By Kevin Askeland
A pair of unbeaten East Bay teams highlight this week's Top 10 Games to Watch, along with a Trinity League showdown between Mater Dei and Servite.
Logan vs. Newark Memorial
It's winner take all in the Mission Valley League with unbeaten James Logan meeting unbeaten Newark Memorial for the league championship and a possible second seed in the North Coast Section 4A playoffs. Logan has not even been tested en route to a 9-0 mark. The Colts averaged 44 points a game behind the running abilities of Rashad Evans, who is considered a Bay Area MVP candidate after rushing for 1,216 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 77 carries. The Cougars use a multitude of ballcarriers, led by Eric Stewart with 626 yards on the season, Robert Hawkins with 598 and Myles Gates with 405 yards. Newark Memorial has had a few close calls, beating Washington of Fremont 6-3, and McNair 30-27. While Logan will head to the 4A playoffs, the Cougars will compete in the 3A East Bay playoffs, where they would compete with San Ramon Valley for the top seed.
San Jacinto vs. Notre Dame Riverside
Citrus Hill has already won the Mountain Pass League, but the No. 2 seed for the division playoffs is still up for grabs between these two teams as they both sport 2-1 league marks. Notre Dame has one of the top running backs in the state in Kenjon Barner, who is averaging 246 yards per game and could carry the ball as much as 40 times against the Tigers. San Jacinto likes to throw the ball and Travis Navarro is averaging 135 yards per game for the Tigers.
Bellarmine Prep vs. Serra
The Bells have already secured the West Catholic Athletic League title with a 5-0 record heading into this week's game with Serra (3-2 in the WCAL play); however, the Padres could make a statement heading into the Central Coast Section playoffs. A Serra win over Bellarmine would severely curtail the Bells' chances of edging out De La Salle for the NorCal Division 1 Bowl berth, assuming Bellarmine were able to win the Central Coast Section Open Division championship. De La Salle defeated Serra early in the season. Usua Amanam has carried much of the load for the Bells, averaging 130 yards per game. Meanwhile quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels has also played well, averaging 142 yards per game. Jared Braun leads the Serra rushing game with 136 yards a game. Bellarmine and Serra are currently ranked No. 1 and 2 respectively in the MaxPreps CCS rankings.
Carmel vs. Pacific Grove
The Padres and the Breakers both enter this week's final Mission Trail League contest with perfect 5-0 conference marks. Pacific Grove is 8-1 overall while Carmel is 7-2. The Padres have one of the top junior quarterbacks in California in Ken Johnston, who has thrown for over 2,000 yards for the second straight season (2,093) and has 26 touchdowns against seven interceptions. Ian Hesse leads the Pacific Grove ground attack with 1,354 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns. Daniel Connors has also had a solid season, completing 57 of 110 passes for 813 yards.
Mater Dei vs. Servite
Perhaps the only thing worse for Mater Dei than losing to Lutheran is to then have to play the only team that has beaten Lutheran this year - the Servite Friars. The Monarchs held a lofty national ranking by MaxPreps and were as high as No. 5 in other polls, but the loss to Lutheran dropped Mater Dei completely out of the Rivals.com Top 50 poll. Meanwhile Servite is on a roll, winning three straight since losing its only game of the season to Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks last month. Included in that streak is a 28-13 win over Lutheran. The Friars have one of the top receivers in the state in Dennis Shoemate. He has 31 catches for 418 yards, but has also run for 785 yards and 14 touchdowns. Friar quarterback Johnny McEntee has thrown for 1,037 yards. The Monarchs have one of the top quarterbacks in the country in junior Matt Barkley, who has thrown for 2,644 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Centennial vs. Norco
The Huskies stand to become the top candidate for the Southern California berth for the CIF Division 1 Bowl Game, but they will have to get past Norco in the final Mountain View League contest of the season this week. Both teams are 8-1 entering the game, 2-0 in the four-team league. Ryan Bass is on target for yet another 2,000-yard season, averaging 161 yards per game. Meanwhile quarterback Matt Scott is averaging 168 passing yards per game and 244 yards of total offense. Joshua Foley leads the Norco offense. The Cougars don't throw the ball much, but Foley averages about 100 yards rushing per game and ran for 1,166 yards last year during Norco's 12-2 season.
