Clovis North's Carson Guzman is upended by Long Beach Poly's… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)
College recruiters will be paying close attention to the CIF state championship bowl games on Friday and Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson in the final weekend of high school football.
The Northern California representatives have star power in USC-bound linebacker Michael Hutchings of Concord De La Salle. Teammate Victor Egu, a defensive end, is headed to California.
Marin Catholic, playing in the Division III game, has 6-foot-4 quarterback Jared Goff, an adept passer and runner who is also headed to Cal, and offensive lineman Gunnar Graham, who has said he would play for Colorado.
Arizona fans will want to pay close attention to Marin Catholic's opponent, San Diego Madison. Running back Pierre Cormier, a 2,000-yard rusher, and receiver Lee Walker are both committed to the Wildcats.
The Southern California teams are loaded with college prospects. At Corona Centennial, offensive lineman Cameron Hunt has committed to California and is still being wooed by Michigan. Junior receiver Barry Ware is making a himself a top prospect with his playoff performances.
Long Beach Poly linebacker Jayon Brown has committed to UCLA. The Bruins have also offered scholarships to junior receiver John Smith and sophomore cornerback Iman Marshall. Senior defensive back David Price has offers from Arizona and Southern Methodist. Junior defensive tackle Jason Fao is also a rising prospect.
Gardena Serra has one of the nation's top junior players in cornerback Adoree' Jackson. Junior linebacker Dwight Williams is another top recruit.
Running in vogue
For all the glamour and hype associated with passing the ball, it's the teams that run the ball successfully and stop the run that are still alive in the 16th week of the season.
Most of the spread offense teams have been eliminated. Get ready for some power football.
In the Open Division final, Concord De La Salle's veer attack features 203-pound running back Tiapepe Vitale, who has rushed for 1,957 yards and scored 29 touchdowns. He has gained more than 100 yards in 11 of 14 games behind an offensive line known for its precision, execution and moving as one at the snap of the ball.
"It's like a dance. They all step together," Poly defensive coordinator Jeff Turley said.
In the Division I game, Long Beach Poly has been using a wildcat formation with a direct snap to running backs Gerard Wicks and Manusamoa Lu'uga. Poly's opponent, Granite Bay, ran for 547 yards with its "fly" offense two weeks ago and ran for 309 yards last week.
Gardena Serra is preparing to face the wing-T run by Oakdale in the Division II game.
Of course, to win a championship, you have to be able to pass at some point. Balance is essential, and that's the strength of Open Division finalist Corona Centennial, which has versatile quarterback Robert Webber and running backs Tre Watson and Austin Renken.