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Metro-Pacific League play opens without a clear favorite Phillip Brents | Fri, Oct 28 2011 02:05 PM

The Metro-Pacific League debuts its second season Friday with two games. The teams with the two top non-league records — Montgomery (4-3) at Mater Dei Catholic (5-2) — pair up in one gridiron battle while the other match-up pits Castle Park (1-6) at Sweetwater (3-4).

Both games kick off at 7 p.m.

With 2010 winner Olympian moving to the Metro-Mesa League this season, the Metro-Pacific League will crown a new champion. But who will win it?

Both the Mater Dei Crusaders and Sweetwater Red Devils are riding two-game winning streaks. The Crusaders defeated the visiting Southwest Raiders, 35-15, to highlight homecoming festivities last Friday while the Devils rolled past the visiting San Ysidro Cougars 41-3. Sweetwater previously defeated Southwest, 35-7, on Oct. 14.

Meanwhile, the Montgomery Aztecs have dropped back-to-back non-league contests against Mar Vista (13-0 on Oct. 14) and Hilltop (33-14 last Friday).

Castle Park coach Hans Graham picks Sweetwater as the favorite to win this year’s league title. However, he doesn’t count out his own squad, which numbers 26 players entering Friday’s league opener.

The Trojans forfeited last Friday’s scheduled non-league game at Mar Vista because of a lack of available players.

“It’s crazy the way the season has gone for us that we still have a shot to win the league title,” Graham said.

As for those Devils? Sweetwater has out-scored its opponents 76-10 in its last two games.

Last Friday, Da Shey Wilson (17 carries, 201 yards) and Daniel Castro (six catches, 141 yards) each scored two touchdowns to power SuHi, which also received touchdowns from Zach Crutcher and Raven Middleton. The Devils racked up 301 rushing yards and 154 passing yards for one of their top offensive performances of the season.

Luis Venegas had one carry for 34 yards while Middleton’s lone carry went for 45 yards.

Mater Dei methodically rolled up a 29-0 edge entering the final quarter against the Raiders (2-5). Joe Legrete scored the Crusaders’ first touchdown on a one-yard run and Paul Ortiz kicked a 36-yard field goal for a 10-0 first quarter lead. A two-point safety on a quarterback sack in the end zone extended the lead to 12-0 and a 15-yard touchdown reception by Iman Chatman moved MDC ahead 19-0 at halftime.

The Crusaders would score another safety and two more rushing touchdowns before the game was over.

MDC coach John Joyner remains cautiously optimistic about his team's championship fortunes despite injuries to key personnel, starting quarterback Jack Fernandes chief among them.

"We have been playing very well, but the Pacific League will be very competitive," Joyner said. "We are looking forward to the challenge leading into Division IV playoffs."

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