It’s the seventh week of the California high school soccer season, and you (probably) know that means: the start of league play across much of SoCal.
This week brings an especially big conference game in both the LA City and San Diego sections, in addition to countless major league games throughout the CIFSS. Here’s a look at the top 10 games to watch in SoCal High School Football for the week of September 29-October 1.
FULL SECTION SCHEDULES: SOUTHERN | LA CITY | SAN DIEGO
TOP 10 SOCIAL FOOTBALL GAMES TO WATCH THIS WEEK:
(Matches are played at 19:00 on Fridays unless otherwise noted.)
10. El Modena at Villa Park – Thursday at 7pm
These teams in neighboring boroughs have played each other almost every season for decades. A lot of that time they’ve been in the same league and a lot of it hasn’t. With ElMo moving to the North Hills League for this year, it will not impact the league in 2022.
So what makes this year’s matchup so exciting? The Vanguards haven’t beaten VP since 2007, but they go into Thursday as heavy favorites. They almost got Villa Park last year but fell 31-28. Undefeated El Modena are looking even better this year than last year, but the Spartans were very senior-heavy last fall and start almost exclusively lower-league men. As a result, they haven’t been at the same level this season. They must bring their A-game on Thursday to have a chance to get revenge on a program that has waited 15 years.
9. Chaminade in Alemany
Admittedly, it’s tough to give Alemany a chance here after it was announced that QB CJ Ceron is out for the season. Chaminade was so good in 2022 that the Warriors would have come out as massive underdogs anyway. But the point here should be that Alemany has been a lot better this year than most expected and not many people will realize it anymore. If they can somehow find another gear with the junior dual threat signal caller, they could at least make it interesting against ‘Nade.
8. Apple Valley in Serrano – Thursday at 7:30 p.m
Like many of the other games in this week’s list, this fight features a strong favorite and a big underdog, but is nonetheless intriguing. While Apple Valley’s injury-ridden underdog run to the CIFSS D3 Finals drew the most attention, the Diamondbacks clinched a Division 8 title and are 5-0. It’s not lost on the Sun Devils that Serrano won a CIF ring last season and they didn’t. Despite beating Serrano 47-13 last season, this is not a matchup they take lightly.
7. Damien in the Highlands
Things are bad for the Spartans at the moment. While each of their losses has benefited a great team, and mostly in very tight games, they’re headed into league play 1-5. This is particularly bad news for a side that lost 4-0 in the league last year. And now the team have been making the wrong headlines after a spat after losing to Bishop Amat last week.
So a win this week couldn’t come at a better time. And no matter what Damien’s record says, they will have a legitimate chance to upset the Highlanders if they bring their A-game. Upland got off to a very good 4-2 start and got it right with a stunning 45-20 win over Thomas Aquinas a couple of weeks ago. With the Highlanders’ track record, expect them to be at or near the top of the baseline league every season. That makes this a must for both teams.
6. Rancho Buenavista near Ramona
It’s safe to say that the Bulldogs’ Valley League opener didn’t go the way they envisioned in the final game. They entered the conference game as favorites but could already be out of contention after Fallbrook upset them by three points. Ramona has had a bye week to think about it and rest since then, but this week is unlikely to get any easier against the Longhorns.
Meanwhile, Rancho Buena Vista got off to a hot 5-1 start despite being smoked by Mt. Carmel in his out-of-league final and is also title-focused. The Longhorns can end Ramona’s championship hopes completely with a win on Friday. But if Ramona wins and both teams have a league loss then both have some hope as at least there’s a chance someone else in the league will knock out Fallbrook and there’s a tie at the top.
5. Bishop Amat in Sierra Canyon
Speaking of Bishop Amat, they too are looking to put last week’s controversy behind them with another big win. And it coincides with SC’s long-awaited Mission League debut. To be honest, this game wouldn’t crack the top 10 if it wasn’t a milestone for the Trailblazers as they’re down this year while Amat was untouchable against everyone but St. John Bosco. However, given that this is a historical game, and that Sierra Canyon has built so much pedigree over the last five years that they might have another gear to beat, it’s too intriguing to ignore.
4. Bishop Diego in St. Bonaventure
Speaking of new league debuts, this is Bishop Diego’s first game in the Marmonte League. So is this the championship game of the Marmonte League? Honestly, who knows? Simi Valley started the season as a favorite and Oaks Christian has built a case as a favorite, but both teams are in the mix.
