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This week's top games

November 17, 2005|ERIC SONDHEIMER; MARTIN HENDERSON; PETER YOON

Highlights of this week's high school football schedule:

* Harbor City Narbonne (6-4) at Lake Balboa Birmingham (5-5), 7 tonight: Because of its young defense, Birmingham is considered to be a year away from contending for another City Championship, but the Patriots have made enough improvement to be considered a threat to repeat as champions this season. Their challenge is to stop Narbonne's formidable rushing attack, led by seniors Major Culbert and Travon Titus. Birmingham sophomore Milton Knox has rushed for 1,304 yards.

*--* CITY SECTION

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-- ERIC SONDHEIMER

* Los Angeles Locke (6-4) at Sylmar (10-0), 7 tonight: They're up, then they're down, but when the Saints are up, Locke can give anyone a hard time. Among Locke's four losses, three are by eight points or less: to Los Alamitos, 14-6, to fourth-seeded San Pedro, 28-21, and to third-seeded Dorsey, 14-7. Second-seeded Crenshaw is the only other team to score more than two touchdowns against Locke, which clearly can play defense. It will need its "A" game to reel in running back C.J. Gable of fifth-seeded Sylmar. He has rushed for 1,740 yards, an 11.8-yard per carry average, and has scored 26 touchdowns.

-- MARTIN HENDERSON

*--* SOUTHERN SECTION

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* Lakewood (8-2) vs. Los Angeles Loyola (6-4) at Glendale, 7:30 p.m. Friday: Loyola gets to play host to this Division I playoff opener because Lakewood was penalized for using an illegal football during last year's playoffs. Loyola, ranked No. 21 in the Southland by The Times, hasn't lost a first-round playoff game since 1985. The Cubs have an effective one-two punch in quarterback Henry Burge and running back Chad Peppars. Lakewood relies on an aggressive defense and the punishing running of Justin Robertson, who has gained 1,289 yards.

-- ERIC SONDHEIMER

* Valencia (7-3) at Mission Viejo Trabuco Hills (6-4), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Trying to win its first section title since 1993, when it won in Division VIII, Trabuco Hills is a longshot. P.J. Vallier, with 1,825 yards and 18 touchdowns, is Orange County's leading rusher, and Sean Reilly has thrown for 2,096 yards and 14 touchdowns. Valencia, ranked No. 19, answers with Michael Herrick, who needs only five yards to become the first prep in California history to pass for 10,000 yards in a career. Comparable scores against Lake Forest El Toro -- Valencia won, 48-20, and Trabuco Hills won, 30-27 -- indicate the Mustangs will need a herculean effort to send Herrick home disappointed.

-- MARTIN HENDERSON

* San Clemente (6-4) at Upland (8-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday: These teams were Division II semifinalists last year and now they are meeting in the first round. It's a classic offense vs. defense battle. Upland, led by quarterback Bryan Harding's 1,534 yards and 19 touchdowns, averages 39.2 points. The Highlanders' two losses were by a total of eight points. San Clemente held top-ranked Mission Viejo to seven points in a South Coast League finale and, led by lineman Casey MacIntosh and linebackers Mike Axline and Taylor Patton, gives up an average of 15.3 points.

-- PETER YOON

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