As I was working on the Southern Division breakdown and analysis on Sunday after the CIF-SS office announced the football pairings, I started thinking about Mel Gibson.
I’m not talking about the Mel Gibson that made that nutty movie “The Beaver.” And I’m not talking about the Mel Gibson that goes after cops or his ex-wife.
I’m talking about the Mel Gibson that played William Wallace in 1995′s “Braveheart,” which is easily one of my favorite movies of all-time despite the demise of Mel Gibson.
William Wallace was a Scottish rebel who led an uprising against King Edward the Longshanks against overwhelming odds to fight for freedom for Scotland. Longshanks was a despicable villain. During one battle scene, Longshanks told his generals, “Not the archers. My scouts tell me their archers are miles away and no threat to us. Arrows cost money. Use up the Irish. The dead cost nothing.”
No way is William Wallace going to make peace with such a cruel ruler. He’s fighting to the end.
We all know the freedom speech. That is definitely one of my all-time favorites. But the scene that had me thinking about the CIF-SS football playoffs was the “Test of Manhood” scene where William Wallace returns to his childhood village and is challenged to a rock-throwing contest by his old friend Hamish.
Hamish walks up to William and drops a large rock in front of him.
William: “You dropped your rock.”
Hamish: “Test of manhood.”
William: “You win.”
Hamish: “Call it a test of soldiering then. The English won’t let us train with weapons, so we train with stones.”
William: “The test of a soldier is not in his arm. It’s here (pointing to his head).”
That’s when Hamish slugs Wallace with a right hand that knocks him to the ground. There’s going to be a test of manhood whether Wallace wants one or not. Wallace is giving up at least 50 pounds and a foot to the burly Hamish, so he’s clearly not going to be able to heave the large rock as far as Hamish.
Wallace: “That’s a good throw.”
Wallace: “I was wondering if you could do that when it matters … as it matters in battle? Could you crush a man with that throw.”
Hamish: “I could crush you like a worm.”
Wallace: “You could?”
Wallace: “Well, then do it. Would you like to see him crush me like a worm? Then do it.”
Hamish: “You’ll move.”
Wallace: “I will not.”
Hamish heaves the large rock at Wallace and it soars over Wallace’s head. Now, it’s Wallace’s turn. He picks up a small stone, lines up Hamish and beans him between the eyes.
Wallace: “You alright? You look a wee-bit shaky.”
Hamish: “I should have remembered the rocks.”
Hamish hits the deck after a delayed reaction, but Wallace’s point was made.
Can you do that when it matters … as it matters in battle? That is the question facing teams in the playoffs and the teams that have the answer to that question will advance and eventually win a championship.
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND FACTORS HEADING INTO THE PLAYOFFS:
What’s the best first-round game in the playoffs?
Even though both teams are coming off losses, Santa Margarita vs. El Toro at Trabuco Hills High on Friday at 7:30 p.m. BTW, Fox Sports West must like the matchup because it is televising the game. The Chargers are coming off a demoralizing 49-7 loss to Mission Viejo that saw Conner Manning, the county’s regining offensive player of the year, throw a career-high six interceptions. Santa Margarita, the defending Pac-5 and Division 1 state champion, went took third place in the Trinity League and the Eagles did that without injured Johnny Stanton at quarterback. The Eagles have a rugged defense, but they don’t have the kind of offense to keep up with the Chargers. I’m guessing Manning and the Chargers can put the Mission Viejo debacle behind them and defeat Santa Margarita.
Which Tesoro team shows up at St. John Bosco?
Tesoro’s veteran-loaded team looked like a team destined to be a factor in the Pac-5 playoffs when I saw it rally for fourth-quarter victories over Hart of Newhall and Chaparral of Temecula earlier this season, but then came a three-game losing streak in the middle of South Coast League play, the controversial special teams play on the opening kickoff of the Oct. 12 game against El Toro and the removal of Brian Barnes as head coach. Somehow, the Titans grabbed one of the two at-large berths in the Pac-5 and now they get third-seeded St. John Bosco of Bellflower, the defending Trinity League champion which hasn’t lost a game on the field all season. Can the Titans overcome all that late-season turmoil? I don’t think so. I’m taking the Braves to advance.
