|Photo courtesy of 24/7 sports|
Zero week is upon us here in California. But this is no exhibition contest, these games count and there's some notable games up-and-down the Golden State worth looking into by the end of August.
Here's a closer, in-depth look and who to watch out for, beginning with some notable Southern Section contests:
AUG. 24: BAKERSFIELD AT VENTURA
Many in Kern County believed that it was the Drillers, not Washington Union, who should've represented the Central Valley of California in the CIF State bowl game, especially after their impressive 13-0 run.
Nonetheless though, the Drillers are stacked again and are considered the heavy favorite to win the Central Section Division-I crown. As for the Cougars, what was looking like a dream undefeated season was halted at the hands of Santa Monica and got Ventura to finish 11-1 last season.
PROSPECT WATCH FOR VENTURA: Losing Conner Armstrong and his 1,632 yards plus 23 touchdowns shouldn't hurt the Cougars too much. Returning senior and change-of-pace back Leo Camacho is a capable gritty runner with a receiving ability too. The 5-foot-7, 180 pound Camacho touched the football 81 times on offense, while totaling 885 all-purpose yards and 10 touchdowns. Ventura has also done very well with small runners. Maybe 2001 Cougar graduate Tyler Ebell rings a bell for some. Evan Roth (6-foot-1, 270 pounds) should be the main guy paving the way for the Cougars line.
PROSPECT WATCH FOR BAKERSFIELD: The Drillers should have some heavily-sought prospects real soon, since they actually won the D-I Central Section title with at least seven sophomores getting playing time. One big-time prospect will be 6-foot-3, 170 pound Kevin Hayes, who doubles as a deep threat/red-zone target and ball-hawking defensive back. Hayes led the Drillers in receptions, receiving touchdowns and had four interceptions as a sophomore last season. Top interception artist Jermaine Ervin (5 picks) comes back for his senior year in a very stacked Driller secondary. Derrick Vickers and Jeremiah Reddick are two junior running backs ready to shoulder the load. Both had over 300 yards rushing and a combined seven touchdowns as sophomores on varsity.
AUG. 24: ARROYO GRANDE AT LOMPOC
This has actually been one of the better rivalries on the Central Coast for many years, and names like former NFL player Jamie Martin, Oregon State committs Brent VanderVeen, Garrett Owens and Garrett Weinrich and most recently Seth Jacobs (Oklahoma State) played in this rivalry game for Arroyo Grande. Lompoc has had names like Napolean Kaufman (Washington, Oakland Raiders), former NFL punter Tommy Thompson, former Utah fullback Matt Sims and Ex-Baylor defensive end Michael Slaughter play against the Eagles.
PROSPECT WATCH FOR ARROYO GRANDE: The traditional 805 powerhouse Eagles will be much younger this time around. But their future does look bright in the secondary with returning junior Tyler Auerbach, who had five interceptions as a sophomore and played in the shadow of Seth Jacobs. Matt Willkomm (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) also returns after a seven interception season. Despite Jacobs and Garrett Owens moving on, the Eagles should have a very well-stacked defensive backfield.
PROSPECT WATCH FOR LOMPOC: Before he suits up for Washington just like Napolean Kaufman, four-star running back and Husky commit Lavon Coleman (photo) gets one more year of pounding the rock for the always run-heavy Braves. The 5-foot-11, 210 pound Coleman isn't just a north-south grinder, he also shows stunning elusiveness for a massive back. Coleman ran for 2,038 yards and 26 touchdowns in Lompoc's Wing-T offense. Fellow back Taylor Cornejo also returns. Cornejo is a lot smaller and probably less powerful than Coleman at just 5-foot-7 and 165 pounds, but he's got quickness that helps spell Coleman. Cornejo ran for 1,075 yards and 14 touchdowns in the Braves 14-0 run in 2011. Returning junior Ainuu Taua is another player to watch on the line especially on defense. The freakishly quick 6-foot-1, 270 pound Taua had seven sacks as a sophomore last season. Taua already has Arizona, Utah and UCLA offers.