Some of the top Southland high school football games:
No. 13 Corona Santiago vs.
No. 23 Anaheim Esperanza
Placentia Valencia High, 7
The only opening-week matchup of teams ranked in the Southland by The Times features programs that appear headed in opposite directions. Santiago, looking to build on its surprising run to the Inland Division championship game, returns eight starters on offense, one more than rebuilding Esperanza returns on both sides of the ball. But the Aztecs should still be plenty dangerous, especially on offense. Running back Jared Moore and wingback Sean McDonald, a converted quarterback, should provide quite a rush.
The pick: Santiago.
No. 9 Ventura St. Bonaventure vs. Santa Margarita
Tonight at Ventura High, 7:30
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday, September 09, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
High school football: In Friday's Sports section, a preview of the top Southland games listed Alex Fletcher as a running back for Lakewood High School. Fletcher has transferred to Bellflower St. John Bosco.
There's something disturbing about the ratio of students to big-time running backs at tiny St. Bonaventure over the last decade or so, at least as far as opposing defensive coordinators are concerned. Before he can take his considerable skills to USC, Patrick Hall will test a Santa Margarita defense that returns only two starters from a unit that gave up 18 points a game in 2007. Santa Margarita has a strong passing attack led by quarterback Ryan World and receiver Gavin Escobar.
The pick: St. Bonaventure.
L.A. Crenshaw at No. 21 Lakewood
Crenshaw Coach Robert Garrett is a hoot. He once told Venice Coach Angelo Gasca after the Gondoliers whipped his team in the playoffs that Venice had nice facilities -- and that Garrett would have nice facilities too, if he had the kind of money the Gondoliers had. Wonder what he'll say about a Lakewood team that has a pair of returning first-team All-Moore League selections in quarterback Jesse Scroggins and running back Alex Fletcher.
The pick: Lakewood.
No. 3 Orange Lutheran vs. Fresno Bullard
Santa Ana Stadium, 7 p.m.
As a way of raising expectations, Bullard Coach Don Arax scheduled this doozy of an opener against loaded Lutheran. At one point last season, Bullard was 7-0 and ranked No. 13 in California. Standout linebackers Caleb Justice and Daniel Snelling return from the team that finished 8-3. They will be tested by a Lutheran offense that features running back Exavier Edwards and is eager to play after failing to score in last year's Pac-5 Division semifinal loss to Long Beach Poly.
The pick: Orange Lutheran.