By Martin Henderson
Last week presented some big games, but this week there's some must-win games on the high school football schedule. It's the second week of league play, and already there could be some playoff positions determined. Well, practically determined.
Some of the key games of Week 7:
• Having already beaten Trabuco Hills, a victory Friday by Tesoro (5-1, 1-0)—ranked No. 8 in the Orange County Top 10—virtually assures it of second place in the South Coast League and one of the league's two guaranteed spots in the Pac-5 Division. Tesoro, though largely successful, has been wildly inconsistent and one wonders how long it can walk a tightrope before falling. In facing El Toro (4-3, 1-0), the Titans are facing a team that is better than its record, and with the return last week of tailback Marcus Desantis, the Chargers are suddenly well balanced. Remember, in the season opener, El Toro lost to La Habra by only a field goal, and quarterback Trey Tinsley—who completed 50 of 75 passes a few weeks ago to beat Villa Park—is a lot better now. With Mission Viejo expected to finish first, and adversity-plagued San Clemente likely to finish fifth, it's a three-way battle between Tesoro, El Toro and Trabuco Hills for second place. El Toro plays Trabuco next week and controls its own destiny, but if Tesoro wins, things will look a lot less muddled.
• Santa Margarita Catholic (3-3, 0-1) got pasted last week by St. John Bosco, 56-12. It was the worst home loss in SMCHS history. If the fifth-ranked Eagles want to assure themselves one of three automatic playoff berths from the Trinity League, a win over No. 3 Servite (3-3, 0-1) at Cerritos College will go a long way toward that end. Second-ranked Mater Dei and fourth-ranked Orange Lutheran loom the next two weeks on the Eagles schedule. Somebody's going to start the season 0-2, and nobody wants to do that.
• When Mater Dei (6-0, 1-0), ranked No. 2 in Orange County, travels to Saddleback College to face No. 7 JSerra (5-1, 0-1), it doesn't really have a big-game buzz. That's because it's a foregone conclusion that Mater Dei will win. And the reality is that it probably will. OC Varsity revealed Mater Dei has outscored JSerra in the first quarter, 105-0, on its way to six consecutive on-field victories (another win came by forfeit) by a total margin of 269-47. But Mater Dei is coming off its 28-21 win over Servite—which does create a lot of big-game buzz—and next week plays a team it's far more worried about, Santa Margarita. In the Trinity League, it's all about being focused week-to-week to get through the grind. After last week's loss to Orange Lutheran, JSerra will be focused. The big question, will Mater Dei? If JSerra pulls the upset against the nation's No. 21 team (according to Maxprep's Freeman Ratings), it will be huge.
• Newport Harbor (3-3, 1-0) scored a victory over Los Alamitos last week, which should go a long way toward earning one of three playoff berths from the Sunset League. But a victory over 10th-ranked Edison (4-2, 1-0) is necessary if Newport is to win the league title outright. That's easier said than done. Newport hasn't beaten Edison since joining the league in 2006, and four of the seven losses have been by shutout; the Sailors haven't scored more seven points in any game, and they have been outscored 242-19. A reversal of fortune couldn't come soon enough.
• Speaking of foregone conclusions, ninth-ranked Corona del Mar (6-0, 1-0) will beat Woodbridge (4-2, 1-0) and firmly establish itself as the Pacific Coast League champion with wins over its primary competition, Irvine and Woodbridge. Barring a huge upset, CdM will finish first in league and the two-time defending Southern Section Southern Division champion will enter the playoffs in the coveted top-seeded position. With Woodbridge the only team that seems capable of beating CdM left on the league schedule, there's a lot on the line here for the Sea Kings.
Here's the schedule for local schools in Patch cities:
Thursday, Oct. 17
Friday, Oct. 18 (all games 7 p.m. unless noted)
- Mater Dei vs. JSerra at Saddleback College
- Santa Margarita vs. Servite at Cerritos College, 7:30 p.m.
South Coast League
- El Toro at Tesoro
- San Clemente at Mission Viejo
- Fountain Valley at Huntington Beach
- Edison at Newport Harbor
Sea View League
- Aliso Niguel at Laguna Hills
- Dana Hills at Capistrano Valley
Pacific Coast League
- Corona del Mar vs. Woodbridge at University
Orange Coast League
- Estancia at Laguna Beach
- St. Margaret’s vs. Brethren Christian at Ocean View
San Joaquin League
- Saddleback Valley Christian vs. Walnut Southlands Christian at Walnut
- Fairmont Prep vs. Capistrano Valley Christian at San Clemente