Wednesday, November 23, 2011
O.C.: Games of the week No. 1 Servite (10-1) vs. Tesoro (7-4) at Orange Coast College, Friday, 7 p.m. Servite is 38-3 over the past three seasons, so it's going to take a great effort to beat the Pac-5's top-seeded Friars with their efficient offense led by Cody Pittman (14 TDs, 2 int.) and tough defense led by linebacker Butch Pauu. Can Tesoro do it? The Nate Tago-led Titans, who have 16 starters who are underclassmen, gave away a game to Mission Viejo three weeks ago and upset Sunset League champion Edison last week. If Tesoro can bring a similar effort, and stay focused for four full quarters, it has a chance; anything less and Servite will advance to the semifinals for the fifth time in seven years.
San Clemente (10-1) at St. John Bosco (8-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m. San Clemente hasn't had much success against Trinity League opponents in past Pac-5 playoff games; after picking up their first playoff victory since 2005 (in Division II), the Tritons would have felt much more comfortable if this was a home game. It's not. They'll need to be physical and disciplined, and withstand the emotional crest that Bosco will be riding at the outset. Travis Wilson threw four touchdown passes last week in a win over Lakewood; the winner of this game will have to score at least four touchdowns.
Santa Margarita (9-2) vs. 3 Long Beach Poly (10-1) at Veterans Stadium, Friday, 7 p.m. A pretty good argument could be made that Santa Margarita should have been one of the seeded teams, and this is where the Eagles can prove it. They face a Poly team that is trying to restore its glory and play with the old Poly attitude, but the Eagles have reached back, too. Quarterback Johnny Stanton (8 TDs passing, 17 TDs rushing) seems unstoppable, but it's going to take some defensive stands to determine the winner. Santa Margarita couldn't make those stands against Servite, but Poly is 0-2 the last two seasons against Trinity League opponents in the Pac-5 playoffs.
No. 2 Mission Viejo (9-2) at Huntington Beach (9-2), Friday, 7 p.m. Another great opportunity for the Oilers to prove they are among the elite teams. They beat Loyola last week, but can add a much bigger trophy if they can outscore Mission Viejo's Buzzy Yokoyama (8 TDs in five games) and Alex Bridgford (21 TD, 15 int.). That's easier said than done, but playing at home will help. Huntington Beach will need a big night from QB Michael Chislock (24 TDs, 5 int.) and the defense to advance in the Pac-5 playoffs.
No. 1 Villa Park (11-0) at Tustin (8-3), Friday, 7 p.m. Outside of the Pac-5, this is the game that Orange County will be watching. Villa Park is OC's last undefeated team, but its roster of opponents has cast questions about the validity of drawing the top-seeded position and whether it should be regarded as one of the county's top 10 teams. This game should answer at least the first question. Led by Tyler Siudzinski, (17 TDs, 140 yards/game), Tustin was beat up during the season, largely because of the caliber of opponent it plays, but the Tillers are healthy again and hoping to reach their third final in four years. One thing that's not open for debate: Villa Park, with Nick Privitelli (14 TDs, 111 yards/game) and Blair Boyce (21 TDs, 6 int.) is more balanced as it tries to avenge its loss in last year's playoffs.
No. 4 Cypress (9-2) at Foothill (7-4), Saturday, 7 p.m. The only things standing between Foothill and ana eight-game winning streak is an overtime loss to Villa Park and a Hail Mary in the Century League finale against Brea Olinda. Foothill is one of the sleeper picks of the playoffs, but to advance they will have their hands full trying to stop Vincent "Bug" Rivera, who rushed for 348 yards last week in Cypress' 34-14 victory over over Laguna Hills.