We're in for another strange night in the Santa Maria Valley. Meaning, there will be no games in town this week after just one game last week.

Santa Maria is playing at Santa Ynez. Righetti never filled in its bye week after losing its Bishop Diego game. 

Pioneer Valley is at Templeton and St. Joseph is headed to Bakersfield to play Centennial. Neither of the Valley's 8-man teams play home games either as Valley Christian and Orcutt Academy hit the road this week. 

With that said, there's plenty on the line for teams from the SMV. 

Let's start with St. Joseph. 

Game of the Week

No. 5: St. Joseph (0-2) at Bakersfield Centennial (3-0)

Obviously, this game is a tough one to pick. CalPreps, which will be providing the power rankings for the CIF divisions in the playoffs this year, has Centennial 147th in the state and St. Joseph 174th. 

The Knights are winless in two road games and traveled to Bakersfield in the second week of the season, losing to Frontier 35-33. 

I think the Knights are due. They've got a lot of new pieces in place and the team should finally gel Friday night and come back to the coast with a win.

I've said it numerous times this year, but the Knights are going to be a much better team after Sept. 22 once everyone becomes eligible. 

The Pick:  St. Joseph 28, Centennial 25.

No. 1 Lompoc (3-0) at No. 10 Arroyo Grande (1-2)

This was always one of the more fun rivalry games on the Central Coast. In fact, I believe Lompoc coach Andrew Jones coached his very first game against Arroyo Grande and former coach Tom Goossen, back in 2010.

It's not quite the same since the two teams are in different sections and different leagues, but these are two of the more successful programs in the area. The last time these teams played, back in 2019, Arroyo Grande narrowly held on for a wild win in a game played at Pioneer Valley.

Arroyo Grande had a rough spring and is off to a so-so start so far this year. But the Eagles have gotten better over the last two weeks, with a loss to Centennial and a thumping win over San Luis Obispo.

Lompoc rolled past its rival last week in a 56-0 win over Cabrillo. Quarterback Cavin Ross did not play in that one. I'd be surprised if he's out Friday against Arroyo Grande, but I don't have his status. It may not make a difference with the way the Braves run the ball with Sheldon Canley Jr. in the backfield. He only needs a couple of touches a night to make his presence felt. (He has 32 carries for 447 yards and seven touchdowns this year. He's averaging 14 yards a carry).

The Eagles will also have to avoid kicking the ball to Deville Dickerson, who has six return touchdowns already.

I think the Eagles can score on Lompoc, but will have trouble slowing down the Brave offense, especially with a healthy Ross.

The Pick: Lompoc 33, Arroyo Grande 18.

No. 2: Bishop Diego (2-0) at Redondo Union (0-2)

The Cardinals shouldn't have much trouble against the Sea Hawks. 

The Pick: Bishop Diego 49, Redondo: 22

No. 4: Mission Prep (2-0) vs. Watsonville St. Francis (0-2)

The Royals should rout the Sharks against Watsonville.

The Pick: Mission Prep 44, St. Francis 6

No. 6: Santa Barbara (2-1) vs. San Marcos (2-0)

The Dons have won two straight and I'd bet on them to make it three in a row against one of their city rivals.

The Pick: Santa Barbara 42, San Marcos 13

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No. 7: Santa Ynez (2-1) vs. Santa Maria (1-1)

Don't expect this one to be high scoring. 

The Saints won their opener 3-0 over East Bakersfield then lost to San Marcos 13-6 in their second game. 

Santa Ynez has limited opponents to 16 points a game while averaging about 17. 

Both defenses are really good, though I think the Pirates have a bit more size and speed on both sides of the ball.

The Pirates also have an edge in the quarterback position with junior Luke Gildred. I'm going with the Pirates.

The Pick: Santa Ynez 24, Santa Maria 8 

No. 8: Paso Robles (1-2) at Fresno Sunnyside (2-0)

Sunnyside is 2-0, but only has wins over South Bakersfield and Merced Golden Valley.

Paso Robles plays one of the toughest schedules in the area, with games so far against Lompoc, Clovis Buchanan and Bakersfield Independence. 

The Bearcats should beat the Wildcats Friday.

The Pick: Paso Robles 44, Sunnyside 22.

Pioneer Valley (0-2) at Templeton (1-1)

Pioneer Valley looked decent in its opener with a 6-0 loss to San Luis Obispo, and was even better Friday in a 26-20 loss to unbeaten Nipomo.

Templeton lost to unbeaten Coalinga and beat Madera Liberty. The Panthers are close, but not sure they can beat Templeton.

The Pick: Templeton 25, Pioneer Valley 19. 

Royal (1-1) at Cabrillo (0-3) 

Royal beat Moorpark for its win and Cabrillo suffered losses to Nordhoff, Nipomo and Lompoc as the losing streak reached 30 games.

I don't see the streak ending Friday, but the Conqs can be competitive, though they had just about 13 players suit up Friday against Lompoc.

The Pick: Royal 30, Cabrillo 18.

Dos Pueblos (0-2) at Ventura Buena (1-2)

Dos Pueblos has losses to Nordhoff and Ventura while Buena beat a pretty good Agoura team and has tough losses to Oak Park and West Ranch.

I'll go with the Bulldogs in this one.

The Pick: Buena 37, Dos Pueblos 14.

Morro Bay (1-1) at Fresno (0-1) 

The Pick: Morro Bay  22, Fresno 10.

San Luis Obispo (1-1) at Fremont JFK (0-1)

The Pick: San Luis Obispo 35, JFK 20. 

Season Record: 20-13.

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