June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Continuation of Crean Lutheran-Northwood football series could depend on new CIF plan

Northwood quarterback Eddie Ma is pressured by Crean Lutheran’s Anthony Jones Friday night. (Photo courtesy Crean Lutheran Shutterbugs, Howard Lyon).

Northwood and Crean Lutheran football teams met again Friday evening in a hard-fought non-league game in front of a big crowd at Crean Lutheran.

Crean Lutheran won Friday’s game 28-7, avenging a 17-14 loss to the Timberwolves in 2021.

The coaches of the two teams, Crean Lutheran’s Rick Curtis and Northwood’s JC Clarke, are good friends. Curtis was the head coach and Clarke an assistant coach when Curtis was the head coach for Northwood.

Members of both coaching staffs get along well so an annual game seems like a natural, especially considering the proximity of the two schools, both located off of Portola Parkway.

But will the two teams meet again on the football field in the near future?

That may depend on the CIF realignment, which is scheduled to take place next season, ending the traditional Orange County league format and grouping teams based on the previous year’s finish into conferences.

Crean Lutheran and Northwood are currently in different leagues.

“I don’t really like playing that much against friends,” Curtis said after Friday’s game. “But it’s a good, friendly rivalry, I guess you would say. I have a lot of respect for JC obviously and Dean (Toohey) and all those guys. Those are my guys, they do a great job and JC defensively is tough. He’s always been a great defensive coordinator and he’s doing a great job as a head coach.

“Its great to beat them, we’re both competitive. We will meet up I’m sure down the road.”

Curtis said he would like to continue the series.

“I don’t know what their thoughts are,” Curtis said. “Everything could change, we could be in the same league next year, who knows? Once December hits and they roll the dice, we will see what kind of league we’re in and then you will have to jockey around for the pre-league schedule and see how tough you want to make that schedule in order to be prepared for league.”

Northwood Coach JC Clarke seems to enjoy the crosstown series and was upbeat, despite the loss.

“I’m very encouraged, the kids competed and they stepped it up tonight, this is the best we played on defense and the offense did some nice things. It was just a really good Crean (Lutheran) defense,” he said after the game.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com