Friday night at 7:30, on the desolate south edge of Riverside County, in the mysterious-sounding community of Temecula, the Southern Section brings you . . . The Battle of the Clones.
Matched are quarterbacks Tim Gutierrez of Santa Clara High and Mike Maxwell of Temecula Valley, both drop-back passers with almost identical statistics.
Matched are running backs Kwinn Knight of Santa Clara (8-3) and Ronnie Long of Temecula Valley (9-2), both versatile players who score touchdowns as often as most players break a sweat.
Matched are center Ted Lawrence of Santa Clara and offensive tackle Roger Arreola of Temecula Valley, both devastating blockers who open holes on crucial short-yardage plays.
The second-round Southern Section Division VIII playoff game should be high-scoring. Spectators might be able to tell the teams apart only by the color of the uniforms, however.
"Our kids asked what Santa Clara was like and I told them, 'They're a lot like us,' " said Bud Kane, the Temecula Valley coach. "It will be a battle of the quarterbacks. We both play better offense than defense."
Few have ever played offense better than Gutierrez, a 6-foot-2 senior, who moved to third on the all-time Southern Section career yardage list after passing for 230 yards in a 22-21 victory over St. Joseph last week. He has 6,740 yards, which ranks behind only Todd Marinovich and Pat Haden. The total also places him seventh on the state list.
Maxwell, a 6-foot-5 senior, has passed for 2,234 yards and 14 touchdowns this season, completing 64%. He has thrown only seven interceptions.
Knight has 790 rushing yards, 54 receptions and a county-record 28 touchdowns this season. Long has 23 scores to go along with 1,117 rushing yards and 42 catches.
Jason Daw (50, 927 yards) and Paul Muro (52, 785) give Santa Clara dual receiving threats. Greg Campbell (61, 850) is Temecula Valley's top receiver.
Temecula Valley's best defensive player is lineman Rand Hills (6-3, 255).
In other second-round Southern Section playoff games:
Montclair Prep (11-0) at Fillmore (10-1), Friday: The Mounties have been summoned to try to halt Fillmore's runaway success, which includes a 30-10 first-round Division IX victory over Big Bear.
Montclair Prep, the top-ranked team in the division, wins with frightening ease. Twice opponents attempted to cancel games against the Mounties and several times the second half has been played with a running clock. Montclair Prep has outscored opponents, 422-82.
There is nothing fancy about the team: Montclair Prep has passed for only 122 of its 3,566 total yards. In fact, the Mounties don't have a playbook so much as a play page. But it is a page full of excitement starring twin protagonists Derek Sparks and Michael Jones.
Sparks is a transfer who was the state sophomore of the year last season at Banning High. He starts at fullback but also plays some tailback and has rushed for 1,734 yards and 31 touchdowns. Jones, the starting tailback, has 1,567 yards and 21 scores.
Defensively, Montclair Prep has been susceptible to the pass, but safety Shad Knighten does have seven interceptions.
To slow the Mounties, Fillmore must gang-tackle and avoid giving up the long run. Linebacker Mike Kozar, the Flashes' leading tackler with 102, heads a unit that has posted four shutouts and allowed only 91 points.
Tory Cabral, a junior tailback, rushed for 262 yards last week to increase his single-season school record to 1,516.
Thousand Oaks (10-0-1) at Leuzinger (8-2-1), Friday: Thousand Oaks was gearing up to face Buena, which knocked the Lancers from the Division II playoffs last season. Instead, the Lancers must travel to Lawndale to face Leuzinger, a Bay League team rebounding from a string of injuries to key personnel.
Leuzinger edged Buena, 10-6, last week in a game that Buena Coach Rick Scott felt his team should have won. Despite playing with an injured back, Leuzinger tailback Vernell Williams dashed 56 yards for a touchdown with four minutes to play.
Leuzinger's aggressive, pressure defense shut down Buena's pass-oriented offense. Thousand Oaks' power offense and play-action passes should have more success, however.
Tailback Mike Lindsay, a 1,000-yard rusher last year who has been slowed by a knee injury, led Thousand Oaks with a season-high 147 yards in last week's 33-6 victory over Palmdale. The Lancers, the top-seeded team in the division, piled up 521 offensive yards behind an exceptional performance by an offensive line led by senior tackle Reggie Nelinger.
The Lancer defense, which has notched five shutouts, continues to play with great emotion and surrendered no points last week. Palmdale scored on a kick return.