The Valley Gems: Week Six Edition


Week six officially marks the second half of the season and league rivalries, litmus tests and unexpected stories are on tap across the valley. One of the special young quarterbacks in the Southern Section faces the toughest trial of the season on the road, while a surprise team in the East Valley looks to notch a win that puts them squarely in the hunt for a league championship. The West Valley kicks off with three intriguing matchups, including the game of the week, which sees two reigning city champions locking horns in Granada Hills. Here is what you need to see in the SFV this week:

Poly Parrots (3-3) vs. Arleta Mustangs (4-1) – at Arleta High School, 3:30 pm

The Poly Parrots have been one of the pleasant surprises of the 2023 season. With a mix of timely playmaking on offense and gritty play up front on defense, the Parrots find themselves with a golden opportunity to plant themselves firmly in the race for an East Valley championship. The Mustangs are coming off their bye week and must have their antennas up after seeing what Poly did to a tough Verdugo Hills team at home last Friday night. Expect this contest to be hard-fought and physical, as the winner of this game continues to hold destiny in their own hands with an unblemished league record and games against Chavez and North Hollywood on tap In the coming weeks.

Cleveland Cavaliers (4-1) vs. Taft Toreadors (2-3) – at Taft High School, 7 pm

There has already been smack talk between these two programs in the lead-up to the game, and this promises to be one of the more entertaining games you will see in the Valley this week. There are stars in abundance on both these rosters and defense could be at a premium when the Toreadors and Cavs collide in Woodland Hills. A key matchup to watch will be the Cleveland secondary led by all-city defensive back Kory Hall against the Taft trio of receiving threats in Lior Lesham, Jacob Peery, and Ledgend Wilson. Keeping these three from getting loose and finding the endzone is vital to trying to beat Taft, which has been easier said than done for the opponents they have faced so far this season.

Chatsworth Chancellors (3-2) vs. El Camino Real Royals (1-4) - at Birmingham High School, 7 pm

It will be a “blue out” for El Camino’s homecoming festivities this week, and this game promises to be a fun watch between the Royals and the Chancellors. Whenever you get the opportunity to face a team in the West Valley not named Birmingham or Grandad Hills, it is imperative to come away victorious, because wins are hard to come by in the West Valley. Both teams are playing youth and inexperience at the quarterback position, so the winner will probably be the team that plays the cleaner game at the end of the day. The Chancellors may be without the services of their star running back Isaiah Rameau, who has been nursing a shoulder injury he sustained in the Fillmore game two weeks ago.

Notre Dame(SO) Knights (4-1) vs. Sierra Canyon Trailblazers (5-0) – at Sierra Canyon High School, 7 pm

The Sierra Canyon Trailblazers have been one of the most impressive teams in the country to start the season, and they will look to keep the momentum rolling right into Mission League play when they host Notre Dame Friday night. Steele Pizzella is a dynamic young quarterback for the Knights, but this defense of Sierra Canyon will be unlike anything he has faced this season. The Blazers are giving up a paltry 6.6 ppg to their opponents through five games. If Pizzella can put a dent in Sierra Canyon’s armor, the Knights might be signaling that they are a real player in the Mission League and beyond in 2023.

VST Game of the week

Birmingham Patriots (3-2) vs. Granada Hills Highlanders (3-1-1) – at Granada Hills High School, 7 pm

Unless you have been living under a rock, it has been well established that Birmingham is the team to beat not only in the West Valley but in the City Section. But there is a team in their own league that feels like they are on the verge of toppling the Patriots empire and that is the Granda Hills Highlanders. Last year, the Highlanders went on the road to Birmingham and if not for a penalty that allowed the Patriots to convert a 2-pt conversion from half the distance that was the difference in a 29-28 loss, we could be talking about Granada Hills being the defending league champions today. A big question to be answered in this game will be whether taking a road trip to play in Texas last week will negatively affect Birmingham before coming back to face the Highlanders, who have had two weeks to prepare for their league opener. The pressure will be on both teams’ defensive front sevens, with the quality of Granada’s rushing attack, versus the versatility of Kingston Tisdell and the versatile Patriots offensive attack. This one also has huge implications on the postseason potentially, as both teams have designs on making a run at the Open Division title. The loser will still have plenty of opportunity to earn a spot in the Open bracket, but they could be on the road for the entirety of the playoffs.

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