L.A. North: Five things from the weekend
November, 28, 2011
By Tim Haddock | ESPNLosAngeles.com
1. After a shaky first-round playoff game against Redondo, St. Bonaventure left no doubt in the quarterfinals against Canyon. The Seraphs, the third-seeded team in the Southern Section Northern Division playoffs, eliminated Canyon from the playoffs for the second year in a row and will face Oaks Christian, the reigning Northern Division champion, in the semifinals. The last time St. Bonaventure and Oaks Christian met was in the second week of Marmonte League play. Oaks Christian won 36-24, but the game was not without controversy. The lights went out at the Oaks Christian football stadium during a punt in the second half. St. Bonaventure was rallying and was about to take over possession. The lights went out at the stadium while the punt was in the air and the ball was downed on the St. Bonaventure one-yard line. Not only did St. Bonaventure have terrible field position to start its next drive, the game was delayed for nearly 30 minutes to restore the lights. St. Bonaventure’s Montre Lee and Patrick Kenney, who each scored key touchdowns against Canyon, said a rematch with Oaks Christian has been a motivating factor for the team. But St. Bonaventure might not be at 100 percent. Running back Shaun Wick has been limited because of a calf injury in the two playoff games. He was the team’s leading rusher after the first 10 games but has only carried the ball four times in the last two games. He did not have a carry against Redondo and gained 57 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown, in four carries against Canyon. While Wick has been sidelined, freshman Marcus Chambers has emerged as an effective back in the playoffs. He rushed for 47 yards and scored a touchdown against Redondo. He had 41 yards in eight carries against Canyon. He’s also a player that Oaks Christian hasn’t seen, so St. Bonaventure might have a bit of a surprise factor in the rematch.
2. On the other side of the Northern Division playoff bracket is Westlake, the newly dubbed No. 1 team in the ESPN Los Angeles Top 25 rankings, against a depleted Thousand Oaks team. It’s an all-Marmonte League final four. Westlake is undefeated and has outscored its two playoff opponents, Eastside and Hart, 101-26. Thousand Oaks coach Mike Leibin said only 38 players dressed for last week’s playoff game against Moorpark. The Lancers have won three games in a row, but the two playoff games have been challenging. Thousand Oaks traveled to Quartz Hill in the first round and beat the Rebels, 20-7. Against Moorpark, the Lancers needed two fourth-quarter touchdowns to beat the Musketeers, 21-14. If Thousand Oaks is to have any chance of pulling an upset over Westlake, the team will need big games out of Blake Howell and Nathan DeBeikes. Howell caught four passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns against Moorpark. DeBeikes rushed for 106 yards, taking all 26 carries for Thousand Oaks, and scored a touuchdown. Westlake, on the other hand, has a multitude of offensive weapons. The Warriors scored 28 points in the second quarter against Hart en route to a 42-14 win. Running back Dashon Hunt scored three touchdowns against Hart. Receiver Connor Cook caught two touchdown passes. Jarius Bishop scored a touchdown and rushed for 30 yards.
3. With four teams from the Marmonte League in the semifinals of the Northern Division playoffs, it marks the first time since 1996 that a team from the Foothill League has not advanced past the quarterfinals. Four teams from the Foothill League earned spots in this year’s playoffs. Valencia, the fourth-seeded team in the Northern Division playoffs, lost to Moorpark in the first round. Saugus traveled to Highland in Palmdale and lost in the first round. Canyon and Hart reached the second round, but were eliminated by St. Bonaventure and Westlake.
4. It could be a San Fernando Valley championship game in th City Section Division II playoffs. Canoga Park advanced to the semifinals after beating Bell, 27-24, in double overtime. Granada Hills is in the other Division II semifinal after eliminating Van Nuys, 44-22. Granada Hills won its first playoff games since 2003. The Highlanders made the move from Division I to Division II this year and it has paid off. They are in the semifinals of the football playoffs for the first time since 2006. Canoga Park reached the semifinals after erasing a 14-3 deficit against Bell and sending the game into overtime. Receiver Randy Uzoma caught a touchdown pass in the first overtime period and set up the winning field goal with a 10-yard catch in the second overtime period. Canoga Park faces South East, the top-seeded team in the Division II playoffs, on Friday night. Granada Hills plays Marshall of Los Angeles in the other semifinal.
5. Tiny Desert Christian in Lancaster pulled off quite an upset in the Northeast Division playoffs. The Knights knocked top-seeded Bishop out of the playoffs, 14-7, in the quarterfinals. Bishop won the Northeast Division championship last year. To say Desert Christian has a run-oriented offense would be an understatement. Running back Kiel Alcaraz led Desert Christian with 181 yards in 22 carries and Desert Christian did not attempt one pass in the game. Lucas Chatham scored the winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. Chance Gusbeth scored Desert Christian’s first touchdown in the first quarter. Desert Christian plays fourth-seeded Salesian in the semifinals on Friday night.