Los Angeles Preps: Moorpark

The two teams from the Marmonte League won their wild-card games in the CIF Southern Section Division I baseball playoffs.

The two teams from the Foothill League lost.

Moorpark shut out Milikan, 3-0, in their wild-card game and advanced to the next round against top-seeded Orange Lutheran.

Simi Valley eliminated Hart, 7-4. Spencer Dubaich had four strikeouts and no walks for Simi Valley, which plays Esperanza next.

Valencia lost to Corona, 3-0. Corona starter Daniel Pena tossed a two-hitter and struck out six. The Panthers play Camarillo on Friday.

Here is a look at the wild-card results in the Southern Section baseball playoffs:

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North: Agoura ranked No. 5 for Division 1 baseball playoffs

May, 14, 2012
The Agoura baseball team will open the CIF Southern Section Division 1 baseball playoffs against the winner of the wild-card game between JSerra and Brea Olinda.

Agoura, the surprise winner of the Marmonte League, is the No. 5 team in the latest Division 1 poll. Orange Lutheran is the No. 1 seed in the Division 1 playoffs. Mater Dei from Santa Ana is No. 2, followed by JW North at No. 3 and Long Beach Wilson at No. 4.

West Ranch, the champion of the Foothill League, will play the winner of the wild-card game between Canyon of Anaheim and Riverside Poly.

Twenty teams are in the wild-card round for the Division 1 playoffs. Some of the more interesting games include Milikan vs. Moorpark, Pacifica of Oxnard vs. Capistrano Valley, Corona vs. Valencia and Hart vs. Simi Valley.

The wild-card games are scheduled for Tuesday. The first round of the playoffs begin on Friday.

In the Southern Section Division 2 playoffs, Harvard-Westlake earned the top seed and will play the winner of the wild-card game between Ventura and Burroughs of Burbank.

Alemany is the No. 3 seed giving the Mission League two of the top three teams in the Division 2 playoff bracket.

Paraclete from Lancaster earned the top seed in the Division 5. Hillcrest Christian from Granada Hills is the top seed in the Division 7 playoffs.

Westlake golf team wins Northern Team Divisional

May, 8, 2012
The Westlake golf team won the CIF Southern Section Northern Team Divisional championship by three strokes over Oaks Christian at Soule Park Golf Course in Ojai.

Michael Dansey shot a 1-under 71 to lead five Westlake golfers in the 70s at Soule Park. Brandon Shaw was even-par at 72. Sean Crocker was 2-over at 74. Blake Wing shot a 75 and Jake Andl shot a 76.

Oaks Christian's Peter Griffith shot the low round of the match, a 6-under 66. Teammate Victor Ponte was even-par at 72.

Moorpark finished in third place. Thomas Lim was 4-under at 68 on the day to lead Moorpark.

Westlake, Oaks Christian and Moorpark advance to the Southern Section team finals at Rancho San Marcos in Santa Barbara next week.

Santa Barbara won the Central Coast Division championship at Cypress Ridge Golf Course. Arroyo Grande was second, followed by Dos Pueblos in third. All three teams advance to the Southern Section team final in Santa Barbara.

L.A. North: Five things from the weekend

April, 23, 2012
  1. Canyon High receiver Drew Wolitarsky has picked up two college offers. One is from West Point and the other is from Arizona. The junior wide receiver caught 75 passes for 1,628 yards and 18 touchdowns. He also returned 14 punts for 203 yards and had two returns for touchdowns. The Canyon football team finished in third place in the Foothill League and reached the quarterfinals of the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs in 2011.
  2. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame Khalfani Muhammad won the 100, and was on the winning 4x100 and 4x200 meter relay teams at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut. He already holds the fastest time in the state in the 100, 10.54 seconds set at the Maurice Greene Invitational on April 14. He won the 100 at Mt. SAC in 10.55 seconds. He anchored the 4x100 and 4x200 relay teams.
  3. Simi Valley’s Sarah Baxter anchored the winning 4x200 meter relay team at the Mt. SAC Relays. The girls broke the school record winning the invitational race in 11 minutes, 59.68 seconds, the third fastest time in the nation this year. Harvard-Westlake has the top time in the nation at 11:45.18 and Redondo Union is second at 11:53.53 seconds. The team of Baxter, Erika Barr, Amanda Hamilton and Desirae Jones rallied past Beverly Hills to win the race at Mt. SAC.
  4. The Harvard-Westlake girls 4x1,600 meter relay team set a school record at the Mt. SAC relays, but finished in third in the race. The team of Cami Chapus, Amy Weissenbach, Lizzy Thomas and Yasmin Moreno finished the race in 20 minutes, 40.17 seconds. It was 17 seconds faster than the school record time set in 2003. Redondo Union won the race in 20:01.38, breaking the state record held by Saugus set in 2011. The Harvard-Westlake girls won the 4x800 relay at the Mt. SAC Relays in 9:08.69, the second fastest time in the nation.
  5. Moorpark’s Sean Barry tossed a no-hitter against Westlake in a Marmonte League baseball game on Friday. Barry struck out 11 and walked five. Michael Ketring provided the offense for Moorpark, going 3-for-3 with a double and drove in three runs. The Musketeers scored four runs in the sixth inning to break open an otherwise tight game. Tim Burtzloff started the game for Westlake and went 3 1/3 innings. He gave up only one run on four hits.

