Valencia (4-0) at Calabasas (4-0), 7 p.m. (to be shown online via Fox Sports Prep Zone)
A potential Game of the Year candidate, this game has plenty at stake besides a rematch of last year’s thriller won by Calabasas. Valencia led at halftime yet Calabasas won despite standout wide receiver/defensive back Darnay Holmes sitting out the second half. Now Valencia is the more experienced team and eager for revenge to spoil Calabasas’ home debut.
Valencia’s running game has been strengthened by quarterback Connor Downs’ athleticism (853 passing yards, nine TDs with 132 rushing yards) adding to Moises Haynes being one of the area’s top backs. With four returning linemen, Downs has the room and time to find Mykael Wright and Zion Dunson or let Haynes (583 yards, 9 TDs) wear teams down.
Calabasas may be banged up with wide receiver Mycah Pittman and lineman Mykee Irving questionable after not playing last week, but the Coyotes got a boost from the return of wide receiver Nikko Hall, who missed the previous three games with an injury. Hall joins a loaded wide receiving corps, which includes Johnny Wilson and Hunter Nichols, that will test the Valencia secondary, led by Wright. The Coyotes’ offensive line faces one of the area’s best front sevens with linemen Joshua Washington, Reilly Royce, Ben Seymour and linebacker Jayvaun Wilson leading the attack to try and pressure sophomore quarterback Jaden Casey (972 yards, 10 TDs).The game could also play a role in the CIF-SS Division 2 playoff seedings if both teams finish the rest of their seasons strong.
Prediction: In another close game between the teams, Valencia gets the win but for a bonus prediction: whoever wins will likely finish this season unbeaten, pending any major injuries.
Serra (2-2, 1-0) at Chaminade (4-1, 1-0), 7 p.m. (to be shown online via Fox Sports Prep Zone)
One of Southern California’s best rivalries this decade, Serra and Chaminade have given fans classic meetings in the regular season and in CIF-SS championship games. Thursday promises to be no different with the winner moving in the driver’s seat to win the Mission League.
Chaminade had no trouble defeating Crespi last week, with most of its starters resting by halftime. Michael Wilson (480 receiving yards, six TDs) has scored in four consecutive games and running back Andrew Van Buren ended his two-game scoring drought with two touchdowns last week. Mac Griffin caught a 69-yard touchdown against Crespi, which should give Chaminade’s passing game confidence facing Serra’s defensive backs, including Max Williams and John Jackson Jr.
Serra’s tradition has always been its wide receivers and this year is no different. Kobe Smith (344 yards, 3 TDs) Jackson (306 yards) and Bryan Addison (255 yards, 5 TDs) lead the way along with Williams and David Eure. Junior Blaze Mckibbin is a strong pocket passer (1,114 yards) but will face a fierce Chaminade defense that look to keep him off balance with.
Serra senior linebacker Merlin Robertson is another highly regarded player and sophomore Justin Houston leads the team in tackles (46). The Cavaliers enter Thursday on a two-game winning streak.
Prediction: Another chapter in the Serra-Chaminade rivalry will be a Chaminade win if the Eagles can slow down Serra’s talented receiving corps. And a bonus prediction – the winner will eventually go on to claim the Mission League title.
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