(CBS) — Week 4 is headlined by the beginning of league play for plenty of schools in the Southland. Primarily those in seven or eight-team leagues like the Moore League and the Big VIII respectively. But there is no question about the Game of the Week in Week 4. It takes us to the Northern Division and Westlake Village.
MaxPreps lists it as one of their Top 10 Games of the Week nationally. It’s the first meeting every between new Marmonte League foes in (2) Westlake (3-0, 2-0) and Oaks Christian (2-1, 2-0). Why haven’t these schools, separated by just 0.76 miles, played each other before? The answer is simple: It depends on who you ask. Those affiliated with Oaks Christian will tell you nobody would play them. They had a hard time scheduling games as a smaller school. Westlake head coach Jim Benkert has said his teams never had anything to gain from playing Oaks Christian.
That’s changed. Tonight there is plenty to be gained as both teams enter undefeated in league play. The Lions will be the toughest team Westlake’s had to face so far this season. On the other hand, Oaks Christian wasn’t handed any favors when the schedule came out having to face St. Bonaventure and Westlake in the leagues first three weeks.
Both teams enter with a good amount of health. Oaks QB Trevor Gretzky will not play tonight because of a shoulder injury. In his place is senior QB Richie Harrington. The same Richie Harrington that led Oaks Christian back from a 19-point halftime deficit in a win at St. Bonaventure two weeks ago. He’ll have WR Jordan Payton to throw to. Payton is expected to return after missing the last two weeks with an ankle injury, but TE/DE Dillon van der Wal is probable with what Redell calls a hairline fracture. For Westlake, MLB David Ortiz returns from a knee injury.
The community is buzzing and there is much admiration between the two coaches. The two led Crespi to a 1986 CIF Championship with Redell as head coach and Benkert as offensive coordinator. Redell credits Benkert for much of the success he’s enjoyed as a head coach. Redell: “I was lucky and fortunate to have Jim as an assistant.”
The coaches sat down together for breakfast Saturday morning during film exchange. As Benkert prepared for practice in the scorching sun on Monday, his phone rang. It was a call from Redell. Benkert spent most of breakfast Saturday morning listening to Redell tell him how good his team was and how they didn’t need to practice much. This time it was Redell calling “to make sure we’re not practicing too hard,” says Benkert.
Coach Speak. Gamesmanship. Some would say playing coy.
Redell’s coached in a big game or two in his day, but only once has he faced his former pupil (the two coached against each other in the 2005 Shrine All Star Game. Benkert’s public school team defeated Redell’s private school side).
Whichever team answers the call tonight will have a leg up in the Marmonte League.
OTHER GAMES TO WATCH:
Long Beach Poly (2-2) vs Long Beach Jordan (1-2) – for the first time since 1991 Poly enters Moore League play without having the title “Defending League Champs” linked to their name. A road game may do the Jackrabbits some good. There last two home games they’ve been outscored 69-14.
Riverside King (2-1) vs (6) Corona Centennial (3-0) – 2009 was the only time in the decade the Huskies didn’t claim a league title. Senior QB Michael Eubank has been given the keys to Coach Matt Logan’s offense and has showed he knows what to do with it. Eubank has thrown for 100+ yards and rushed for 100+ yards in consecutive weeks and has five total TD. RB Barrington Collins’ move from WR has been key to the running game. King, coming off of a bye, relies heavily on the rushing of RB Todd Handley.
Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (1-3) vs Dominguez (3-1) – there have been more growing pains than you could imagine for the Knights this season. The main focus tonight should be stopping the run. The Dons racked up 289 rush yards against Serra League’s Crespi with seven different players carrying the ball. The Dons’ entire non-league schedule consists of PAC-5 teams.
Edison (3-1) vs Mater Dei (1-2) – last week the Monarchs picked up their first win in convincing fashion. A 42-14 W over San Clemente, who appeared to be turning heads in Orange County. USC commits QB Max Wittek and WR Victor Blackwell finally got on the same page for the Monarchs. Last weeks loss to Servite proved to be costly for the Chargers. QB Chase Favreau (a transfer from Mater Dei) suffered a strained foot tendon. It is unlikely he’ll play tonight.
Crespi (3-1) vs (8) Vista Murrieta – the “Figting Macks” are off to a good start under 1st year head coach Jon Mack but face their toughest challenge yet at Inland Division runner up Vista Murrieta. Celts WR Devin Lucien is 17th in the Southern Section with 110 receiving yards per game. Broncos QB Derrick Brown, a Utah commit, has scored eight total TD this season.
Narbonne (1-2) vs (1) (Gardena) Serra (4-0) – the Division III State Champs continue their tour of the South Bay when they welcome Narbonne tonight. This is the last tune-up for the Cavaliers before they enter Mission League play in two weeks. WR/DB Marqise Lee has been quite a surprise offensively. He leads the team in receiving yds and on the defensive side is the leader in INT. Narbonne is once again a favorite to return to the City Section final but they’re thirsting for a win. The Gauchos two losses have been by a combined four points.