The Wildcats (13-1) play Ridgeview of Bakersfield (12-1) at Citrus Valley on Saturday at 7:30. The game will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable throughout Southern California. For more on Ridgeview, CLICK HERE.
By Devin Ugland
Special to CalHiSports.com
Head coach: Kurt Bruich (13th season, 103-33-4 overall)
Section: Won the CIF Southern Section Inland Division championship, 36-31, over Riverside Poly. The Wildcats were coming off of a first-round playoff exit in 2013.
League: Won Citrus Belt League (7-0)
Cal-Hi Sports overall state ranking: No. 25
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 1 (Division II South)
CIF Bowl History: Redlands East Valley is playing in its first CIF Bowl game.
Best Win: After blowing out most of its non-league and league opponents, Redlands East Valley was tested mightily in the CIFSS Inland Division semifinals and finals. In the semis, REV ground its way to a 34-31 win over Citrus Hill of Perris and followed that up with another barnburner – a 36-31 victory over previ-ously unbeaten Riverside Poly to win the Inland title.
Key Players: QB Armando Herrera (6-0, 165, Soph.), RB/WR Malik Lovette (5-11, 188, Sr., Verbal to Oregon), RB Joey Harman (5-9, 155, Jr.), WR Khris Vaughn (6-0, 175, Jr.), WR C.J. Harris (6-1, 186, Jr.), ILB Jakob Diaz (5-8, 200, Sr.), MLB Turner Shreve (6-0, 198, Sr.), OLB Matteo Biscotti (6-2, 214, Jr.), OLB Carter Flowers (6-0, 195, Sr.), DE Shynol McClain (6-0, 240, Jr.), OL Joseph Price (6-5, 290, Sr.), DE Trevor Jackson (6-1, 210, Sr.), CB Isaiah Armstrong (6-2, 180, Sr.).
General Offense: The Wildcats are averaging an eye-popping 41.9 points per game this season, including two 60-plus-point performances, which has clearly been a key cog in picking up 13 victories in 14 games. It all starts with Redlands East Valley’s three-headed monster in quarterback Armando Herrera and running backs Malik Lovette and Joey Harman. Herrera has completed 207 of his 308 pass attempts (67.2 percent) for 3,278 yards with 39 touchdowns and eight intercep-tions. Lovette, who has verbally committed to Oregon, has a major impact out of the back-field both on the hand-off and in the flat. The senior has 102 carries for 876 yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground, while catching 57 balls for 849 yards and seven more scores. Harman, a junior, leads REV in carries (162) and rushing yards (1,400) and has added 11 touchdowns. The most explosive receiver in the passing game for the Wildcats is Khris Vaughn. The junior has 55 receptions for 1,105 yards and 15 touchdowns. C.J. Harris is another threat at receiver for Her-rera. Harris, a junior, has 56 catches for 843 yards and 10 touchdowns.
General Defense: The Wildcats run a base 3-4, but are able to switch it up at-will thanks to having a number of athletes on that side of the ball. Isaiah Armstrong is a lockdown, play-making corner who has 12 interceptions on the season. The line-backing corps for REV is led by Jakob Diaz. The senior leads the team in tackles with 202 total this year. The Wildcats round out the LBs with Matteo Biscotti (170 tackles), Carter Flowers (149 tackles and 3 interceptions) and Turner Shreve (135 tackles). The offensive line is anchored by defensive end Shynol McClain who has four sacks on the year. Trevor Jackson is the other defensive end for REV – he has three sacks for the Wildcats. The Redlands East Valley defense is allowing just 15.3 points per game this season and has recorded two shutouts against Eisenhower of Rialto and Cajon of San Bernardino.
Key Injuries: Redlands East Valley might be without its talented quarterback Armando Herrera. Coach Bruich said that Herrera, who is nursing a shoulder in-jury, wants to give it a go, but the jury is still out as to if he will play. Starting cor-ner back Ryan Nieman is out with a broken ankle.
The Skinny: If Herrera can’t go for REV, the Wildcats will go with a quarterback-by-committee approach. Malik Lovette, Steven Garica and Seth Bates will all see time at QB if Herrera is out. Bruich sees advantages all over the field, but what worries him is how Bakersfield football translates against Inland Empire football. Ridgeview was able to run the ball all over Central Section opponents, but REV has the speed on defense to combat the Ridgeview rushing attack. Bruich said that his team needs to hold on to the football, create turnovers, and turn those mistakes into points.
Devin Ugland covers USC men’s basketball and football for TrojanSports.com. He has previously written for the Orange County Register, Long Beach Press-Telegram and Daily Pilot. You can reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @Devin_Ugland.