The prep football world turns its eyes to the Inland Empire this weekend for the long-awaited matchup between Los Osos and Upland high schools. The spotlight belongs to their respective quarterbacks, Richard Brehaut from Los Osos, who has verbally committed to a scholarship offer at UCLA, and Upland’s Josh Nunes, who has given a verbal commitment to Stanford.
This is a big deal locally and throughout all of Southern California. The game will be televised live at 7 p.m. on Fox Sport West Prime, which might be the only way most people get to see the game, since reports have been circulating for months that there won’t be an empty seat in the Los Osos campus stadium.
With both QBs headed to the Pac-10, there figures to be plenty of future battles between the two, who played on the same Pony League baseball team several years ago in Upland. This is the third meeting between Brehaut and Nunes, who both started as sophomores and juniors. Both are seniors this year, although Josh is almost a year older than Richard. Los Osos won both previous meetings pretty convincingly. Upland comes into this year’s contest with a perfect 6-0 record (1-0 in the Baseline League), while the Grizzlies are 5-1 (1-0).
I haven’t seen Los Osos in the regular season this year, but I saw Upland last week and watched both teams in passing league tournaments during the summer. Upland runs the spread offense with lots of crossing patterns and short routes. It’s an impressive offense, and especially so against a far inferior opponent last week. Just when it looks like Nunes will dump off another short pass, he sells the play-action and goes up top. From what I have seen in the past, Los Osos runs more of a pro style offense, and Richard will run for big gains just as easily as throwing for them. On both sides, the defenses will definitely be tested.
I just hope both teams keep things clean. Rumors were floating around during the summer that the Upland kids were going to go after Richard. Sure, those kinds of threats have been making the rounds as long as the game itself. They are part of the game of football, but only up to a point. Who wins when those “targets” find themselves in the hospital with a senseless injury? Even last week, the buzz in the Upland-side stands was that the Upland players had targeted one of the Claremont kids, who grew up and lives in Upland. In the second half, that player went down and is now reportedly out for the season with an injury that might keep him from attempting to participate in other sports through the rest of his senior year.
Cheap shots have no place in this or any game, just because a thug-bully high school kid wants to win points with his pals. There is just too much at stake. It goes beyond what happens on Friday nights. Injuries are part of the game, but they also could change a kid’s future. They could destroy his life. Every player on the field should be doing all he can to prevent injuries. Unfortunately, most of the goons doing the dirty work aren’t exactly college material anyway, so they don’t get it. Perhaps they should spend some time at Casa Colina or Project Walk to get some perspective.
Friday’s game at Los Osos could be a classic battle between two outstanding teams and a pair of future NCAA Division I quarterbacks. But it could get ugly in a hurry if the cheap shots start to fly, which is the buzz once again. I’m sure if that happens, the opposing team won’t hesitate to fire back quickly. Former Dodger pitching great Don Drysdale used to say, “If you hit one of our hitters, we’ll hit two of yours.” Seems like during the Cold War when the U.S. and Soviet Union threatened each other with force: “You drop the bomb on us, we’ll drop two on you,” or something along those lines. It’s the same philosophy here. Let’s just hope it never goes that way, and that this game gets the attention it deserves for all the right reasons.