If talking football, and it just feels right with a chill in the air, they’re plenty of directions to look.
The local prep teams are revved and causing havoc at nearly every turn. A peek at the San Diego County Top 10 high school squads reveals that the majority of the squads are from North County.
Palomar College is a hoot to watch, too. It recently held its own against Fullerton College, the two-time defending state champion that now has a 26-game winning streak.
The Comets fell short, but quarterbacks Connor Curry and Shea Morales played at a level, health-permitting, that they will need to duplicate on Saturday night.
Fresh from battling the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Palomar gets No. 8 Mt. SAC at Escondido High’s Wilson Stadium.
“It’s a team that is about as physical and explosive as Fullerton,” Comets coach Joe Early said.
The game that is also being chatted up is what San Diego State did to Boise State. Playing on the Broncos’ funky blue turf and entering as a two-touchdown underdog, the Aztecs shocked mostly everyone last week with a 19-13 triumph.
The Aztecs (4-1, 1-0) did in the old-fashion way by securing the football and playing stingy defense. Coach Rocky Long’s charges surrendered but 229 yards, the fewest the Broncos had gained at home since 1998.
“We went into the game with the right mindset,” Long told XTRA 360. “Our players understood how good they were and how big of a battle it was going to be from start to finish.”
Not many rivals arrive in the land of potatoes and peel out with a victory. Long is now 2-1 at Boise State since 2000; others are 6-108.
“It’s because our guys go in there with the right attitude,” Long stressed. “Everyone else is ‘On my gosh we are playing Boise State on the blue turf.’ Some teams go up there and the mystique gets to them. It doesn’t get to us because our coaches do such a great job of recruiting great guys.”
That sets up Friday’s date with the Air Force, which will match its triple-option running game against Long’s pro-set rushing attack. The ball won’t be in the air much, and that’s fine with these teams.
If the Aztecs decide to get the pigskin elevated kicker John Baron III will oblige. The Escondido native is being mentioned as among the nation’s top kickers and after his third straight game, he was selected the Mountain West special teams player of the week. Baron had two more field goals, lifting his season mark to 10-of-11 and he’s perfect on eight extra points, while continuing to excel on kickoffs.
Air Force (2-3, 0-2) just demolished Navy so after the Aztecs departed Idaho they got busy.
“We worked on the triple option on the fight home as coaches,” Long said. ”I think it is the best offense even invented. It is a hard one to stop.”
But only if Air Force has possession.
“It would really be nice if we can control the ball and keep them off the field,” Long said. “The trick is we got to be able to stop the triple option or at least slow it down.”
Although local football — minus the NFL’s Chargers — is going full-speed ahead.
Contact Jay Paris at email@example.com. Follow him @jparis_sports
Sportswriter Jay Paris has written his “Sports Talk” column since joining the Coast News in 2013.
Paris, a Cardiff resident, is a longtime Southern California writer, getting his start with the Orange County Register before coming to San Diego in 1992 to cover the Chargers.
He had the Chargers beat for more than two decades with Oceanside Blade-Citizen, the North County Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune, before being named a sports columnist with the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Paris has won numerous awards voted on by his peers in the Pro Football Writers of America. He has also been a staple on countless media platforms, everything from the KPBS to MLB Network and various radio outlets.
Paris is also the author of three books, with his latest one being, “Shohei Ohtani: The Amazing Story Of Baseball’s Two-Way Japanese Superstar.” He has also written “Game Of My Life Chargers” and “Game Of My Life Rams.”
He currently covers the NFL in Los Angeles for Forbes. com and is a contributor to USA Today Sports Weekly. Follow Jay on Twitter @jparis_sports