By Martin Henderson
If teams want to make the playoffs, they need to win this week. It's really that simple.
If it's not for an actual playoff berth, it's for positioning one's self for the best draw when the Southern Section playoffs begin in two weeks. That's right, two weeks from now, the drive for championships begin in earnest.
Some of the key games of Week 9 are:
• JSerra (5-3 overall, 0-3 in Trinity League) won't get an automatic playoff berth, and probably won't get an at-large berth either. But the Lions can still roar with an upset of Servite (5-3, 2-1) at Cerritos College. This game features two outstanding young quarterbacks in JSerra's Nick Robinson and Servite's Travis Waller. Servite's depth and physicality should be the difference, but you can't forget one thing: JSerra, despite its Trinity League record, is a good team and has the playmakers to upset a team that isn't entirely focused.
• Mission Viejo (8-0 overall, 2-0 in the South Coast League), after its impressive 37-7 victory over Tesoro a week ago, is expected to steamroll Trabuco Hills (5-3, 1-1). Conventional wisdom says so. But conventional wisdom also says not so fast. Mission is coming off its emotional showdown with Tesoro, while Trabuco has had two weeks to prepare for this game. If the Mustangs can summon the effort from their game against Santa Margarita, they have a chance to win, which would also be their only chance of making the playoffs. Trabuco isn't the better team, but this week they should be the more motivated team.
• It has been a while since Fountain Valley (6-2 overall, 2-1 in the Sunset League) played Edison (5-3, 2-1) and the game had any relevance beyond the Battle for the Bell. But this year, there's more at stake than winning the bell; both are part of a four-way tie—with Los Alamitos and Newport Harbor—for first place with two games remaining. If either wants to win the league title, they must win this game, which is likely to feature plenty of good defense. Neither can afford to give up the big play because that could determine the winner. Edison has won eight in a row against Fountain Valley.
• Los Alamitos (7-1 overall, 2-1 in Sunset League) should beat Huntington Beach (4-4, 1-2), but the Griffins must avoid a letdown after their emotional upset of Edison a week ago. Their strength is defense, and that bodes well for stopping Huntington Beach's Kai Ross, the Oilers' do-everything quarterback who would love nothing more than to throw a wrench in the Los Al playoff plans. At the beginning of the season, Huntington Beach was expected to be among the top three teams, so the Oilers are capable of an upset here.
• It's too late for Capistrano Valley (5-3 overall, 1-1 in league) but not too late for San Juan Hills (7-1, 2-0) to prove it—and not Dana Hills (4-4, 2-0)—is the best team in the Sea View League. San Juan Hills is on a collision course with Dana next week, but it won't matter if it doesn't beat the Cougars this week. But there's plenty of motivation for Capo Valley; if it wins, it positions itself for an automatic playoff berth and a week down the road a possible a three-way tie for first place.
Here's the schedule for local schools in Patch cities:
Thursday, Oct. 31
Orange Coast League
Friday, Nov. 1
- JSerra vs. Servite at Cerritos College
- Orange Lutheran vs. Santa Margarita at Saddleback College
South Coast League
- Mission Viejo at Trabuco Hills
- Tesoro at San Clemente
- Fountain Valley vs. Edison at Orange Coast College
- Huntington Beach vs. Los Alamitos at Long Beach City College
- Newport Harbor vs. Marina at Huntington Beach
Sea View League
- Capistrano Valley at San Juan Hills
- Laguna Hills at Dana Hills
Pacific Coast League
- Beckman vs. Corona del Mar at Newport Harbor
- Downey Calvary Chapel at Sage Hill
San Joaquin League
- Canyon Country Santa Clarita Christian vs. Saddleback Valley Christian at St. Margaret’s
Saturday, Nov. 2
- St. Margaret’s at San Luis Obispo Mission Prep