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Middlebrooks next to test Notre Dame defense

Fountain Valley's speedy tailback will be trying for his ninth 100-yard rushing game this season.

November 17, 2009|Eric Sondheimer

It might be a good time for the Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High defense to start tackling running backs a little better because the Knights are set to face perhaps the fastest running back in California on Friday night: Fountain Valley's Kyle Middlebrooks, runner-up at last spring's state track and field championships in the 100 meters.

Middlebrooks has rushed for 100 or more yards in eight of 10 games this season. He has 1,608 yards rushing and the ability to sprint away for a touchdown on any play.

In trying to analyze the Pac-5 Division playoff opener between Notre Dame (8-2) and Fountain Valley (8-2), it's clear that the Knights have struggled against quick running backs.

Austin Edmonson of Moorpark rushed for 133 yards against Notre Dame. D.J. Morgan of Woodland Hills Taft gained 235 yards. Rhasheed Johnson of Encino Crespi picked up 117 yards, and last week Jay Anderson of La Puente Bishop Amat rushed for 191 yards.

Holding running backs under 100 yards has been a longtime Knights' strength under defensive coordinator Joe McNab, but injuries and inconsistent play at the linebacker position have left Notre Dame vulnerable to speed backs in the mold of Middlebrooks.

That puts pressure on Notre Dame's offense, led by quarterback Ryan Kasdorf, who has passed for 2,042 yards.

L.A. Jordan catalyst

There's no doubt who L.A. Jordan will turn to on Thursday in its City Section Division I playoff opener against Narbonne.

Senior DeShawn Beck leads the City Section in rushing with 1,876 yards and has passed for 1,025 yards.

Rise of Sierra Canyon

There's a new football team in the West San Fernando Valley making noise -- Chatsworth Sierra Canyon, which celebrated its first 12th grade graduation this year.

Sierra Canyon switched from eight-man to 11-man football this season, and the school has an 8-2 record while qualifying for the Southern Section East Valley Division playoffs. The Trailblazers have already knocked off two well-established programs in North Hollywood Campbell Hall and Van Nuys Montclair Prep.

Respect for Edison

Top-seeded Huntington Beach Edison (10-0) is the clear favorite in the Pac-5 Division, and opposing coaches know the Chargers won't go down without a fight.

Edison went unbeaten in seven-on-seven summer passing tournaments and no team yet has figured out how to beat the Chargers.

"Dave White took the momentum of the summer and carried it right through," Mater Dei Coach Bruce Rollinson said. "They play with a tremendous amount of confidence."

Team to watch

There's a reason Mission Viejo (10-0) doesn't attract the excitement of Edison. It's because people still don't believe the Diablos can win the Pac-5 without a top quarterback. But Mission Viejo has been doing quite well, and San Clemente Coach Eric Patton said, "They have real talent at all spots."

Getting healthy

Running back Dietrich Riley of La Canada St. Francis, slowed by an ankle injury, is returning to full strength. Coach Jim Bonds said Riley was at "90%" last week and that's a good sign he'll be ready to go for St. Francis' Western Division playoff opener against Cerritos Gahr.

eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATSondheimer

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