Report: Two Moorpark linebackers choose colleges

January, 30, 2012
Moorpark linebacker Brandon Hughes is headed to Fresno State, according to a report in the Daily News.

Teammate and fellow linebacker Bobby Eckert is going to Western State College in Colorado.

National Signing Day for high school football players is Wednesday.

Boys basketball games of the week

January, 4, 2012
The Mission League boys basketball season opens tonight with a dandy: Loyola vs. Crespi.

Undefeated Loyola (11-0) comes into the league opener with an 11-game winning streak. Crespi (13-1) has lost only one game, to Washington in the semifinals of the Redondo Sea Hawk Beach Classic last week.

The Marmonte League has a few good games on tap this week as well.

Moorpark (11-3) visits Calabasas (12-2) in a matchup of two of the top teams in league tonight. In another Marmonte League game, Thousand Oaks (11-3) will put its four-game winning streak on the line against Royal (9-5).

On Friday, Westlake (13-4) is on the road against Moorpark.

The El Camino Real Showcase begins on Saturday with El Camino against Sierra Canyon in the showcase game.

In non-league action, West Ranch plays Village Christian tonight, Cleveland of Reseda is at L.A. Windward on Thursday and Bell-Jeff plays Chaminade on Saturday.

L.A. North: The Top 10

November, 27, 2011
It’s that time of year when only the strong survive. Westlake has been the strongest of the strong and continued its undefeated season. The Sierra Canyon football team moved another step closer to its first CIF championship and also stayed undefeated.

Ventura picked the wrong time to lose its first game and was eliminated from the Western Division playoffs.

Highland, Moorpark and Canyon, all ranked in the L.A. North top 10 last week, lost and were eliminated from the Northern Division playoffs.

Here’s a look at how this week's L.A. North top 10 and how they fared:
  1. (1) Westlake (12-0) – The Westlake scoring machine keeps rolling, this time to the tune of 42-14 against an overmatched Hart team in the Northern Division quarterfinals. Receiver Connor Cook caught two touchdown passes from quarterback Justin Moore. The junior quarterback also rushed for 125 yards in five carries. Running back Dashon Hunt scored three touchdowns and gained 99 yards in nine carries.
  2. (2) Oaks Christian (10-2) – The Lions trounced Highland, 55-21, behind a record-breaking night from sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins. He threw a school record seven touchdowns against Highland. That’s a pretty impressive record considering Jimmy Clausen and Nick Montana were quarterbacks at Oaks Christian.
  3. (4) St. Bonaventure (9-3) – The Seraphs ended Canyon’s playoff run for the second year in a row, 38-17, at Ventura High School. St. Bonaventure won impressively, but there are two areas of concern. Quarterback Marc Evans threw three interceptions against Canyon and running back Shaun Wick had only four carries. Wick, the team’s leading rusher for the first 10 games of the season, is nursing a calf injury from the Marmonte League season finale against Westlake.
  4. (5) Chaminade (10-2) – If the Eagles want to win the Western Division championship, they’ll have to play like road warriors. Chaminade has its second tough road game in the playoffs against second-seeded Arroyo Grande on Friday night. Chaminade had to rally by scoring a touchdown in the final two minutes of the game to beat San Luis Obispo on the road in the quarterfinals. Running back Terrell Newby is putting on his best Mad Max impersonation, carrying the ball 28 times for 251 yards and three touchdowns against San Luis Obispo.