The Sunset League arrives in the Southwest Division
Dun! Dun!! Dun!!!!! (Cue the Dramatic Chipmunk) That’s right, the Southwest Division is about to find out what life with the Sunset League is like. Edison, Newport Harbor, Huntington Beach and at-large Los Alamitos will be in the Southwest dance. Edison might have the best defense in the county. The Chargers recorded a school-record five shutouts and are holding teams to 4.7 points per game. The Sailors are peaking at the right time with four consecutive victories, including a 31-28 overtime job to beat Los Al in the regular-season finale, to close out the regular season. The Oilers overcame a 1-3 start to win four of their next five games. Huntington beach is another team peaking at the right time. Los Al didn’t have as strong a season as expected, but the Griffins have proven they can play everybody tough. I’m taking Edison over Esperanza, Los Al over La Habra, Newport Harbor over Troy, Huntington Beach over Capistrano Valley and a lot of complaints from Southwest Division teams about the Sunset League moving into the division.
Southwest Division factors
Edison OLB/RB Elijah Herrera (He’s a flat out playmaker); Tustin FB/LB Edward Tandy (One of the biggest hitters on defense and that’s how he runs the ball on offense); Villa Park RB/LB Meki Tafuna (Put him in the Tandy category of bruising running backs and heavy hitters on defense); Newport Harbor WR/CB Quest Truxton (He can make big-time catches in crunch time); Huntington Beach QB Kai Ross (He has passed for 1,181 yards and 14 TDs and rushed for 693 yards and nine TDs. Oh yeah, he’s also one of the top lock-down cornerbacks around); and Capo Valley QB Mason Dossey (The Cougars are in the playoffs for the second straight year because of his 2,226 passing yards and 19 TDs).
Southern Division factors
Laguna Beach RB/S Drake Martinez (He’s arguably the most dynamic player in the county and he’s a threat to score whenever he touches the ball); Corona del Mar QB Cayman Carter (This guy is a difference-maker with his legs and his arm); Estancia RB/LB Robert Murtha (He’s capable of stringing together some huge games to carry the Eagles); Woodbridge RB Austin DeFreitas (The Warriors are a live darkhorse because of this kid’s tenacious running); Garden Grove QB Angel Martinez (The Argos’ championship hopes could hinge on the arm of Martinez); and Katella RB/DB T.J. Ashmeade (He is a workhorse and he can break free for big runs).
Pac-5 Division factors
Mission Viejo DE Garrett Marino (He wreaks havoc whenever he’s on the field whether he’s rushing the passer or playing the run); Mater Dei WR/LB Thomas Duarte (He can make spectacular catches on offense and huge hits on defense); Mission Viejo WR/S Max Redfield (Like Duarte, he’s spectacular on offense and a playmaker on defense); St. Bonaventure RB Zach Green (A powerful runner that comes through in the clutch); Santa Margarita WR/DB Connor O’Brien (He’s such an important playmaker for the Eagles on offense and defense); El Toro QB Conner Manning (He’s one of the most prolific passers in county history); St. John Bosco RB Darren Walker (The speedy back creates all kinds of problems when he gets into the secondary); and Tesoro RB/LB Nate Tago (A bruising runner with breakaway speed).
My final top-10 vote
1. Mission Viejo; 2. Mater Dei; 3. Edison; 4. Santa Margarita; 5. El Toro; 6. Tustin; 7. Villa Park; 8. Tesoro; 9. Newport Harbor; and 10. Foothill.
I have a prepared statement for any complaints about my top-10 picks:
“I’m not familiar precisely exactly what I said before, but I stand by it whatever it was.”
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