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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | GAME DAY / A Look
at Today's Key Matchups

High School

October 20, 2000

* KENNEDY (5-0-1, 1-0) vs. SYLMAR (6-0, 1-0)

At Sylmar High, 7 p.m.

Kennedy single-handedly ruined Sylmar's season a year ago, snapping the Spartans' 69-game league winning streak, 21-20, then winning again in the playoffs, 69-33. Sylmar has looked forward to this game ever since. The winner will have the upper hand in the Valley Mission League race. Kennedy had the tougher nonleague schedule, defeating Taft and Granada Hills. Sylmar opened with an impressive victory over Dorsey then rolled over a string of inferior opponents. Behind an agile defensive line, heavily recruited linebacker Josh Martin and fleet defensive backs, the Spartans allow only 11.5 points and 214 yards a game. Kennedy averages 44 points a game, but gives up 26 points a game. Although top defensive back Charles Nettles is back after missing several games with a foot injury, the Golden Cougars are vulnerable to the pass, having surrendered 1,408 yards. John Valdez (65.8%, 1,048 yards, 11 touchdowns) gives Sylmar its best passer in years. Adam Geery of Kennedy has passed for 1,202 yards and 13 touchdowns.

* TAFT (5-1, 1-0) vs. BIRMINGHAM (6-0, 1-0)

At Birmingham, 7:30 p.m.

Everyone keeps asking, "Is Birmingham for real?" A perfect record against six teams with a combined mark of 12-24 has left people wondering if the Patriots are ready to take on the elite. The answer should come tonight against Taft, which has offensive firepower like few others. Rick Clausen leads the region with 1,709 yards passing, 19 touchdowns and a 63.1% completion rate. He has two potential NCAA Division I receivers, USC-bound Chris Morgan and sophomore Steve Smith. Running back Lee Marks has rushed for 752 yards. Birmingham, under first-year Coach Ed Croson, has used speed and big-play ability to turn around a program that was 2-8 last season. The key for the Patriots to keep pace tonight will be junior Scott Jensen, who is coming off a 308-yard passing performance against El Camino Real. If Jensen can connect with USC-bound receiver John Walker, and running back Kevin McCleary picks up his usual yardage, it could be a shootout in Van Nuys. An intriguing matchup figures to be Walker covering Smith and vice versa. Taft has played a tougher schedule to date, but virtually every coach that has played Birmingham insists the Patriots can compete for the West Valley League title. Look for the Patriots to blitz Clausen often hoping to produce turnovers.

* GRANT (3-3, 1-0) vs. CANOGA PARK (5-1, 1-0)

At Canoga Park High, 7 p.m.

The winner is in the driver's seat in the Sunset Six League. Canoga Park seems to improve each week. Josh Geiger has established himself as a running back to be reckoned with after three consecutive 100-yard games. Jeremy Egan provides balance through the air, completing 61.5% of his passes. Chris Lugo and Tony Olivera each have 21 receptions. Grant's offense is even more potent. The Lancers average 334 yards a game behind running back Perry Clayton. The senior has rushed for 1,319 yards, 500 more than any City rusher in the region. Alfonso Estrada has passed for 585 yards and five touchdowns. Grant's defense is suspect, having allowed an average of 370 yards. Canoga Park has won five in a row since opening with a loss to Birmingham.

* VALENCIA (5-1, 1-0) vs. HART (4-2, 1-0)

At College of the Canyons, 7:30 p.m.

A rematch of last season's Division III final. The winner of this game will likely claim the Foothill League title. Nine-time defending league champion Hart has won 44 consecutive league games, including a 45-8 victory last week over Burbank, and has never lost to Valencia. Kyle Matter passed for 400 yards and six touchdowns, and Matt Moore made three interceptions against Burbank. Matter has been sacked 35 times, six short of the school record, but Hart is treating opposing quarterbacks almost as badly. The Indians have 29 sacks, led by Chris Frome's nine. Last week, Kyle Bauer of Valencia passed for 335 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner to Nick Scott with four seconds left, in a 20-14 victory over Saugus. Will Broadous caught two scoring passes, giving him eight this season. Hart is 5-0 against Valencia, including a 34-6 rout last year in the section final, with a 24-point average margin of victory. In the two games last season, Matter completed 22 of 36 for 394 yards and five touchdowns. Bauer completed 17 of 44 for 238 yards and two touchdowns.

* HUENEME (4-2, 0-1) vs. CAMARILLO (3-3, 1-0)

At Camarillo High, 7 p.m.

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