GAME OF THE DAY No. 11 BIRMINGHAM (2-4) at No. 3 TAFT (6-0), 7 p.m. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Taft has dominated opponents this season, outscoring them 288-61, and is coming off a 64-15 rout of Granada Hills in a league opener. Sophomore QB Exavier Johnson has shown rapid improvement. He began his varsity career completing just 9 of 24 passes in a 35-34 victory over Crenshaw of Los Angeles; last week he connected on 16 of 17, including 14 in a row. Johnson has completed 52 percent of his passes, throwing 17 touchdowns with only two interceptions. Both teams feature talented skill players. RB Andre Harris, RB/WR Malcolm Smith and Holland have combined for 33 Taft TDs. Milton Knox Jr., who helped Birmingham snap a four-game losing streak last week with 166 offensive yards and three TDs in a 44-19 victory over El Camino Real of Woodland Hills, leads the Patriots with 13 TDs. Birmingham QB James Beloff has thrown 10 interceptions; he must avoid turning the ball over against an opportunistic Taft defense for the Patriots to knock off Taft. Key stat: 7. Touchdowns for Taft of Woodland Hills WR Jamere Holland, who has 16 receptions. His touchdown-to-reception ratio is the best in the area. Outlook: Since winning its last City Section title in 1998, Taft has captured only three of eight meetings with West Valley League rival Birmingham of Lake Balboa. The Toreadors’ past two victories, which secured league titles in 2002 and last season, were avenged during the playoffs. Birmingham lost the regular-season meeting by 24 points in 2002, then beat the Toreadors 35-7 in the City title game. Last year, Taft pulled out a 28-21 victory in the regular season, then saw its 10-game winning streak halted in the quarterfinals. Birmingham played a near-flawless game in a 41-19 triumph. GAMES OF THE WEEK No. 7 MOORPARK (4-2) at No. 8 NEWBURY PARK (5-1), 7 p.m. Key stat: 8.8. Yards-per-carry average for Moorpark RB Dan Moran, higher than that of teammate Darrell Scott (7.5), the area’s No. 2 rusher. Outlook: Newbury Park beat Simi Valley 36-35 last week in overtime, the winning points coming on a two-point conversion, to match its wins total from last season. Another victory tonight would give Newbury Park four league victories, the Panthers’ most since the Marmonte League expanded to eight teams in 2002, and sole possession of first place with three weeks remaining. Moorpark, which tied for third with Thousand Oaks last season and received an at-large entry to the Southern Section Div. IV playoffs, has had its share of drama. After defeating Thousand Oaks 50-28 in their league opener, the Musketeers rallied – scoring the final 25 points – to beat Agoura 41-31 two weeks ago. Then, in last week’s 35-6 rout of winless Calabasas, Scott – the area’s second-leading rusher (912 yards, 11 TDs) – was sidelined with a bruised shin and minor ankle sprain. He’s questionable tonight. Moran demonstrated he is a more-than-worthy replacement, rushing for 177 yards and two touchdowns. He carried the ball 18 times last week, three more than Newbury Park did the entire game against Simi Valley. Panthers QB Jordan LaSecla put his name in the state record books by attempting 60 passes, tied for third-most in a California game, according to Cal-Hi Sports. LaSecla, who completed 27 passes for 413 yards and five touchdowns against Simi Valley, leads the state with 2,004 yards and 24 touchdown passes. His favorite targets are WRs Josh Baker (48 catches, 871 yards, 7 TDs) and Jordan Cameron (39 receptions, 601 yards, 11 TDs), both among the state leaders. No. 12 SYLMAR (6-0) at No. 20 KENNEDY (6-0), 7 p.m. Key stat: 1,019. Combined rushing yards for Kennedy of Granada Hills’ Chris Gadalla and Matt Gentle, 60 fewer than Sylmar star C.J. Gable‘s area-leading total. Outlook: Four City Section teams enter Week 7 with undefeated records, and two of them square off in the likely Valley Mission League title decider. Sylmar hasn’t faced a team with a winning record, beating up on opponents with a combined 10-25 mark. The Spartans defeated winless Van Nuys 77-0 in last week’s league opener, relying on 267 yards and three touchdowns from Gable, including a 92-yard score late in the