Nonleague games are great for bragging rights, rankings and preparation for league. That’s right, league. League games are what it’s all about. The Century and Empire Leagues started league play last week and the rest of the county joins them this week.
(Stuff) just got real.
If you are a team with aspirations of winning a CIF-SS championship, it all starts with league. In four- and five-team leagues, the top two finishers receive guaranteed playoff berths. The top three finishers in six- and seven-team leagues receive guaranteed playoff berths.
Teams that do not finish high enough in their standings can qualify for at-large berths, and no longer is a .500-or-better overall record required for at-large berth consideration. The Pac-5 Division has two at-large berths, the Southwest Division has two and the Southern Division has one.
But if you want to control your own destiny it’s all about earning one of those guaranteed playoff berths from your league battles.
All this talk about league play starting up has me thinking about “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.” Remember when Mad Max went toe-to-toe with Master Blaster in the Thunderdome. Two men enter … one man leaves.
Thunderdome announcer Dr. Dealgood was like a post-apocalyptic Bruce Buffer.
“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls … DYIN’ TIME’S HERE!!!!!”
Dr. Dealgood would then lay out the rules to the two combatants.
“Thunderdome’s simple. Get to the weapons, use them any way you can. I know you won’t break the rules, because there aren’t any.”
LEAGUE TIME’S HERE!!!!
Game of the night: San Clemente (4-2, 0-0) vs. El Toro (6-0, 0-0) at Trabuco Hills High, 7 p.m.
Why you should care: Three of the five teams in the South Coast League are ranked in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings with No. 6 Mission Viejo, No. 7 Tesoro and No. 22 El Toro. San Clemente was in those same Cal-Hi Sports rankings before a two-game losing streak when starting QB Sean Donnelly went down with an injured throwing shoulder.
Donnelly will be back in the starting lineup tonight and the Tritons will need him if they hope to match El Toro QB Conner Manning touchdown for touchdown. Manning is averaging 428.7 passing yards per game and he has thrown 27 touchdowns with only one interception. The Chargers are averaging 50.0 points per game.
The big problem going against El Toro is its soft nonleague schedule. The Chargers played and dominated Huntington beach, Clovis, Canyon, Palos Verdes of Palos Verdes Estates and Valhalla of El Cajon. Will that get them ready for the South Coast league? Can San Clemente bounce back from back-to-back losses to Newport Harbor and Edison?
Stay tuned to Thursday Night Football Madness for answers to those questions and more.
ALSO ON THE THURSDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL MADNESS AGENDA:
Marina vs. Los Alamitos at Veterans Stadium, 7 p.m.: Griffins coach John Barnes tries to become the fourth coach in California history to win 300 games when Los Ala takes on the Vikings in this Sunset League opener.
Newport Harbor (2-3, 0-0) vs. Edison (4-1, 0-0) at Huntington Beach High, 7 p.m.: The Chargers unleash the county’s best defense on the Sailors in this Sunset League opener.
Calvary Chapel (3-2, 0-0) vs. Godinez (1-4, 0-0) at Segerstrom High, 7 p.m.: The Eagles got a much-needed victory over Bolsa Grande last week to give them some momentum heading into this Orange Coast League opener.
Valencia (3-3, 1-1) at Western (3-3, 0-2), 7 p.m.: Both these teams are desperately trying to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Empire League.
Beckman (1-4, 0-0) at Irvine (3-2, 0-0), 7 p.m.: The Vaqueros have dropped their past two games heading into the Pacific Coast league opener against the Patriots, whose only victory came against Magnolia.
Magnolia (1-4, 0-0) vs. Santa Ana Valley (3-2, 0-0) at Santa Ana Stadium, 7 p.m.: Can the Sentinels build off last week’s 28-21 victory over Loara or will the Falcons drop the hammer on them in this Orange League opener?
Katella (3-2, 0-0) vs. Anaheim (2-3, 0-0) at Glover Stadium, 7 p.m.: The Colonists pulled out a 20-18 thriller against the Knights last season. Anaheim has won the past three meetings against Katella.
Westminster (1-4, 0-0) vs. Orange (3-2, 0-0) at El Modena High, 7 p.m.: The Panthers could be a factor in the Golden West League title picture this season, but first they have to handle the Lions.
La Quinat (2-3, 0-0) at Garden Grove (3-2, 0-0), 7 p.m.: The Argos are looking to bounce back from last week’s 49-6 loss to El Toro in their Garden Grove League opener against the Aztecs.
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