How good is unbeaten Corona Centennial?
As impressive as the Huskies' no-huddle, up-tempo offense has looked this season, it was a dominant defensive performance Friday night during a 45-0 victory over No. 13 Norco that should leave teams in the Inland Division feeling very uncomfortable.
"That was a great performance," Centennial Coach Matt Logan said. "To beat a tough team like that says a lot about who we are."
It was only a couple of years ago college recruiters were raving about a Centennial linebacker, Vontaze Burfict. Well, the Huskies have another linebacker who likes to make tackle after tackle, senior Ryan Jack, who spent three quarters bringing down Norco's standout running back, Kelsey Young.
"He was my mentor," Jack said of Burfict. "I learned to be aggressive and not be afraid of anything."
Chris Gonzalez and Dion Bass each had interceptions and Marques Watson returned a fumble 24 yards for a touchdown to help Centennial, ranked No. 4 by The Times, improve to 8-0 and 5-0 in the Big VIII League. Young, who came in with 1,563 yards and 27 touchdowns, was limited to a season-low 76 yards in 21 carries.
Centennial's offense, averaging 53.4 points, was productive. Running back Barrinton Collins scored five touchdowns, four coming on one-yard plunges. He rushed for 169 yards in 19 carries. Quarterback Michael Eubank completed eight of 11 passes for 155 yards and rushed for 61 yards.
But Centennial had double digits in penalties and lost four fumbles, two by Eubank.
As for Norco (6-2, 3-2), it was a step back for the youthful Cougars, who could never generate any offense.
Centennial's offense continues to separate the Huskies from most teams. The Huskies apply constant pressure, leaving little time for anyone to catch a breath.
Feel sympathy for officials, the chain crew, announcers, statisticians and defensive players because the Huskies try to snap the ball so rapidly from play to play that everyone must be ready to react quickly.
"I'm working too hard," Norco public-address announcer David Stiles said in the press box just before halftime after Centennial had opened a 21-0 halftime lead.
What's scary is that Centennial wants to go faster.
"I wish they would allow us to play at the level we want to," Logan said.
Yes, Centennial is the high school version of the Oregon Ducks. The Huskies' fast pace is designed to create opportunities for mistakes.
And that frantic pace helped Collins break loose for a 46-yard touchdown run.
"You have to be quick with your mind, feet and reads," Eubank said.
Centennial had the ball four times in the first half. Three drives ended with one-yard touchdowns by Collins. The fourth possession would've ended with a touchdown, but Eubank lost the ball near the goal line.
Helping Centennial has been strong play from its offensive line, which includes two improving sophomores, 6-foot-5, 280-pound Anthony Juarez and 6-3, 220-pound Cameron Hunt. And the 6-5 Eubank has thrust himself into player-of-the-year consideration with his passing, running and leadership skills.