The Cardinals played a Southern Section opponent just last week when they recorded an impressive 26-6 win over St. Pius X-St. Matthias Academy. Before that, they narrowly fell on powerhouse Central Section Central (Fresno), rolling against Capital Christian, Righetti and Garces Memorial. Meanwhile, the Seraphs’ 2-3 record makes them look like an underdog, but that’s a stretch. Their losses came to Inglewood, Lincoln (San Diego) and Oak Hills, and all were competitive games.
So, that should be a tossup. And as a bonus, it could also be one of the best running back battles of the year, with Bishop Diego’s Qu’Ran Gossett and St. Bonaventure’s Delon Thompson.
3. Santa Margarita at Orange Lutheran
Unlike the other games in this week’s top 9, this matchup doesn’t affect a league title race. But wins of any kind aren’t easy to come by in Trinity League, so let’s just say the stakes are high. And history says this could be one of the best games of the year.
The last time these opponents met and it was Not A great game was 2016 when the Eagles won 23-7. They won 38-31 in 2017 before OLu won 39-37 in 2018. Orange Lutheran won 2019 28-14, but despite the score the game wasn’t decided until the last few minutes. During the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season, the Lancers were forced to cancel one of the season’s highly anticipated games in which they would have been a slight underdog. Santa Margarita came back on top last season in one of their best matchups yet, a 35-28 comeback win that was earned on a last-minute touchdown.
This time round, the Eagles are slightly stronger favorites than last year and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them walk away with a win. But if the Lancers can play one of their best games of the season, they could give SM a shot and potentially pull off a huge win. No matter what, it’s hard to imagine that this game isn’t one of the better ones of the week.
2. Franklin (Los Angeles) at Eagle Rock – Friday at 7:30pm
A conference title game between two even and undefeated rivals looking to prove themselves as contenders for the LACS Open Division title? That might be a mouthful, but what more could you ask for?
Both teams are looking impressive in 2022 and despite the fact that Lincoln topped them both for a championship last season, this should be the Northern League’s title game. It should hit the spot on Friday, but when a team can pull off a big statement win, it’s fair to call them one of the top frontrunners for a City Section finals run.
1. Lincoln (San Diego) vs. Catholic Cathedral (in Mira Mesa)
Let’s face it – rivalries are sometimes more fun when the love between the participants is not lost.
The upper echelons of California high school soccer have many leagues in which the best teams are not traditional rivals but instead compete regularly, ending up as de facto rivals with no real fire in the rivalry. Often these programs end up as friends for the 364 days of the year that they don’t play each other.
But that’s not it. This rivalry is so fierce that any year when the two teams are fairly even, it automatically becomes one of the most exciting games of the year. And this year, Lincoln has more than a puncher’s chance to take down the Juggernaut. To top it off, this fight could decide the Western League and could very well be a preview of the San Diego Section Open Division Finals. So grab your popcorn.
MORE GAMES TO SEE:
Between the top programs, there are dozens of great games to watch in every week of California high school football. Here are some other exciting SoCal matches happening this week:
Murrieta Valley near Roosevelt (Eastvale)
Vista Murrieta at Norco
Long Beach Poly at Millikan
Citrus Valley at Beaumont
Yorba Linda in El Dorado (Placentia)
Mayfair at Warren
Calabasas at Oaks Christian
Golden Valley (Santa Clarita) near Valencia (Valencia)
Carson in Banning (Wilmington)
El Camino Real in Cleveland
La Costa Canyon at El Camino
San Juan Hill at Tesoro
Simi Valley near Westlake
Moor Park in Newbury Park
Del Norte (San Diego) in Poway
Rio Mesa near Buena
Mira Mesa in Madison
Camarillo near El Toro
Foothill (Santa Ana) at Canyon (Anaheim)
Catholic Mater Dei in the Center (El Centro)
Etiwanda at Chino Hills
Narbonne near Val Gardena
JW North at Orange Vista
Culver City near Mira Costa
Carlsbad near Torrey Pines
Loyola in St Paul
Thousand Oaks at Royal
Westchester in Hamilton (LA)
ML King at Great Oak
Bonita in Northview
St. Augustine at Scripps Ranch
King/Draw in Dorsey