Five Southwestern Teams will See Action in Round One
By Jennifer Sevilla
The Southwestern League’s power and reputation will be tested this week in Round One of the CIF Southern Section Football Championship Playoffs. Four of the 5 teams in the league are pitted against other League Champions, and the other plays a strong Big VIII team. It should be very interesting how this first week pans out.
Vista Murrieta will host Rancho Cucamonga (6-4), the Baseline league Champions. The Cougars were undefeated in league play, defeating a very talented Upland team along the way. Rancho Cucamonga stumbled out the gate going 1-4 before getting on track. They finished the season on a 5 game winning streak. This should be a good matchup, pitting the Broncos strong defense against a Cougar offense that is averaging over 30 points a game.
Murrieta Valley will travel to San Clemente (6-4) in play a rematch of an earlier season game which saw San Clemente defeat the Nighthawks 55-38 . The Tritons are the South Coast league Champions going 4-0 in league play.
San Clemente also comes in riding a 5 game win streak and defeated a highly touted Mission Viejo team 21-0 last week. The key will be if the Murrieta Valley defense can stop the Tritons offense, who are averaging almost 35 points a game and over 43 points a game during their win streak. However, with a focused Hank Bachmeier you can never count the Nighthawks out until the final seconds click away.
Chaparral will be in Hesperia to play at Oak Hills high school (8-2), the Mojave River league Champions who went 5-0 in league play. The Bulldogs also come in riding a 5 game win streak, with only one common opponent. Both teams have squared off against Victor Valley. Oak Hills defeated them 28-0 and Chaparral won 38-7.
The Bulldogs Offense have been averaging 34 points a game, while the Pumas have only allowed an average of 21 points a game throughout the season. Chaparral is on a roll and has tough playmakers all over the field having scored on several long 40 yard plus plays. Several key players on offense and have scored on defense and special teams.
Temecula Valley will play at Woodbridge high school (7-3) Friday night. The Pacific Coast league Champions a went 5-0 in league play and were 7-3 overall. The Warriors come in riding a 5 game win streak with no common opponents with Temecula Valley.
Woodbridge should not overlook the Bears running attack as Easton Gibbs can score from any place on the field and when teams commit more defenders. Gibbs can also throw it up to some sure handed Golden Bear receivers as they showed during the Murrieta Valley game.
Santiago comes into the playoffs riding a 3 game winning streak. They have played three common opponents.
Santiago defeated Etiwanda, Corona, and Murrieta Valley while the Rams beat Corona on the field (later forfeited). Mesa had a tough time against Etiwanda and took Murrieta Valley to the brink before losing. Mesa is a different team now than they were when they played early in the year. If Jose Ayala can get on a hot streak, anything is possible with this Ram team.
Photos by Mike Clary, Rudy Castillo, Alicia Salcedo, John Carpenter & Mark Fitzpatrick