TEMPLE CITY VS. AZUSA
WHERE: Citrus College
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Temple City (6-4-1); Azusa (10-1)
GAME NOTES: The visiting Rams are coming off a tough 7-6 win over Arroyo in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs. But Temple City has the weapons to outrun the Aztecs. The Rams will be led by running back Max Ruckle who has rushed for 1,278 yards and 16 touchdowns. Joey Stewart is capable of holding his ground, too. The fullback has rushed for 751 yards and 11 touchdowns in the run-first offense attack. Morgan Hatch though can balance the offense. He’s passed for 1,252 yards. Gianni Bruno-Lopez has caught for 581 yards and three touchdowns while teammate Kenny Werner has caught six touchdown passes. Azusa is led by quarterback Adrian Gaeta who has passed for 1,335 yards and 16 touchdowns. Gaeta is also mobile and the leading rusher on the team. He’s rushed for 733 yards and 12 touchdowns and Albert Martinez has rushed for 552 yards.
THE PICK: Temple City
SAN DIMAS VS. ROSEMEAD
WHERE: Rosemead H.S.
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m.
RECORDS: San Dimas (10-1); Rosemead (9-2)
GAME NOTES: The host Panthers, led by Tra Sumler’s 1,766 yards and 26 touchdowns, defeated Valley Christian, 45-14, in the first round of the Mid-Valley Division playoffs. San Dimas, the fourth-seed, defeated Sierra Vista, 67-12. The Saints and Rosemead have two common opponents in South El Monte and Covina. San Dimas beat South El Monte, 56-33, and Covina, 35-27. Rosemead, on the other hand, led 37-0 at the half against Covina before pulling away, 50-12, in the season opener. The Panthers beat South El Monte, 52-14. Daniel Joseph has rushed for 1,406 yards and 21 touchdowns, averaging 127 yards per game. Running back/linebacker Nico Barbone has rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and 18 touchdowns for the Saints, who run a Wing-T offense. Rosemead’s secondary will be challenged. But the Panthers feel they can counter with a balanced attack, led by quarterback Angel Alejandre who has passed for 1,949 yards and 13 touchdowns.
THE PICK: Rosemead
RIO HONDO PREP VS. BORON
WHERE: Boron H.S.
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Rio Hondo Prep (7-3); Boron (10-1)
GAME NOTES: The visiting Kares will make a 210-mile round trip visit to arguably the best team in the Northeast Division playoffs. Aside from facing a tight double-wing, plenty of counters and double reverses, Rio Hondo Prep will also have to battle low temperatures. It’s expected to dip in the low to mid 30’s. The Kares boast a tandem of running backs in Antonio Alaniz and Tim Esguerra. Alaniz has rushed for nearly 900 yards and 11 touchdowns and Esguerra has added nearly 800 yards and nine touchdowns. But the Bobcats boast three running backs who can counter from all directions. Israel Lucas leads the Boron backfield with 1,879 yards and 22 touchdowns. Leroy Taylor has rushed for 633 yards and eight touchdowns while teammate Joshua Glass has 368 yards and 12 touchdowns.
THE PICK: Rio Hondo Prep
MARANATHA VS. BIG BEAR
WHERE: Big Bear Middle School
KICKOFF: Saturday, 1 p.m.
RECORDS: Maranatha (10-1); Big Bear (7-3-1)
GAME NOTES: “I think it’s a great matchup,” Minutemen coach Joel Murphy said. “Coach (Dave) Griffiths has done an incredible job with his program over the years and we’re excited to get a chance to play for another week.” In last week’s first-round win over Ontario Christian, Maranatha scored only 16 points despite two players combining for nearly 400 yards of offense. Senior quarterback Matt Schilz completed 20 of 43 passes for 264 yards and one touchdown but threw three costly interceptions, including two in the red zone. Senior running back Daniel Kopplin had 117 yards on 17 carries. “We don’t really have time to think about last week’s game,” Murphy said. “Did we trip up? Sure. But you learn and move on and choose to get better because of it.”
THE PICK: Maranatha
MONROVIA VS. DUARTE
WHERE: Duarte H.S.
KICKOFF: 7 p.m.
RECORDS: Monrovia (9-2); Duarte (6-5)
GAME NOTES: Senior running back Marquise Williams had a tough time adjusting to the Wing-T offense but by Week 3, he and his counterparts grasped it well enough to put together an eight-game winning streak. But others have proven to be the X-factor. Kendal Boggs and DJ Cole offer another dimension to the team’s dynamic. Nick Bueno, the sophomore quarterback, allows for a spread offense and Jonathan Cushman, the senior linebacker, provides the stifling defense. The Wildcats’ secondary will be tested with a healthy Canada waiting in the backfield. He can cut to the sidelines for long-yardage plays or earn his yards going straight down the middle, and he has the lineman to get it done. Maurilio Lopez, a 6-foot-3, 300 pound towering presence, returned late in the season from a back injury that forced him to sit out the entire preseason. Duarte coach Wardel Crutchfield’s concern is Williams, who is averaging 157 yards per game.
THE PICK: Monrovia