Serrano owns the 2004 CIF-Southern Section Division VIII and seven consecutive Mojave River League crowns won or shared. But the injury-riddled Diamondbacks can expect quite a battle to add the 2005 MRL crown to their collection. All five Mojave River League teams take winning records into this week’s league openers, which feature tonight’s showdown between Apple Valley (4-1) and Sultana (4-1) in a clash of four-game winning streaks at Sultana’s Jay Reed Field. Rim of the World (3-2) faces Hesperia (3-2) on Friday at Sultana. Serrano (4-1) faces a nonleague challenge at Ridgecrest Burroughs (3-2). The Burros lost at Serrano by one point in last season’s showdown. Sultana has allowed only one touchdown in its last 12 quarters of play. The Sultans’ 43 points allowed is easily the lowest of all MRL and DSL teams – a point of pride at Sultana. “Our defense has played well as a unit,” Sultana coach Zane Sweeney said. “We have a lot of solid kids. You can’t single out one guy on that defense. They just really mesh well.” Sultana linebacker Zac Sweeney’s 57 tackles (17 solo) leads all MRL and DSL teams. Tim Schilling has three interceptions and Matt Crider has four sacks. That tops a defense that has one shutout and two other games in which it gave up six points or less. Sultana placekicker/quarterback Dustin Hoegerl has field goals of 52, 45 and 35 yards to go with 491 yards passing. Sultana’s only loss was a one-point setback in a road game at Palm Desert. The rest of the MRL has potent playoff contenders: Apple Valley. Anthony Ambers has 809 yards rushing, according to MaxPreps.com stats, and is a key to AV’s strong ability to burn clock time. The Sun Devils defense handled speedy opponents against Victor Valley, San Bernardino and San Gorgonio.Rim of the World. The Scots were outscored 113-7 in their last two games, but Sweeney notes one blowout was applied by a D5 team (Hemet West Valley) and the other current D8 No. 1 Palm Springs. “(Rim) is gonna be a tall order for anybody to hold down,’ Hesperia coach Rob Kistner said. “They move the ball on everybody.” Hesperia. The Scorpions are 1-3 with a seven-point victory over winless Granite Hills after winning their first two games. Hard-running tailback Aaron Moseley has 1,100 yards in five games, according to Kistner. Starting QB Adrian Jimenez is growing into his role, while Middle linebacker Xavier Peters is improving after playing at outside backer. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week Serrano is tied for No. 3 in the most recent D8 poll, while Sultana is No. 7 and Rim is No. 10. “To me, it’s all completely up in the air,” said Apple Valley coach Frank Pulice, whose Sun Devils are off to their best start since 1999. “I’m sure everyone is licking their chops,” Serrano coach Ray Maholchic said. “The wind blows and someone seems to get hurt here.” D’backs starting quarterback Max Maholchic and center Joel Cabrera are nursing ankle injuries. Fullback Brian Lane has knee troubles. No. 1 tailback Michael Cabrera, a key figure in the D’backs postseason run to a 14-0 record and the 2004 CIF D8 title, has a sprained knee and sore ankle. Anthony Ruize has emerged as Serrano’s top ball carrier with 464 yards rushing.