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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Pigskin Prophecies

September 07, 2000

Why do they bother? The ink-stained minions who work at this newspaper are determined to dethrone your soothsaying Swami as the undisputed champion of football forecasters in the Valley/Ventura County region. I'm shaking in my Aladdin shoes. Especially after learning my opening-week opponent is Joel Huerto, who sure knows how to pick 'em. Huerto, who designs the pages in this section, demonstrated his football acumen by drafting sore-armed Brett Favre in the first round of our fantasy league. After I get through with him, Huerto will be wincing like the beat-up Packer quarterback.

GAME OF THE WEEK (5 points)

Westlake vs. Buena at Ventura High

THE PROPHET SAYS: Westlake defeated Buena in the opener last year on its way to a 13-1 record and a Southern Section title. I've got news for the Warriors: the party's over. Buena will be ready behind steady Freddy Keiaho and Co. Buena, 26-17.

HUERTO SAYS: Westlake's defense will get tested by RB Freddy Keiaho of Buena, who averaged almost nine yards per carry last season. Unproven Cory Miles starts at QB for Westlake and could struggle early. Buena suffered a 42-27 rout last year so it's payback. Buena, 27-23.

OTHER TOP GAMES (each 3 points)

Taft at Banning

THE PROPHET SAYS: Normally, breaking the rules is a bad thing. But the fact that Coach Troy Starr of Taft was caught conducting an illegal practice on Labor Day shows me he's going all out to prepare his team. Taft is improved but not enough to beat the mighty Pilots. Banning, 21-14.

HUERTO SAYS: Traditionally, Banning brings a fast, athletic team. But Taft's terrific trio of WR/DB Steve Smith, QB Ricky Clausen and RB Lee Marks might be enough to slow Banning. Taft, 17-13.

*

San Fernando at Alemany

THE PROPHET SAYS: Who's left at Alemany? Coach Jim Bonds moved to St. Francis. QB Casey Clausen is at Tennessee, and brother Ricky is Taft's QB. All that leaves is RB De'Andre Scott. That's enough. Alemany, 28-16.

HUERTO SAYS: De'Andre Scott right. De'Andre Scott left. De'Andre Scott for six. San Fernando will get a heavy dose of the highly touted Alemany senior. Alemany, 21-17.

*

Highland vs. Valencia at Canyon High

THE PROPHET SAYS: Valencia came through for me last season, upsetting Notre Dame in the Southern Section semifinals and reducing prep guru Eric Sondheimer to a weeping, mumbling mess. For that, I'm grateful. But I'm picking Highland by a Jose Duarte field goal. Highland, 17-14.

HUERTO SAYS: Life after Manuel White commences at Valencia. Vikings are in good hands with QB Kyle Bauer. Highland brings a talented and capable team. Tough call. Let's flip a coin . . . coin says Valencia. Vikings, 17-16.

THE REST (1 point each)

* Paraclete vs. St. Bonaventure at Ventura High: The Prophet: St. Bonaventure opens the season tonight and Coach Jon Mack has yet to send us any miniature Seraph helmets to use as spittoons. Let's hope he pays more attention to his team. St. Bonaventure, 28-17. Huerto: St. Bonaventure, 24-21.

* Dorsey at Sylmar: The Prophet: The City Section has launched a drive to reduce profanity in athletics, which means Sylmar will have to fit Coach Jeff Engilman with an iron muzzle. Dorsey, 21-14. Huerto: Sylmar, 16-13.

* Cleveland at Palisades: The Prophet: QB David Koral of Palisades will subject the Cavaliers to an aerial assault. Palisades, 42-28. Huerto: Cleveland, 20-16.

* Reseda at Chatsworth: The Prophet: Coaches Joel Schaeffer of Reseda and Bill Coan of Chatsworth like to complain about things written in this section, so we're dubbing this game the Whiner's Bowl. Reseda, 21-14. Huerto: Reseda, 23-20.

* Burroughs at Newbury Park: The Prophet: RB Marcus Crawford and WR L. Ray Hawkins, who reportedly is no relation to L. Ron Hubbard, will preach the gospel to Burroughs' little Indians. Newbury Park, 35-14. Huerto: Newbury Park, 27-14.

* Crescenta Valley at Thousand Oaks: The Prophet: Junior QB Ben Olson of Thousand Oaks has received plenty of hype. Now it's time to deliver. Thousand Oaks, 28-21. Huerto: Crescenta Valley, 17-14.

* Lynwood at Notre Dame: The Prophet: Graduation losses have taken their toll at Notre Dame, but not enough for the Knights to drop their opener to a lowly outfit like Lynwood. Notre Dame, 21-7. Huerto: Notre Dame, 30-14.

* Barstow at Palmdale: The Prophet: Some are touting Palmdale as the team to beat in the Golden League. This game will provide an early indication if the Falcons are overrated. Palmdale, 27-14. Huerto: Palmdale, 21-10.

* Royal vs. Saugus at College of the Canyons: The Prophet: Saugus will have a tough time replacing graduated QB David Parker, but the Centurions still outclass Royal. Saugus, 22-14. Huerto: Saugus, 24-17.

* Arcadia at St. Francis: The Prophet: St. Francis begins the Bonds era with enough offensive weapons to rival the St. Louis Rams. St. Francis, 35-17. Huerto: St. Francis, 22-21.

* Hart at Monroe: The Prophet: Hart would be a 21-point favorite over Cal State Northridge, so establishing a line on this game takes imagination . . . and a calculator. Hart, 63-14. Huerto: Hart, 42-6.

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