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I.E.: 5 questions to ponder after Week 4

10/3/2011

Is this the Chaparral team that we were expecting to see, or did Corona Centennial just borrow their uniforms? The shocker out of the Inland Empire last weekend wasn’t so much Upland’s victory against Loyola, or even Vista Murrieta’s triumph at Crespi, it was the 24-8 victory by Chaparral against visiting Tesoro. The Pumas were ranked No. 4 in the Inland Empire coming into the season, but they quickly dropped off the map after one-sided losses to Cajon, Oceanside and Corona Centennial. Tesoro, meanwhile, came up from the O.C. with their chests out after victories against Hart, Chino Hills and Narbonne. Chaparral should get another victory this week at Indio, and then the big test comes Oct. 14, when the Pumas host Vista Murrieta in a Southwestern League opener.

Best come-from-behind victory this season? This might go down as one of the all-time best come-from-behind victories in the history of the I.E. La Quinta was staring at a 34-0 deficit at the start of the third quarter Friday night at Ridgecrest Burroughs, but the Blackhawks forced four turnovers in the second half and John Mason scored three touchdowns to lift them to a 41-34 victory. By comparison, the largest comeback in NFL history remains the 1992 playoff game between Buffalo and the Houston Oilers, when the Bills came back from 32 points down to win, 41-38 in overtime.

Best come-from-behind victory by an unbeaten team? Valley View was trailing Arlington by nine points at the half of their Inland Valley League game Friday night, putting its unbeaten streak on the line. But the Eagles pinned their ears back on defense, shutting out the Lions in the second half while limiting them to 54 total yards. On offense, Matthew Sandoval sandwiched two field goals around an 11-yard touchdown run by Michael Harrison and Valley View (5-0, 2-0 in league play) came away with a 19-15 victory, their seventh straight in IVL play dating back to last season. Harrison, who rushed for 1,120 yards and 16 touchdowns in 11 games last season, already has 651 rushing yards and eight touchdowns this season. The Eagles will have to be even better Friday night, whey they host three-time defending league champion Rancho Verde, winner of 23 consecutive IVL games.

The receiver in the I.E. with the best chance to average at least 100 yards a game? Last season, only one player in the I.E. averaged 100 yards receiving, Christian Guzman of Desert Hot Springs. Guzman is back this season, but he’s not putting up the yardage that he was a year ago. The leader so far this season is Raphael Barr of Etiwanda, who has caught 29 passes for 463 yards and four touchdowns in four games. Barr figures to stay busy over the next few weeks, as the Eagles have Eisenhower, Upland, Los Osos and Rancho Cucamonga on the schedule, and Etiwanda’s pass-happy offense will need to be in full gear. The only other receiver in the I.E. who’s averaging triple figures in receiving yards is Brandon Zuidema of Roosevelt (21-426, two touchdowns), an admirable achievement considering the Mustangs have been without returning quarterback Aaron Crone this season (shoulder injury).

Best lower-division win against an upper-division team? Back in Week 3 we saw Citrus Hill knock off Riverside Poly in a matchup of the Mountain Pass League against the mighty Big VIII. This weekend came another victory by the Eastern Division against the powerful Inland Division. Oaks Hills (4-0) out of the Mojave River League came from behind to defeat Citrus Belt League member A.B. Miller, 35-16. The Bulldogs trailed, 13-0, in the first quarter after losing two fumbles, but regrouped to take a 21-16 lead at the half and never looked back. Oaks Hills has been pounding away at opposing defenses with senior running back Marshaun Coprich, who has rushed for 752 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.