Related: Week 2 State Top 25 Scoreboard
Oaks Christian of Westlake Village wants to show last season, when the Lions finished 8-3 and lost in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Pac-Five Division playoffs, was an aberration. The program has been a fixture in CIFSS section title games the past decade and is eager to show it will be a major factor in the CIF Southern Section’s Pac-Five Division.
After opening the season with a wild 51-50 win over then state-ranked Bakersfield, Oaks Christian wanted to play much better on defense and make a statement with a more convincing victory. The Lions accomplished both with a 57-28 victory over Upland Saturday afternoon at the UT San Diego Honor Bowl event.
Upland (0-2) was supposed to offer a stiff test to Oaks Christian (2-0), but its defense simply couldn’t stop QB Brandon Dawkins nor the Lion’s running game. Dawkins, a second team preseason all-stater and the 2011 State Sophomore of the Year, did a good job controlling the game’s tempo with accurate passing and timely running. He completed 21-28 passes for 299 yards with three touchdowns. On the ground, he carried eight times for 50 yards.
Dawkins hit junor Jeremy Vincent on a big gain to set up the game’s first touchdown, a 3-yard run by senior RB D.J. Riggins, with 10:03 remaining in the first quarter. Riggins also had a huge game for Oaks Christian, which entered the game ranked No. 16 in the state but is likely to move up at least three spots next week. He scored four touchdowns, including three rushing. He put Oaks Christian up 14-0 by scoring on a 10-yard sweep with 5:32 remaining in the first quarter.
By the time Riggins scored his last touchdown, on a 18-yard rush with 1:53 remaining in the third period, the Lions led 57-14 and a running clock was instituted for a majority of the final period. Riggins third score came on a 69-yard reception from Dawkins that gave the Lions a 29-7 lead following Chris Davis‘ two-point conversion. That touchdown came only 23 seconds after Upland got on the board for the first time on a eight-yard pass from QB Tyler Hilinski to Rene Sanchez.
Hilinski finished the game 18 of 22 for 220 yards with two touchdowns passing and a score on the ground but much of that didn’t have a big impact on the outcome of the game. Upland just didn’t have much fire on defense and was out of sync offensively at times.
Cal-Hi Sports Analysis
Oaks Christian also opened last season 2-0, but those wins, over Del Oro and Granite Bay, the latter which went on to win the D1 state title, are still more impressive than this year’s victories over Bakersfield and Upland.
There is still plenty of football to be played and Bakersfield could end up being a major CIF state bowl contender. Upland, on the other hand, is reeling. Last week’s blowout loss to Mater Dei was partially blamed on distractions regarding the Highlanders’ transfers. With another week of practice under its belt, however, at some point Upland has to be judged by whose actually on the field and the results of its games.
Oaks Christian has plenty of standout underclassmen, particularly LB Andre Chevalier, CB/RB Darik Holmes Jr., LT Jaylen Larry, and RT Reno Rosene, and will be a tough team to deal with in the years to come. Chevalier, on his 17th birthday, was reported with 13 tackles before being pulled after three quarters.
Still, Oaks Christian needs positive momentum going into the CIF Southern Section Pac-Five playoffs. Oaks Christian dominated in the CIFSS Northwest Division through 2011, but it still remains to be seen if the Lions will be a perennial threat in the Southern Section’s toughest playoff division.