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Game Day

A Look at Today's Key Matchups

November 03, 2000


* NOTRE DAME (7-0-1, 1-0) vs. ST. FRANCIS (7-1, 1-0)

At St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.

The Mission League championship comes down to a simple question: Can St. Francis' high-powered offense score against Notre Dame's dominating defense? St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds came out on top last season when he coached Alemany over Notre Dame. His offense has struggled at times this season while players learned new terminology. But UCLA-bound quarterback John Sciarra has finally become comfortable, and St. Francis appears to be peaking. Running back Matt Milton has scored 15 touchdowns, helping take pressure off Sciarra. St. Francis' challenge is finding ways to move the ball against a defense that has allowed 38 points all season. Notre Dame is favored based on its improved offensive performance against Chaminade last week, when quarterback Phil Beckmann passed for a career-high 229 yards. If Notre Dame can pass the ball with the same effectiveness, St. Francis will be in trouble.

* BIRMINGHAM (8-0, 3-0) vs. GRANADA HILLS (6-2, 2-1)

At Granada Hills High, 7 p.m.

Last season the West Valley League ended in a three-way tie for first, which will probably be the outcome again if Granada Hills wins this game. Taft (2-1 in league play) has defeated the Highlanders and lost to Birmingham. The Patriots, of course, have no intention of letting their record be blemished. And Granada Hills is at a disadvantage because receiver Joey Rodriguez (28 catches, 24.1-yard average, nine touchdowns) is sidelined with an injury. Birmingham will run with Kevin McCleary (1,056 yards, 8.7 average, 17 touchdowns) and pass with Scott Jensen (1,500 yards, 17 touchdowns). Jensen averages more than 20 yards a completion. The Patriots are balanced, having rushed and passed for the same number of yards: 1,518. Granada Hills is also balanced, having passed for 1,404 yards and rushed for 1,381. Robert Ortega (709 yards) and Bryan Wilson (524) share the ballcarrying duties. Birmingham has a superior defense, allowing only 85 yards a game on the ground.

* SYLMAR (8-0, 3-0) vs. SAN FERNANDO (5-3, 2-1)

At San Fernando High, 7 p.m.

This neighborhood rivalry will attract a large crowd, but the game became less interesting when injury-riddled San Fernando was upset by Monroe last week. Tiger quarterback Ruben Nevarez has missed two games and is questionable, putting the onus on the running of Bobby Stanley (512 yards). Stanley likes to run over defenders, but Sylmar linebacker Josh Martin won't budge. When Nevarez is injured, receiver Ramon Perry (35 catches, 620 yards, 10 touchdowns) is less of a factor. Sylmar has the Valley Mission League's top defense and a balanced offense led by quarterback John Valdez (65% completion rate, 1,290 yards, 13 touchdowns). Bruising fullback Isidro Medina (557 yards) is the Spartans' answer to Stanley, and sophomore James Pringle (517) provides a fine complement. Felipe Samano (32 catches) is a solid receiver as well as one of the top defensive backs in the region.

* ANTELOPE VALLEY (7-1, 3-0) vs. PALMDALE (6-1-1, 3-0)

At Palmdale High, 7 p.m.

This showdown for the Golden League championship features two of the region's most exciting quarterbacks in Demetre Booker of Antelope Valley and Terry Furlow of Palmdale. Furlow has passed for 1,236 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for 312 yards and seven touchdowns. Booker, running the Antelopes' triple-option, is the leading rusher with 639 yards and nine touchdowns. Sean Wallace of Antelope Valley, a bruising sophomore fullback, has rushed for 574 yards. Tyrone Culver of Palmdale has a league-best 27 catches and has intercepted eight passes. Palmdale and Antelope Valley possess the league's top two offenses. Antelope Valley's defense is yielding 183.5 yards a game, fourth-best in the region. Palmdale's defense, allowing 333.4 yards, ranks last in the league.

* HUENEME (6-2, 2-1) vs. CHANNEL ISLANDS (3-5, 1-1)

At Channel Islands High, 7 p.m.

Channel Islands hopes to spoil Hueneme's chances of winning its second Pacific View League championship in three seasons. Channel Islands has won its last two games, beating Santa Barbara, 41-34, and Rio Mesa, 7-0. The Raiders have won three games for the first time since 1995, when they finished 3-7, including 1-6 in the Marmonte League. Channel Islands relies primarily on Augie Castaneda and Tommy Menga, who have combined for 1,147 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Raider coaches have substituted liberally in recent weeks, with 14 players carrying the ball and 11 catching passes. Two-way player Manny Berrelleza has a team-high 16 receptions for 154 yards and two interceptions for Channel Islands. Hueneme routed Rio Mesa, 54-6, last week despite the absence of leading rusher Leslie Lee, who sat out because of a deep bruise on his right knee. Lee is expected back tonight and combines with quarterback Gordie Pinedo and running backs Tamar Lee, Dwayne Taylor and Julian Gooden to fuel a formidable offense.

* L.A. BAPTIST (7-1, 2-1) vs. PARACLETE (7-1, 2-0)

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