Thursday Countdown: South Hills, Nogales ready for playoff openers tonight

The South Hills High football team has a proud football tradition. It has won five CIF-Southern Section football championships with the last one achieved back in 2005. However, a more troubling fact is that the program has lost five consecutive first-round playoff games, dating back to 2012.

The Huskies (9-1) will be hoping to break that streak Thursday night as they host Pacifica High School (2-8) of Oxnard in a CIF-SS Division 7 first round game at Covina District Field at 7 p.m.

The last time that Huskies won a playoff game was in the quarterfinals against Crescenta Valley, 33-23, in 2009.

“I made it a point to tell our coaches that our division is very tough and anyone can beat anybody on any given night,” South Hills coach Matt Bechtel said. “Everybody is 0-0. I’ve been in the playoffs with several other programs. Let me tell you, funny things can happen at this time of year.”

Champions of the Palomares League, if the top-seeded Huskies are successful in defeating the Tritons, they will play the winner of Friday’s game between Tustin and Burbank in the quarterfinals.

Bechtel feels that his team is playing its best football right now.

“Offensively, we’re playing as good as we’ve played all year,” Bechtel commented. “Our quarterback (R.J. Sterns) performed really well last week against Bonita.”

The Huskies are also getting great production from running back Ryan Torres. The senior has rushed for 1,007 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is the first South Hills running back to rush for more than 1,000 yards since Jesse Garcia achieved the milestone back in 2014.

The Huskies will be facing a Pacifica team that qualified for the playoffs Saturday morning when Oxnard High School (the second-place team in the Pacific View League at the time) had to forfeit its wins due to use of an ineligible player.

The Tritons are led by sophomore quarterback R.J. Maria. In his first year as the starter, he’s thrown for 1,970 yards with 13 touchdowns. He also has a penchant for turning the ball over, as he has also thrown 16 interceptions.

Running back Allen Johnson, who is considered one of the top juniors for his class in the Ventura County area, has rushed for 742 yards and scored seven touchdowns.

LA PUENTE (6-4) vs. NOGALES (9-1), DIVISION 13, 7:00 P.M.

Last season, the Nobles failed to make the playoffs despite an 8-2 record. Fast forward a year, and it’s Nogales that figures to be the team to beat in Division 13. It was seeded second in its division and won the program’s first league championship since 1991.

“It’s unbelievable,” Nogales coach Richard Salazar said after his win last week. “I know every coach in America goes through the same thing, but when you get the kids buying into something and when you get that buy in and belief it’s special.”

Running back Francisco Ibarra III has been the catalyst for their success. The senior has rushed for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns. Senior quarterback Joshua Lopez, has been productive too, throwing for 1,261 yards and 22 touchdowns.

As strong as Nogales has been offensively, its defense is what many feel has made a huge difference in its success. Senior Manuel Torres leads the team in interceptions with four and Isaiah Tunnell has been a force at linebacker, leading the team with 67 tackles.

The Nobles will be facing a La Puente team that figures to give them some issues. The Warriors, who finished second in the Miramonte League, have made the playoffs for eight out of the last nine years.

The Warriors are also on somewhat of a hot streak, winners of four out of their last five games. Look for senior wide receiver Max Ramirez to be a favorite target for quarterback Jesse Hernandez.

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Thursday Countdown: South Hills, Nogales ready for playoff openers tonight published first on

Author: accuhunt

Physical Educator and sports coach from 6 years , with degree in sports science and physical education from RLT University in US. Coach of football, skating, hockey and rugby teams. Now working as Sports development officer in Perth city. Contributor of sports training articles to improve sports performance in athletes. Well college football is an place where many inspiring stories surface and touch the heart. It is also a place where the passions of players, desires of coaches and expectations of community meld to form a different atmosphere.

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