Friend vs. Friend: A look at Whittier Christian’s Olympic League showdown with top-rated Maranatha, now coached by former Herald assistant Peter Karavedas

There will be a lot at stake when the Whittier Christian High School football team travels to Maranatha for a 7 p.m. Olympic League game Friday.
Both teams are ranked among the top 10 in the CIF- Southern Section Mid-Valley Division, and the winner will take a step forward toward the league title.
Pride, though, will also be on the line for coaches Sergio Gradilla of the Heralds and the Minutemen’s Peter Karavedas, who was an assistant at Whittier Christian last season.
“We’ve talked about this since he got the job,” Gradilla said. “Now, it’s here. I don’t think it makes it more difficult (knowing one another). It’s going to come down to which team can step up and execute.”

Maranatha, ranked No. 1 in the Mid-Valley Division, offers Whittier Christian its most difficult challenge to date. The Minutemen are 6-0, with an average margin of victory of 22.3.
They’re led by junior quarterback Andrew Elffers, who’s thrown for 1,227 yards and 15 touchdowns. He’s already getting looks from Pac-12 schools, including UCLA.
“I believe they are the best team in our division,” said Gradilla, whose team is 3-3 and ranked No. 7 in the Mid-Valley. “They’ve been playing great football. They are very talented and are disciplined. We definitely got our work cut out for us, but we’re very excited for the opportunity to play the top team in the division.”
The Heralds, who’ve struggled with consistency, are coming off their best game of the season, a 54-0 victory over Los Angeles Baptist in their Olympic League opener.
Whittier Christian counters Elffers with a solid quarterback of its own in senior Daniel Chacon, who’s thrown for 1,359 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Heralds are also solid on the ground with running backs Ryan Morales and Johnathan Marquez, who’ve combined to rush for 892 yards and 21 touchdowns.
“We both can score and play defense,” Gradilla said. “It’s just going to come down to who can make stops.”
ST. PAUL’S ORTEGA SET TO RETURN
St. Paul running back Michael Ortega, who didn’t play in last week’s 31-6 loss at Chaminade, is expected to return when the Swordsmen host Cathedral in a Mission League game at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The senior running back suffered a high-ankle sprain in a 28-6 victory over Schurr two weeks ago.
Paul Echeverria, who also didn’t play last week, is also expected to be back.
CIF-SS RANKINGS
Santa Fe, which went 1-4 in nonleague play, jumped back into the CIF-SS rankings after opening Del Rio League play with a 39-21 victory over El Rancho.
The Chiefs, No. 8 in the Southeast Division, were one of seven teams to be ranked when CIF-SS released this week’s rankings Monday.
The others are La Habra, which is No. 2 in the Southwest Division; St. Paul, which fell to No. 5 in the Western Division; La Serna, California and El Rancho, which are Nos. 2, 3 and 9, respectively, in the Southeast; and Whittier Christian, which is No. 7 in the Mid-Valley.

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