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Moorpark, Thousand Oaks prepare for another tight game

November, 23, 2011
The first time Thousand Oaks and Moorpark met, a last-second field goal decided the outcome in Week 2. It was that close. Thousand Oaks kicker Jamie Sutcliffe made a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give the Lancers a 27-24 win.

The two teams meet again on Friday night in the Southern Section Northern Division quarterfinals at Thousand Oaks High School with much more on the line.

“I’m expecting a very intense game,” Moorpark coach Tim Lins said. “They’re always well-prepared.”

These two teams know each other very well. They meet every year in Marmonte League play. The previous two games went into overtime. Moorpark won in 2009, 28-21. Thousand Oaks won last year’s game, 29-28.

Thousand Oaks coach Mike Leibin says his team was probably the better of the two in 2009. Moorpark had the better team in 2010. When the two teams played on Sept. 16, Leibin said both teams were so evenly matched, he didn’t know what to expect.

“I was expecting Moorpark to be good,” Leibin said. “We knew it was going to be a battle. A lot has changed in 10 weeks.”

Both teams have changed, and not necessarily for the better. Thousand Oaks quarterback, junior Clark Abourisk, has developed into an experienced play-caller and a team leader, Leibin said. Moorpark has an NCAA Division I college quarterback in Grant Rohach, who also has the benefit of nine games since their last meeting.

But an unexpected tragedy struck the Thousand Oaks football team. Quarterback Griffen Kramer was found dead in a friend’s home over Halloween weekend. It was later determined by Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department investigators that Kramer died of a heroin overdose.

The Thousand Oaks players are still recovering from the sudden death of their teammate.

“It’s a process,” Leibin said. “The kids have done a great job of supporting his family and each other.”

The Thousand Oaks players are wearing Kramer’s initials on their helmets and presented Kramer’s family with an autographed jersey before the Marmonte League finale. Leibin said his team is doing its best to find some sort of normalcy since Kramer’s death.

“Is it OK to be moving on?” Leibin said. “I think it’s what he would want. We’re doing a good job of not forgetting him in a lot of areas.”

As much as the two teams have changed since their first meeting, Leibin said there are plenty of things that are still the same.

“We have programs that have foundations that don’t change,” he said.

All five teams from the Marmonte League that entered the Northern Division playoffs are still alive. By comparison, three teams from the Bay League were in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs. None advanced. Three teams from the Golden League qualified for playoffs and only one, Highland, made it to the quarterfinals.

Moorpark and Thousand Oaks are coming off dramatic first-round wins in the playoffs. Moorpark (7-4) eliminated No. 4 seeded Valencia, 17-10, scoring a touchdown in the final minutes to take the lead and win the game.

Thousand Oaks (7-4) traveled to Quartz Hill in the Antelope Valley to take on the co-champion of the Golden League. Trailing 7-0, Thousand Oaks scored 20 straight points and knocked the Rebels out of the playoffs.

Thousand Oaks running back Nathan DeBeikes leads the Lancers in rushing with 1,096 yards and eight touchdowns. He rushed for 148 yards and scored a touchdown against Quartz Hill.

Moorpark, much like Thousand Oaks, likes to control the ball and the game on the ground. Aaron Stanton leads Moorpark in rushing with 778 yards and 11 touchdowns in 10 games.

Rohach, Moorpark’s quarterback, is a bit of a dual threat with 1,638 yards passing and 15 touchdowns to go with 452 yards on the ground and four rushing touchdowns.

Rohach, who committed to Iowa State, threw for 187 yards and a touchdown against Valencia. Kenny Feyh caught the game-winning touchdown from Rohach with 7:12 to play in the fourth quarter. Lins said Rohach has stepped up his game after slipping some midseason.

“He struggled a little bit,” Lins said. “He was pressured Friday against Valencia. But he made some good decisions. It’s not easy to play that position. Guys look to him to make on-the-field adjustments. I think that’s a little bit tougher and he’s responded.”

Lins said several players on his team have improved over the season. Stanton is one who might be the difference in the game against Thousand Oaks.

“He’s a factor for us,” Lins said.

Stanton rushed for 141 yards, but was kept out of the end zone in the first meeting between the two teams. He also caught a 23-yard pass.

Abourisk passed for 234 yards and two touchdowns against Moorpark in Week 2. Blake Howell came up with a couple big plays for Thousand Oaks. He caught a 73-yard touchdown pass from Abourisk and returned an interception 67 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

This game could go down to the final second again.

“If history has any say in it, it will be a tight one,” Leibin said.

