The first four teams in the Inland Empire top 10 face off against formidable opponents this week, none more intriguing then Norco hosting Upland on Friday night. J.W. North put itself on the map last week with a huge upset against Alemany. Will there be another J.W. North-like performance in the I.E. this week? Here's the best of the best.
(I.E. rankings included)
No. 7 Upland (3-0) at No. 3 Norco (2-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – Norco sophomore quarterback Coltin Gerhart had a break-out performance in this meeting last season. As a freshman, he rushed for 80 yards and two second-half touchdowns to lift the Cougars to a 35-21 victory at Upland. Gerhart, the brother of Minnesota Vikings running back Toby Gerhart, is coming off the best performance of his high school career, rushing for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-36 victory against No. 10 Etiwanda. Norco’s defensive backs will have their hands full covering Kenny Lawler, one of the top receivers in the Southland. Look for the Arizona State-commit to be the difference.
Calpreps.com computerized projection: Norco 34, Upland 24.
ESPNLA: Upland 31, Norco 27.
Chaparral (0-2) at No. 1 Corona Centennial (1-1), Friday (7:30 p.m.) – The Huskies appear to be back on track after defeating Mater Dei last Friday, 28-20. They cut down on their penalties, didn’t commit any turnovers other than a bad snap on the punt team and rallied back from a 13-point late third-quarter deficit. Chaparral may have found itself in the second half of a 31-19 loss to Oceanside two weeks ago. The Pumas had a bye last week to either work out more kinks or resume their bad habits. They remain dangerous, however, with San Diego State-bound quarterback Matt Morin leading the offense and Arizona State-bound strong safety C.J. Dozier heading the D.
Calpreps.com: Centennial 38, Chaparral 19.
ESPNLA: Centennial 31, Chaparral 21.
No. 2 Rancho Cucamonga (3-0) at Charter Oak (3-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – The Cougars take a step up in competition for the fourth consecutive week, and another one-sided victory might actually get the attention of the coaches who vote for the SS-Inland Division poll, who have kept Rancho Cucamonga lodged at No. 5 since the start of the season. But the Cougars can't worry about that, they need to keep their focus on stopping Charter Oak sophomore running back Kurt Scoby, who's proving to be one of the region's best, averaging 138 rushing yards a game.
Calpreps.com: Rancho Cucamonga 31, Charter Oak 14.
ESPNLA: Rancho Cucamonga 45, Charter Oak 21.
No. 6 Vista Murrieta (2-0) at Los Osos (2-1), Friday (7 p.m.) – Los Osos has just enough talent and coaching savvy to make this an interesting game. Vista Murrieta is definitely a different team than a year ago, when quarterback Derrick Brown used his legs and arms to carry the team to the Inland Division finals. Brown is now at Washington and junior Nicholas Stevens is running the offense at a much slower pace. To keep the chains moving, the Broncos have had to add some offensive responsibilities to one of their best defensive players, junior strong safety Su’a Cravens, who has emerged as the team’s leading rusher.
Calpreps.com: Vista Murrieta 19, Los Osos 13.
ESPNLA: Vista Murrieta 20, Los Osos 10.
No. 4 Redlands East Valley (2-0) vs. Dorsey (3-0) at Citrus Valley HS – The Wildcats have yet to allow a point this season, and the final score against L.A. City Section-power Dorsey will have a lot to say about this team’s potential to make a deep run in the postseason. The Dons have a busload of offensive weapons to choose from, led by wingback Jaydon Mickens, a USC commit. Three other teammates have at least 15 carries this season and five others have scored touchdowns.
Calpreps.com: Redlands East Valley 28, Dorsey 10.
ESPNLA: Redlands East Valley 24, Dorsey 21.
Last week’s picks: