Like the opening round of the NCAA Basketball tournament, Week 0 can be full of surprises as we learn what each team is made of as the season opens. There may not have been a bigger surprise in the state last week than Bishop Amat’s decisive 40-23 win over No. 4 Servite (Prepzone Replay).
That’s not to say that the Lancers weren’t expected to be a quality team, but Bishop Amat was replacing virtually its entire offense from the 2011 season. A season that included a 49-14 blowout loss to Servite.
Turns out, Bishop Amat is returning plenty of weapons including Duke commitment Darren Andrews (5-10/160) who scored two early touchdowns.
Is Bishop Amat that good? Is Servite that bad? We have a long season to find out, but there was nothing flukey about the Lancers’ win over Servite. Bishop Amat beat Servite all over the field in every aspect of the game. We may get an answer sooner than we think on Servite as they travel to No. 6 Rancho Cucamonga this week.
The rest of the Top 10 fared much better and here is a look at the still very early rankings as we head into Week 1.
No. 1 Santa Margarita faced a tough early road test with a trip to Phoenix, Ariz. to take on a very good Brophy Prep team. The Eagles predictably wore down Brophy Prep with an offensive line that averages over 300 pounds and a quarterback in Johnny Stanton (Nebraska) who is maturing as a passer while still able to get big chunks of yardage running seemingly at will. It was the Santa Margarita defense though that may have been the more pleasant surprise as they only surrendered one touchdown in a 27-14 win. The schedule eases up a bit this week as the Eagles take on Long Beach Jordan (1-0) who is coming off of a 65-9 win over Poly…no not that Poly, Poly of Sun Valley.
No. 2 Vista Murrieta was idle during Week 0, but they get an out of state visitor in ThunderRidge of Highlands Ranch, Colo. on Prepzone this Friday. Quarterback Nick Stevens returns after we last saw him streaking through Corona Centennial’s defense to put a cap on an unbeaten season. Vista Murrieta features arguably the best two-way player in the country in USC commitment Su’a Cravens who is a standout at linebacker and receiver for the Broncos. The Broncos shouldn’t have a lot of trouble with ThunderRidge when all is said and done.
No. 3 Mission Viejo had its return trip in a home and home series with Centennial of Bakersfield, and the result was strikingly similar to last year’s contest held at Mission Viejo. After beating Centennial 35-6 last year, Mission Viejo blanked the Golden Hawks at their place 35-0 on Friday. Mission Viejo was terrific on defense last year, but the offense struggled at crucial times. The Diablos imported two Trinity League players in quarterback Ian Fieber from Orange Lutheran and running back Alex Suchesk from Santa Margarita. The two newcomers injected a spark into the Diablo offense combining for nearly 300 yards and three touchdowns. Mission Hills of San Diego makes the trip up the highway to take on the Diablos on Prepzone Friday night, and the Grizzlies, featuring athlete Devin Holiday, should be a good test for Mission Viejo.
No. 4 Bishop Alemany has one of the most explosive players in the country on the field in USC commitment Steven Mitchell. Mitchell and his Warriors were too much for an out-matched Pasadena team as Mitchell had seven catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns in a 45-8 victory. Alemany gets Muir this week who was outmanned by Upland on Prepzone. Alemany can’t get caught looking ahead, but JW North and Corona Centennial loom large in early September. No. 5 Corona Centennial takes on No. 11 St. Bonaventure in what should be the game of the week in Week 1. Centennial was breaking in a new starter at quarterback when these two teams met last year and St. Bonaventure prevailed, 29-27. This year both teams feature new quarterbacks, but the Seraphs have two distinct advantages in this game, first, it’s their second game, and second, Centennial loses 2,000 yard rusher Romello Goodman while the Seraphs return Arizona commitment Zach Green. If this game is in Week 10, Centennial might be a heavy favorite, but during Week 1, don’t be surprised if St. Bonney comes away with a win again.
No. 6 Rancho Cucamonga is loaded on defense, but the offense was a question coming in to the season. It took a quarter to get rolling as Rancho Cucamonga trailed Redlands 3-0 after the first quarter, but then the offense came alive as quarterback Adam Friedrechsen began finding his favorite target in Ralston Compton to the tune of three touchdowns on the night en route to a 40-17 win. The Cougars get a Servite team this week who will either rebound with ferocity, or show us that they were exactly the team that Bishop Amat beat all over the field.
No. 7 Oaks Christian began the Jeff Woodruff era in style with a convincing 40-0 win over Del Oro. The Golden Eagles were rebuilding with only eight returning starters from a 13-2 team, but this is still a quality team and program that the Lions shellacked. When we last saw Oaks Christian, sophomore quarterback Brandon Dawkins had a nightmare of a game with five turnovers against Westlake, but Dawkins is a year older and wiser. Dawkins was efficient, and he leaned on fellow junior Chris Davis and senior UCLA commit Cameron Judge at linebacker. In a swap of opponents, Oaks Christian takes on Granite Bay this week, who is coming off a 24-6 loss to Westlake.
No. 8 Mater Dei was idle during Week 0, but they had to watch with a certain satisfaction and a sense of disbelief as rival Servite was getting upended by Bishop Amat. That game helps solidify what many of us thought coming in to the season, that the Monarchs and their 15 returning starters are the biggest threat to No. 1 Santa Margarita in the Trinity League. That may or may not end up being true as St. John Bosco, Orange Lutheran and still possibly Servite will have a say in the final standings, but the 2012 version of Mater Dei gets started this week against a St. Paul squad they should handle.
No. 9 Lompoc may have to get to the Western Division playoffs before they get the recognition they deserve, but the Braves are good… really good. Bludgeoning Arroyo Grande on Prepzone last week, Lompoc features a relentless ground attack led by Washington commitment Lavon Coleman. Coleman quietly rushed for 170 yards on just 17 carries as the Braves cruised to a 31-0 win over the Eagles. Lompoc’s regular season schedule won’t strike fear into anyone, but a clash with No. 15 (and rising) Serra in the Western Division playoffs looks almost inevitable.
No. 10 Tesoro made a surprise run in the Pac-5 playoffs last year before running into a powerful San Clemente squad, but the Titans look like the best challenger to Mission Viejo in the South Coast league with 17 starters returning. Tesoro blew out Compton last week to the tune of 55-14 and will play an always good Hart Indians this week. Hart will need to find a way to slow down returning starting quarterback Matt Adams who was a perfect 8-for-8 for 188 yards and three touchdowns.