Notre Dame vs. Crespi
The Pac-5 Division got a whole lot more interesting following Mater Dei's loss to Lutheran. Two teams who figure to benefit from that loss include Notre Dame and Crespi, who both have to feel they now have a chance to win the division and possibly advance to the CIF Division 2 Bowl Game. They meet this week to determine the Serra League championship. Both enter the game 2-0 with Notre Dame sporting an 8-1 record and Crespi standing at 7-2. The Knights have one of the top quarterbacks in the country in Dayne Crist, who is averaging 236 yards per game and is headed to the University of Notre Dame next year. Running back Thaddeus Brown has also been stellar all season, rushing for 906 yards and 12 touchodowns. Austin Shanks leads the Crespi offense, running for 893 yards and nine touchdowns. Quarterback Bryan Bennett, a sophomore who took over for injured starter Kevin Prince after the first week of the season, has thrown for 1,531 yards on the year.
Saugus vs. Hart
Saugus is shooting for its first league championship - ever, but will need to defeat the 8-0-1 Hart Indians in order to claim the prize. The Indians are coming off a 49-13 win over Golden Valley, but they tied Valencia two weeks ago 21-21. Hart will also be without standout linebacker Patrick Larimore, who injured his thumb against Valencia and will need surgery to repair the damage, according to the Newhall Signal. Saugus is coming off one of its biggest wins in the past 10 years after defeating Canyon 18-14. The Centurions have one of the top running backs in the Southern Section in Ray Zirbel, who has run for 1,756 yards and 27 touchdowns. Hart has a running back who isn't too shabby either in Delano Howell. He has run for 1,348 yards and 20 touchdowns while quarterback BR Holbrook has thrown for 1,516 yards.
Del Oro vs. Granite Bay
The Golden Eagles have one last hurdle in Sierra Foothill League play and that comes tonight against the Granite Bay Grizzlies. Del Oro has successfully knocked off Roseville and Rocklin, both of which were undefeated entering the league showdown. Granite Bay isn't undefeated, but the Grizzlies are 7-2 and have a win over surging Napa and Roseville. Cole Saunders leads the Del Oro attack with 1,345 yards passing on the season including 230 yards last week against Oakmont. Meanwhile running back Mike Makela has been the top running threat with 1,134 yards on the year. Hunter Pahl is a force on defense, averaging eight tackles a game. The Grizzlies counter with the Thomas duo of Ronnie Thomas and Thomas Moss. Ronnie Thomas is closing in on 1,000 rushing yards with 887 while Thomas Moss has thrown for 1,043. A win for Granite Bay secures a spot in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs while a loss drops the Grizzlies into a possible three-way tie for second place with Rocklin and Roseville, both of whom have two league losses entering tonight's play.
Escalon vs. Modesto Christian
The Trans Valley League title is on the line in this one, although the Cougars can do no worse than tie for the title with a loss. Escalon is 8-1 on the season and 4-0 in the TVL while Modesto Christian is 7-2 overall and 3-1 in league play. The Crusaders have one of the more versatile quarterbacks in the league in sophomore Isaiah Burse, who is a transfer from Calvary Temple. Burse has thrown for 1,183 yards and run for 660 to lead the Crusaders in both categories. Escalon has a similar version of Burse in senior quarterback Nick Aprile. He has 865 yards rushing and just 391 yards passing, but Josh May adds 568 rushing yards and Jacob Caton has run for 360. A Modesto Christian win creates a three-way tie atop the TVL with MC and Escalon tied with Hughson. Three teams from the Trans Valley League qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 playoffs, but the No. 2 and 3 seeds are on the same side of the bracket as Central Catholic while the No. 1 seed hosts the Mother Lode League No. 3 seed.