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November 28, 2008|Ben Bolch

No. 3 Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (11-0) vs. No. 5 Orange Lutheran (9-2) at Santa Ana Stadium

Tonight at 7:30

Lutheran showed the ability to stop the run during its 28-0 victory over Fountain Valley in the first round of the playoffs, holding Kyle Middlebrooks to 24 yards in nine carries. But the Lancers will face an entirely different challenge in this Pac-5 Division quarterfinal against arguably the top high school quarterback in Southern California. Ryan Kasdorf has passed for 3,163 yards and 36 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. Fortunately for Lutheran, it has a secondary that Notre Dame Coach Kevin Rooney called "probably the best I've seen in a long time." The Lancers also feature an effective ball-control offense and "they've got a lot of trick plays that drive you crazy worrying about all that stuff," Rooney said. Lutheran executed a double pass for a 46-yard touchdown two weeks ago against Santa Ana Mater Dei, one play after successfully completing a pass for a first down on a fake punt.

The pick: Notre Dame.

No. 9 Mission Viejo (10-1) at Lakewood (5-6)

Tonight at 7:30

Lakewood Coach Thadd MacNeal said his team "definitely has a little swagger" after escaping with a 35-34 overtime victory over fourth-seeded Anaheim Servite in the first round. The Lancers are playing their best football of the season, with running back Jerry Stone averaging 179 yards rushing in three games since returning from ineligibility to complement a strong passing attack led by quarterback Jesse Scroggins. But the onus in this Pac-5 Division quarterfinal might be on the Lakewood defense, which will try to contain prolific Mission Viejo quarterback Allan Bridgford. The senior has passed for 2,822 yards and 37 touchdowns to break his own single-season school record in the former category and Mark Sanchez's record in the latter. MacNeal said he couldn't simply emulate the pressure package Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro used to rattle Bridgford during the Titans' 31-14 victory in October because Mission Viejo has improved its quarterback protection.

The pick: Lakewood.

No. 8 Santa Ana Mater Dei (8-3) at No. 6 Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro (11-0)

Tonight at 7:30

This is a chance for Tesoro to show it has reached elite status in the Pac-5 Division. The Titans met Mater Dei last year in the first round of the playoffs and couldn't hold a first-quarter lead during a 31-17 loss. But Tesoro has been unstoppable this season, with quarterback Robbie Picazo passing for 2,199 yards and 27 touchdowns with only four interceptions. Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley, the all-time passing yardage leader in Orange County, has done just about everything for the Monarchs in his four years as a varsity starter except win a championship.

The pick: Tesoro.

Redlands East Valley (10-1) at No. 10 Temecula Chaparral (10-1)

Tonight at 7:30, FSN Prime Ticket

Redlands East Valley has a pretty good idea what Chaparral is going to do on offense: hand the ball to running back Jonathan Diaz. Of course, that doesn't make the Pumas any easier to stop. Diaz had 162 yards and five touchdowns in only three quarters during Chaparral's 48-10 victory over Moreno Valley Vista Del Lago last week in the first round of the Inland Division playoffs. The Wildcats have a more balanced attack featuring quarterback Tyler Shreve and running back A.J. Fernandez, who had 118 yards and two touchdowns during a 30-20 first-round victory over Corona Santiago.

The pick: Chaparral.

No. 1 Long Beach Poly (11-0) vs. Anaheim Esperanza (8-3) at Placentia Valencia High

Saturday at 7 p.m.

Esperanza has had an uncanny run of good fortune since finishing in a five-way tie for the Sunset League championship. The Aztecs had their name plucked first out of a bowl with the other co-champions to guarantee a first-round Pac-5 Division home game against San Clemente. Then, after defeating the Tritons, 24-16, Esperanza won a coin flip to secure a home game against Poly. But the Aztecs will need more than luck to upset the Jackrabbits, who feature a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Melvin Richardson and Daveon Barner. Richardson's short run with 1 minute 23 seconds left gave Poly a come-from-behind, 21-17 victory over La Puente Bishop Amat in the first round.

The pick: Poly.

-- Ben Bolch

Full Southern Section playoff schedule, PAGE 6

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