The Valley Gems: Week Eight Edition
As the intensity builds down the home stretch of the regular season, there is no shortage of intriguing matchups in the San Fernando Valley. In this jam-packed edition of the Valley Gems, we have seven big matchups that the VST senior staff have earmarked as contests with huge ramifications that are worth getting out to go and watch. An early afternoon matchup in the East Valley could decide a league winner takes place in Arleta, while a clash in the Valley Mission threatens to steal the show with two teams fighting for league championship dreams. The Southern Section offers up two matchups that promise fireworks, while the West Valley rolls into week three of play with two huge matchups that may provide some clarity in the league championship race. Here are the best games of the week here in the Valley:
Chaminade Eagles (4-3) at Notre Dame(SO) Knights (4-3) – Notre Dame High School, 7 pm
One of the more compelling rivalries in the Mission League reignites when Notre Dame hosts Chaminade at home Friday night. This game is about getting over the hump for the Knights, having lost two straight games to begin league play and having lost their last two games against Chaminade as well. It seems unlikely that either team will win the league as Sierra Canyon and Serra have positioned themselves as the lead dogs, but these two teams still have postseason aspirations and any chance at hosting playoff games will come down to how many games in league you can grab. The key to this game will be Notre Dame’s air attack versus the Eagles' ground and pound. The team that imposes their will offensively will probably walk away with the win.
Kennedy Cougars (5-2) at Sylmar Spartans (4-4) – Sylmar High School, 7 pm
While the spotlight has been on the undefeated Panorama Pythons in the Valley Mission, the defending D-II champs have been impressive this season. While they will get their shot at taking down Panorama next Thursday, they have an intriguing test on their hands on the road at Sylar this week. The Spartans will be an inspired bunch coming off a 14-6 loss at San Fernando last week, a game that the Spartans should feel like they should have won. Kennedy better not look past this bunch. If they do they could be in for a long night if Sylmar’s weapons get hot.
El Camino Real Royals (3-4) at Birmingham Patriots (5-2) – Birmingham High School, 7 pm
No team in the city has had to deal with as much adversity as the Royals have had to and it feels like this team has improved every time they have taken the field this season. The adverse conditions will continue this week when they head to Birmingham to take on the reigning Open Division champs. Kingston Tisdell bounced back with an impressive showing against Chatsworth last week, even though he didn’t need to do much at all with the Patriots' defense shutting down the Chancellors’ vaunted rushing attack. Can the young ElCo quarterback continue to show signs of growth and lead the Royals to an upset? We’ll have to wait and see.
Ontario Christian Knights (5-2) at Village Christian Crusaders (5-2) – Glendale Community College, 7 pm
The Southern Section offers up another tasty matchup in the Valley, this time out of the Ironwood League where Knights and Crusaders will battle it out at Glendale Community College Friday night. If you like offense, this is the game for you. Both squads come into the contests boasting offenses that put up over 40 points per game on the season. This game lands in must-win territory for Village, as they already have a loss under their belt in the league to Aquinas. A loss here would effectively take them out of contention for a league title with only a couple of games left to go in the season.
Cleveland Cavaliers (5-2) at Chatsworth Chancellors (3-4) – Chatsworth High School, 7 pm
The West Valley serves up another intriguing contest between the Cavs and Chancellors in Chatsworth on Friday night. On paper, it would appear the 5-2 Cavs should win this game without much stress. But if you know this beautiful game, you know styles make fights, and on the high school level, crazy things can happen every time teams take the field. The Cavs are stout defensively, but they have struggled in their first two league contests containing the run versus Taft and Granada Hills last week. That could play right into the hands of Chatsworth, who feature one of the premier running backs in the city section Isaiah Rameau.
VST Games of the Week
Chavez Eagles (4-3) at Arleta Mustangs (6-1) – Arleta High School, 3:30 pm
Two weeks ago, the Eagles went on the road with a golden opportunity to cement themselves as an East Valley title threat but came up short against Monroe. Instead of letting the blown opportunity deter them, Chavez responded with a 44-point outburst in their win at home versus Verdugo Hills. This week the tests don’t get any bigger for the Eagles than having to go on the road to face the Arleta Mustangs who are unbeaten in East Valley play and know that a win today could all but lock up their second league title in three years. Expect this game to be a dogfight to the very end as both teams love to play a smashmouth style of football and let their defenses set the tone. Whichever team wins this contest will undoubtedly be the likely winner of the East Valley and a real threat to make a run toward a city title this season as well.
San Fernando Tigers (7-1) at Panorama Pythons (7-0) – Panorama High School, 7 pm
Midway through the season, it became apparent that the Valley Mission League would be a three-horse race between the San Fernando Tigers, the Kennedy Cougars, and the Panorama Pythons. These three teams were built to feast on the lower half of the league and depending on how they fared against one another, it would decide who walked away the league champions. In the first battle between these three teams, Kennedy took the win against San Fernando. If the Tigers are to hold out any hope of winning the Valley Mission, they must win tonight at Panorama, which will be easier said than done. The Pythons have been on a mission this season after coming up short in the city championships for the past two seasons. This team has played like a team with the intent to finish the job, beating their seven opponents so far in the 2022 season by an average of 27.8 ppg. A Panorama victory in this contest in concert with a Kennedy win on the road at Sylmar would turn next week’s game in Granda Hills into the Valley Mission championship. A San Fernando win would send the league title picture into complete chaos heading into the final two weeks of the season.