This week in high school football around the valley is highlighted by two big games in the De Anza League — Rancho Mirage vs. Desert Hot Springs and Shadow Hills vs. Twentynine Palms — both matchups that could potentially decide the playoff picture in four weeks.
But none may be bigger than an eight-man game taking place in Palm Springs that likely will decide a league title.
Here are your keys to each of the game across the valley this Friday:
Palm Springs (5-0, 1-0) at Xavier Prep (3-3, 2-0)
The Saints likely enjoyed their week as the only team sitting at 2-0 in the Desert Valley League, but they will have a tough time defending their spot at the top. As the Indians proved last week, they’ve got plenty of firepower to light up the scoreboard. Meanwhile, the Saints have scored more than 17 points just once this season.
Cathedral City (0-6, 0-2) at La Quinta (1-5, 1-1)
A year ago, the Blackhawks put up 84 points on the Lions, payback for La Quinta sleeping on their DVL opponent in a 2013 loss. That game in 2014 should indicate that the Blackhawks learned their lesson not to overlook the Lions. Still, La Quinta can’t give the winless Lions a window of opportunity because coach Richard Lee’s team has proven it has some sparks in Cameron Lee and Jordan Wallace that can cause defenses some trouble.
Indio (1-5, 0-2) at Palm Desert (2-3, 1-0)
Unfortunately for Indio, the Aztecs were forced to have a week off from football after their uplifting defeat of La Quinta. There’s no doubt coach Pat Blackburn’s squad is itching to get back out and prove themselves as a DVL title contender, while the Rajahs struggle to compete with the upper echelon of the league, including a 54-6 loss to La Quinta a week ago.
Desert Mirage (3-3, 0-2) at Yucca Valley (2-4, 0-2)
The Rams desperately need a win. The team that surprised many running out of the gates at 3-0 has dropped three straight and have struggled to boast the two-headed rushing attack it once had. The Trojans provide an opportunity for Desert Mirage to get back on track before they hit the road to face Rancho Mirage.
Desert Hot Springs (5-1, 2-0) at Rancho Mirage (4-2, 1-1)
Both the Golden Eagles and Rattlers enter Friday’s matchup with something to prove. Desert Hot Springs, with a 5-1 record, has won each of its first two league games against two teams likely to finish in the bottom of the De Anza League. On the other hand, Rancho Mirage won its biggest game ever a week ago against Big Bear. Which team is going to set itself apart early?
Shadow Hills (2-3, 1-1) at Twentynine Palms (5-0, 1-0)
This game could have major playoff and league title implications for both teams. The Knights and the Wildcats enter as two of just three undefeateds left in the De Anza League, and both teams should be fresh. The key to this game will be the emergence of Seth Morales under center for Shadow Hills. Can the junior transfer from Indio turn the Knights into a true two-dimensional threat?
Joshua Springs (5-0, 0-0) at Desert Chapel (5-0, 1-0)
You can’t ask for a more important regular-season game in eight-man football in the CIF Southern Section this season. Joshua Springs, ranked No. 1 in the Division 2 polls and the defending CIF SS champion, will take its undefeated record to Desert Chapel, also undefeated and No. 2 in the polls, to see who will have the inside route at a Victory League title and, more importantly, a possible No. 1 seed in the playoffs come November.
Bloomington Christian (5-1, 1-0) at Desert Christian Academy (3-3, 1-0)
The Conquerors can’t afford to have another league loss on their record after falling last week in a lopsided home defeat to Desert Chapel, while Bloomington Christian routed Palm Valley last week in their first Victory League matchup. Desert Christian Academy will need to sure up an undisciplined offense that committed 14 penalties a week ago.
Nathan Brown, The Desert Sun