Dave Rice 7:30 a.m., Feb. 28
Week 9 High Five
Games of the Week
No. 2 La Costa Canyon (7-0, 2-0 Avocado) at No. 3 Escondido (6-0-1, 1-0-1) Friday 7 p.m.
La Costa Canyon and Escondido met twice last year, the last time in the Division I finals. If both teams finish strong they could get two shots at each other for the second straight year. Expect an old-fashioned contest between the Mavericks and the Cougars – both teams rely on strong rushing attacks and sound defenses. Both teams’ ground games are two-headed attacks – Seth Hansen and Weston Manor share carries for La Costa Canyon while Escondido has the smash and dash duo of Tim Zier (586 yards) and Ricky Seale (1,384). Whichever team controls the line of scrimmage will control this game. Don’t expect La Costa Canyon receiver Kenny Stills to get lost in what should be a smashmouth game; the Mavericks playmaker will probably make one or two big ones before the final whistle sounds.
Francis Parker (6-1, 2-0 Coastal) at Santa Fe Christian (7-0, 1-0) Saturday 2 p.m.
High school football fans get a treat on Halloween in the form of one of the best small-school games of the year. The winner of this high-stakes game will have the inside track to the Small Schools South state bowl bid. Through seven games, the Lancers and Eagles have put up an identical 283 points (40 per game). Both teams feature two-way quarterbacks – Francis Parker’s Deon Randall and Santa Fe Christian’s Keaton Giannotti – among many two-way stars. Since these two schools starting playing in the Coastal League, Santa Fe Christian has won two of the last three meetings – but Francis Parker won 45-24 last year.
Best of the Rest
No. 9 Ramona (7-0, 3-0 Valley) at No. 6 Valley Center (7-0, 3-0) Friday 7 p.m.
If anyone challenges Oceanside for the Valley League crown this year, it will be the Bulldogs or the Jaguars. But these neighbors have to play each other before a showdown with the Pirates. Both teams like to run the ball and already have 1,000-yard rushers to show for it – Valley Center’s Stanton Upson (1,241 yards) and Ramona’s Ryan Morgan (1,015). It will be strength versus strength when the Bulldogs have the ball: Ramona’s offense is averaging 35 points per game while Valley Center’s defense has allowed an unmatched nine points per game.
No. 8 Helix (5-2, 1-1 Grossmont South) at Valhalla (5-2, 2-0) Friday 7 p.m.
Helix suffered their first league loss since 2005 last week at Steele Canyon. If the Highlanders dwell on that loss, they could get their second in two weeks at Valhalla. The Norsemen face their toughest two weeks of league play, hosting Helix and playing at Steele Canyon in consecutive weeks. Valhalla quarterback Pete Thomas is averaging 225 yards passing per game.
Tri-City Christian (7-0, 4-0 Pacific) at La Jolla Country Day (6-1, 4-0) Friday 7 p.m.
Of the 10 remaining unbeatens in the section, Tri-City Christian is both the most unknown and untested – their wins have come against opponents with a combined 19-29 record. The Eagles can silence their doubters with a win at La Jolla Country Day, whose six wins this season have come by an average of 35 points. The winner of this one will have the inside track to a league title, which the Torreys have won the last four seasons.
Also in the Red Zone
Serra (5-2, 2-0 Western) at Point Loma (4-3, 1-1) Friday 2 p.m.