Who's No. 1?
By Jesse Phelps
Ojai Community Stadium will play
host to a football game with serious play-off implications tonight.
The top two teams, not only in the Tri-Valley League, but in
all of CIF Southern Section Division IX, will face off in a game
to decide the league title and the No. 1 seed for the play-offs,
assuming no further losses.
The outstanding Nordhoff Rangers come in as the No. 2 team in
the division, sporting an unblemished league record. Since a
season-opening loss to perennial power Moorpark, the Rangers
(7-1, 5-0) have run through the opposition, gaining an average
of 200 yards rushing per game on the season.
Leading rusher Will Strong (689 yards, 10 touchdowns) sat out
much of last week's narrow victory over Santa Paula with an unspecified
leg injury. Nordhoff coaches said, with the league in the balance,
Strong will be ready to go. Power runner Josh Catlett (403 yards,
seven touchdowns) should also see meaningful action.
Meanwhile, junior Andy Doyle leads a receiving corps that has
gained 581 yards through the air. Junior quarterback Ryan Whitcomb
has looked increasingly comfortable in the pocket as the season
has progressed and the offensive line, led by Micah Reed, has
been dominant. Offensive coordinator Scott Titus has designed
a number of passing plays to take advantage of his team's skill
level at all positions.
It all adds up to the most balanced offensive attack the Rangers
have exhibited, possibly ever, complemented by a strong defense,
headed by the Catlett brothers up front and a skilled group of
Nordhoff coach Cliff Farrar said he expects those backs to get
plenty of work against a powerful Oaks Christian passing attack.
The Lions come in ranked No. 1 in division IX, led by senior
all-league quarterback Joey Halzle.
"I think he throws the ball as well as any quarterback I've
seen at our level," said Farrar. Halzle spreads the ball
around, particularly looking for his two star receivers, Mark
Richardson and Joe Giuliani.
"Those are his two main weapons," said Farrar. "We've
got our nickel package revved up and rarin' to go."
Farrar said his team enjoyed another great week of practice and
that the team is looking forward to a league title. "Everybody's
excited," he said. "The kids are ready to play."
The Ojai Valley News
to the news
IS LOOKING to kick more than just the ball tonight as they face
the Oaks Christian Lions at home at 7:30 p.m. The win would give
Nordhoff not only first place in the Tri-Valley League, but also
the top ranking in the CIF-SS Division XI polls going into the