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Friday, March 9, 2012
Weekend Watch: Five must-see matches

By Sheldon Shealer

Each week during the high school season, ESPNHS highlights five weekend matches that have a compelling storyline or could have significant state, region and/or national implications.

This week, the Southern California Regional finals highlight the schedule.

Friday, March 9
Winter No. 14 Plano (Texas) vs. Marcus (Flower Mound, Texas)
A loss earlier this week takes the national implications off this meeting, but it remains important for the District 8-5A race. Marcus holds a slight edge with a 6-1-3 district mark, 12-3-4 overall. Plano is 5-2-3 in the district, 12-3-4 overall.

Spring No. 14 McIntosh (Peachtree City, Ga.) vs. Whitewater (Fayetteville, Ga.)
While a 7-0 team playing a 3-3 team does not often make the list of matches to watch, it’s what will happen at the start of this contest that makes it noteworthy. McIntosh is expected to start 10 players tonight in memory of former McIntosh junior varsity player Chase Burnett, who died a week ago.

Spring No. 49 Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.) vs. Altamont (Birmingham, Ala.)
Oak Mountain, fresh off a penalty kick victory over Vestavia Hills (Ala.) earlier in the week, clashes with Altamont, a perennial small-school power. Oak Mountain is 7-2-1 while Altamont brings a 6-1-2 record into the contest.

Saturday, March 10
Spring No. 5 Vestavia Hills (Ala.) vs. No. 50 John Carroll (Birmingham, Ala.)
John Carroll has strung together a seven-match undefeated streak since an early season loss to Vestavia Hills. Vestavia Hills, meanwhile, will see its No. 5 ranking disappear next week after taking back-to-back losses this week. Vestavia Hills’ first setback was to fellow Alabama large-school frontrunner Oak Mountain (Birmingham, Ala.). The team also lost to Parkview (Lilburn, Ga.), the current No. 7 team in the ESPNHS Georgia rankings.

Winter No. 6 Crescenta Valley (La Crescenta, Calif.) vs. Winter No. 18 Paramount (Calif.)
Crescenta Valley aims to finish an undefeated season when it faces Paramount in the Southern California Regional Division I final Saturday. On the line will be the state’s No. 1 ranking. Paramount got to the final by handling Fremont 4-1 and edging Torrey Pines in penalty kicks. Crescenta Valley’s run to the final included its second win over a POWERADE FAB 50 Top 5 team this year – beating No. 5 Millikan (Long Beach, Calif.) 3-2 in the semifinals. Crescenta Valley previously defeated then No. 5 El Rancho (Pico Rivera, Calif.) 3-0 in the Southern Section final last week. Crescenta Valley is led by UC Irvine signee Pavle Atanackovic, who has topped 40 goals this season. Paramount counters with a more balanced attack led by midfielder Jose Ochoa.