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Prep football preview: So much on the line

Titles, playoff berths, a losing streak are the talk of this week's games

Posted: October 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 26, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

Hart vs. Valencia at Valencia High School at 7:37 p.m.; Televised on Fox Sports West

The hype has been permeating for weeks now, and tonight, the Foothill League’s two highest-ranked teams will finally meet on the field.

The Indians (7-1 overall, 3-0 Foothill League), ranked No. 1 in the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division, have been on a roll since a narrow 10-7 loss to Tesoro to open the season — averaging 42.8 points per game to just 10.1 points allowed per contest.

Valencia, though, hasn’t exactly been slacking off, either.

The Vikings, ranked No. 3 in the latest CIF-SS Northern Division poll, stand at 5-3, 3-0, and played the league’s most difficult preleague schedule, according to CalPreps.com

A Valencia team that relied largely on its defense to win the 2011 Foothill League title, has opened up the playbook this season to average 37.2 points per game.

“They’re throwing the ball really well,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “They’re using all their weapons, and the quarterback, (Sean) Murphy, is doing really good. And they’re just rolling along right now.”

Valencia enters the game on a three-game winning streak, including last week’s 54-41 win over Canyon.

The winner of this game also has the inside track on a Foothill League title, especially if Valencia wins because

Hart still has to contend with Canyon next week.

“Certainly there’s a lot on the line,” said Valencia head coach Larry Muir. “It is what it is, but that’s where you want to be. If there’s such a thing as a league championship game, that’s where you want to be.”

“Most definitely this is our biggest challenge (since Tesoro),” Herrington said. “(Valencia) is scoring a lot of points, and they’re playing pretty good defense. So, we need to pick our game up a little bit.”

Can the Valencia defense shut down a Hart offense that has shown an ability to score on the ground with running backs Connor Wingenroth and Antoine Holmes, and through the air with sophomore quarterback Brady White and his myriad receivers?

And how will Hart’s defense contend with Murphy, who has thrown for 2,408 yards and 27 touchdowns to just nine interceptions?

The two teams do have three common opponents in Santa Monica, Saugus and West Ranch.

Valencia defeated Santa Monica, 41-13, on Sept. 21 at Santa Monica City College, and Hart defeated SaMoHi 41-7 on Sept. 28 at College of the Canyons.


Both also easily dispatched West Ranch, the Vikings winning 55-7, and Hart taking it 49-6, while Valencia took down Saugus 38-0 and Hart did the same, 35-0.

Golden Valley vs. Saugus at College of the Canyons at 7:30 p.m.
What could possibly be intriguing about a matchup of two teams with a combined 2-14 record?

Historically, these teams have played some tight games, and this year is shaping up to be another dogfight.

Both teams have been knocked around in their first three Foothill games. Saugus (2-6, 0-3) has only one win on the field, with the second one coming via a forfeit win on a Sept. 21 game against Taft.

The Grizzlies (0-8, 0-3) are still searching for their first win this season and their first Foothill win ever.

“I think based upon the game plan and what we see, we think we have a good shot,” said Golden Valley head coach Robert Fisher. “I think our kids are excited for the game plan and they’re excited for the opportunity they have this week.”

Saugus has struggled with a lack of experience on both sides of the ball, and has been plagued by 26 turnovers this year.

Golden Valley has also had its issues on defense, but has found a consistent offensive weapon in senior running back Leon Jacobs.

Jacobs, who has 842 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 129 carries, suffered a hip pointer in the first quarter of last week’s loss to West Ranch, but Fisher said he will play this week.

If Golden Valley is going to break its 32-game league losing streak, this will likely be its best chance.

“I think it would be very good for Golden Valley football and for our community,” Fisher said on the possibility of winning.

West Ranch vs. Canyon at Canyon at 7:30 p.m.
West Ranch figured out how to get some points on the board last week.

Canyon has known how to score all season, but it continues to struggle to stop opponents from doing the same.

The Cowboys (5-2-1, 2-1) are coming off their first Foothill loss of the season after allowing 54 points against Valencia.

That could be good news for West Ranch (2-6, 1-2), which is coming off its first league win thanks to a successful running game against Golden Valley.

Mark Collins ran for three touchdowns and fullback Gerrett Green punched in two of his own.

In five tries, West Ranch has beaten Canyon only once, a 23-18 victory on Oct. 30, 2009.

This season, however, the Wildcats have also been exposed by some of the league’s top offenses in Hart and Valencia.

On Saturday
SCCS vs. Fairmont Prep at Canyon High at 7 p.m.

To put it simply, it’s do or die for Santa Clarita Christian School.

The Cardinals (5-3 overall, 1-2 San Joaquin League) must win to stay in contention for an automatic playoff berth.

A loss would prevent SCCS from finishing any better than fourth place in league.

Up until last week’s 21-0 loss to league-leading Saddleback Valley Christian, SCCS had been on a roll offensively.

This season, SCCS has collected 1,357 total rush yards with Derek Lewis’ 865 on 121 attempts leading the way.

That group will have a chance to bounce back against Fairmont Prep (4-4, 2-1), which is coming off two straight blowout victories against league opponents.

Trinity vs. Lancaster Baptist at College of the Canyons at 6:30 p.m.
Lancaster Baptist is all that stands in the way of Trinity Classical Academy’s Heritage League title in its first year in the league.

The Knights (6-2 overall, 2-0 Heritage League) won the Omega League last year, and are in position to finish a perfect 3-0 in the more competitive Heritage.

Though Trinity did rally back from a 26-point deficit to beat Faith Baptist last week, it will have another sizeable challenge with Lancaster Baptist (7-1, 1-1).

The only loss for the Eagles so far this season came two weeks ago against Faith Baptist.

Other than that, Lancaster has handled a schedule full of mostly CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-man opponents. Trinity resides in Division II.

Both teams are equally good at scoring, as the Eagles’ average margin of victory is 30.0 points, compared to the Knights’ 29.6.

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