We’ve reached the halfway point of the local high school league campaigns, and the battle for the championships are shaping up. Of course, things are a little bit different this year as the CIF-SS has gone to a new scheme of determining playoff eligibility not strictly on league affiliation, but instead on a division structure based on the school’s recent performance dating back two years.
But exactly how that works out remains to be seen. As things stand right now, here’s the how the races involving schools in the Garden Grove-Huntington Beach-Westminster area look.
EMPIRE LEAGUE: Pacifica has a stronger team this year, but the 3-4 Mariners happen to be in a very tough conference. The M’s played Valencia and Tustin tough, but they will probably need to run the table with wins over Cypress, Western and Kennedy to harbor playoff dreams.
GARDEN GROVE LEAGUE: The way things shape up now, the league title will come down to an unlikely matchup the last week of the regular season between the four-time defending champion Garden Grove Argonauts (5-2, 2-0) and the upstart La Quinta Aztecs (6-1, 2-0). In the latter case, LQ was 1-9 just two seasons ago when Grove won the CIF-SS championship.
GOLDEN WEST LEAGUE: If you look at the standings, Orange (5-2, 0-2) looks at be at the bottom of the league, but the Panthers’ two losses came from a forfeit for using –briefly – an ineligible player and a last-second defeat at the hands of Segerstrom. Assuming they do well for the rest of the league schedule, the Panthers stand a good chance at the post-season, especially since Santa Ana and Segerstrom have yet to meet. Still having a chance are Westminster (3-4, 1-1) and Ocean View (4-3, 1-1).
SUNSET LEAGUE: Edison is our top-ranked team in the area High Five, and second ranked – as of last week – in CIF-SS Division 3. The Chargers are 6-1 and 2-0 and defeated their likely closest rival, Los Alamitos, last week. But one more obstacle looms, and that’s Huntington Beach (4-3, 2-0). They’ll meet the final week of the regular season schedule. The Chargers will be heavily favored, but in high school football, one can never be certain.
Chargers still in the lead
Edison remains atop our High Five for Week Eight for area high school football teams. The Chargers staked a pretty strong claim not only to that spot but also the inside track to the Sunset League crown by beating Los Al on Friday.
Following will La Quinta (6-1), the surprise team of the season, and the Orange (5-2, with one loss by forfeit), and then Huntington Beach (4-3) and Garden Grove (5-2).
Rams: Good news and bad news
Watching Sunday’s game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Detroit Lions leads one to three reflections. First off, the Rams really do have a pretty good quarterback in Case Keenum. He completed 20 consecutive passes at one point, and had 321 yards passing, three touchdowns and one interception.
The second point is that the Rams – despite the presence of 2016 top rookie Todd Gurley – don’t really have much of a running game. He rushed for 58 yards on 14 carries for a relatively pedestrian 4.1 yards per carry.
Finally, Coach Jeff Fisher may bear a big part of the burden for the 31-28 loss that was the team’s second straight loss after three consecutive wins. With a fourth and goal on the Lion’s 1-yard line, he made two fateful decisions. One was to go for the TD instead of a certain field goal, which, of course, would have ended up forcing the game into overtime.
That choice is probably forgivable. It’s one of those cases in which “going for it” is brilliant is it works, and a dumb idea if it fails. But the real head scratcher comes when the Rams choose to outmuscle the Lions defenders right up the middle of an eight-man line. Epic fail.
A play-action pass to either side would have given Keenum more options, especially since Gurley was more effective as a short-pass receiver than as a running back.
Oh, well. It wouldn’t be football if the media and fans didn’t snipe at the coaches. One week you’re a genius and the next a goat. That’s life in the NFL.
Monday Morning Coach appears each Monday morning in the OC Trib, usually.