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From the Acorn

**********

A team for the ages?

By Stephen Dorman sdorman@theacorn.com

Oaks Christian's roster is loaded with seniors who'll play Division I

 

 

college football next year

 

Don't be surprised if Oaks Christian is one of the top-ranked football teams in the nation this fall when national publications such as USA Today announce their preseason polls.

 

In fact, according to Jeremy Crabtree, the recruiting editor for Rivals.com-one of the nation's foremost high school sports information sources-there's a good possibility Oaks Christian could be the No. 1-ranked team in the United States to start the year.

 

"With all the guys they have coming back, they are going to be a team that everybody in the country is going to know about," Crabtree said. "They've got the marquee kid at quarterback. They have the running back, the defensive back.

 

"As far as a team on paper, I would think that if you're ranking teams from across the county, they would have to be one of the preseason favorites," Crabtree said.

 

The marquee quarterback is Jimmy Clausen. Marc Tyler's the running back and Marshall Jones is the defensive back Crabtree spoke of.

 

 

SO MUCH SKILL-Oaks Christian quarterback Jimmy Clausen, left, and defensive back Marshall Jones work on offensive drills during Tuesday's practice session at OCHS. Both players have already made college commitments, with Clausen headed to Notre Dame and Jones set to join the USC Trojans.

 

Clausen is the nation's highest-ranked prep recruit on Rivals.com's Top 100. The 6foot-3, 200-pound signal-caller has already committed to Notre Dame.

 

Tyler's No. 22 on the list, while Jones ranks 54th. Both players will attend USC.

 

The Lions' trio comprises half of the six California high school football players that crack the top 55 of Rivals.com's list. Overall, 10 players from the state are ranked nationally.

 

Crabtree said having three players listed so high from one school is very atypical.

 

"Every once in a while you'll get a Long Beach Poly or a school in Dallas that might have something comparable to that, but those are usually rare, rare years," Crabtree said.

 

Clausen, Tyler and Jones are only the tip of the iceberg.

 

As many as eight other OCHS soon-to-be seniors will probably accept Division I football scholarships in the near future, Oaks Christian head coach Bill Redell said.

 

Anthony Gildon, a 6-foot-1, 187-pound defensive back, has already accepted a scholarship to Oregon.

 

According to Redell, linemen Michael Ebbitt and Duke Lemmens will both choose between Texas A&M, Colorado and Miami. Lemmens is also looking at the University of Florida.

 

Wide receiver Sean Wiser appears headed to Stanford, while lineman Justin Landseadel is eyeing the Air Force Academy.

 

Linebacker Casey Matthews, the son of Lion defensive coordinator and 19-year NFL veteran Clay Matthews, has narrowed his choice down to Georgia Tech, UC Berkeley and Oregon. Crabtree said Oregon could be the frontrunner to land Matthews.

 

Defensive lineman Thomas Grillo is getting a lot of interest from UC Davis.

 

Cory Yriarte, a 6-foot-2, 290pound center, is a transfer from Paraclete High and could be headed to San Diego State in the fall.

 

"It's very unusual when you have about eight guys that have been offered scholarships by major colleges," Redell said. "We're talking schools like Nebraska, Michigan, Florida and Miami. . .

 

"I've probably had four or five Division I players on a team before," the coach said, "but never this many in one class."

 

Despite having so many critical players locked in to or about to sign college scholarships, Redell said the team's summer passing camps have been as intense as ever. "If anything the intensity in

 

creases," Redell said. "These kids want to show that they can do well and are deserving of the offers that they've received. I think our practice level has increased in intensity and there have been no problems with egos or things like that."

 

Depending on the outcome of ongoing contract negotiations, Oaks Christian could have as many as two nationally televised games this season when they travel to St. Bonaventure and Venice High, Redell said.

 

Crowds at the school during game nights this season are expected to swell, too.

 

Traveling Notre Dame alumni will watch Clausen's every throw, while USC fans will certainly have their eyes glued to Tyler and Jones.

 

Major media outlets and professional athletes have also been

 

know to frequent Lions games over the past few seasons, and those numbers should only grow this year, OCHS athletic director Jan Hethcock said.

 

To help accommodate the anticipated crowds, Hethcock is working on a way to add an additional 1,000 to 1,500 bleacher seats to the visitors' side at Thorson Stadium. It's a project Hethcock said the school's been researching for a while.

 

"If we have it done, it'll be done on the track," Hethcock said. "It'll be the kind of seating like at the Rose Parade where it goes about 11 rows high . . . It would open up a lot more space for a lot more people and it wouldn't be so crowded."

 

Oaks Christian will enter the season as the three-time defending CIF-SS Division XI champions.

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SJ you're just a passionate ND fan like the rest of us, never a problem between us..just a difference of opinion. I think people throw around the word hate too much, it definetely wasn't that on your part, no worries SJ. You are a main guy on here and it wouldn't be the same w/out your insights!

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