L.A. North: 5 things from the weekend

November, 21, 2011
  1. Not only is the Ventura football team undefeated through 11 games and the first round of the playoffs, they haven’t trailed in a game since Week 1. The Cougars were down 16-15 in the third quarter against Pacifica in the season opener. Ventura scored the final 19 points of the game to win, 34-16. Coach Brad Steward was looking through Ventura’s first 10 games in preparation for the opening of the Southern Section Western Division playoffs against Dominguez and discovered his team’s streak in leading games. The Cougars have been on quite a roll since the start of the season. Teams are scoring only 8.7 points against Ventura. The Cougars are coming off a 41-14 win over Dominguez in the first round of the Western Division playoffs. They play Santa Monica (10-1) in the quarterfinals on Friday night. The Vikings are on a bit of a roll of their own, with seven wins in a row and their loss only coming against Valencia on Sept. 30.
  2. The Marmonte League went a perfect 5-0 in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs. The biggest blowout, Westlake over Eastside, 59-12. The closest game, surprisingly, St. Bonaventure, 19-10, over Redondo. Quarterbacks were the difference for Oaks Christian and Moorpark. Sophomore Brandron Dawkins threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns in Oaks Christian’s impressive 43-10 win over Mira Costa. He could have had more, but only played in the first half. Moorpark’s Grant Rohach passed for 176 yards and a touchdown, but every one of his passes were crucial in a 17-10 win over fourth-seeded Valencia. He threw a touchdown pass to Kenny Feyh in the fourth quarter to give Moorpark a 15-10 lead. Rohach also connected with Alex Tolliver for an important two-point conversion pass for a seven-point lead in the final minutes of the game. Not to be forgotten was a tough road win for Thousand Oaks, 20-7, over Quartz Hill. The Lancers erased a 7-0 deficit and scored 20 unanswered points to win going away. Moorpark and Thousand Oaks will play each other in the quarterfinals in a rematch of their Marmonte League opener. Thousand Oaks won that game, 27-24, on a last-second field goal.
  3. The San Fernando Valley went 1-4 in the first round of the City Section Division I playoffs. Birmingham was the only team to advance to the quarterfinals. El Camino Real, Arleta, Woodland Hills Taft and Reseda all lost in the first round and were eliminated. Arleta running back Dejon Coleman rushed for 156 yards and scored a touchdown in his team’s 21-18 loss to Birmingham. He broke the City Section record with 47 touchdowns this season. Birmingham scored the winning touchdown with a little over a minute to play in the game. The lone remaining team from the San Fernando Valley plays No. 3 Dorsey in the second round.
  4. The magic ran out for Camarillo and quarterback Travis Valdez. The junior threw for 362 yards and four touchdowns, but Camarillo lost to San Luis Obispo, 54-28, in the first round of the Western Division playoffs. Valdez threw for 2,594 yards and 35 touchdowns in eight games. He took over the starting quarterback job on Oct. 6 and won his first six starts. Receiver Jake Maulhardt caught 10 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown for Camarillo. He ends his high school career with 119 catches, second most in Southern Section history. Richard Mullaney from Thousand Oaks set the Southern Section record last year with 122 catches over his high school career.
  5. A week after losing a share of the Foothill League championship for using an ineligible player and having to forfeit a game, Canyon won impressively in the first round of the Northern Division playoffs, 21-0, over Palmdale. Quarterback Jonathan Jerozal threw for 224 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Drew Wolitarsky caught four passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. The Canyon defense came up with some huge plays. Juan Rodriguez blocked a 30-yard field-goal attempt. Mikey Hager had an interception just before halftime and set up Wolitarsky’s second touchdown catch, a 77-yarder as time expired. Canyon moves on to face St. Bonaventure in a rematch of last year’s Northern Division quarterfinal game. St. Bonaventure won that game, 45-21.

L.A. North: The Top 10

November, 13, 2011
Two of the undefeated teams in the L.A. North Top 10 earned No. 1 seeds in the CIF-Southern Section playoffs. Westlake, as expected, is the top seed in the Northern Division playoffs. Sierra Canyon is No. 1 in the East Valley Division playoffs.

Ventura, the other undefeated team in the L.A. North top 10, is the No. 4 seed in the Western Division playoffs.

It was a rough end to the regular season for a few teams in the top 10. Crespi lost to Loyola in the Serra League season finale, then lost coin flips to determine the third and final team from the Serra League to advance to the Pac-5 Division playoffs.