third quarter. Sylmar, which has outscored opponents 264-38, has made a case to be a top-four seed when City playoff pairings are determined next month. A convincing victory over Kennedy would enhance the Spartans’ cause. Kennedy, which won last year’s meeting 20-7, has made the first six weeks of coach Bob Francola‘s final season memorable, winning all five nonleague games – after entering the year as losers of 19 successive nonleague games – and holding off Monroe of North Hills 17-12 in last week’s league opener. The Cougars’ opponents’ record is 10-24, but they have three quality victories, over Verdugo Hills of Tujunga, Palmdale and Chatsworth. Key for Kennedy is keeping the Spartans’ offense off the field. Gadalla (659 yards, four TDs) is one of the City’s toughest running backs, and QB Kenny Everett is efficient, throwing nine touchdown passes with only two interceptions. The Cougars will need to rely on Gadalla and Everett to produce as many time-consuming drives as possible. OTHER GAMES No. 9 SIMI VALLEY (5-1) at No. 13 THOUSAND OAKS (5-1), 7 p.m. Outlook: There is much riding on this game: The winner remains in contention for the league title, and the loser joins a group fighting for the fourth and final playoff spot. Simi Valley began the season 5-0 for the first time in program history, then last week sustained a heartbreaking, 36-35 overtime loss to Newbury Park. Thousand Oaks, which lost to Moorpark 50-28 in its league opener, has rebounded with victories over Royal of Simi Valley and Westlake to keep its title hopes alive. Thousand Oaks QB Ryan Cloney was instrumental in the Lancers’ 42-31 comeback victory last week over Westlake, completing 23 of 28 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns. RB Taylor Malm scored four TDs, matching his total from the previous five weeks. Simi Valley RB Devin Kelley rushed for 155 yards, and WR Lorne Bell had 102 receiving yards for the Pioneers in the loss to Newbury Park. Key stat 69.2 Completion percentage for Cloney (108 of 156), tops among area quarterbacks. PALMDALE (2-4) at No. 4 OAKS CHRISTIAN (5-0), 7 p.m. Outlook: This matchup looked a lot more intriguing when it was made last summer. Palmdale usually is one of the best teams in the area, but the Falcons are struggling. Palmdale has a lot of talent, especially senior RB Dominic Blood and WR Tyreace House, and will be the most dangerous opponent Oaks Christian of Westlake Village, a Div. XI school, has faced in its five-year history. The game will be especially meaningful for Oaks Christian TB Marc Tyler and DL Tommy Grillo, who live in Lancaster and are friends with many Palmdale players. Tyler, who lives with QB Jimmy Clausen‘s family during the week, writes 661, the area code in Lancaster, on his arm before every game. Palmdale has chosen senior Rodney Trimm as its starting quarterback. Junior David Coleman last week started ahead of Trimm, a three-year starter. Key stat .633 Winning percentage of the five teams Oaks Christian has beaten. The Lions have outscored opponents 276-42. Palmdale is the first team with a losing record Oaks Christian has faced. No. 1 NOTRE DAME (6-0) at ST. PAUL (3-3), 7:30 p.m. Outlook: Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks doesn’t need to be reminded that almost two years ago, host St. Paul of Santa Fe Springs handed the Knights a 24-21 Mission League setback. Notre Dame has since won 28 consecutive games, gaining a measure of revenge against the Swordsmen last season with a 43-14 victory. The Knights – they boast the state’s second-longest active winning streak, behind Central Catholic of Modesto’s (55) – won’t be satisfied until they defeat St. Paul on its home field. The Swordsmen, who were 13-2 in their first three years in the Mission League, are in danger their second loss in as many league games. They fell 17-7 last week to St. Francis of La Canada Flintridge. Notre Dame built a 42-0 halftime lead in last week’s 56-14 victory over Harvard-Westlake of Studio City. Six Knights scored touchdowns. Key stat 342 Career victories for St. Paul coach Marijon Ancich, most in California prep history. Notre Dame’s Kevin Rooney has 212 victories. No. 10 CANYON (5-1) vs. SAUGUS (2-4) at