LANCASTER – Antelope Valley High matches its Golden League rivals for strength, speed and athleticism. What sets the Antelopes apart is opportunism. Antelope Valley (7-3) forced 33 turnovers (15 interceptions, 18 fumble recoveries) en route to a share of the league title. The Antelopes’ propensity for forcing mistakes figures to give them a key advantage in the Southern Section Div. III playoffs. Antelope Valley, which is among four teams out of the Golden League to make the playoffs, plays host to Leuzinger of Lawndale (7-3) Friday at 7:30 p.m. Being in the right place at the right time is no accident. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week In addition to the daily footwork, blocking and tackling drills most teams do, Antelope Valley coach Jon Fleming has added stripping and fumble-recovery drills to the daily training routine. Defensive backs also practice fielding tipped passes. “I’ve always felt creating turnovers is really important, and that’s something I’ve preached,” Fleming said. “Sometimes, the best defense is having your offense on the field.” The work includes teaching players how to secure the football while avoiding injury, something that Fleming believes often is overlooked. “When I was in college I really didn’t know how to recover a fumble,” Fleming said. “I hurt my thumbs and my ribs pretty bad a few times.” The Antelopes forced five turnovers – all in a 42-point fourth quarter – in Thursday’s 49-10 victory over Littlerock. They capitalized on three turnovers in a 22-19 victory Oct. 7 over league co-champion Palmdale, a victory that gave them preferred playoff seeding. In addition to the technical training, Fleming also has tried to instill an aggressive mindset in his defenders, encouraging them to force the issue. “We do a pretty good job of (forcing turnovers),” Fleming said. “Thirty-three turnovers is the most I’ve ever been a part of. When you get the ball that often, that helps you out a lot.” Topsy-turvy: Antelope Valley wasn’t the only Golden League team that received a scare last week. Palmdale barely managed to hold off a late Quartz Hill surge in a 32-27 victory to win a share of its fourth consecutive title. “I think what it shows is that when it comes to the Golden League, anything can happen,” Palmdale coach Jeff Williams said. “Just look at how topsy-turvy the league was. (Lancaster) started out (6-1) and ended up finishing (tied for third). We were 1-4 and won (a share of) the league title.” Pairings: Three Golden League teams face Bay League teams. Antelope Valley plays third-place Leuzinger of Lawndale. Palmdale (5-5) plays at co-champion Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach (9-1) and third-place Highland (5-5) plays at co-champ Peninsula of Rolling Hills Estates (9-1). Lancaster (7-3) plays at Pacific League champion Muir of Pasadena (8-2). All games are Friday at 7:30 p.m. Littlejohn OK: Highland star running back Micah Littlejohn is fine after leaving Thursday’s 34-7 victory over Knight with a thigh bruise. He was expected to participate in all practice drills Monday, Bulldogs coach Jim Root said. Gideon Rubin, (818)713-3607 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
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