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DAILY NEWS GAME OF THE WEEK
Serra (2-2) at Oaks Christian (2-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Oaks Christian has a chance to be the thorn in the Mission League’s side if it can beat Serra Friday night. The Lions already took down Sierra Canyon 38-21, and a victory this week might catapult the Lions into CIF-SS Division 2 playoff talk, but it won’t be easy.
Serra has played one of the tougher schedules in Southern California this season, losing to Orange Lutheran by a point (27-26) and falling to Long Beach Poly 17-3. After a big win over Cathedral, the Cavaliers gave Warren – led by standout QB Nico Iamaleava – its first loss of the season last week.
Oaks Christian doesn’t present anything Serra hasn’t seen. Which is why the result of this game is a toss-up.
While Serra has impressed with its tough-nosed schedule, Oaks Christian has impressed by bouncing back from a Week 0 loss to Chaminade with two straight wins – each with its own flair. The Lions showed tremendous balance in the run and passing game in its victory over Sierra Canyon. Running backs Johnny Thompson and Deshonne Redeaux, along with wideouts Chase Farrell and Justice Williams create matchup nightmares for defenses.
However, quarterback Devin Tate got hurt against Sierra Canyon, which created an opportunity for backup QB Nate Bennett, who started and won Week 2’s game in San Diego in the Honor Bowl, a 34-28 victory over Regis Jesuit of Colorado. Bennett threw for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Tate’s status for Friday’s game is questionable.
Johnny Thompson of Oaks Christian carries the ball against Chaminade August 19, 2022.(Photo by Andy Holzman, Contributing Photographer)
Thompson is delivering on the hype as one of the best backs in the area. He has 243 yards and five touchdowns through three games.
The breakout performer has been Williams, a junior, who has 18 catches for 257 yards and three touchdowns.
On defense, the Lions’ top playmakers — Jalen Lewis, Matt Erhart, Christian Knoos and Hayden Lowe — are delivering, too.
Friday night’s game will present a clash of speed on the outside between Oaks Christian’s wideouts and Serra’s secondary.
Serra boasts the fastest sprinter in the state in Rodrick Pleasant, who has a personal-best time of 10.14 seconds in the 100 meters. Pleasant was the CIF State champion in the event last spring with a time of 10.30. He also won the state crown in the 200 with a 20.56.
Pleasant is a four-star recruit at cornerback, which will make matchups with the Lions’ Chase Farrell and Justice Williams fun to watch.
Pleasant isn’t the only playmaker for the Cavs. Dakoda Fields is a four-star recruit with offers from Notre Dame and Oregon to play corner. Jason Mitchell is a four-star-rated athlete with offers from LSU, Ole Miss and USC. Cincere Rhaney is the team’s best offensive weapon at running back. Rhaney is a 225-pound junior who has rushed for 425 yards and three touchdowns in four games this season. He holds offers from Utah and Arizona State.
First play of second half. Cincere Rhaney. pic.twitter.com/1HNcP6hcEu
— eric sondheimer (@latsondheimer) August 20, 2022
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The Cavaliers, led by longtime head coach Scott Altenberg, have always been known for their high-level athletes. Future NFL players like Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and Adoree Jackson played for Altenberg at Serra. Altenberg has a bevy of players primed for football on Saturdays, and maybe Sundays.
All it means is that the Lions will have their hands full at home Friday night.
Prediction: Oaks Christian. The Lions find a way at home.