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CIF football playoffs: No one gets it easy now

All four local teams have tough playoff matchups

Posted: November 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: November 16, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Canyon’s Jacob Clarke (77) sacks the San Luis Obispo quarterback on Nov. 9 at Canyon High School. Canyon’s Jacob Clarke (77) sacks the San Luis Obispo quarterback on Nov. 9 at Canyon High School.
Canyon’s Jacob Clarke (77) sacks the San Luis Obispo quarterback on Nov. 9 at Canyon High School.
Valencia running back James Brerkley tries to outrun Paso Robles defenders on Nov. 9 at Valencia High. Valencia running back James Brerkley tries to outrun Paso Robles defenders on Nov. 9 at Valencia High.
Valencia running back James Brerkley tries to outrun Paso Robles defenders on Nov. 9 at Valencia High.

No. 1 went down and No. 2 was falling.

The Northern Division was almost upside down.

Then Valencia (8-3) turned things around and defeated Paso Robles 43-36 in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northern Division playoffs last Friday, avoiding No. 1 Palmdale’s fate.

Yet it has to be concerning for the Vikings that they had to struggle to win.

Not so, said Vikings head coach Larry Muir.

“They were a handful. We survived and advanced. That’s all we can say,” Muir said of Paso Robles. “We maybe got caught up in (being the No. 2 seed) maybe a little bit. It was certainly an eye opener. We were close to not getting it done. The positive was even though we didn’t play well, we learned our lesson and got a victory.”

Valencia now gets Quartz Hill (8-3) at Quartz Hill High at 7 p.m. today and the Rebels are a serious challenger.

They beat Canyon 56-49 on Sept. 14 and average 36.4 points per game.

Quartz Hill has five straight wins and might have the best running back left in the Northern Division postseason in Osirius Burke (1,826 yards, 8.8 yards per carry and 29 rushing touchdowns).

Plus, the Rebels have two other players with at least 450 yards on the ground in running backs Royce Dirden and Devin Brooks.

“Anybody who takes them lightly is making a bad mistake,” Muir said. “They can score a lot of points quickly.”

In the five wins, teams are scoring just 13.8 points per game against the Rebels.

But Valencia’s offense got a little more dynamic in last week’s victory.

The Vikings have been a heavy pass team, but senior running back James Berkley ran for 180 yards on 10 carries against Paso.

Muir said his offensive linemen were the unsung heroes in the victory.

They helped Valencia live another week.

Canyon at Atascadero at Atascadero High School, 7:30 p.m.

In no way does Canyon (8-2-1) think its road is paved to a semifinal appearance in the Northern Division playoffs.

Sure, No. 1 seeded Palmdale lost to Pac-7 at-large team Atascadero and Canyon gets that team tonight. But Cowboys head coach Rich Gutierrez said in no way is his team looking past the 5-6 Greyhounds.

“Never. Never my friend,” Gutierrez said.

Yes, Atascadero beat a Palmdale team that was without arguably the best player in the division in running back Demario Richard, but there are reasons why the Greyhounds are where they are.

Atascadero is one of the most battle-tested teams in the postseason with its opponents’ winning percentage at .667.

Of their 12 opponents this season, including Canyon, eight have at least eight wins.

The Greyhounds are your classic Pac-7 League running team, averaging 206 yards per game on the ground. Jonathan Torres is the main guy with 770 yards on the ground.

But Atascadero runs into a team that’s been tested by the run in the Cowboys — a team that has turned things around since a 54-41 loss to Valencia on Oct. 19.

Since that loss, Canyon is 3-0 and in the last two games has held its opponents to 23 points.

“We kind of changed up some things — simplified it, put some kids in the right position,” Gutierrez said. “They took to it.”

The coach mentioned a lot of players on the defensive side who have turned things up of late — kids like hit-hungry Daniel Castro, pass defending Israel Cabrera, defensive quarterback Justin Derpic and freshman Travis Clarke, who spent almost the entire season on the freshman team.

The Cowboys will need those guys to bring it again tonight.

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

Of the three Foothill League teams left in the Northern Division playoffs, Hart may have the toughest matchup.

The Indians (8-3) get No. 3 seeded Palos Verdes tonight at 7:30 p.m. at College of the Canyons.

The Sea Kings (8-3) have won seven consecutive games and seven straight haven’t been close with an average margin of victory being 36.7 points.

Palos Verdes turned it on last Friday to the tune of a 49-13 first-round victory over Antelope Valley.

“They are a hard-nosed football team — smashmouth — and they’ll be tough to stop because they’ll beat on you,” said Hart head coach Mike Herrington. “They’ll get three or four yards, then bust one for 12 yards or bust one for about 30 yards.”

The Sea Kings are a running and play-action team.

Their main guy is 1000-plus yard rusher Matt Lopes, who has two games of over 200 rushing yards this season.

Lopes banged up his shoulder last week, though.

The team tallied 274 rushing yards and seven scores on the ground last week, according to The Daily Breeze.

But Palos Verdes has some motivation as the Indians ended its season last season in the first round of the playoffs with a 15-14 loss.

Hart’s a better team this time around.

And since back-to-back losses to Valencia and Canyon to end the regular season, the Indians have recovered.

They went up to Arroyo Grande last week and defeated the defending Western Division champions 48-6 in the Northern Division first round.

It was the sixth time the defense has held a team to 10 or less points this season.

On top of that, sophomore quarterback Brady White found his poise and threw for 351 yards and Connor Wingenroth scored a receiving, rushing, passing and punt return touchdown.

Trinity Classical Academy vs. Joshua Springs at Valencia High, 7 p.m.

This is the place where Trinity Classical Academy (9-2) gets to really show it’s ready for primetime.

The Knights host No. 1 seeded Joshua Springs in the CIF-Southern Section Division II 8-man semifinals tonight.

The Lightning (9-2) have been crushing the competition in the last three games, outscoring opponents by a combined 190-26.

Joshua Spring has four runners with over 400 yards this season with its leading rusher being quarterback Joseph Leichtner, who has 580 yards.

In terms of like opponents — the teams have two.

Trinity beat Faith Baptist 35-34. Joshua Springs won its contest 56-20.

Trinity lost to Desert Christian 35-30. Joshua Springs lost to Desert Christian 52-12.

A win tonight puts the Knights in their first ever CIF championship game.



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