Clayton Valley of Concord (15-0) plays Redlands East Valley (14-1) on Saturday at 4 p.m. at the StubHub Center in Carson. The game will be broadcast live on Time Warner Cable’s TWC SportsNet in Southern California and on Comcast SportsNet California in Northern California. For a live stream go to: www.TWCcommunity.com.
By Devin Ugland
Special to CalHiSports.com
Head coach Tim Murphy (3rd season, 38-4 overall) and his team at Clayton Valley won the CIF North Coast Section Division II title over Concord, 33-6, then defeated Oakdale, 28-7, in the Northern California Division II Regional Bowl game. Head coach Kurt Bruich ((13th season, 104-33-4 overall) and his team at Redlands East Valley 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. They next defeated Ridgeview of Bakersfield, 59-42, in the Division II South Regional bowl game.
Cal-Hi Sports Predicted Score: Clayton Valley 35, Redlands East Valley 28. For explanation and breakdown, CLICK HERE. To sign up for Gold Club membership so you can check out the full breakdown, CLICK HERE.MORE ON CLAYTON VALLEY
League:Won the Diablo Valley League (5-0)
Cal-Hi Sports Top 25 overall state ranking: No. 11
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 1 (Division II)
CIF Bowl History: Clayton Valley is playing in its first CIF state bowl game.
Best Win: The Ugly Eagles’ best win on the season came in both a rivalry and eventual league title clinching victory over Concord, 48-40, on October 24th. Clayton Valley had a 34-14 lead at halftime, but was able to hold off a second half rally from Concord.
Key Players: QB Nate Keisel (6-3, 180, Jr.), RB Miles Harrison (5-11, 200, Sr.), RB/FS Devin Banks (5-11, 175, Sr.), RB/LB Gavin West (6-2, 210, Soph.), RB/OLB Ryan Cooper (5-10, 175, Sr.), RB Louis Ramos (5-9, 190, Jr.), RB/OLB Justin Zapanta (5-10, 185, Sr.), WR Brandon Estrada (5-10, 200, Sr.), WR Robert Carson (5-7, 140, Jr.), TE Chandler Wakefield (6-2, 195, Sr.), MLB Rich Peralta (5-10, 195, Sr.), FS Jake Peralta (5-8, 175, Jr.), LB Elijah Breon (5-8, 160, Sr.), DE Hekoti Vaisima (6-1, 228, Sr.), LB Joseph Nguenti (5-7, 170, Jr.), NG Jax Carter (6-2, 225, Sr.), DE Drew Crabbe (6-2, 185, Sr.), CB Ricky Helena (6-1, 180, Sr.).
General Offense: The Ugly Eagles’ offense is nothing short of a power run-game. Thirteen different players have scored a TD on the ground for Clayton Valley, led by senior Miles Harrison. Harrison has scored 29 TDs and has rushed for 2,380 yards. But Harrison isn’t the only back who sees carries – not by a long-shot. Five other Clayton Valley backs have over 50 touches from the running back or full back position in Devin Banks, Ryan Cooper, Gavin West, Louis Ramos and Justin Zapanta. Each one of those players has at least four rushing touchdowns as well. Quarterback Nate Keisel doesn’t throw it a lot (61 of 95 for 1,146 yards) but he’s effective when he does, evidenced by his 64.2 completion percentage. He’s thrown 19 touchdowns to just one interception. Only one Clayton Valley receiver has caught double-digit receptions and that is Justin Zapanta. He has 12 catches for 413 yards and six TDs. Robert Carson, Brandon Estrada and tight end Chandler Wakefield are three others who will see looks in the passing game.
General Defense: The Clayton Valley defense is deep and talented keyed by a stable of linebackers who can show multiple looks. Middle linebacker Rich Peralta leads the team with 167 tackles, while Elijah Breon is another linebacker who patrols the middle of the field for the Ugly Eagles with 92 tackles and three interceptions. Joseph Nguenti lines up as an outside backer who can be sent on blitz packages or drop into coverage as shown by his three picks this year. Sophomore defensive end Hekoti Vaisima and senior DE Sean Vaisima will pressure the quarterback off the ends. Hekoti has 89 tackles and three sacks on the season, while Sean has 75 tackles and a team-leading 5.5 sacks. Cornerback Ricky Helena and free safety Jake Peralta lead the crew of Clayton Valley defensive backs.
Key Injuries: It’s not considered an injury, but the loss of five-star-ranked defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie was a huge hit for Clayton Valley. McKenzie had transferred in this year from De La Salle and was ruled ineligible by the CIF North Coast Section as the move was deemed to be athletically motivated. In fact, Clayton Valley had three of six transfers ruled to be ineligible before the season.
The Skinny: Clayton Valley is outscoring its opponents, on average, 53-12 this season. But have the Ugly Eagles seen a team with as many athletes as Redlands East Valley? The D2 matchup will be a major clash of styles and an interesting one to watch. MORE ON REDLANDS EAST VALLEY
League:Won Citrus Belt League (7-0)
Cal-Hi Sports overall state ranking: No. 20
Cal-Hi Sports bowl game ranking: No. 2 (Division II)
CIF Bowl History: Redlands East Valley is playing in its first CIF state bowl game.
Best Win: After blowing out most of its non-league and league opponents, Redlands East Valley was tested mightily in the CIF-SS 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 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 43 points per game this season, including two 60-plus-point performances, which has clearly been a key cog in picking up 14 victories in 15 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 219 of his 331 pass attempts (66.2 percent) for 3,576 yards with 40 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Lovette, who has verbally committed to Oregon, has been a major impact out of the back-field both on the hand-off and in the flat. The senior has 113 carries for 955 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground, while catching 61 balls for 990 yards and eight more scores. Harman, a junior, leads REV in carries (170) and rushing yards (1,488) and has added 13 touchdowns. The most explosive receiver in the passing game for the Wildcats is Khris Vaughn. The junior has 59 receptions for 1,202 yards and 15 touchdowns. C.J. Harris is another threat at receiver for Herrera. Harris, a junior, has 58 catches for 859 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 linebacking corps for REV is led by Jakob Diaz. The senior led the team in tackles with 202 total through the first 14 games of the season. The Wildcats round out the LBs with Matteo Biscotti (170 tackles through 14 games), Carter Flowers (149 tackles and 3 interceptions through 14 games) and Turner Shreve (135 tackles through 14 games). 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 17.1 points per game this season and has recorded two shutouts against Eisenhower of Rialto and Cajon of San Bernardino.
Key Injuries: Redlands East Valley’s talented quarterback, Armando Herrera, is still battling a shoulder injury, but played through it in the regional win over Ridgeview. Starting cornerback Ryan Nieman is out with a broken ankle.
The Skinny: In the same predicament as last week, if Herrera can’t go for REV, the Wildcats will go with a quarterback-by-committee approach. Malik Lovette, Steven Garcia and Seth Bates will all see time at QB if Herrera is out. As Bruich said last week, Northern California football is much different than Southern California football, which should make for an interesting matchup between Clayton Valley’s run-heavy attack and REV’s West Coast brand of offense.
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: email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @Devin_Ugland.