I love this time of year, as the weather gets colder and the hitting gets harder. Which makes me sad that the CIF is thinking of moving the Linfield Christian-Big Bear game Saturday to Lucerne Valley because of snow. I understand the safety concerns Linfield might have of traveling up and down the mountain, but I fail to see how transitioning those concerns from Linfield to Big Bear, which has to travel up and down the mountain to get to Lucerne Valley, is productive in any way. Plus, I love football in the snow.
With that off my chest, on to the predictions starting with the Inland Division.
Yucaipa at No. 1 Corona Centennial
The forecast here is for pain for Yucaipa. I feel bad for the Thunderbirds, as Justin Price did a wonderful job leading Yucaipa to the playoffs in his first year as coach. But Centennial is playing on a level that’s nationally elite right now and I have a hard time seeing Yucaipa holding them below 60 points.
Centennial 63, Yucaipa 13
Chaparral at Upland
The defending Inland champions take on last year’s Central Division champions in what should be a good one. Chaparral’s record looks weak at 4-6, but the Pumas finished second in a tough Southwestern League and played a ridiculous nonleague state. Upland is too smart to overlook Chaparral, but they’ll be surprised by the intensity and physicality that the Pumas possess.
Chaparral 24, Upland 17
Etiwanda at Redlands East Valley
This is where I’ll be tomorrow and quite frankly, I’m looking forward to it. it’s a battle of strengths, as Etiwanda’s explosive offense takes on REV’s stifling defense. If REV can be attacked defensively, its in the secondary, which makes it imperative that the Wildcats get a pass rush on Eagle QB Larry Cutbirth. REV’s offense doesn’t get much pub, but it’ll be good enough to win.
Redlands East Valley 27, Etiwanda 21
Corona at No. 4 Chino Hills
This is a potentially tricky first-round matchup for the Huskies, as Corona is talented and athletic. But Chino Hills has added an explosive offense to what was already a stout defense. The Huskies woke up in Sierra League play and are more than capable of playing in a shootout, but I think they’ll slow Corona down enough to where that won’t be necessary.
Chino Hills 35, Corona 20
Murrieta Valley at No. 3 Rancho Cucamonga
After six Central Division playoff wins during the last two years, the Cougars are moving into the Inland Division with a posh seed and a tough first-round matchup. However, the Rancho offense has been rounding into form during the Baseline League season and should be a little too potent for the Nighthawks.
Rancho Cucamonga 34, Murrieta Valley 30
Roosevelt 42, Claremont 24
Norco at Redlands
This should be a dandy, as these two teams faced each other in the 2006 semifinals. Norco is more versatile than usual, as they have the throwing ability of freshman QB Colt Gerhart (yes, there’s another one) to go along with the explosiveness of Stanford-committed RB Kelsey Young. The Redlands defense is pretty stout and will battle, but I think Norco has a few too many weapons.
Norco 28, Redlands 17
No. 2 Vista Murrieta 45, Charter Oak 14