1. St Bonaventure vs 16. Cabrillo
The Seraphs are hungry to prove they belong in the upper-echelon of Southern California football. The jump to the Pac-5 might not be easy for most, but the Seraphs are the No. 1 seed and have beat the likes of Corona Centennial, Oaks Christian and Westlake. St. Bonaventure has struggled in recent years in the semifinals, but I feel this is a team of destiny this time around. Arizona commit Zack Green leads the attack rushing for more than 116 yards per game and 8.9 yards per carry. This brand of smash mouth football will be too much for Cabrillo to withstand.
The Diablos (7-0) have fared quite admirably without their star Tre Madden, but all signs point to him coming back this Friday night in a huge South Coast League battle. While he has been gone, new stars emerged including RB Dallas Kessman (120 rushing yards a game), Jahleel Pinner (80 rushing yards a game) and QB Alex Bridgford, who not only manages the game, but has the arm to beat his opponents deep (17.6 yards per completion.) On the other side, the Tritons (7-1) are hungry for the upset and league championship that should very well go along with it. QB Travis Wilson has been lighting it up all season throwing for 203 yards per game, but he will need his defense to stifle one of the best offenses in the nation if he has any chance of winning this game. Chad Foster, Julian Perry and company will need to pressure Bridgford to force turnovers. I don’t see Mission Viejo losing this game, in fact, I’m not sure I see them losing all season.
More than 20,000 people should be on hand at Angel Stadium to witness one of the best rivalries in Southern California. The Monarchs (5-2) started out the season in ugly fashion, losing their first two games, but have rebounded nicely. Servite (7-0) is looking to win its second consecutive game against Mater Dei after overcoming two decades of losing to their rivals last year. The Friars are led by RB Sean DeRosa, who averages 100 yards a game. On defense, Matthew Inman leads the charge. Pound-for-pound, you won’t find too many stronger linebackers than him. Inman benches 365 lbs and squats 585 lbs, while weighing 215. Mater Dei QB Max Wittek will be looking to avoid Inman’s pressure, while gunning to his favorite target and future USC teammate Victor Blackwell. Wittek has averaged 217 yards per win, while only averaging 111 yards in the Monarchs two losses. He, and his offensive line, will be the key in this game. If the Monarch big uglies can win the battle in the trenches, giving Wittek time to throw, there’s no reason why Mater Dei couldn’t pull off the upset. Problem is, Servite’s defense may very well be the best in the nation.
Prediction: Servite 28 Mater Dei 14
Carson at Mission Viejo – The Diablos (3-0) are ranked as high as 16th nationally in the prepnation.com poll and could make it even higher in the rankings when the season is all said and done. The Diablos will be without Tre Madden for the second consecutive week, but that didn’t hurt them in last week’s 37-7 blowout victory over Long Beach Poly. Jahleel Pinner and Dallas Kessman picked up the slack rushing for 122 and 143 yards respectively. QB Alex Bridgford needs to find his game against Carson. He wasn’t very efficient against the Jackrabbits going 8 for 19 with an interception. This team will need him to perform to his highest level later on in the season. Carson (2-1) comes into this game rested after its bye week. The Colts will need all the rest they can get if they want to stay competitive with the Diablos. The Colts will need a strong running game to milk the time of possession and keep the Diablos off the field, but that’s much easier said than done. Between Dion Lewis, QB Justin Alo and Myles Johnson they have three capable ball carriers who have rushed for 223 yards a game. This will be too tough of a task for Carson too handle.
Prediction: Mission Viejo 45 Carson 13
Edison at Mater Dei – USC bound QB Matt Wittek finally showed his potential last week throwing for more than 300 yards and four touchdowns. If Mater Dei (1-2) wants to stay in the hunt, they’ll need these kinds of performances week in and week out from Wittek. It’s not too difficult when he has a receiver like Victor Blackwell, who will join Wittek at USC next year. Blackwell caught 6 passes for 183 yards last week and has explosive 4.4 speed. Edison (3-1) is coming off a tough loss to Servite. Nicholas Masaniai was held in check for the first time this year rushing 15 times for only 43 yards. The defense will need its star Charles Burks (32 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries) to wreak havoc on the interior line. Burks already has offers from Stanford, Boise State and San Diego State among others. This is my toughest pick of the week, but I’m leaning toward Edison.