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By Loren Kopff

@LorenKopff on Twitter

It is often said that a high school football season, as well as other high school sports, can be divided into three seasons. You have your non-league season, which is always used to prepare teams for the league season. And if you’re fortunate enough, then the third season is the postseason.

Three area football teams have advanced to the California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section divisional playoffs, which kicks off tonight. Listed below are previews of the three games.


Notre Dame/Riverside High (7-3) @ Valley Christian High (8-2), 7:00-The three-time Olympic League champions face the Titans for the second straight season in the playoffs. Last season in the Division 9 quarterfinals, the Crusaders posted a 12-0 shutout on their way to a divisional championship. V.C. can hurt opponents in many ways. On offense, senior running back Gianni Hurd rushed for close to 1,200 yards and 16 touchdowns while senior running back Darian Green picked up nearly 500 yards and found the end zone seven times. In the passing department, senior quarterback Isaac Joseph threw for over 1,600 yards and 27 touchdowns opposite just three interceptions. He targeted a dozen players with senior wide receiver Jaylon Tucker leading the way with 25 receptions for 681 yards and 13 touchdowns. The Crusaders, who won three straight league titles for the first time in school history, scored 450 points and are on a seven-game winning streak

Defensively, the Crusaders allowed an average of 19 points per game and sacked opposing quarterbacks 30 times, led by senior lineman Tevita Makaafi (14 sacks). Green also led the defense from his linebacker spot with 104 tackles.

Notre Dame’s defense is solid as well, yielding 171 points and posting a pair of shutouts. In fact, the Titans have outscored their last four opponents by a combined score of 190-31. Anthony Solis leads Notre Dame with 103 tackles while 15 players have combined for 27 sacks. On offense, Mac Fennell has passed for 1,406 yards and 13 touchdowns, but has been picked off nine times. Kavon Fulgham rushed for 840 yards with a dozen touchdowns while Ashton Authement caught 25 passes for 719 yards and eight touchdowns. The Titans are the second place representatives out of the Ambassador League.

The winner of this game will face the winner of the Antelope Valley High-Righetti High game in the quarterfinals.


Norwalk High (7-3) @ St. Anthony High (7-3), 7:00-The Lancers, who finished in third place in the Suburban League but scored 132 points in their last two games, face a tough task in visiting the Santa Fe League champions. But Norwalk has shown all season that it can go up against the best with a punishing rushing attack that has averaged well over 200 yards a game. Norwalk likes to spread the wealth around in the backfield, led by senior running back Billy Moore. Junior quarterback Brionne Penny doesn’t pass a lot, but is valuable with his legs as he is the team’s second-leading rusher with over 10 touchdowns, tops on the squad.

The Saints have allowed 143 points, so the game will be won by either their defense or Norwalk’s offense. Like Norwalk, St. Anthony’s offense has been string in the past two games, racking up 99 points while allowing only a touchdown. The Saints are also riding a five-game winning streak.

St. Anthony loves to run the ball, gaining over 2,200 yards and scoring 20 times. While no one has reached 700 yards on the ground, the Saints have three runners who have gained at least 500 yards. The Saints are also the defending Division 10 champions.

Awaiting the survivor of this contest is the winner of the Burroughs High (Ridgecrest)-Rubidoux High game. Norwalk would be home to either one and Burroughs is the division’s second ranked team.


Gahr High (7-3) @ Santa Fe High (6-4), 7:30-The Gladiators ended the season on a two-game losing streak to drop to third in the San Gabriel Valley League. As a result, Gahr will face the Del Rio League champions. The Gladiators still possess a brutal offense highlighted by senior running back Micah Bernard, who has amassed over 2,000 yards with 22 yards. As he goes, so does the team. In fact, he has accounted for 80 percent of the team’s rushing attack.

The passing game is suspect as senior quarterback E.J. Gonzalez has thrown 10 touchdown passes, but also 10 interceptions. Where Gahr was dominant for most of the season was on defense with 44 sacks. During a four-game stretch in the middle of the season, Gahr allowed single digit points.

The Chiefs, who are riding a five-game winning streak, all in league action, tend to play in close games with an average score of 24.6-19.1. Quarterback Christian Tolar passed for over 1,500 yards in the regular season and 12 touchdowns while the rushing attack gained over 1,200 yards.

The victor of this game will play the winner of the Brentwood High-Dos Pueblos High game with the latter being the second ranked team in the division