LA North: Game of the week: Oaks Christian vs. St. Bonaventure

Oaks Christian's 6-foot-7 tight end/defensive end Dillon Van Der Wal is not expected to play in his team’s Friday night Marmonte League opener against St. Bonaventure in a matchup of ESPN Los Angeles.com top 25 teams at Ventura High School.

Van Der Wal injured his leg in Oaks Christian’s season opener against Alemany on Sept. 3. Coach Bill Redell said Van Der Wal did not injure his knee, but it will take about another week for his leg to heal. Redell added he won’t need to make many adjustments on offense with Van Der Wal out of the mix.

“It doesn’t really change it,” Redell said. “It probably hurts us more defensively than offensively.”

Oaks Christian, ranked 22nd in the ESPN LA.com poll, lost to Alemany, 20-17, in its opening night game. It was a game that could have gone either way. Alemany kicker Martin Meza made an 18-yard, last-second field goal to win the game. The Lions did not play last weekend and will have had two weeks to prepare for the game against St. Bonaventure.

St. Bonaventure, the No. 16 team in the ESPN LA.com poll, beat Long Beach Poly, 32-7, in its season opener on Friday night.

Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure are new to the Marmonte League. They will meet each other for the first time as league opponents.

St. Bonaventure coach Todd Therrien said the competition level of the Marmonte League is nothing new to his team.

“It’s not any different for us than it’s been in the past,” Therrien said. “To us, it’s another year.”

St. Bonaventure was in the Channel League last year and had a very competitive nonleague schedule. The Seraphs played Long Beach Poly, Bishop Amat, Crespi and St. John Bosco before starting league play.

St. Bonaventure is also used to deep playoff runs. The team made it to the CIF Southern Section Northern Division semifinals last year, losing to eventual champion Westlake. Westlake won the Marmonte League championship in 2009.

Oaks Christian played in the Tri-Valley League and had a considerably less competitive nonleague schedule than St. Bonaventure. Oaks Christian played Skyline, Venice and Jordan before starting league play last year. The Tri-Valley League wasn’t very competitive either with the biggest threat coming from Nordhoff. Oaks Christian beat Nordhoff, the second-place team in the Tri-Valley League, 56-6.

“St. Bonaventure dominated Long Beach Poly,” Redell said. “We feel like if we play our game, we have a chance. It will be a test for us.”

Therrien said he likes the Oaks Christian team. Running back Ishmael Adams, a junior transfer from Atlanta, Ga., reminds Therrien of Lorenzo Booker, who played briefly with the Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles in the NFL and rushed for 2,878 yards and 50 touchdowns in his senior season at St. Bonaventure.

Therrien also said he likes how the Oaks Christian defense plays. He was particularly impressed by the way the Lions played against Alemany.

“I do know they’re solid on defense,” Therrien said. “I like their cornerbacks, all three of them. I think they’re solid all the way around.”

The last time Oaks Christian and St. Bonaventure played against each other was in 2007. St. Bonaventure won that game, 41-33, behind a 234-yard, five-touchdown performance by running back Darrell Scott.

Tanner Souza was the star for St. Bonaventure against Long Beach Poly. He scored a touchdown on an interception, one of four for St. Bonaventure against Long Beach Poly, and caught five passes for 101 yards as a receiver.

Therrien said his team has been distracted a bit by all the attention after beating Long Beach Poly.

“We’re ready to go. We’re as healthy as we’ve been,” Therrien said. “Our focus seems to be OK. I’d like to see it a little better.”

Other games to watch:

Thousand Oaks (1-0) at No. 2 Westlake (1-0), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Westlake, the reigning CIF Southern Section Northern Division champions, starts its Marmonte League schedule against Thousand Oaks, which will have had two weeks to prepare for this game. Westlake is coming off a 42-14 win over Oxnard on Friday night.

Newbury Park (1-0) at No. 23 Moorpark (0-1), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Moorpark is looking for its first win of the season after a 24-21 loss to Eastlake i its opener. Newbury Park is coming off a 21-14 win over Buena.

No. 12 Valencia (1-0) at Birmingham (1-1), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Valencia looked impressive in its 49-32 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in its season opener. Birmingham lost its season opener to Corona Centennial, 48-8.

Saugus (2-0) at Buena (0-2), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Could Saugus be the surprise of the Foothill League? The Centurions are off to a great start. Buena might be facing another tough loss.