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Baseline League makes strong case to be second-best football league in California

Rancho Cucamonga, Etiwanda and Damien are all 5-0. Upland is 4-1 and Chino Hills is 3-2, for a combined league record of 22-3.

For years, the Mission League was heralded as the second-best high school football league in California behind the Trinity League.

However, the Baseline League – comprised of Rancho Cucamonga, Etiwanda, Damien, Upland and Chino Hills – is making a case to be the state's second-best league this season as the programs combine for an impressive record of 22-3 heading into Week 5.

"It's not surprising to me when you consider the talent and level of coaching in this league," Rancho Cucamonga coach Brian Hilderbrand said.

Rancho Cucamonga, Etiwanda and Damien are all 5-0. Upland is 4-1 and Chino Hills is 3-2.

Top to bottom, when considering the rankings of the teams in the Baseline compared to the Mission, the average ranking for Baseline teams is 26.4. The Mission's is 34.5.

The more the Baseline teams win, the better every membered program's schedule looks. Hilderbrand was candid about what he looks for on Friday nights after his team is finished playing.

"Of course, there's sense of league pride," he said. "You want to see other teams in your league win. In the playoffs, too. Last year, Upland made the Division 3 final, and Etiwanda won Division 5. That's great for our league."

Rancho Cucamonga is the highest ranked team in the SBLive Top 25 (No. 7) and the highest-rated team on (13). It could make a run for the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs. But it would take winning the Baseline League, and it might even take winning it unscathed.

Rancho Cucamonga's quality wins include Murrieta Valley, Servite and Valencia. All programs that each only have one loss on their record: to Rancho Cucamonga. The Cougars also beat Mission League Bishop Amat last week, 31-20.

Upland has double-digit wins over La Habra, Norco and Millikan. Damien has quality wins over Yorba Linda and Loyola, along with convincing wins over Mira Costa and Charter Oak. Etiwanda's schedule hasn't been as tough, but the Eagles are winning games handedly – all double-digit wins except one.