No. 25 Compton Dominguez (0-0) vs. No. 24 Anaheim Esperanza (0-0) at Valencia High, 7 tonight
Esperanza missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 1988 and finished with a losing record (4-5-1) for the first time in 16 years. Shaun Wildenstein, a 1,000-yard rusher last season, returns for the Aztecs, whose strong offensive line is led by Chris Boblit. Defensive linemen Gabe Long is also a standout. Anthony Wheat will take over at quarterback for Justin Wyatt, who now plays cornerback for USC. Wheat is one of the top free safeties in the region. Lionel Larry, who won the 100 and 200 meters at the Division II track finals last season as a sophomore, is one of the top newcomers.
No. 8 Newhall Hart (0-0) vs. No. 2 Los Alamitos (0-0), Long Beach Veterans Stadium, 7 p.m., Friday
These teams have ridden similar high-powered offenses to become two of the premier programs in Southern California over the last 12 years. Since 1990, Hart is 135-23 and has won five Southern Section championships, including the last four in Division III. Over the same span, Los Alamitos is 128-22-2 and has three section titles. Neither team has missed the playoffs during that span. Los Alamitos, with 12 returning starters and three key transfers, is loaded on offense with mobile quarterback Jeff Kline and receiver Brandon Tripp, among the best in the nation. Hart looks to junior quarterback Sean Norton to run the offense and will likely use running back Paxton Howard a bit more than usual as Norton adjusts to varsity competition.
No. 23 San Clemente (0-0) vs. No. 5 Huntington Beach Edison (0-1), Huntington Beach High, 7 p.m., Friday
Edison got off to a rough start last week against Honolulu Lolani, surrendering 28 unanswered second-half points in a 34-20 loss. Games against Santa Ana Mater Dei and Anaheim Servite follow. Edison's Tommy Grady, one of the top quarterbacks in Southern California, threw two touchdown passes but had two other passes intercepted. Senior Andy Avila gained 100 yards rushing for the Chargers in an impressive debut. Senior quarterback Beau Budde, San Clemente's career passing leader, and senior wide receiver Chris Miller, who could break the school's receiving record this season, lead the Tritons.
No. 10 Woodland Hills Taft (0-0) at L.A. Crenshaw (0-0), 3 p.m., Friday
The Toreadors may enter the season as the City Section favorite, but they open with a stiff test against a team that has its sights set on playing in December. The teams met twice last year with Crenshaw winning, 21-14, in the season opener and Taft winning, 38-28, in the section semifinals. Taft's Steve Smith needs 76 receptions this season to move into the national top 10 for a career. Quarterback Cary Dove gets his first chance at improving on a 3,264-yard, 32-touchdown season. Crenshaw, always tough to defeat at home, is led by running back Daymeion Hughes and defensive lineman Brandon Mebane, a Division I prospect.
Dorsey (0-0) at Sylmar (0-0),
7 p.m., Friday
Dorsey is the defending City Section champion, but the Dons go into the year having to prove they are worthy champions. These two perennially strong teams like to keep things simple--they run the ball and play sound defense. Sylmar will look to control the line of scrimmage with a veteran offensive line led by 305-pound tackle Louis Solis. Running behind that line will be tailbacks Ryan Carew and James Pringle. Trying to stop them will be linebackers Jerome Johnson and Demetrius Jones, the leaders of the Dorsey defense. Longtime Coach Paul Knox is four victories shy of 150 for his career.
No. 15 Long Beach Jordan (0-0) at No. 18 Carson (0-0), 7 p.m., Friday
Carson has won 10 City Section championships and should be in the hunt for another one. The Colts have size with 6-foot-2, 300-pound defensive tackle Matthew Malele, one of the top recruits on the West Coast. The Colts also have a strong offensive line and a number of dependable running backs. Jordan, a Southern Section Division I team, is coming off one of its best seasons. The Panthers gave Poly a scare last season in a Moore League game and nearly upset Mater Dei before losing, 12-7, in the first round of the playoffs. The Panthers have size up front with 6-7, 375-sophomore Morgan Roseborough and two other linemen over 290 pounds. Carson defeated Jordan last season, 29-19.