Is this the week that Redlands East Valley jumps into the mix with a huge upset against an out-of-county foe? Can J.W. North become just the second team to ever win a Big VIII league game against Corona Centennial? Will some key additions for Corona Santiago help the Sharks get over the hump against Norco? These are just a few of the questions awaiting Week 5.
(ESPNLA top 25 rankings included)
No. 23 J.W. North (4-0, 1-0) at No. 6 Centennial (3-1, 1-0), Friday ( 7 p.m.) – Forget that little matchup over in Redlands, this game actually means something to the Inland Empire landscape. J.W. North shocked the Southland in Week 2 when the Huskies went for two in the final minute to topple Alemany, 36-35, the same night Centennial came from behind in the second half to beat Mater Dei, 28-20. Neither team has trailed since. Centennial quarterback Hayden Gavett has settled in as a first-year starter, and running back Romello Goodman is doing his best Barrington Collins imitation, picking up where last season's main ball carrier left off. Centennial hasn’t faced a team as athletic as J.W. North. Justin Gheorghe is just the third Inland Empire quarterback to surpass 1,000 yards passing this season, and he has a sensational deep threat in 6-foot-3 senior receiver Aaron Peck, who is averaging just over 26 yards a catch with five touchdowns this season.
Calpreps.com computerized projection: Corona Centennial 42, J.W. North 26
ESPNLA: Corona Centennial 48, J.W. North 38
No. 2 Mission Viejo (4-1) vs. No. 21 Redlands East Valley (4-0) at University of Redlands, Friday (7:30 p.m.) – One of the surprise teams out of the gate has been Redlands East Valley, not so much that the Wildcats are still undefeated at this point, but how they got there. Three shutouts in four games and 12 points allowed overall will earn some attention, and a lot of folks in Mission Viejo are approaching this game with some concern. The Wildcats have a second-year quarterback in Austin Decoud, their leading rusher from last season in Jesse Riley, and four returning starters on the offensive line. They're just as stacked with experience on defense, especially up front with junior defensive lineman Kylie Fitts recording 4 1/2 sacks through three games, and senior strong safety Trevor Douglass having a hand in four of the team’s 12 takeaways. Mission Viejo quarterback Alex Bridgford hasn’t been flashy but he has been efficient, passing for at least 200 yards every game this season. The running game hasn’t been slowed too much by the loss of Buzzy Yokoyama, out since Week 1 because of a foot injury.
Calpreps.com: Mission Viejo 17, Redlands East Valley 14
ESPNLA: Mission Viejo 28, Redlands East Valley 14
Santiago (2-2, 1-0) at Norco (3-1, 1-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – While starting quarterback Michael Darr was sidelined last week against Riverside King because of flu, Santiago received some help when Roosevelt Monk, a transfer from Hemet, became eligible. He rushed for 137 yards in 15 carries and scored twice in the 40-9 victory. Another Santiago player who experienced his first playing time of the season last week was 6-4 junior receiver Nik Little, who caught five passes for 74 yards. The Sharks will need to score a lot of point to defeat Norco for the first time since 2005. Norco sophomore quarterback Coltin Gerhart and senior running back Joseph Ajeigbe form a dangerous combination on the ground, and USC-bound outside linebacker Scott Starr spearheads the defense.
Calpreps.com: Norco 35, Santiago 21
ESPNLA: Norco 38, Santiago 31
Rancho Verde (4-0, 1-0) at Valley View (5-0, 2-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – If any team has a shot at ending Rancho Verde’s 23-game winning streak in the Inland Valley League, it might just be Valley View. The Eagles are on a bit of a roll themselves, winning their last seven league games, so don't expect them to go down without a fight. Look for Michael Harrison to try and move the chains for Valley View and keep the ball out of Rancho Verde’s hands as long as possible.
Calpreps.com: Rancho Verde 28, Valley View 3
ESPNLA: Rancho Verde 30, Valley View 17
Last week’s picks: