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Friday prep football preview: Schedule stays tough

West Ranch and Golden Valley have their work cut out for themselves

Posted: September 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 21, 2012 2:00 a.m.
 

It was known before the beginning of the season that West Ranch football had arguably the most challenging schedule of all the Foothill League teams.

And it has proven to be just that.

The Wildcats enter their final nonleague contest today at 1-3, having lost to perennial Southern Section power Moorpark in the season opener, to an undefeated Eastside team in their third game and to 3-1 Thousand Oaks last Friday.

Today, the Wildcats host Western Division No. 4 St. Francis of La Canada at valencia High.

It’s a stark contrast to last season when the Wildcats had a lesser schedule and started 4-0.

Then they got a wake-up call and lost 35-0 to St. Francis in their fifth game.

Despite the 1-3 start this season, head coach Sean O’Brien thinks his team is in a better position heading into league play than in 2011.

“We do think we’re heading in the right direction. We also like the way our schedule has been,” O’Brien said. “There have been quite a few challenges on our schedule and that’s the way it ought to be. We kind of learned our lesson from last year. Where we came out blazing with a 4-0 record, and that didn’t help. We have stepped up our competition in a lot of areas and we’re playing a lot of league-type caliber opponents.”

Thus far, the 2-1 Golden Knights have been clicking on offense with senior quarterback Jake Lebowitz (636 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception) and senior running back Daniel Kawamura (289 yards, 8.8 yards per carry) leading the way.

St. Francis lost 28-21 last Friday to 3-1 La Mirada, while West Ranch couldn’t get it going in a 28-10 loss to Thousand Oaks.

West Ranch running back Zahr Lyttle scored the lone touchdown on a 44-yard run.

Hart vs. Birmingham at College of the Canyons, 7 p.m.

It’s been an interesting ride for the Indians in 2012.

Nearly 500 miles in three consecutive roads games, which resulted in a 2-1 record, and now the first of three straight home games.

The Indians get a familiar foe tonight in Birmingham of the CIF-L.A. City Section, a team the Indians have defeated in each of the last two seasons.

Birmingham is 3-1, but was pounded by Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks 44-0 last Friday.

Senior quarterback Trae Smith has seven touchdowns for an offense that scored 134 points in its first three games.

But the Patriots are also facing a Hart offense that has taken off in its last two games.

The Northern Division No. 2 Indians scored 100 points in their last two contests, keyed by running back/quarterback/kick returner Connor Wingenroth, who has seven touchdowns in those two games.

Valencia at Santa Monica in Santa Monica, 7 p.m.

The balance wasn’t there through Valencia’s first two games and the result was two straight losses.

Quarterback Sean Murphy and the passing game was doing its part for the most part, but the running game couldn’t get off the ground and the defense was still stuck in neutral.

Then the Vikings throttled Righetti 48-9 last week, sending the Warriors out of the Northern Division’s top 10.

Valencia shot up three spots to No. 6 in the Northern Division, thanks to a stout defense, Murphy’s five touchdown passes and 125 yards on the ground from senior James Berkley.

Valencia is 3-0 against Santa Monica in the last three years.

SaMoHi comes off a 51-0 loss to state power Mater Dei, but is 2-1, having scored 95 points in its first two games.

Saugus at Taft in Wooldland Hills, 7 p.m.

Saugus is a young team and it’s shown early as the Centurions have lost three straight games,

Sophomore Marc Langford took over for sophomore Chris Hamilton, who was banged up, in last Friday’s 10-7 loss to Ventura.

Now the struggling cents get Taft — a program they have lost to three years in a row.

Taft is off to a 1-3 start.

Golden Valley at Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks, 7 p.m.

The Grizzlies had opportunities to win each of their first three games.

They probably won’t be as fortunate this time around.

The Golden Knights have been a destruction machine of late, outscoring its last two opponents 100-0.

Golden Valley will have to hope that senior running back Leon Jacobs can repeat or better his 18-carry 109-yard performance in last Friday’s 28-14 loss to Highland.

SCCS at Mark Keppel in Alhambra, 7 p.m.

Santa Clarita Christian really showed a lot in last Friday’s 42-0 win over Vasquez.

After two subpar games and a forfeit victory, the Cardinals got two touchdowns and 133 rushing yards and two interceptions from junior Derek Lewis and two sacks from sophomore Jake Harer.

Keppel is 0-4 and has been outscored 145-7.

Trinity at Fulton in Van Nuys, 7 p.m.

Trinity took a huge step forward, despite losing 35-30 to Desert Christian last Friday.

The Division II Knights were close to beating Division I 8-Man’s No. 2 team.

Junior Eli Skorich made 11 tackles and two sacks.

Thus, Trinity is now the No. 3 team in Division II and plays 3-1 Fulton today.

Signal staff writer Jon Stein contributed to this story

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