One team’s high school football season will continue, while another will turn in its equipment starting next Monday.
It's now playoff time in the Golden State and Cali Gold Mine has pinpointed five key battles worth attending from the Central Valley to the Inland Empire.
Some of these first round battles sound like a pairing that normally happens when it’s time to crown a section champion. Nevertheless, here’s the contests worth watching under the lights this weekend:
EDISON (FRESNO) AT BAKERSFIELD
Here’s a battle that sounds more like a duel for the Central Section Division I crown. But both the Tigers and Drillers dealt with a youth movement, plus offensive lapses for the early portion of 2015-16.
Now, both teams are red-hot, as they've won three of their last five games.
Edison has highly-wanted defensive tackle Leveel Tatum III, who is currently getting courted by several Mountain West schools. Bakersfield High’s Jakell Tomlin is the Drillers’ main weapon on offense.
ST. JOSEPH (SANTA MARIA) AT ATASCADERO
In this 805 battle of two 8-2 squads, it’s speed (St. Joseph) against power (Atascadero).
The Knights have underrated dual-threat quarterback Blake Jaeckels, who has 29 combined touchdowns including 22 through the air. Joe Guzman leads the ground game with 885 yards and 12 touchdowns. C.J. Cole is a fast riser for SJ’s 2017 class after leading the way with 47 catches, 773 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Greyhounds will bring two powerhouse running backs to wear down the Knights, as Marc Martin (1,114 yards) and R.J. Reusche (880 yards) double as hard-nosed 6-foot-1 backs.
ORANGE LUTHERAN AT ST. BONAVENTURE (VENTURA)
Running and throwing threats at quarterback highlight this televised battle in Ventura County, which will be seen on Fox Sports West.
Orange Lutheran has senior L.J. Northington, who has 20 combined touchdowns (10 throwing and 10 rushing) for the 5-5 Lancers. St. Bonnie used the arm and legs of Darius Vines to ride into the playoffs with a 7-3 record.
The Seraphs have two intriguing boulders in the trenches: emerging 2017 offensive tackle Casey Roddick and defensive tackle Noah Bitow, who landed his first scholarship pledge from Adams State this week.
RIO MESA (OXNARD) AT CALABASAS
The Spartans and Coyotes will meet in one of the more highly-anticipated rematches in the CIF Southern Section Western Division bracket.
The last contest saw top-seeded Calabasas escape with a 13-10 victory at Oxnard. Rio Mesa was without its top wide receiving playmaker Steve Houston, who is currently verbally committed to Washington State. San Diego State commit Jon Lenard was doing the aerial damage with six catches for 134 yards and one touchdown in the last contest.
Also on this field will be some highly-courted athletes on Calabasas’ side, including linebacker Alec Stevenson, wideouts Darnay Holmes and Keyshawn Johnson Jr. and quarterback Tristan Gebbia, who has 11 reported offers including Syracuse, West Virginia and Alabama.
CHAMINADE (WEST HILLS) AT CENTENNIAL (CORONA)
State-ranked teams will go at it in this PAC-5 playoffs opener, as Chaminade (No. 13) will look to play spoiler against Centennial (No. 1) and its quest to win a state championship.
The Eagles have prolific sophomore T.J. Pledger, who finished the regular season with 1,227 yards and 24 touchdowns. The Huskies are stockpiled with talent, as six players in the 2016 class have already given a verbal pledge to a four-year school: Cam Bynum (Cal), Daniel Juarez (Cal), J.J. Taylor (Arizona), Kentrell Love (Washington), Desmond Williams (Boise State) and Chacho Ulloa (Stanford).
The Huskies aren’t done yet on the recruiting trail. Wide receiver Javon McKinley – who holds 23 reported offers – is next to join his aforementioned teammates at the next level.