Chaminade lost to Gardena Serra in the Mission League season finale and dropped from the No. 1 to the No. 3 seed in the Western Division playoffs.

Simi Valley cracked the top 10 for the first time this season and proceeded to lose to Moorpark in the Marmonte League finale and ultimately was eliminated from playoff contention in the Northern Division on coin flips.

Here is a look at the L.A. North top 10:
  1. (1) Westlake (10-0) – Coach Jim Benkert will never admit it, but his team comfortably beat St. Bonaventure, 35-14, in the Marmonte League championship game. Quarterback Justin Moore picked apart the St. Bonaventure defense throwing for 163 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 69 yards and scored the last touchdown of the game on a quarterback sneak.
  2. (2) Alemany (8-2) – Receiver Steven Mitchell had a huge game, catching nine passes for 174 yards and two touchdowns, in Alemany’s 21-14 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame in the Serra League finale. Maybe a little too close for comfort for coach Dean Herrington, but Alemany earned the No. 4 seed in the Pac-5 Division playoffs with the Serra League championship and an undefeated record in league play.
  3. (5) Oaks Christian (8-2) – With a 42-7 win over Newbury Park and a St. Bonaventure loss to Westlake in the Marmonte League finales, Oaks Christian earned the No. 2 seed in the Northern Division playoffs. The reigning Northern Division champs went up 42-0 at halftime behind four touchdown passes from sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins.
  4. (6) Ventura (10-0) – The Cougars didn’t play last week, polishing off the Channel League championship with a 41-0 shutout over San Marcos two weeks ago. The Cougars have had two weeks to prepare for the start of the Western Division playoffs. They will look to extend a perfect season and make a run at a CIF championship.
  5. (3) St. Bonaventure (7-3) – The 1-2 punch of Shaun Wick and Zack Green wasn’t as effective as anticipated against Westlake. Green rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns, but Wick was a little nicked up and only gained 22 yards on 10 carries. If St. Bonaventure faces Westlake again with a healthier Wick, it might be a different outcome.

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CIF-SS playoffs: Northern Division

November, 13, 2011
CIF-SS playoffs:
Northern Division

Top-seeded Westlake completed an undefeated run through the Marmonte League and is 10-0 heading into the Northern Division playoffs. Led by a pair of juniors, quarterback Justin Moore and running back Dashon Hunt, this might be the beginning of another dynasty-type run for the Warriors. Westlake opens the Northern Division playoffs against Eastside, the fourth-place team from the Golden Valley. As expected, Hart earned the only at-large bid in the Northern Division playoffs. The fourth-place team from the Foothill League finished with a 7-3 record. The Indians were 3-2 in league with losses to Canyon and Saugus. They did beat Valencia, which won a share of the Foothill League championship with Canyon and is the No. 4 seed in the Northern Division playoffs. Hart is another team with some talented underclassman, including freshman receiver Trent Irwin. Simi Valley ended up as the odd-team out. The Pioneers lost to Moorpark in the Marmonte League season finale and dropped into a fourth-place tie with Thousand Oaks and Moorpark. Simi Valley (6-4) ended up with a winning record, but lost the coin flips to determine the final two playoff spots from the Marmonte League. Here’s a breakdown of the division:

The seeds: No. 1 Westlake, No. 2 St. Bonaventure, No. 3 Oaks Christian, No. 4 Valencia.

Best first-round matchup: Thousand Oaks (6-4) at Quartz Hill (8-2) -- Thousand Oaks lost three of its last four games and needed a coin flip to earn a spot in the Northern Division playoffs. But this is a team playing with a ton of emotion after the death of Thousand Oaks backup quarterback Griffen Kramer two weeks ago. Thousand Oaks was tested almost on a weekly basis playing in the tough Marmonte League. Quartz Hill won the Golden League championship and was tied for first place with Highland with 6-1 records. The Rebels are a bit of an unknown commodity. They won seven of their last eight games, the only loss, 21-20, to Knight three weeks ago. Quartz Hill has a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Osirius Burke (1,549 yards and 24 touchdowns) and Mario Lodge (1,248 yards and 10 touchdowns). Thousand Oaks has a talented two-way player Nathan DeBeikes who leads the team in rushing with 948 yards and seven touchdowns and in sacks with six.

