Sunday, December 4, 2011
ESPNLA prep football Top 25
By Blair Angulo
Top-ranked Westlake rolled through Thousand Oaks to clinch its spot in the Northern Division championship game. Four new teams enter the ESPN Los Angeles prep football Top 25 rankings this week, led by Carson, which upset top-seeded San Pedro in the City Section Division I semifinals. The Colts return to the title game after losing to Crenshaw last year. Ocean League champion Santa Monica lost to league rival Culver City -- the surprise of the playoffs -- and fell out. Our rankings heading into the championship round:
1. Westlake (13-0) Quarterback Justin Moore and tailback Dashon Hunt encountered no problems, leading the Warriors to their largest margin of victory since September. Last week: Beat Thousand Oaks, 62-0. Next: Northern Division championship vs. Oaks Christian, Friday.
2. Corona Centennial (12-1) What the 5-foot-5 Romello Goodman lacks in size he makes up for in speed. The tailback rushed for 248 yards and a pair of touchdowns to send the Huskies to another title game. Last week: Beat Rancho Cucamonga, 41-21. Next: Inland Division championship vs. Vista Murrieta, Friday.
3. Vista Murrieta (8-5)# All units contributed Friday, with the Broncos getting scores on offense, defense and special teams. The versatile Su'a Cravens, an offensive hero the previous week, had four sacks. Last week: Beat Upland, 39-19. Next: Inland Division championship vs. Corona Centennial, Friday.
4. Santa Margarita (11-2) Some job second-year coach Harry Welch has done. Quarterback Johnny Stanton capped the game-winning 70-yard drive with a late one-yard touchdown run. Last week: Beat Mission Viejo, 21-20. Next: Pac-5 Division championship vs. San Clemente at Angel Stadium, Saturday.
5. Oaks Christian (11-2) The Lions erased a 10-point deficit to punch their ticket to the final. Oaks Christian captured the Northern Division crown last year with a one-point win over Westlake. Last week: Beat St. Bonaventure, 27-24. Next: Northern Division championship vs. Westlake, Friday.
6. San Clemente (12-1) Senior Christian Tober scored three touchdowns Friday -- each of at least 70 yards -- helping the Tritons reach their first final since 1979. Last week: Beat Tesoro, 51-16. Next: Pac-5 Division championship vs. Santa Margarita at Angel Stadium, Saturday.
7. Narbonne (10-3) The Gauchos made easy work of a very good defense to secure a spot in the title game for the third time in four years. Quarterback Troy Williams is hungry. Last week: Beat Dorsey, 41-7. Next: City Section Division I championship vs. Carson at East L.A. College, Friday.
8. Mission Viejo (10-3)* A tough way for the Diablos to go out. The defense had a go-ahead 85-yard touchdown on a recovered fumble but couldn't make a stop in the final minutes. Quarterback Alex Bridgford wasn't able to manufacture the game-winning drive. Last week: Lost to Santa Margarita, 21-20.
9. Upland (12-1)* It took a while, but the previously unbeaten Highlanders finally met their match. They were within two points at the break but numerous mistakes turned costly in the second half. Receiver Kenny Lawler won't soon be forgotten, though. Last week: Lost to Vista Murrieta, 39-18.
10. St. Bonaventure (10-3)* The Seraphs at one point led by 10 despite the absence of quarterback Marc Evans, who did not play because of a shoulder injury. They got the ball back in the waning seconds but time ran out on the final punt return. Last week: Lost to Oaks Christian, 27-24.
11. Rancho Cucamonga (11-2)* The inability to stop the run led to both Cougar losses this season. It happened against Upland in the Baseline League title game and it happened Friday against an unforgiving Centennial offense. Last week: Lost to Corona Centennial, 41-21.
12. Carson (8-5) The Colts leap back into the rankings following a rather surprising upset of top-seeded San Pedro. They were a preseason favorite but took a difficult route to get to the final. Last week: Beat San Pedro, 24-19. Next: City Section Div. I championship vs. Narbonne at East L.A. Classic, Friday.
13. San Pedro (12-1)* The previously undefeated Pirates proved that beating the same team twice is a tough task. Dual-threat quarterback Kenny Potter had 145 rushing yards but threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. Last week: Lost to Carson, 24-19.
14. Arroyo Grande (12-1) Arroyo Grande soared higher in the battle of Eagles, erasing an early two-touchdown deficit and responding in the second half. Three fourth-quarter touchdowns sealed it. Last week: Beat Chaminade, 45-36. Next: Western Division championship vs. Culver City, Friday.
15. Servite (10-2)* The shocking second-round loss to Tesoro might be even harder to swallow following the Titans' flop against San Clemente.
16. Rancho Verde (13-0) Devonte Collier scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 75-yard run in the third quarter to get the Mustangs into the title game. A year after losing in the championship game, they now look to finish the job. Last week: Beat Ontario Colony, 42-14. Next: Central Division championship vs. Palm Springs, Friday.
17. Redlands East Valley (11-1)* Despite the second-round loss, there's no shame in what the Wildcats accomplished during the season, including a Citrus Belt title and eye-opening win against Mission Viejo.
18. Dorsey (11-2)* A defense that, on average, had allowed only 10 points per game was scorched Friday. The Dons’ previous season high for points allowed had been 26 against Garfield on Sept. 16, and they had held 10 of their previous 12 opponents to 14 points or fewer. Last week: Lost to Narbonne, 41-7.
19. Long Beach Poly (10-2)* A quick exit from the Pac-5 bracket but at least order appears to have been restored for the back-to-back Moore League champions.
20. Tesoro (8-5)* A surprising run came to an end for the third-place team from the South Coast League. The Titans couldn't prevent another beating from league foe San Clemente. Last week: Lost to San Clemente, 51-16.
21. Culver City (10-3) OK, so maybe the 16th-seeded Centaurs’ “shocking” upset of top-seeded Gardena Serra in the opening round wasn’t so “shocking” after all. Cinderella is still in the dance. Last week: Beat Santa Monica, 37-6. Next: Western Division championship vs. Arroyo Grande, Friday.
22. Chaminade (10-3)* Running back Terrell Newby's 242-yard, four-touchdown performance wasn't enough for the Eagles, who spoiled an early 14-point lead. The bright spot for coach Ed Croson: Newby is back next season. Last week: Lost to Arroyo Grande, 45-36.
23. El Toro (12-1) El Toro makes its debut in the rankings after unseating the four-time defending divisional champion. Last week: Beat La Habra, 47-41. Next: Southwest Division championship vs. Tustin at Angel Stadium, Saturday.
24. West Covina (12-1) The Bulldogs keep churning along and appear destined for a second straight Southeast Division crown. Ball carriers Chris Solomon and Jimmy Frazier form a dangerous tandem. Last week: Beat La Mirada, 63-34. Next: Southeast Division championship vs. La Serna, Friday.
25. Palm Springs (13-0) A late defensive stand was key for the Indians, who have five shutouts this season. On average, they've surrendered less than a touchdown per game (6.3 points against). Last week: Beat Carter, 17-13. Next: Central Division championship vs. Rancho Verde, Friday.
Dropped out: Santa Monica (20), La Habra (23), St. John Bosco (24), Alemany (25)
Newcomers: Carson, El Toro, West Covina, Palm Springs
* Denotes season is over
# Vista Murrieta is 13-0 on the field
Blair Angulo covers preps for ESPN Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter. Make sure to follow @ESPNLAPreps for live in-game updates, final scores and news.