And then there were two.
When the prep football season reaches its quarterfinals stage Friday , two local teams, Edison and Huntington Beach, will be among the teams still alive in the hunt for a CIF Southern Section championship. The Chargers and Oilers both advanced to the elite eight of the Southwest Division playoffs after picking up first-round victories last week.
Brethren Christian was the third local team playing in the postseason, but the Warriors had their playoff hopes dashed in the cold last Saturday against Big Bear.
'We're excited to be moving on," said Huntington Beach Coach Eric Lo whose Oilers play host to No. 2-seed Tustin Friday.
Tustin has been a juggernaut the past five years. The Tillers are 11-0 overall and have won 19 straight games dating to October of last year. Win No. 8 in that streak gave them the 2011 Southwest Division championship. The Tillers defeated El Toro, 35-28, in that final.
Veteran Coach Myron Miller, in his 18th year at the helm, has taken Tustin to the Southwest Division championship game in three of the last four years.
"This is quite a bit of a senior team, I'd say," Miller said. "It's a good group of kids who won league as freshmen and played some varsity as sophomores."
Tustin, which cruised to the Empire League championship, can grind it out on the ground. The run game is their strength, and the Tillers share the wealth among a stable of talented runners. Terence Martinez is the team's leading rusher with 1,686 yards with 25 touchdowns and averages 11 yards per carry. DaVonte Young has the best yards per carry average (13.0) and in nine games played, has rushed for 1,184 yards and 16 TDs. Edward Tandy and 225-pound fullback Marshaun Daniel, also wreak havoc on opponents.
"This is probably, as a group, the fastest set of backs we had since DeShaun [Foster]," Miller said. "We have four backs who run 4.6 or faster. We like to like to include everybody and spread out the carries in our run game."
The Tillers opened playoff action last Friday with a 35-6 win over El Dorado, despite not having Young (infection) available for the game. Martinez raced for 208 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Tandy added 126 yards and two scores also on 15 carries, as the Tiller racked up 392 rushing yards against the Golden Hawks.
Miller said that Young will play Friday.
The 35 points tied for the fewest scored in a game this year by Tustin which put up a season-high 82 points on Western in an 82-7 win on Oct. 25. The Tillers come into Friday's quarterfinal game averaging 49 points on offense. Defensively, the Tillers have posted two shutouts this year.
"They are a very good football team, very physical," Lo said of the Tillers. "They just like to pound the ball, and don't do anything too tricky. I'm impressed with their running backs. They like to wear teams out."
Huntington, 6-5 overall and the No. 3 team from the Sunset League, is in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the second straight year. The Oilers last week picked up an impressive playoff road win by knocking off South Coast League co-champion Capistrano Valley, 34-17, in a first-round game.
Maurice Barber scored on a 24-yard interception return, Macro Valenzuela rushed for a touchdown and scored on a pass from quarterback Kay Ross, and Wyatt Marlow kicked two field goals for Huntington which stormed to a 17-0 lead and never trailed. The Oilers amassed 345 yards rushing on the Cougars.
"I thought we ran the ball really well, and our offensive line did a great job of blocking and controlling the line of scrimmage," Lo said. "Bo [Breunig] ran hard all night and Kai [Ross] did a great job of directing the game. Our defense also played really well.
"We've got to continue to get better, though. We have to do a better job of scoring in the red zone, which is something we didn't do against Capo. We reached the red zone on four occasions where we didn't come away with a single point."
In the first-round win, Ross threw for 125 yards and picked up 71 more on the ground. The junior leads the Oilers in rushing with 766 yards and also has thrown for 1,336 yards with 16 touchdowns. Senior running back Bo Breunig powered his way for a game-high 217 yards. Breunig is right behind Ross with 732 yards rushing.
"That quarterback (Ross) scares me a lot," Miller said. "He's pretty athletic and dangerous back there. You can do everything right on defense, but then he makes a big play on you. He can really run and has a good arm. Our goal is to try to contain him from breaking away on a big run, and make sure he throws more."
The Tustin-Huntington Beach winner advances to face the winner of Friday's quarterfinal game between Newport Harbor and No. 3-seed Villa Park, in the semifinals on Nov. 23.