College of the Canyons, 7:30 p.m. Outlook: Saugus sees this as a must-win – and for good reason. The Centurions, who still play high-powered Valencia, aren’t expected to win more than two remaining games, so a loss tonight probably means at best a fourth-place finish and perhaps no playoff berth. Saugus, plagued by turnovers during its four-game losing streak, needs to find some offense after scoring two TDs the past three games. RB J.J. DiLuigi is on pace to break Canyon of Canyon Country’s single-season scoring record. The junior has rushed for 772 yards (6.5 avg.), scored 20 TDs and caught eight passes. He’s also a dangerous return specialist who scored on a 99-yard kick return last month. Canyon’s Austin Civita has passed for 1,019 yards (58 pct.) and eight TDs. Key stat 20 Touchdowns scored by area-leader DiLuigi, one more than Sylmar’s C.J. Gable. No. 6 HART (5-1) at BURROUGHS (3-3), 7 p.m. Outlook: Can struggling Hart of Newhall finally come through with the kind of huge offensive performance to which fans are accustomed? That’s the issue for the Indians, who have been winning – but not winning big. The region’s most consistently successful program the past two decades, Hart has outscored opponents by an average of a little more than seven points per game this season. Hart faces a Burroughs of Burbank team that is 0-23 in the series since 1981 and has allowed five or more TDs twice the past three weeks. Hart’s Tyler Lyon, who has missed nearly three full games because of injuries, has passed for 584 yards (55 pct.) and three TDs. His efficiency rating of 121.90 ranks just fifth in the league, but Lyon has been victimized by dropped passes – seven in the first half last week. Burroughs RB Thomas Kyle, a three-year starter, has rushed for 691 yards – with five 100-yard performances – and he’s also an all-league DB. Key stat 23 Consecutive Hart victories over Burroughs, dating to 1981. QUARTZ HILL (4-2) at No. 16 ANTELOPE VALLEY (4-2), 7 p.m. Outlook: Antelope Valley needed a late, 87-yard touchdown run by Allan Mohan to seal a 28-20 victory over Highland last week, so the Antelopes are far from infallible. A.V. is a different team when RB Andre Crenshaw plays. Crenshaw sat out last week with a calf injury and is questionable tonight. The Antelopes were 27-0 winners in last year’s meeting. Key stat 89 Quartz Hill points in the past two games. After averaging just 18.5 points in its first four games, Quartz Hill’s offense scored 38 in a victory two weeks ago over Knight and 51 in a rout of Golden Valley last week. TEMPLE CITY (3-3) at LA CANADA (5-1), 7 p.m. Outlook: The Spartans, ranked No. 3 in Southern Section Div. X, started the season 4-0 before a humbling 37-20 loss at La Salle of Pasadena. That score raised some eyebrows at Temple City, which defeated La Salle 31-28 the week before. La Canada is the favorite to repeat as league champion, but Temple City and Monrovia figure to be the Spartans’ biggest hurdles. La Canada QB T.J. Trumbo is questionable after sitting out the final three quarters last week with back spasms. RBs David Hopkins and Lavelle Peterson stepped up in Trumbo’s absence, combining for 166 yards and three touchdowns in a 25-14 victory over South Pasadena. Hopkins and Peterson have combined for 18 TDs and 138 points this season. Key stat 5 Consecutive 100-yard rushing games by Peterson (712 yards), one of three area players to run for 100 yards in every game they’ve played this season. HIGHLAND (2-4) at No. 17 LANCASTER (6-1), 7 p.m. Outlook: Lancaster (3-0) has scored a lot of points (36 per game), but its defense sets it apart from the rest of the Golden League. The Eagles have held four teams to seven or fewer points and allowed more than 17 only once, in a season-opening loss to powerful Orange Lutheran. Because of its emphasis on ball control, opposing teams don’t get many shots at Lancaster’s defense. Highland (1-1) is coming off a solid performance against Antelope Valley. To beat Lancaster, the Bulldogs must make the most of their opportunities. Key stat 12 Highland pass attempts last week against Antelope Valley, nearly a third of the Bulldogs’ season total (37). 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!