Toughest road: Valencia (6-4) -- The Vikings have perhaps the best defense in the Northern Division playoffs. They posted three shutouts and held nine of their 10 opponents to 20 points or less. Opposing teams are scoring an average of 10.7 points per game. The Valencia offense has been unpredictable at best. The Vikings had trouble scoring during the first give games of the season, with only 13.6 points per game on their way to a 2-3 non-league record. Once the Foothill League season started, Valencia turned it on offensively, scoring at least 31 points in four of its five games. They beat Saugus, 35-0, in the Foothill League championship game. If Valencia's offensive woes return, the Vikings might not make it out of the first round.

Potential shocker: Hart (7-3) vs. Palos Verdes (8-2), first round -- Hart has already pulled off a surprise win over Valencia in the Foothill League. The Indians snapped Valencia’s 13-game league winning streak, 19-14, and was in position to challenge for the Foothill League title. The Indians have the talent and the coaching staff to pull of another upset. What they lack is playoff experience, with a sophomore at quarterback in Connor Wingenroth and a handful of underclassmen receivers. Palos Verdes won the championship in a weak Bay League. The Sea Kings’ toughest test came in the first week of the season, a 21-10 loss to Moorpark.

Darkhorse: Oaks Christian (8-2) -- It’s hard to call the reigning Northern Division champs the dark horse, but Oaks Christian is not the favorite to repeat. The Lions have not been playing their best football for the last three weeks. They narrowly beat Thousand Oaks and Moorpark before routing Newbury Park to finish in second place in the Marmonte League. Oaks Christian likely will have to play Westlake, which beat the Lions, 43-21, and a vengeful St. Bonaventure team if its wants a second Northern Division championship in a row. Oaks Christian beat St. Bonaventure, 36-24, the night the lights went out on La Tienda Drive. The return of Arizona State-bound running back and linebacker Carlos Mendoza, who has missed the last two games because of an injured shoulder, will help.

Final analysis: The Marmonte League is well-represented in the Northern Division bracket, with five teams, and it could have easily been six. The Northern Division semifinals could likely be an all-Marmonte League affair. Westlake has destroyed almost every team it has faced and should have no problem reaching the semifinals with Eastside and Palos Verdes or Hart in its way. Oaks Christian has an easy road to the semis as well, against Mira Costa in the first round and the winner of the Saugus-Highland game in the quarterfinals. St. Bonaventure might be the toughest No. 3 seed in the whole Southern Section playoffs. The Seraphs play an upstart Redondo team in the first round. The winner of the Canyon-Palmdale game will await St. Bonaventure in the quarters. Either Thousand Oaks or Moorpark will have to pull off a playoff surprise if it is to be an all-Marmonte League final four. Thousand Oaks has the easier road, against Quartz Hill in the first round and the winner of the Valencia-Moorpark in the quarters. Moorpark will have to pull off a stunner in the first round. The Musketeers ended the Marmonte League season on a high note, shutting out Simi Valley, 20-0, and essentially knocking the Pioneers out of the playoffs. They will need another stellar defensive performance to eliminate Valencia in the first round. In case you’re wondering, Moorpark beat Thousand Oaks on a last-second field goal, 27-24, in the Marmonte Leage opener.

Championship prediction: Westlake vs.Oaks Christian -- A rematch of last year’s Northern Division championship game would be fitting. Westlake lost the game, 29-28, when Warriors kicker Alex Ball’s 41-yard field-goal attempt hit the upright and bounced back onto the field. Ball would like another shot at winning the Northern Division championship. Westlake coach Jim Benkert would like another shot at beating his old mentor, Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell, for a Northern Divison championship. The Westlake team would like a chance to play in a CIF state bowl game with a Northern Division championship. Redell would like to prove to everyone that last year’s Northern Division championship was not a fluke. If the two teams play again though, Westlake will have the upper hand.

Link to the Northern Division bracket on CalPreps.com

L.A. North: Thursday night specials

November, 9, 2011
No. 11 Oaks Christian (7-2) vs. Newbury Park (3-6), Thursday (7 p.m.)

Oaks Christian still has a shot at the Marmonte League championship and perhaps the No. 1 seed in the Southern Section Northern Division playoffs. The Lions need to beat Newbury Park and hope that St. Bonaventure knocks off Westlake. Oaks Christian has not been winning convincingly in recent weeks though. The Lions are coming off a 17-14 win over Moorpark. Newbury Park has lost two in a row, including 42-14 to Royal last week.

Simi Valley (6-3) vs. Moorpark (5-4), Thursday (7 p.m.)

