By Brett Manney
As the season winds down, there are numerous teams still fighting for playoff spots, while others are fighting for bragging rights. Meanwhile, there are some crucial games which will decide playoff seeds in a few weeks and also some huge rivalry games in California and Nevada. Once again, the West Coast will be filled with must-see games this weekend.
Cactus Cobras (7-1, State PR: 84.39, Rank: 7) vs. Millennium Tigers (6-2, State PR: 76.24, Rank: 12): This is a nonleague game that both teams want to win as the playoffs are right around the corner. Offensively, the Cobras will be led by RB workhorse Mike Brown, who has over 1,500 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns. Defensively, they have three major playmakers: LB Philip Pollock leads the team in tackles, DE Zack Minter has 11 sacks and ball hawk CB Kandon Thomas has six interceptions. On the other side, QB Mike Massey is a proven leader for the Tigers and averages almost 200 yards passing per game. Phenomenal athlete RB Marquis Flowers plays both ways and is his team's leading rusher, is first in interceptions and is also one of the team's top tacklers.
Chaparral Firebirds (7-1, State PR: 87.63, Rank: 5) vs. Paradise Valley Trojans (7-1, State PR: 86.42, Rank: 1): This is a redemption game for Paradise Valley as its season was crushed by Chaparral in last year's 4A state quarterfinals. Some consider the Trojans the second best team in 4A-Div. 1 and are lead by RB Tyree Parker's 774 yards rushing this season. The Firebirds are spearheaded by QB Spencer Stone, who has a soft touch as he hands the ball off to dynamic RB Dwayne Garrett, who averages 121 yards a game on the ground.
Santa Rita Eagles (8-0, State PR: 90.05, Rank: 3) vs. Palo Verde Magnet Titans (8-1, State PR: 80.96, Rank: 9): Both teams are looking for that elusive ninth win, but Palo Verde has plans to foil Santa Rita’s perfect season. The Eagles have scored more than 338 points and have only given up 61 through eight games. Meanwhile, since their last loss on September 19, 14-7 to Sunnyslope, the Titans will look to continue their excellent play as of late. This game will be for all the marbles as each team is undefeated in region play.
Monte Vista Mustangs (7-0, State PR: 96.06, Rank: 1) vs. De La Salle Spartans (6-1, State PR: 88.92, Rank: 6): De La Salle goes for its seventh win of the season against Monte Vista, where Spartans head coach Bob Ladouceur started as an assistant coach in 1979. The Spartans' spread offense is led by option QB Blake Wayne and Arizona recruit RB Kylan Butler and is an absolute force. Meanwhile, Mustangs QB Brett Nottingham has 26 TDs with only four touchdowns. Plus, the Mustangs have arguably the best wide receiver combo in the Valley with Tom Hemmingsen and Matt Tuckness, as each have over 600 yards receiving.
North Saxons (5-0, State PR: 89.15, Rank: 21) State PR: vs. El Segundo Eagles (6-1, State PR: 78.53, Rank: 57): El Segundo hopes to break up North’s perfect season by handing them their first loss. Saxons head coach Todd Croce will have to come up with another great gameplan to counter the dangerous Eagles. El Segundo will be led by sure-handed receiver Kevin Post, who had eight receptions and 123 receiving yards last week, in addition to leading tackler Gage Mortesen.
Notre Dame Knights(7-0, State PR: 98.22, Rank: 3) vs. Crespi Carmelite Celts (6-1, State PR: 87.49, Rank: 26): This neighborhood rivalry game will surely have everyone in the San Fernando Valley ready for an exciting matchup as 7,000 people are expected to watch. Both teams are coming off impressive shutouts and will look to continue the trend. A win against Notre Dame could really spark a late season surge for Crespi Carmelite. Knights QB Ryan Kasdrof has really matured this season, throwing 22 TDs and averaging over 350 yards of total offense per game. He is not alone as WR James Flynn is his favorite target and has over 750 yards receiving. The only loss for the Celts was to powerful St. Bonaventure. QB Bryan Bennett will have a lot of weight on his shoulders to lead his team to a crucial victory.
Redlands East Valley Redlands (7-0, State PR: 91.19, Rank: 14) vs. Miller Rebels ( 7-0, State PR: 92.56, Rank: 12): Two teams look to continue their winning ways this weekend in this much-anticipated game. Redlands will be led by junior QB Tyler Shreve, who has thrown for 996 yards and is the team's leading rusher despite playing hurt all season. The Rebels defense has been suffocating opponents all season behind Jacob Guzman and Tryavon Ralph, who has seven interceptions.
San Clemente Tritons (6-1, State PR: 83.98, Rank: 36) vs. Mission Viejo Diablos (6-1, State PR: 88.34, Rank: 23): There is only one commonality between these teams when they meet up this weekend as both teams suffered their sole losses to an undefeated Tesoro squad. The Diablos' balanced running and passing attack makes them very lethal and was in fully display during their 59-7 win last week against Aliso Niguel. The Tritons will try to slow down Diablo QB Alan Bridgford with their defensive stars Dylan Reda and Jack Straw.
