Season Preview: Mojave River League

PREP FOOTBALL 2018
MOJAVE RIVER LEAGUE PREVIEW

(2017 Records in parenthesis)

The Mojave River League plays tough football in increasingly difficult conditions. The men the game churns out here are hardened individuals who sacrificed some of the best years of their lives to rumble around in harsh wind and oftentimes unpredictable weather. Apple Valley’s offense clicked into gear and propelled the team to its deepest playoff run in years with one to go. Burroughs’ big-time seniors are gone but the spirit remains in Ridgecrest, who will fight for second again with Oak Hills, which has matured on offense and looks ready for a breakout season. Serrano, Sultana and Hesperia are going beat each other up trying to avoid last place.

APPLE VALLEY (12-1, 5-0) got a big lift with the emergence of QB Jeff Widener, who tossed for 35 TDs and more than 2,100 yards during the Sun Devils’ run to a CIF-SS Division 10 semifinal. Coach Matt Rohrbaugh’s team is healthy and deep and could be ready to take the next step, led first by a strong running game and 1,000-yard rusher Donovan Ferguson.

BURROUGHS (11-3, 4-1) had a determined run to the CIF-SS Division 9 championship game but graduated a large senior class, including and all-league QB and RB, and are now looking at a rebuilding phase on offense. All-league receiver Bryce Pippen (76 catches) is back to provide an outlet for the Burros next young QB.

OAK HILLS (6-5, 3-2) made the playoffs with a young offense last year so more will be expected of the Bulldogs’ attack in 2018. If senior 6-foot-2 QB Josh Stewart can perform well early in the season could set up his team for a strong finish and collegiate prospects for himself.

SERRANO (2-8, 2-3) are caught up in the turbulence following the departure of an institutional-type coach. The D’backs are now led by Bryan LaCroix, the team’s third head coach in three seasons. LaCroix takes overs a team searching for a new identity and a new QB.

SULTANA (4-6, 1-4) lacks playmakers on both sides of the ball but does return a young defense that wants more out of its final year than one league victory.

HESPERIA (1-9, 0-5) can only get better in Coach Casey Goodnough’s second season, right?

PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
Apple Valley
Oak Hills
Burroughs
Sultana
Hesperia
Serrano

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
RB Donovan Ferguson, Sr., Apple Valley
RB Martinique Finn, Sr., Oak Hills
TE/DE Darius Glover, Sr., Hesperia
WR/DB Sal Hernandez, Sr., Sultana
TE/DE Matthew Lowe, Sr., Serrano
WR Bryce Pippen, Sr., Burroughs
QB Josh Stewart, Sr., Oak Hills
QB Jeff Widener, Sr., Apple Valley

PROMINENT GAMES:
Aug. 30 – Hesperia at Victor Valley
Sept. 14 – Cajon at Oak Hills
Sept. 14 – Serrano at Great Oak
Sept. 28 – Apple Valley at Burroughs
Oct. 26 – Apple Valley at Oak Hills

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