Can the Mariners hold those Tigers?

CAN BEN JEFFERSON and Co. at Pacifica knock off Valencia and force a tie for the Empire League crown? (Orange County Tribune photo).

It’s the final week of the regular season for high school football, and the titles and likely playoff spots have been determined … probably.

The most intriguing possibility lies in the Empire League, where first place Valencia (4-0 in league, 6-3 overall) hosts Pacifica (3-1, 8-1) on Friday. The Tigers have already clinched no worse than a tie for the crown, but the Mariners could get a piece of that by winning.

Valencia is primarily a running team, with Nathan Sandoval (820 yards rushing, five touchdowns), Elijah Oropeza (663, 10 TDs) and Nathan Perez (391, five TDs) providing the guys from Placentia with a potent ground game.

Pacifica can counter not just with two strong runners in Rai Sagatume (479 yards, 10 TDs) and Isaak Togia (413, four TDs) but also with the elusive Ben Jefferson, who ran for 1,102 yards and 15 touchdowns, but also passed for 1,643 yards and 16 scores.

It ought to be a good game. Perhaps there’s an upset brewing.

As for the rest of the teams in the Garden Grove –Huntington Beach-Westminster area, the league races look solid. Garden Grove, barring an unlikely loss to last place Bolsa Grande, will finish first (again) in the Garden Grove League, with La Quinta and probably Rancho Alamitos in second and third.

The Golden West League seems to belong to Santa Ana High, with Westminster and probably Orange in the other playoff spots. If Segerstrom can upset the Saints and if WHS beats Loara (almost certain), that would create a tie for the title.

In the Sunset League, Los Alamitos is the champ, followed by Edison and likely Huntington Beach, unless Fountain Valley – led by the excellent Nick Welch – can upset the Griffins. That would allow Edison to share the title with Los Al, and put the Barons into a likely third-place tie with Huntington.

Of course, we will know the outcomes by the end of the week, and the playoff selections of the CIF-SS by Sunday. Stay tuned.

Chargers remain in charge of High 5

With a big win over rival Fountain Valley, Edison (6-3) remains in the number one spot in the Orange County Tribune’s High 5 of the top prep football teams in the area.

Still in second place is Pacifica (8-1), followed by Westminster (7-2), Garden Grove (5-3) and La Quinta (8-1). On the bubble is Orange (8-1). Next week will be the final regular season High 5 of the year; we’ll have another once the football playoffs conclude.

Watery triumphs count as well

I know we probably give too much attention to football, but what can you do? That’s where the fans are.

Having said that, honor needs to be paid to two local teams that excelled in boys’ water polo title battles. Pacifica, which is ranked atop the Division 6 CIF-SS poll, won the Empire League crown last week by defeating Kennedy High 11-8.

In the Sunset League, Huntington Beach came within an eyelash of the title, losing in overtime to Newport Harbor in the battle for first.

But there’s more to do. The playoffs will start and here is how some area some teams line up. In the final poll, Huntington is ranked sixth in Division 1.

Pacifica stays atop D-6 and Garden Grove is 10th in D-7.

As for the playoffs, in Division 1, Huntington will visit Oaks Christian on Thursday in first round action. Pacifica will have a first round bye in D-6, and then host La Sierra on Thursday. Grove will start D-7 play also on Thursday, hosting the winner of Keppel-Beverly Hills. Other D-7 teams involved in Monday’s wild cards include Westminster (visiting West Valley) and Rancho Alamitos hosting Pioneer.

This just in: baseball can be exciting!

We love baseball here at the Trib, but nevertheless concede that it can be one of the least exciting sports to watch on TV. But, zowie! How about Game 5 of the World Series Sunday night?

Not only were there a lot of home runs and exciting moments, but also the pitchers worked quickly, there were not endless conferences at the mound and serial time-outs in the batters’ box.

Sorry to see the Dodgers lose that one, but the experience was a big win for big league baseball in its competition with football and other sports.

Monday Morning Coach is written by Pete Zarustica.



Categories: Sports

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