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Here are previews and predictions for the top local football games Friday.
GAME OF THE WEEK
Serra at No. 2 Oaks Christian, Friday, 7 p.m.
GAME PREVIEW: Oaks Christian vs. Serra will be a clash at top speed
FRIDAY’S TOP GAMES
(All games start 7 p.m. unless noted otherwise)
No. 13 Thousand Oaks (3-0) at No. 10 Oak Park (4-0)
On paper, there are numerous similarities between these two unbeaten teams. But there are three things that stand out the most.
Both have a foundational star player: Chase Martin for Thousand Oaks and Rowan Heidt for Oak Park.
Both have impact transfer quarterbacks: Travis Endicott for Thousand Oaks and Kadyn Parr from Oak Park.
Both are eyeing a Canyon League title.
Each can take a huge step toward that goal Friday night.
Neither team’s schedule jumps off the page, which means this week will likely provide the toughest game for both programs thus far. The team that makes the least mistakes wins.
Prediction: Thousand Oaks. Martin will influence both sides of the ball.
No. 4 Saugus (3-1) at No. 7 Valencia (2-2)
Saugus is coming off an impressive home win over Simi Valley last week that should provide a major confidence boost. Its defense held the Pioneers to just 14 points and shut them out in the second half.
And the win surely skyrocketed the confidence of new QB TJ Cataldi, who threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
Dario Sandoval leads the Centurions defense up front. Jake Viger is the team’s star two-way player at running back and linebacker.
Valencia is the more battle-tested team, having already played Bishop Amat, Notre Dame and Rancho Cucamonga. Wide receiver Brandon Boateng is having an All-Area type season for the Vikings, but he’s the team’s only player with more than nine catches.
Prediction: Saugus. Centurions take away Boateng and load the box.
No. 9 Alemany (1-1) at Mission Viejo (3-1)
Alemany’s last game was Aug. 26, an impressive 14-7 win over San Diego Lincoln at home. That win came after a 49-20 loss to Lone Peak of Utah, so it showed the Warriors are resilient.
Their next test, at Mission Viejo, will reveal a lot more about the Warriors.
The Diablos are coming off a 41-0 victory over Sierra Canyon, which is now in the Mission League with Alemany. So there will be a sliver of curiosity to see how Alemany matches up with Diablos on the road.
Sierra Canyon and Alemany are scheduled to play Oct. 7.
Freshman quarterback Jackson Presley checked out of Alemany and into West Ranch this week. All that does is solidify that QB CJ Ceron, a transfer from La Serna, is clearly the starter for the Warriors.
Prediction: Mission Viejo. Diablos are too good.
Yorba Linda (4-0) at No. 5 Simi Valley (3-1)
Simi Valley and Yorba Linda had very similar campaigns last season. Both went undefeated in the regular season before being thrown into the fray of the CIF Southern Section Division 2 playoffs. Despite posting 10-0 records, they both had to go on the road to traditional powerhouse programs. Simi Valley fell to eventual D2 champs Orange Lutheran, 49-13, and Yorba Linda had to play at Bishop Amat, resulting in a 44-21 loss.
This season, both teams are set on being more prepared for whichever division they’re put in, which could be Division 2 again.
Yorba Linda’s 2022 schedule has been more challenging. The Mustangs have beaten Damien and La Mirada. Simi Valley’s toughest test this season came last week at Saugus, where they scored just 14 points in a loss. It was one of the lowest point totals since coach Jim Benkert took over the team.
Maybe the loss woke up the Pioneers.
Prediction: Simi Valley. Pioneers get it done at home.
Eagle Rock (4-0) at Granada Hills Charter (3-0)
Each opponent that faces Granada Hills is posed with one question: Can you stop Dijon Stanley?
If the answer is yes, there’s a quick follow up question: Can you stop his cousin Darrell Stanley?
No team has been able to stop both. Darrell has rushed for 469 yards and nine touchdowns. Dijon, a Utah commit, has rushed for 310 yards and four scores.
The question that remains to be unanswered regarding the Highlanders is, can they make a run for an City Section Open Division berth? Friday night’s game against unbeaten Eagle Rock will be a good litmus test. But all that matters are the upcoming West Valley League games.
Only time will tell.
Prediction: Granada Hills. It’s the Stanley Show.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH FRIDAY
No. 1 Chaminade (4-0) at Loyola (1-2)
The Eagles have been able to coast the last two weeks, taking down Birmingham Charter and Crespi, two teams still looking for wins this season. Now, a nice road test at Loyola should help to sharpen the tools Chaminade will need for its Mission League campaign.
Prediction: Chaminade. Coach David Machuca is off to a hot start.
Palisades (3-0) at Cleveland (3-0)
This is a game that the City Section will look back on to decide postseason placement. Each team needs to perform in its respective league, of course, but nonleague contests like this one could swing a team’s berth from being in Division I or in the Open Division.
Both teams know how to score. Palisades is averaging 40 points per game, while Cleveland is averaging 34 points per game. The team that forces more punts Friday night wins.
Prediction: Cleveland. Kory Hall impacts both sides of the ball.
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Notre Dame (2-2) at Orange Lutheran (3-1)
The Knights have lost two straight games at home, and life on the road doesn’t make things any easier, especially against a Trinity League team that has wins against Serra and Upland.
Maybe a road trip will bring focus to the team, a business trip, so to speak. Notre Dame will need a near-perfect game to take down the Lancers in Orange County.
With the struggles shown the last two weeks, it’s hard to see a perfect game Friday night.
Prediction: Orange Lutheran. Notre Dame struggles to stop the pass.