Bishop Diego and Quartz Hill state playoff game was moved because of the fire in Ventura County. The two teams will collide tonight at Cal Lutheran in the Division 3-AA state semifinals.
How both teams got here: Quartz Hill (13-1) last week came up with a goal line stand to beat Dos Pueblos 26-21 and won the Division 10 CIF title. Bishop Diego (13-1) is hoping to continue its season after soundly defeating Golden Valley 37-6 to claim the Division 6 CIF title.
What makes the matchup so intriguing is how similar both teams play. Both Quartz Hill and Bishop Diego run the ball extremely well and have tremendous strength in its defensive line. How do the matchups break down individually? Let’s find out.
Offensive Line: Both teams are in tonight’s game because of its offensive line. Quartz Hill’s line will be led by senior Aurion Peeples who did a solid job of giving protection to UCLA commit Matthew Tago. On the opposite side is senior Jacob Songer for Bishop Diego whose team has 14 players up front. The ability to stay fresh could be a major factor but Quartz Hill has one of the best conditioned teams in the state. Advantage: Even
Defensive Line and Linebackers: Quartz Hill brings speed and power with defensive tackle Randy Clemons and Matthew Tago. Clemons gets off the ball quickly and Tago can cover the field laterally. The Rebels had six sacks in its CIF title victory. Advantage: Quartz Hill.
Secondary: Bishop Diego’s has been a major problem for opposing teams. The Cardinals forced five turnovers against Golden Valley including nine in the last two weeks. Dylan Street had two interceptions in the Division 6 CIF title game Advantage: Bishop Diego
Running Backs: There may not be a more imposing running back right now then Bishop Diego running back John Harris. The 6-foot-2 inch 205 lb. junior has ravaged opposing defensive lines all season and could break 2,000 yards for the season in tonight’s game.
Harris is complimented with Adrian Soracco who can get outside and catch the ball out of the back field. The main focus for Quartz Hill will be to try and stop Harris. Advantage: Bishop Diego.
Wide Receivers: Passing could be a mute point for Bishop Diego since so much of its success this season has come in its run game. Quartz Hill will look to Russell Dace who made a big catch to set up Tago’s game winning touchdown run against Dos Pueblos. Advantage: Quartz Hill
Quarterbacks: Quartz Hill quarterback/linebacker Matthew Tago last week put the team on his back and carried them to victory. Tago ran for three touchdowns and also threw for 186 yards. Bishop Diego has not faced a quarterback this athletic in the playoffs. Advantage: Quartz Hill.
Special Teams: Both teams cover punt and kickoff return but Bishop Diego has the advantage on extra points and field goals. Junior kicker Jack Luckhurst has been seemingly automatic in the playoffs. It also helps when your coach and father is former NFL kicker Mick Luckhurst.
Bishop Diego wins if:
- John Harris breaks down Quartz Hill’s defensive line
- Its defense Matthew Tago into ill-advised throws
- The Cardinals turn the game into a methodical slow-tempo affair.
Quartz Hill wins if:
- Randy Clemons can make it a personal mission to stop Harris
- Matthew Tago can give Bishop Diego a variety of looks with his arm and legs
- Its defensive line can match Bishop Diego’s intensity on the offensive line.
Prediction: Tonight’s Division 3-AA semifinals is going to be pure smash mouth football. Whoever controls the line of scrimmage controls the game. Both teams have that strength on both ends of the ball and the game could come down to who has the ball in the final possession. The best player in this game is Matthew Tago and he will be the ultimate difference maker in this matchup.
Score: Quartz Hill defeats Bishop Diego 21-20
Written by Ethan Hanson
Sources: Los Angeles Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Recruiting News Guru, Noozhawk.com