cougars off the 2012 schedule.
The CIF-SS playoffs just changed that.
The schools will meet for a fifth consecutive time when Charter Oak (10-1) takes on Rancho Cucamonga (9-1) on Friday at Los Osos High for the right to advance to the CIF-Southern Section Inland Division semifinals, and perhaps a date against top-seeded Vista Murrieta, arguably the best team in the state.
Charter Oak was 26-1-1 and won back-to-back Southeast Division titles in 2008 and ’09, but there still was a sour taste left from Rancho Cucamonga, which tied Charter Oak 14-14 in 2008 and won 35-25 the next season, ruining the Chargers’ chance for perfection in both seasons.
Charter Oak continued its series with Rancho Cucamonga after moving to the Sierra League, but the results are similar, losing 40-28 in 2010 and 21-13 last year.
This time could be different.
Charter Oak is the division’s fourth seed and ranked No. 20 in the state by Calpreps.
In years past these were dubbed step-up games for Charter Oak, but the Chargers have shown all season and again last week with a 24-14 win over Chaparral these are no step-ups.
Winning is expected now.
That confidence comes after back-to-back undefeated seasons in the Sierra and two years in a row of postseason experience in the division, arguably one of the toughest in the Southland.
“We’ve come a long way as a football team and have accepted the challenges of competing at this level,” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said. “I don’t know if anyone is picking us to win, but we know we belong and we know at this point, any one of the teams (in the quarterfinals) can get hot and win it.
“All the teams are that good, you just have to be better in each round.”
Charter Oak’s defense in 2009 was spectacular in allowing an average of only 10 points and shutting out the entire Miramonte League.
This year’s edition also is allowing just 10 points a game but is doing it against much tougher competition.
Will it hold up against the Cougars?
Rancho Cucamonga quarterback Adam Friederichsen has thrown for 1,754 yards and 14 touchdowns and the Cougars average 167 yards on the ground behind Khalil Muhammad and Kiraun Mayo.
“In the films we’ve seen, they run back kickoffs, they got some extra kids at the skilled positions, they’ve got team speed and all the usual big uglies up front,” Farrar said. “It’s a test for our defense, there’s no doubt. This is one of the best teams in the best league’s in the division and certainly we know from having played them enough times that we have to play great football to win.”
Gladstone not done yet
After winning its first playoff game since 1977, the Gladiators don’t want to wait another 25 years to win the next one.
Gladstone (10-1) routed Mary Star of the Sea 54-17 in the first round of the Northwest Division playoffs and will face North Torrance (9-2) in the second round on Friday at Citrus College.
It was a gratifying win for coach Albert Sanchez, who after announcing earlier in the week he was stepping down after 13 years in charge got his first playoff victory.
“It was kind of nice the way we did it, we did whatever we wanted to do with them,” Sanchez said. “After some of the losses we’ve taken in the playoffs over the years it was nice to be on the other side of a blowout.
“But that’s over and done with. We know we’re not playing Mary Star of the Sea this week.”
North is a 22-point favorite on Calpreps and is the champion from the tough Pioneer League that boasted five teams in the playoffs with three advancing to the second round.
It’s a league in which fourth-place Compton Centennial knocked off undefeated La Salle 12-10 and second-place El Segundo routed
La Puente, 31-7.
North enters on back-to-back shutouts after routing Oak Park, 27-0, in the first round.
“Without a doubt we know this could be one of the top two teams in our division,” Sanchez said. “They pass the ball, they run the ball and they play defense.
“It’s vitally important that we compete from the get-go. We’ve played from behind in a lot of games this year, but we don’t want to play from behind against them.”