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Tuesday, October 4, 2011
O.C.: Stakes rise in Century & Empire


Two leagues in Orange County began playing for keeps over the weekend.

In the Century League, Villa Park and Brea Olinda both won to remain undefeated through five games -- Villa Park beat Esperanza and Brea beat El Dorado. It's hard to know exactly how good those teams are: Villa Park's four nonleague opponents are 3-17; Brea's four nonleague opponents are 7-13. Don't be surprised if Foothill (3-2) makes a darkhorse run, though.

In the Empire League, Yorba Linda (5-0), Cypress (4-1) and Tustin (3-2) opened with victories. Next week could go a long way toward determining the league champion: Tustin plays host to Yorba Linda (which has its first senior class this season) on Friday.

Still, no league title figures to be determined without Cypress having a say. The Centurions have one of the most dynamic players in the league, senior running back Vincent "Bug" Rivera (5 feet 7, 185), who has scored as many touchdowns through five games (16) as he did in all of 2010. His coach, Mike Cobleigh, told the Orange County Register, "I think he could start anywhere in the county."

In the Southern Section Southwest Division rankings, Villa Park (5-0) is No. 1 this week, followed by No. 2 La Habra (2-3), No. 3 Tustin (3-2), No. 4 Laguna Hills (4-0) and No. 5 Yorba Linda (5-0). Neither Laguna Hills nor Yorba Linda has played a team with a winning record.

Interestingly, the records for La Habra and Tustin reflect the difficulty of their schedules. La Habra's schedule is well documented, but Tustin's two losses were at the hands of Upland and Orange Lutheran in back-to-back weeks; Upland is No. 14 in the ESPNLA top 25, and OLu is No. 10.