With a win, Simi Valley makes the CIF Southern Section Northern Division playoffs. With a loss, it might get a little dicey for Simi Valley. Moorpark needs a win, and an unlikely loss by Thousand Oaks to Calabasas, to keep its playoffs hopes alive. Even with a loss, Moorpark might get in with a wild-card berth. Playoff implications abound in this one.

Lancaster (1-8) vs. Highland (7-1), Thursday ( 7 p.m.)

Highland can wrap up at least a share of the Golden League championship with a win over Lancaster, which hasn’t won a league game all season. The Bulldogs can win the Golden League title outright if Quartz Hill loses to Antelope Valley. That’s unlikely though. Antelope Valley has won only one league game, against Lancaster in the Golden League opener.

Birmingham (7-2) vs. Cleveland of Reseda (1-8), Thursday (7:15 p.m.)

Birmingham has emerged as the surprise leader in the West Valley League standings with an upset win over El Camino Real last week. The Patriots can wrap up the West Valley League title with another win over Cleveland, winless in four league games this season. Birmingham quarterback Tre Smith is coming off one of his best games of the season, passing for 259 yards and three touchdowns in a convincing 48-7 win over El Camino.

L.A. North: Five things from weekend

November, 7, 2011
  1. Let’s try to make sense of some of the league standings and playoff possibilities on this all-important week of regular season finales. First, the Serra League. Alemany, with a 28-14 win over Loyola, already has at least a share of the league title. The Warriors have yet to lose a Serra League game since joining last year. They are in the Southern Section Pac-5 Division playoffs regardless of what happens Friday night. The other two teams from the Serra League that will make the playoffs is anyone’s guess. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame and Loyola actually control their destiny. If Loyola beats Crespi, the Cubs are in the playoffs and the Celts are out. If Notre Dame beats Alemany, the Knights are in and Crespi and Bishop Amat are out. “Notre Dame is a solid team,” Alemany coach Dean Herrington said after the Loyola game. “They might be playing for a playoff spot. We gotta come ready to play.” Amat is on a bye and needs a lot of help to make the playoffs. The Lancers are 1-3 in league but can still get in if Notre Dame and Crespi lose. Amat, Crespi and Notre Dame would each have 1-3 records in league and coin flips would decide which team makes the playoffs. The Pac-5 Division has no wild-card berths, which means some very good teams are going to see their seasons end prematurely.
  2. The playoff picture in the Marmonte League is a little more clear but not by much. Westlake heads into its season finale with St. Bonaventure with an 8-0 league record and all alone in first place. St. Bonaventure is tied for second place with Oaks Christian at 7-1. Believe it or not, Oaks Christian still has a chance to win a share of the Marmonte League title if the Seraphs, at home at Ventura High School on Thursday night, can beat Westlake. Whichever team wins the Marmonte League title will most likely earn the top seeding in the Southern Section Northern Division playoffs. The last guaranteed playoff spot from the Marmonte League will go to either Moorpark or Thousand Oaks. Both teams are tied for fifth place with 4-4 records. Moorpark is home against Simi Valley, the surprise of the Marmonte League and sitting comfortably in fourth place. Thousand Oaks ends the Marmonte League schedule at home against Calabasas, a team that hasn’t won a league game all season.

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L.A. North: Pick six games of the week

November, 3, 2011
Agoura (1-7) vs. No. 2 Westlake (8-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – Westlake running back Dashon Hunt has been tough to stop in recent games. He is averaging 94 yards rushing and has scored six touchdowns in the past three games. He gained 99 yards and scored two touchdowns in Westlake’s 49-3 win over Newbury Park last week. One of his touchdowns came on a 42-yard punt return. He also returned an interception for a touchdown against Simi Valley three weeks ago. Agoura is coming off its first win of the season, 24-17, over Calabasas. The Chargers go from playing one of the worst teams in the Marmonte League to one of the best teams in the state. It could be a long night for Agoura.

No. 3 St. Bonaventure (7-1) vs. Calabasas (1-7), Friday (7 p.m.) – The Seraphs have surrendered only 31 points in their past five Marmonte League games, including shutouts over Agoura and Simi Valley. Shaun Wick and Zack Green combined for 256 yards and scored four touchdowns in a 50-8 win over Thousand Oaks last week. Calabasas has lost all seven of its Marmonte League games. It could be a long night for Calabasas.

