By Jim Tortolano/Garden Grove Journal
Crosstown rivalries are the spice of high school football. Battles between neighborhood schools for local bragging rights are as big a Friday night tradition as halftime shows and the honking of car horns by the victors.
But this Friday’s clash between Pacifica and Garden Grove high school at the Argo stadium will have more than the usual significance. The Argonauts are rated number one in the CIF Southern Division, and the Mariners number two in the Southwest Division.
For most of the last four decades, these schools met during the Garden Grove League regular season. But Pacifica is now in the Empire League, and this non-league contest not only matches two of the top Orange County teams, it serves as a kind of unofficial “city championship,” although Santiago (and other local) partisans may want to have something to say about that.
Garden Grove is 2-0 after a comeback 22-19 win over Woodbridge. Pacifica is 3-0 after smacking Whittier 41-8. It’s the first clash between the two schools in football since the Mariners departed for the EL in 2006.
The Argonauts are led by the explosive Josh Webb, who has scored six touchdowns and rushed for 251 yards in two games. Don’t overlook Grove QB Jovani Duran, who has completed 65 percent of his passes. The Mariners feature Cody Johnson (four TDs and 239 yards in three games) and Mario Nava who has thrown for four scores and 456 yards.
Friday’s victor, of course, doesn’t get a free pass to the playoffs. Santiago (2-0) is rated second in the Southern Division and should offer a tough challenge to the Argos when they meet on Oct. 14.
Pacifica, for its part, is in the tougher-than-ever Empire loop, which opens play next week. The Mariners will start out with fourth-ranked Tustin, and then take on eighth-ranked Kennedy, followed by top-rated Valencia.
Friday’s game will kick off at 7 p.m.