Millikan is hosting Aquinas for its home opener at 7 tonight after both teams have leaned on their defenses to move up in the CIF Southern Section rankings. The Rams are No. 2 in Division 7, and the Falcons are No. 7 in Division 5.
“They’re a tough defensive team,” Millikan coach Justin Utupo said of Aquinas. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes. When you have a defense that can carry you— well we know first hand at Carson how that story goes.”
Millikan held on for a 7-3 season opening win at Carson, and then survived a late scare at Gahr last week in a 28-20 victory.
“We’ve seen quality quarterbacks the last two games,” Utupo said. “We should be able to makes some plays against their offense.”
Aquinas (1-1) reached the Division 10 championship game in 2016, where it lost to St. Anthony. The Falcons moved up and won the Division 9 title last year. Aquinas dropped its opener to St. Margaret’s, 7-2, and beat Kaiser last week 9-0. Senior receiver and defensive back Gary Ganson (#2) is a key play maker for the Falcons. He had a team-high 43 solo tackles last season.
Millikan has been without the services of receiver Malik Bradford (hamstring) but the senior Cal commit is planning on making his season debut tonight. Last year, Bradford led the Rams with 35 receptions, 666 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Utupo said he made sure to humble his team in practice this week, and knows this isn’t when he wants the Rams to peak.
“The beginning of the year is for the pretenders,” Utupo said. “Yeah, we’ve won two games. So what? Later on in the year, that’s for the contenders.”
Millikan is 2-0 for the second straight season under Utupo, and hasn’t been 3-0 since 2014. The Rams went 4-2 at home last year.