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By Loren Kopff
@LorenKopff on Twitter
Last season, the Artesia High football team won three games overall, two of them in Suburban League action. Already this season, the Pioneers are up to four wins and looking for more when they host John Glenn High tonight on homecoming night.
Artesia, which edged Bellflower High 37-35 last Friday night, is off to its best start since 2008 when it began the season 6-1, including the first three in league action. Through the first five games this season, the Pioneers have lost once and are led by senior running back Jordan Benoit, who has rushed for 594 yards on 64 carries and has accounted for 12 of the team’s 17 touchdowns with all but one coming on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Heder Gladden is quickly making a name for himself on the gridiron, completing 20 of 38 passes and throwing four touchdown passes while picking up 454 yards on the ground.
The Eagles are coming off a 46-14 loss to cross-town rival Norwalk High to drop to 1-4 overall and 0-1 in the league. A loss to Artesia would be critical for Glenn’s faint playoff hopes while a win by Artesia would look very good heading into the next two weeks with a road game at La Mirada High and a home encounter with Mayfair High on the horizon. The Pioneers have won four straight and 11 of the last 13 against the Eagles and have scored at least 40 points in the last six of those 11 victories. Artesia is also receiving some votes in the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section Division 12 poll.
Another key league game takes place at Goodman Stadium as Norwalk, the designated home team, will face defending state champion La Mirada in a game that will air on Fox Sports Prep Zone. Norwalk enters the contest at 4-1 overall with its lone loss coming by one point to Long Beach Jordan High on Sept. 2. The Lancers have already rushed for over 1,200 yards and have six running backs who have all gained at least 148 yards on the ground. Senior Raylind Butler is the leader of the rushing attack with 282 yards and four touchdowns. The Lancers, who are ranked fourth in Division 9, have lost two straight and six of the last seven to the Matadores. La Mirada is the top ranked team in Division 3.
In other football action, Cerritos High hosts Mayfair tonight and is looking to rebound from a 62-0 loss to La Mirada last week. The Dons are 2-2 overall. Gahr High will take a week off to reflect on its fast 4-1 start in which it has scored 239 points while yielding 55. The Gladiators are coming off a 40-10 win over Fullerton High last week and are the ninth ranked team in Division 10.
Valley Christian High crushed longtime rival Ontario Christian 58-7 last Friday to improve to 3-2 overall. In all three of V.C.’s wins, the Crusaders have scored at least 42 points. V.C., the fifth ranked team in Division 9, is home to St. Anthony High tonight. The Saints are receiving votes in the Division 10 poll.
The Suburban League figures to take some shape at the top of the standings in the upcoming week as Cerritos, Mayfair and Norwalk are all jockeying for first place. Cerritos, which still has to make up a match at Mayfair that was cancelled on Sept. 13, visited Norwalk on Sept. 29 and will host Glenn on Tuesday and Mayfair on Thursday, The Lady Dons entered their match with Norwalk at 9-1 overall and 4-0 in the league.
Norwalk improved to 9-9 overall and 4-1 in the circuit following an easy 25-5, 25-8, 25-17 sweep over Artesia this past Tuesday. The Lady Lancers will visit Bellflower and La Mirada on Tuesday and Thursday respectively.
Gahr improved to 9-6 overall and 2-0 in the San Gabriel Valley League after rallying for a 21-25, 23-25, 25-10, 25-19, 15-12 win at Warren High this past Tuesday. The Gladiators hosted Paramount High on Sept. 29 and will travel to Downey High on Tuesday before hosting Dominguez High on Thursday.
Another team that’s on a roll is Valley Christian, which swept Village Christian High 25-21, 25-21, 25-15 this past Wednesday. Valley Christian now sits at 11-10 overall and 3-0 in the Olympic League. Valley Christian, which will visit Maranatha High on Tuesday with first place on the line, won two league matches last season. Valley Christian will then be off until Oct. 13 when it hosts Village Christian. This is the school’s best league start since 2003.
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