The Westlake football team will be playing its second rematch game in as many weeks against a Marmonte League rival. Oaks Christian will get a chance to do what Westlake did in the semifinals of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs: Avenge a Marmonte League loss.
Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell expects his team to play better in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division championship game against Westlake. He expects Westlake to play better, too.
Westlake, though, might be a little undermanned for the game at Oaks Christian High School on Friday night.
Running back Tavior Mowry is nursing what Westlake coach Jim Benkert calls a tweaked ankle. Mowry injured his ankle five weeks ago, but re-aggravated it in the semifinal game against St. Bonaventure. He was on crutches on Sunday, but was walking without pain on Wednesday, Benkert said.
“He says he’s going to play,” Benkert said.
Westlake beat Oaks Christian, 31-12, the first time the two teams met in the fourth week of the season.
Oaks Christian was a team in transition the first time the two teams played. It was the first start for quarterback Richie Harrington, who took over for Trevor Gretzky, sidelined with a season-ending shoulder injury.
It was also the first game back for receiver Jordan Payton and defensive end John Van Der Wal, who were sitting out the first three games of the season recovering from injuries of their own. Payton, who’s headed to USC next season, is coming off a three-touchdown game against Valencia in the Northern Division semifinals.
Van Der Wal is headed to Arizona State. He was part of an Oaks Christian defense that held an explosive Valencia offense to 14 points in the first half of the semifinal playoff game.
Redell said he doesn’t want to use having three key players essentially making their season debuts in that first game against Westlake as an excuse, but all three are healthy and have valuable experience this time around.
“I’d rather be playing the Sisters of the Poor,” Redell said. “The best four teams made it to the semis. We’re a greatly improved team since the first time we met. Westlake is outstanding.”
Redell added that he won’t be afraid to take some chances against Oaks Christian.
“We’d have to play our best to have a chance. We’ll have a chance,” Redell said. “We’ll have to gamble a lot. We’re going to have to gamble. That runs the risk of getting behind early. We won’t play conservatively.”
Benkert expects the Northern Division championship game to be much different than the game played in Week 4. Not only is Oaks Christian improved with the play of Harrington, Payton and Van Der Wal, but Benkert said the team has found confidence in running back Ishmael Adams.
“This game, you can throw out what happened the first game,” Benkert said. “This game is about who wants it more. We’re both playing well right now. It’s going to come down to who wants it more. It’s going to be a game that comes down to the wire.”
Benkert added that his players, who won the Northern Division championship last year, are not intimidated by the stage of a CIF championship game. The game will be at the newly built football stadium at Oaks Christian.
“My kids want to play there. They like lots of noise,” Benkert said. “They like it that way.”
In addition to Mowry, quarterback Nick Isham and receiver Nelson Spruce played in the CIF Northern Division championship game last season as juniors.
Benkert said the 2,000 tickets made available to Westlake sold out in a day. The game has crosstown rival appeal – the schools are separated by two blocks – and has a public school vs. private school element.
“I just want to get it going,” Benkert said. “A week of preparation gets long. The faster we can get to the game, the better for us.”
Chatsworth (11-2) vs. Fairfax (10-3-1), Friday, 7 p.m. at East Los Angeles College
Chatsworth is one win away from one of the greatest turnarounds in City Section history. Chatsworth is in the championship game of the Division II playoffs a year after going 2-8. Chatsworth has a seven-game winning streak, including a 35-28 win over Palisades in the Division II semifinals. Fairfax has a four-game winning streak and hasn’t lost since Nov. 5 to Palisades. Fairfax beat Arleta, 36-12, in the Division II semifinals.
Sierra Canyon (13-1) vs. Paraclete (12-1), Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Granada Hills High School
Paraclete beat St. Margaret’s, 38-21, in the East Valley Division semifinals. Paraclete’s Roosevelt Davis rushed for 174 yards and teammate Ryan Davis scored three touchdowns against St. Margaret’s. Sierra Canyon beat Yucca Valley, 51-7, in the other East Valley semifinal. Sierra Canyon quarterback Tyler Stewart passed for 331 yards and four touchdowns. Receiver Julian Brooks caught three passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns.
Boron (12-1) vs. Bishop (12-1), Saturday, 6 p.m.
Boron beat Vasquez, 18-7, in the semifinals of the Northeast Division playoffs. Running back Reggie Heard rushed for 86 yards and scored two touchdowns against Vasquez. Bishop beat Pasadena Poly, 44-14, in the other Northeast Division semifinal. Running back Chance Callahan rushed for 136 yards and scored a touchdown against Pasadena Poly.