The Valley Gems: Week Five Edition

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Although the slate is lighter than usual with many teams having bye weeks, there are still plenty of intriguing matchups to take in tonight around the SFV. A couple of squads looking for breakthroughs in the East Valley host teams that have an eye on the league championship. Dominant squads in the Valley Mission jostle for position at the top of the standings, while a Southern Section juggernaut faces a tough test from an out-of-town opponent that comes with plenty of offense. Here’s the action you need to keep an eye on around the Valley for week five of the football season:

North Hollywood Huskies (2-2) vs. Chavez Eagles (2-2) – at Ceasar Chavez Learning Academy, 7 pm

The Huskies showed against Grant last week that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the East Valley this season. Chavez will prove to be a tough test though, as the Eagles will be fresh off a bye week and their 2-2 record could easily be 4-0 if they were able to clean up a handful of mistakes that were the difference in the team’s defeats to San Fernando and Sylmar earlier this season. The key to the game lies in North Hollywood’s star running back Jaylin Burt’s ability to break free against a stout Chavez defensive front. If the Eagles can stop him, there could be four teams in the mix with a real chance to win the East Valley in 2023.

Verdugo Hills Dons (3-2) vs. Poly Parrots (2-3) – at Poly High School, 7 pm

The Dons have stumbled a bit in the past couple of weeks after a hot start to the season. They have a chance to get things back on track when they hit the road for their first road game in the East Valley this evening. The Dons are the favorites to win this game but don’t sleep on the Parrots. While it initially felt like this season might be more of a rebuild for Poly, they have been competitive and already have a win in the East Valley under their belts. If the Dons make too many mistakes, Poly might emerge from this contest 2-0 in the East Valley, which nobody other than Poly head coach Derrell Daniels would have envisioned.

#20 Panorama Pythons (5-0) vs. Van Nuys Wolves (2-2) - at Van Nuys High School, 7 pm

The Pythons have been all business at the outset of the season, taking care of all their opponents by an average of 28 points. It is beginning to look like they are going to cruise to a Valley Mission title, but head coach Adrian Beltran knows that there are traps ahead in the road if the team loses focus. One of those traps could come tonight on the road at Van Nuys, which similarly to Poly in the East Valley, has been far more competitive than anyone would have expected in the early portion of the season. Will Panorama avoid looking beyond Van Nuys at the tougher games ahead? We will have to tune in to find out.

Saguaro Sabercats (3-1) vs. #3 Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (4-0) – at Sierra Canyon High School, 7 pm

Our Southern Section offering features Sierra Canyon being paid a visit by Saguaro, a tough team from the state of Arizona. The Sabercats are the number 4 ranked team in the entire state and a top sixty ranked team nationally. Matchups like these are usually reserved for the early weeks of the campaign, let alone before both programs head into their respective league schedules next week. You can expect fireworks out of this matchup, as both teams come into the game carrying explosive offenses.


VST Game of the week

#16 Kennedy Cougars vs. San Fernando Tigers (5-0) – at San Fernando High School, 7 pm

While Panorama focuses on their game at Van Nuys, I’m sure they will be keeping an eye on the game of the week, as it features the other two squads who feel they are in position to snatch the Valley Mission crown this season. Both the Cougars and the Tigers posted blowout wins in their league openers and can take a huge step forward in the title race if they can pin a loss on a strong contender knowing they both have to face an unbeaten Panorama down the line. This game represents familiar territory for Kennedy, who found themselves in a similar position last season; in a three-team race where the margin for error is slim to none. The Cougars lost to eventual champions Canoga Park and to Panorama in the season finale to finish third in the league. This year, they want to correct the wrongs of 2022 by making a statement against a team that feels very similar to the senior-laden Hunters that ran the table in the Valley Mission last season. The Tigers might be on the verge of a truly special season if they can hold court at home versus the reigning Division II city champions.

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