Nonleague play continues this week for Inland Empire teams, and some interesting matchups can be both in the region and beyond. Here's the best on tap.
Corona Centennial (0-1) vs. Mater Dei (0-1) at Santa Ana Stadium, Friday (7:30 p.m.) – Rarely would a matchup of winless teams draw this much interest, but the winning traditions built by these programs still qualifies this a can't-miss game. Mater Dei, ranked No. 14 in the Southland by ESPNLA, had an extra week to either stew about its last-second loss to No. 12 Carson in Week 0, or get hyped for the seventh-ranked Huskies, who tore apart the Monarchs last season. Centennial is fresh off a two-point loss to No. 6 St. Bonaventure on its home field Friday night and can’t afford another if it has any hope of getting back to the state bowl championships (it also doesn’t help that the Huskies’ strength of schedule is taking a beating, as their nonleague opponents are 1-3 so far). The key for Mater Dei will be getting the ball to 6-foot-4, 220-pound wide receiver Thomas Duarte, who should provide a significant matchup problem with his size and speed. Centennial needs to show more discipline and eliminate the penalties that were so costly against St. Bonaventure.
Calpreps.com computerized projection: Centennial 31, Mater Dei 14.
ESPNLA: Centennial 38, Mater Dei 24
Norco (1-0) vs. Etiwanda (1-1) at Colony HS, Friday (7 p.m.) – This might be the toughest game to predict this weekend. Despite the outcomes, No. 17 Norco played ho-hum in a 21-20 victory Friday against L.A. Crenshaw, the same night Etiwanda earned more respect in a 31-28 loss to No. 21 Vista Murrieta. Etiwanda quarterback Larry Cutbirth has carved up two good defenses so far this season and Norco’s weak link is its secondary. The Cougars will need USC-bound outside linebacker Scott Starr to make things difficult when Cutbirth’s on the field, and hope the offense can sustain drives long and far enough to score points and keep Cutbirth on the sideline.
Calpreps.com: Etiwanda 35, Norco 28.
ESPNLA: Norco 35, Etiwanda 34.
Mission Hills Alemany (2-0) vs. J.W. North (1-0) at Riverside College, Friday (7 p.m.) – Alemany, ranked No. 3 by ESPNLA, will get its first real test of the season against a much-improved team from J.W. North. The Warriors love to throw the ball and have a deep receiving corps led by junior Steven Mitchell, who has already picked up scholarship offers from UCLA and Washington. The Huskies will need a big game from quarterback/defensive back Justin Gheorghe, a first-team all-Big VIII League pick on offense and defense last season. Gheorghe threw four touchdown passes last week in a 48-10 victory against Colton.
Calpreps.com: Alemany 31, J.W. North 22.
ESPNLA: Alemany 21, J.W. North 17.
Upland (2-0) at Serrano (2-0), Friday (7 p.m.) – For the fourth straight season these teams will get together and, if this game is anything like the last two, it should be very entertaining. Upland won, 21-18, in 2009 after an apparent fumble return for a touchdown by Serrano in the final minute was nullified by a premature whistle. The Diamondbacks traveled to Upland last season and lost, 14-7. The Diamondbacks will need to find some offense if they want to stay with Upland again this season. They’ve scored just four touchdowns in two games, while the Highlanders have 13.
Calpreps.com: Upland 28, Serrano 19.
ESPNLA: Upland 28, Serrano 10.