Crenshaw Cougars (3-3, State PR: 57.33, Rank: 14) vs. Dorsey (Susan Miller) Dons (6-1, State PR: 73.07, Rank: 6): Although these teams are not sporting undefeated records, their intense rivalry makes this a must-see game in California. The two Los Angeles rivals square off for bragging rights and both are 2-0 in California Coliseum league standings. Head coach Robert Garrett’s Cougars have won their last three games and have momentum heading into the game. Meanwhile, the Dons look for their seventh win and have the upper hand in the battle for the league championship.
Erie Tigers (8-0, State PR: 93.38, Rank: 1) vs. Faith Christian Eagles (8-0, State PR: 92.41, Rank: 3): Erie looks to avenge last year’s 14-0 loss to Faith Christian in which they only had 76 yards rushing. Right now, the Tigers are the class of 2A with the Eagles right behind them. The Tigers have not been tested this season and last week piled up 70 points against Pinnacle Charter led by 5-9 sparkplug RB Alex Ortega, who averages 203 yards rushing per game. The Eagles' win margin is over three touchdowns and their stellar defense allows less than six points a game. This game will be deciding factor towards who will be ranked No. 1 in 2A for the state tournament.
Pueblo South Colts (9-0, State PR: 91.19, Rank 3) vs. Sierra Stallions (8-1, State PR: 80.30, Rank 8): This Foothills League matchup will be heated as both teams battle for the title of best team in southern Colorado. The Colts have been dominant ever since their 21-15 win over Pueblo West in week one. The Stallions will be ready as head coach Joe Roskam prepares for his toughest match of the season and hopes to dethrone the Colts.
Olathe Pirates (8-0, State PR: 91.08, Rank: 4) vs. Grand Valley Cardinals (8-1, State PR: 84.16, Rank: 5): Two of the top teams in the state battle to get their ninth win of the season. The Pirates come in undefeated and look to continue their success as they have scored 50 or more points in each of their last five games. The Cardinals also have a high-powered offense as they scored below 30 points just once in a 28-7 loss to Hayden on September 12. Look for this game to be a shootout.
Eldorado Eagles (8-0, State PR: 94.49, Rank: 2) vs. Manzano Monarchs (7-1, State PR: 82.84, Rank: 6): This is a huge 5A-Five conference game as both teams come in with undefeated records in conference play. The Eagles' defense has been up and down all season and will have to contain Monarch RB Jordan Llamas. This game will be a war between two big-time schools competing for a league championship and New Mexico supremacy.
La Cueva Bears (5-2, State PR: 73.64, Rank: 7) vs. Sandia Matadors (7-1, State PR: 83.03, Rank: 5): Both teams are looking to climb in the rankings but cannot avoid another loss late in the season. WR Tanner Ireland is a playmaker for the Matadors. Meanwhile, the Bears have won three games in a row behind punishing runner RB Ronnie Daniels, who was an all-state selection last year.
Reed Raiders (4-4, State PR: 53.86, Rank: 17) vs. Spanish Spring Cougars (6-2, State PR: 68.03 Rank: 12): The big rivalry game in Nevada will occur at Spanish Spring this weekend. The Raiders rely on QB Tyler Pine to distribute the ball and heads a balanced running and passing game. The Cougars look for a big win as they play Nevada’s finest McQueen next week. RB Dominic Smith leads all players with eight TDs.
Mountain View Thunder (4-4, State PR: 52.81, Rank: 42) vs. Evergreen Plainsmen (5-2, State PR: 71.76, Rank: 19): A must-win game for both teams as the loser will most likely miss the playoffs. The Thunder look to avenge last year’s 28-27 loss to their rival Plainsmen. The Thunder will rely on RB Tyler Burton and QB Cameron Pape have big games to keep their postseason dream alive. Head coach Tony Smyth hopes the Plainsmen can keep their season alive with a win and as they lean on D-1 recruit WR/DB Kyrell Hudson to make plays.
Pullman Greyhounds (6-1, State PR: 84.40, Rank: 6) vs. Deer Park Stags (7-1, State PR: 78.74, Rank: 8): Each team is trying to avoid two losses and needs to finish the season strong beford embarking into the 2A playoffs. The winner might have a huge advantage when the playoff seedings come out in the next few weeks. The Greyhounds offense has been dominant at times and averages over 38 points a game. The Stags defense, which was simply outstanding in middle of the season, has given up 39 points in last three games, which could be a cause for concern. Folks will get their money's worth for the must-see game in class 2A.
Mountain View Cougars (7-1, State PR: 83.79, Rank: 4) vs. Century Jaguars (8-1, State PR: 83.21, Rank: 5): The battle of the cats carries a lot of implications for 5A football in Oregon. The Jaguars are on a four-game winning streak and have only given up 21 points during that streak. WR Josh Garlington looks to follow last week's performance in which he had five catches for 92 yards. The Cougars look to win this game behind DB Pat Cashman, who is an all-around playmaker.
Natrona County Mustangs (6-2, State PR: 78.63, Rank: 3) vs. Green River Wolves (6-2, State PR: 76.71, Rank: 4): This is the one game to see in Wyoming this week and has two teams battling for their seventh win. The Wolves have been able to put up points on the scoreboard all season, but their defense has given up 57 points their last two games. The Mustangs have had their problems on defense as they have given up 36 points in the last two games. Look for a shootout in Wyoming.
Check for Brett's regional breakdowns each week right here at FootballPower.tv.