Moorpark (5-3) vs. No. 11 Oaks Christian (6-2), Friday (7 p.m.) – Oaks Christian running back Ishmael Adams is expected to make his first start in three games after spraining his ankle in practice. He missed the past two games. While the return of Adams is good news, Oaks Christian might be without Arizona State-bound linebacker and running back Carlos Mendoza. He injured his shoulder in the 38-7 win over Simi Valley last week. Redell said he might roll the dice and rest Mendoza the next two weeks until the playoffs start. Wide receiver Jordan Payton is also nursing an injured ankle, but Redell said he looked pretty good on his 80-yard touchdown run against Simi. Moorpark needs a win to stay in the hunt for the playoffs. The Musketeers, 4-3 in Marmonte League play, are in a three-way tie for fourth place in league with Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley. Only the top five teams in league are guaranteed playoff spots.

No. 17 Bishop Amat (6-3) vs. Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (5-3), Friday (7 p.m.) – Notre Dame is slowly seeing its season slip away. After a promising 5-0 start, the Knights have lost three games in a row, including its two Serra League games. They had a bye last week and two weeks to prepare for Bishop Amat. But Notre Dame lost to Loyola, 27-14, in its last game. Bishop Amat is seeing its season spiral away too. The Lancers have lost two of their past three games and are 1-2 in league. Bishop Amat is coming off a 14-3 loss to Loyola last week.

No. 18 Chaminade (7-1) vs. Cathedral (3-5) , Friday (7 p.m.) – Chaminade is on a roll with a five-game winning streak including three straight Mission League games. The Eagles have outscored their Mission League opponents 117-19. They beat St. Francis, 31-13 last week. Cathedral has lost all three of its Mission League games and were shut out by Gardena Serra and St. Paul. The Phantoms lost to Harvard-Westlake, 34-26, last week.

Paraclete (7-1) vs. Sierra Canyon (8-0) at Granada Hills High School, Saturday (7 p.m.) – Paraclete is the reigning Southern Section East Valley Division champion and has won seven games in a row since losing, 7-6, to Serrano on opening night. Sierra Canyon is undefeated and coming off a 42-8 win over Brentwood. Paraclete is the No. 2 team in the East Valley Division poll after a 49-0 shutout over Calvary Chapel. Sierra Canyon is the top-ranked team in the East Valley Division. This game is about as big as it gets for small schools.

L.A. North: Games of the Week

October, 19, 2011
CanyonTim Haddock/For ESPNLA.comCanyon will be facing a tough defense when it takes on Valencia in a key Foothill League game.

The Canyon football team has been rolling over opponents, averaging 49.8 points. The Valencia football team has been shutting down opposing offenses, yielding an average of 12.2 points.

When the two teams meet on Friday night at Valencia High School, it will be a classic matchup of an explosive offense vs. a stingy defense.

Except that the Valencia offense woke up against West Ranch in the Foothill League opener last week.

Valencia (3-3), the reigning Foothill League champ, scored a season-high 31 points in a 31-14 win over West Ranch. Running back Jake Solley rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns for Valencia, which came into the game averaging only 13.6 points.

Canyon (6-0), the No. 20 team in the ESPNLA top 25 rankings, is coming off a 51-28 win over Saugus. The Cowboys eclipsed the 50-point mark for the fourth time this season and have been beating teams by a average margin of 36 points per game.

Canyon quarterback Jonathan Jerozal threw three touchdowns passes, two to receiver Drew Wolitarsky, in the game against Saugus. But Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez said it was the emergence of the running attack that has led to Canyon’s high scores and eye-popping statistics.

Canyon running back Max Archuleta has rushed for 727 yards and scored eight touchdowns in six games. He is averaging 121.1 yards per game and 7.8 yards per carry. Gutierrez says Archuleta is a phenomenal athlete, but he had no idea how much of an impact he would make on the offense.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Gutierrez said. “The offensive line is doing their thing. It's execution. It’s increased our options.”

With a running game that demands attention, Jerozal and Wolitarsky have been able to shine throughout the season. It has also given receivers Coley Apsay and Brenden Stach chances to make plays.

Gutierrez calls Apsay, the starting point guard on the Canyon basketball team, his team’s most consistent player.

“Coley’s one of our best athletes,” Gutierrez said. “He’s a solid possession receiver.”

Valencia will definitely be the toughest defense Canyon has faced all season. But Gutierrez says he expects a tough game every week.

“They have great players, great coaches,” Gutierrez said. “I don’t want to take anything away from Saugus, but I almost see every week as the toughest test we have. I see every game as a tough game. They got talented kids. It’s good stuff.”

Here’s a look at some of the other top games in the L.A. North:

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