What started as a blip on the radar screen at the start of the season has quickly morphed into one of the marquee games in the Inland Empire.
Chino Hills (3-1) is set to play Redlands East Valley (3-0) on Friday night at University of Redlands, a meeting between two teams that are picking up momentum with each snap of the ball.
Chino Hills is led by Ifo Ekpre-Olomu (pictured), rated the No. 1 cornerback in the state by ESPN. Ekpre-Olumu, who took an official recruiting trip to Oregon two weeks ago, has been spending much of his energy on the offensive side of the ball, leading the Huskies in rushing and receiving.
With opponents opting to throw away from his side of the field, Steve Smith has effectively covered his ground with four interceptions.
Redlands East Valley, ranked No. 4 in the Inland Empire by ESPNLA.com, lost three Division I college recruits to graduation, including three-year starting quarterback Tyler Shreve, but gained attention this season with wins against Clovis East and Orange Lutheran.
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Other games to watch:
Rancho Cucamonga (4-0) at Redlands (3-0-1), Friday, 7 p.m.
Redlands has won all three games by a touchdown or less, but staying close to the speedy Cougars will be an uphill battle. Rancho Cucamonga is led by running back Sateki Finau and wide receiver Donovan Harden, who have combined for 14 touchdowns this season. ESPNLA.com’s pick: Rancho Cucamonga 31, Redlands 17.
No. 20 Eastvale Roosevelt (3-0) at Corona Santiago (1-2), Friday, 7 p.m.
Roosevelt is up against its first real test of the season in this Big VIII League opener. The Mustangs will face a team that plays extremely well at home and had an extra week to prepare. Keeping running back Joey Legere (10 touchdowns) out of the end zone will be key for the Sharks. ESPNLA.com’s pick: Roosevelt 21, Santiago 14.
No. 23 Encino Crespi (3-1) at No. 7 Vista Murrieta (3-0), Friday, 7 p.m.
Crespi returns to the Inland Empire for the first time since losing to Corona Centennial, 29-27, in 2006. The Celts are ranked 23rdin the latest ESPNLA.com top 25 and are building confidence after knocking off Clovis West, 34-33, two weeks ago. A matchup to watch is Vista Murrieta receiver Michael Mazur against Crespi defensive back Charles Washington. ESPNLA.com’s pick: Vista Murrieta 28, Crespi 14.