It's the final week of the regular season. Time for pulsating league championship games and last-chance battles for playoff berths. Alas, no such drama here. The Prophet, for the second consecutive season, has drubbed his opponents so thoroughly that he could take a week off and still win the season. The sportswriters saved veteran high school sports forecaster Van Nightingale as their anchor man, but it's too late. The Prophet is Marion Jones in the stretch drive--with a 20-yard lead.
GAME OF THE WEEK (5 points)
Esperanza vs. Edison at Huntington Beach H.S., Tonight
THE PROPHET SAYS: Much has been said and written about Edison's potent Darryl Poston-led offense, but a stingy defense is the reason the Chargers are 4-0 in the Sunset League. Edison has allowed only 30 points in its four league games. But with Esperanza, the Chargers have met their match. The Aztecs have been held to fewer than four touchdowns only once, and even a change of quarterbacks didn't slow them against Los Alamitos. Esperanza 27, Edison 20
NIGHTINGALE SAYS: The schedule-maker and circumstances have cooperated to provide the kind of dream match-up for which one can usually only hope. Edison is something of a sentimental favorite; the Chargers, along with Fountain Valley, defined the Sunset League in the '70s and '80s, but haven't won a title since 1990. Sorry, but it won't happen this year. A healthy Temitope Sonuyi is more than any Esperanza opponent has been able to handle, and the Aztec defense can be frighteningly good. Esperanza 31, Edison 24
OTHER TOP GAMES (each 3 points)
Santa Margarita vs. Servite at Cal State Fullerton, Friday
THE PROPHET SAYS: These teams have four common opponents. Both defeated Mission Hills Alemany and Bellflower St. John Bosco. In Servite's favor: The Friars beat Tustin, 14-6, but Tustin hammered Santa Margarita, 35-14. On the flip side, Santa Margarita is coming off a 21-14 victory over Mater Dei, a team that defeated Servite, 31-21. The guess here is that Servite can shut off the run or the pass--but not both. Santa Margarita 24, Servite 23
NIGHTINGALE SAYS: The challenge at Santa Margarita is to put in the rear-view mirror its biggest victory since moving up to Division I. You know it, I know it, and you can be sure that Eagle Coach Jim Hartigan has reminded his players a few times. Knowing is one thing, having it truly sink in is another. Servite, a pretty fair team with a rich tradition that includes 12 league championships, will take advantage and add a share of another title. Servite 34, Santa Margarita 28
San Clemente vs. Mission Viejo at Mission Viejo H.S., Friday
THE PROPHET SAYS: Billy Hart hasn't had the season statistically that you might expect from a USC-bound quarterback (cynics, fill in your own wisecrack here). He's completed only 48% of his passes, although 12 have gone for touchdowns against only four interceptions. Mission Viejo will need a big game from him because San Clemente will be poised to slow running back Robbie Dubois. And with a defense that has allowed only 19 points in four league games, the Tritons probably will. San Clemente 22, Mission Viejo 21
NIGHTINGALE SAYS: In the spirit of the political season, we remind you: It's the line play, stupid! Sure, Mission Viejo has Dubois running over and around every defense in sight, but how do you think San Clemente continued to chew up opponents despite losing its one experienced quarterback to injury? The Tritons have NCAA-sized linemen, and with Dan Coviello again calling the signals, this is a team that could last deep into the Division II playoffs. San Clemente 21, Mission Viejo 12
Western vs. Brea Olinda at Brea Olinda H.S., Friday
THE PROPHET SAYS: Statistically, Brea Olinda has the Orange League's best defense, having allowed 21 points in four games. Western's defense can't match those numbers because it hasn't had to. The Pioneers are averaging 57 points in four league games. Last year's showdown ended in a 21-21 tie. This time . . . Western 41, Brea Olinda 28
NIGHTINGALE SAYS: Western may have more firepower than at any time since Bobby Acosta was running and passing the Pioneers to back-to-back section finals in the early '70s. But its offense was almost as explosive last year and the Pioneers finished fourth in the Orange League. The difference this year is that Western is a little bit stronger, and the rest of the league, including Brea Olinda, is a little bit weaker. Western 47, Brea Olinda 27
THE REST (1 point each)
* Loara vs. Kennedy at Glover Stadium, Tonight: The Prophet: Four weeks ago, Kennedy was 4-1 and Loara was 1-4. Now Loara is the Empire League leader, having scored 40 or more points in all four league games. Loara, 21-14. Nightingale: Loara, 34-23.
* Troy at Buena Park, Tonight: The Prophet: The winner goes to the Division IX playoffs; the loser hopes for a wild-card berth. Good luck, Coyotes. Troy, 28-14. Nightingale: Buena Park, 24-23.