The Alemany and Bishop Amat football teams could not be more evenly matched. Both teams are undefeated at 9-0. Both teams are tied for first place in the Serra League with 3-0 records. Both teams have talented quarterbacks. Both teams have stifling defenses.
The two teams meet on Friday night at Alemany High School in a game that will decide the Serra League championship and have a bearing on seedings for the PAC 5 Division playoffs.
“It’s exciting,” Alemany coach Dean Herrington said. “We’re happy where we’re at.”
Bishop Amat is the No. 3 team in the CIF Southern Section PAC 5 Division poll. Alemany is the fourth-ranked team. Lakewood, Long Beach Poly and Santa Margarita are looking for any way to move up in the polls. A Bishop Amat or Alemany loss would shake up the top four teams in the PAC 5 Division.
Bishop Amat, the No. 5 team in the ESPNLA.com rankings, is averaging 37.6 points per game and is coming off a 52-7 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. Quarterback Rio Ruiz threw for 346 yards and five touchdowns. It was his best game of the year statistically and the most yards he’s thrown for since a 42-20 win over Venice on Oct. 8.
Alemany, No. 6 in the ESPNLA.com poll, is averaging 36.7 points per game and is coming off a 28-14 win over Sherman Oaks Notre Dame. The Alemany defense, anchored by linebacker Tyler Dabovich and defensive lineman Kyle DeVaughn, has held each of their past five opponents to 17 points or less. The last time Alemany gave up more than 20 points in a game was against Woodland Hills Taft, a 36-26 win on Sept. 24.
But Bishop Amat is a kind of team that’s different than the ones Alemany has faced this year. Teams like Oaks Christian throw the ball more than its runs. Loyola is the opposite, strong running team, but doesn’t throw that much.
Bishop Amat has a balanced attack and Herrington said that’s “a little worrisome.”
In addition to a dangerous passing attack, Bishop Amat’s Jalen Moore has rushed for 1,469 yards and 18 touchdowns in nine games.
Alemany has a balanced attack as well. Quarterback Vernon Adams is as much a threat to throw the ball for big gains as he is for running it. He threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 72 yards on 15 carries against Notre Dame.
Alemany’s Saladin McCullough caught five passes out of the backfield for 100 yards and scored two touchdowns, one rushing and one receiving, against Notre Dame.
Burbank (7-2) at Burroughs (5-4), Thursday, 7 p.m.
This game has been this important in years. Both teams are tied for first place in the Pacific League standings with Arcadia. All three teams have 5-1 records heading into the season finale. Arcadia is expected to win its game against Crescenta Valley, meaning the winner of the Burbank-Burroughs game will most likely get a share of the league title.
West Ranch (5-4) vs. Hart (5-4), Thursday, 7:30 p.m. at College of the Canyons
West Ranch can make the playoffs for the first time in school history. Hart might miss the playoffs for the first time in coach Mike Herrington’s 22-yar career. Hart needs some help, albeit not a lot, to continue its playoff streak. West Ranch controls its own destiny: A win plus a likely Saugus loss to first-place Valencia will put the Wildcats in the playoffs.
Reseda (9-0) at Panorama (6-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
Reseda can end the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record. Panorama can throw a wrench in Reseda’s magical season. Both teams are tied for first place in the Valley Mission League standings. Both teams have perfect 4-0 records in league play.
Moorpark (5-4) at Thousand Oaks (6-3), Friday, 7 p.m.
It seems there is always a good game or two in the Marmonte:League. This is the best of the bunch this week. Both teams are tied for fourth place with 5-3 records in the league standings. There is a three-way tie for first place, with St. Bonaventure, Westlake and Oaks Christian, in the Marmonte League. The winner of this one will secure a spot in the Northern Division playoffs. The loser might be sitting out.
Crespi (6-3) at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (2-7), Friday, 7 p.m.
While Bishop Amat and Alemany are playing for first place in the Serra League, Crespi and Notre Dame are fighting for the last playoff spot in the Serra League. Both teams have 1-2 league records. The winner qualifies for the playoffs. The loser most likely goes home without a playoff spot.