This is the 10th in a series of posts comparing two local rivals who both may be toward the top of the preseason state football rankings. These two have met in the finals of the CIF Southern Section Inland Division four years in a row, but won’t meet this season since they will be in different CIFSS divisions.
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For other preseason duels:
Alemany (Mission Hills) vs. Chaminade (West Hills)
St. Mary’s (Stockton) vs. Lincoln (Stockton)
Oceanside vs. Mission Hills (San Marcos)
Valley Christian (San Jose) vs. Serra (San Mateo)
Oaks Christian (Westlake Village) vs. Westlake (Westlake Village)
Del Oro (Loomis) vs. Granite Bay
Servite (Anaheim) vs. Mater Dei (Santa Ana)
Pittsburg vs. Foothill (Pleasanton)
Bakersfield vs. Clovis North
What The Teams Accomplished Last Season: Lighting up the scoreboard all season, the Huskies scored 800 points while going 12-3 in reaching the CIF SoCal Open Division championship where they lost to St. John Bosco of Bellflower. Also averaging more than 600 yards of offense per game, coach Matt Logan’ squad went undefeated in Big VIII League play during a season-long 11-game winning streak after back to back losses to Long Beach Poly and Alemany of Mission Hills. Also going undefeated during their league schedule was the Broncos, who captured the Southwestern League title before reaching the CIFSS Inland Division championship game where they lost to the Huskies to end the season with a 12-2 record.Shapshot of Centennial: A pair of sensational graduated seniors will be greatly missed this season — Robert Webber, who passed for 3,891 yards and 37 touchdowns while rushing for 686 yards and seven touchdowns and Tre Watson, who rushed for 3,734 yards and 50 touchdowns. While they also lose one of their top targets in the passing game, they do return Sr. WR Greyson Bankhead, who is committed to Cal and caught 73 passes for 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns. There are less question marks on defense with seven of the top 10 tacklers back, including juniors Chacho Ulloa (a safety) and Zach Brumbaugh (a linebacker) who each had 53 stops.
Shapshot of Vista Murrieta: Coltin Gerhart had a great season with the Broncos after transferring from Norco as he passed for over 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for a team high 1,418 yards and 25 touchdowns. His graduation leaves a big hole to fill behind center now that he is at Arizona State. Senior RB/CB Tito Feliciano will return and could see even more hand offs this season after rushing for 1,077 yards and 11 touchdowns last year. Whoever takes the snaps from behind center will have senior WR Colin Baker back after he led the team in receiving with 32 receptions for 540 yards and seven scores. Like the Huskies, they also lose their top three tacklers from last season but they do return Sr. SS Brandon Worthy (92 tackles) and Sr. LB Shannon Walsh (67 tackles).
More Top Players For Centennial: Sr. CB Jihree Stewart (3-star prospect committed to Oregon); Jr. WR Javon McKinley (4-star); Jr. RB/CB J.J. Taylor; Sr. DL Tucker Robinson; Sr. CB Gabreal Hughes.
More Top Players for Vista Murrieta: Sr. DT Tevita Mounga (3-star prospect); Sr. TE Jamie Nunley (3-star committed to Arizona); Sr. RB/FS Seth Acda; Jr. LB Mazin Khalil; Jr. CB Jalen Russell.
Recent History Between These Two: You have to go back to 2009 for the last time that neither Centennial or Vista Murrieta won a section title. Vista beat the Huskies in 2011 to end the season 14-0 on the field (not including forfeits) but in 2012 and 2013 it was Centennial coming out on top.
Hunch As To Where Each Team Should Be Ranked In The Preseason: It’s a whole new ballgame for Centennial, which along with the other schools in the Big VIII League have been realigned into the CIFSS Pac-Five Division. Vista Murrieta’s Southwestern League also arguably is strong enough for that move as well, but instead will be in the new West Valley Division. If they were still in the same playoff division, we’d be ranking Centennial higher due to its great track record over the last two seasons so that ranking still will apply. A Mission Viejo-Vista Murrieta or Hart-Vista Murrieta final just won’t be the same as Centennial-Vista Murrieta, but perhaps the two schools can soon play again in the regular season.
Next Preseason Duel: Central Catholic (Modesto) vs. Oakdale.