The CIF Southern Section Division 5 football quarterfinals kick off Friday, Nov. 15. Here’s a look at the matchups:
St. Paul doesn’t have any close wins against great teams this season, but they have beaten some solid ones in Birmingham and El Modena for instance quite badly. They also did a good job a few weeks ago to legitimately compete against Sierra Canyon and only lose by eight. Their defense has been the key this year, with dual-threat QB Gene Valdez and RBs Tranell Ridgley and Tyler Adams carrying the most weight offensively.
The only game Yorba Linda lost this season was a close one to an outstanding Foothill squad before league play. Since then, they’ve won seven straight, including a decisive win over Villa Park. Yorba Linda is big on both sides of the ball, and RB Keaton Haddad is a D-1 prospect who’s comfortable putting the team on his back for long periods at a time. This one is probably going to be a fairly low-scoring grinder. Yorba Linda probably has a small edge.
It seems to have become clear throughout the season who this Chino Hills team is–better than anyone expected, always ready to take on the challenge of playing better teams and taking care of business against everyone else, but not quite talented enough to pull out wins against the elite. That last part could be proven wrong this week against an electrifying Culver City team that would be considered the heavy favorite had Chino Hills not really heated up down the stretch of the season.
In case you haven’t heard, Culver City is 11-0 and junior QB Zevi Eckhaus has been making a joke of Southern Section quarterback records left and right. He’s surrounded with all the help he needs for the Centaurs to bring home a Division 5 title, including D-1 prospect WR Chris Miller and RB Mekhi Evans-Bey, along with an offensive line and defense that have the guts to battle much bigger squads. Chino Hills has quite a QB/RB tandem as well in Matthew Geeting and Rayce Thornton.
Culver City is the solid favorite against the Huskies and the top dog in the Division 5 race, but Chino Hills does seem like the perfect team to rip the dream season away from them.
It is clear that Oxnard is very good. They’re definitely good enough to win Division 5, although it’s hard to tell exactly where they stand. The Yellowjackets beat Westlake and Chaminade soundly when both of those teams were struggling very badly early in the season. Chaminade in particular is light-years ahead of where they were two months ago, but hey, a win is a win. Oxnard also knocked off Pacifica (Oxnard) and nearly Camarillo. Their defense is outstanding even against very high-level teams, and Xavier Harris is probably the best RB/SB in Division 5. They also have one of the most efficient quarterbacks around with Jaden Jones. There’s nothing not to like.
Aquinas is 9-2 for a reason, though. And those two losses came to Grace Brethren and Kaiser in the first two games of the season. They’ve been winning and often clobbering teams for nine games straight without fail, but it’s tough to see where the hope would lie against such a strong foe in Oxnard.
At 10-1, Glendora has been outstanding all season, although the one loss to Ayala for the league title surely stings quite a bit. The Tartans haven’t had the hardest schedule, but do have some wins over good teams like Bonita, Roosevelt, and Los Altos. Etiwanda is about par for the course them if they play like they have all season. Jacob Gonzalez has been very consistent at QB with WR Cade Marshman as his top target, Xzavier Ford has been one of the best middle-division RBs in the Southern Section and the defense has been great. Strength of schedule is the only question mark. They’re a threat to both win the title and flame out well short of it.
Etiwanda is good enough to compete with them, but is no better than some of the teams Glendora has beaten with ease this year. Etiwanda has been in a bunch of close games and seen great competition this year. They’ve already seen teams better than Glendora in Rancho Cucamonga and Upland, and had the best win of the year last week against Diamond Ranch, which should prepare them well, but they’ll need to play their best game of the year again just to have a fighting chance. Let’s see how ready the star sophomore QB/WR tandem of Isaiah Vasquez and Jordan Williams is when the lights are even bigger.