St. John Bosco in good shape for Pac-Five title run and will be joined in the field by Trinity League at-large teams Santa Margarita and Servite. There were few surprises in Sunday’s pairings, which were made easier in the Northern Division after Paso Robles was upset by Atascadero. Paraclete in the Mid-Valley Division also gained a No. 1 seed by knocking off Sierra Canyon in its league finale.
For the weekend’s expanded State 25 scoreboard plus links to other section playoff pairings breakdowns, CLICK HERE.
The CIF Southern Section football playoffs are conducted in 13 divisions with no open division. The divisions are determined by league strength and each league’s teams are not split. We think this is the way all sections should do it.
Pac-Five: The way teams have been moved into this division to make it stronger than ever before, there’s little doubt that in most years the winner is going to go the CIF Open Division state final and most years will be playing De La Salle of Concord in that game. St. John Bosco, which beat DLS in last year’s Open Division bowl game, is the top seed once again. The Braves (9-1) are followed by JSerra (9-1), Centennial of Corona (8-2) and Long Beach Poly (9-1). Santa Margarita and Servite were awarded the two at-large berths, thus ending the season for Alemany of Mission Hills, which at least had an argument to get Servite’s spot. Two teams meeting in the first round with multiple state bowl appearances – Centennial and Serra of Gardena – would be our choice as the game of the week.
West Valley: The team that wins in this division would be considered D1 South for the bowl games. There were no surprises relating to the seedings with Upland (8-2), Mission Viejo (8-2), Chino Hills (8-2) and Tesoro (8-2) getting the top four. A dark horse contender seems to be Vista Murrieta (8-2), which will likely play Upland in the quarterfinals. Although the Broncos started slow this season, they have the pedigree and know how to beat Upland in the playoffs.
Inland: This division’s champion qualifies for consideration to play in the CIF D2 South bowl game. Redlands East Valley (9-1), which had been a staple in the previous Inland Division when Centennial and others were in it, is the top seed. Heritage of Menifee, with the state’s longest current win streak and a CIFSS divisional champ from last year, is the No. 2 seed. Citrus Hill (9-1) is seeded fourth despite a loss to Rancho Verde and guess who the Hawks may have to play in the second round?
Southeast: Top seed St. Francis of La Canada (10-0) is a lot like Redlands East Valley in the Inland Division in that it’s a program that has competed with Pac-Five and similar programs in the past. For St. Francis, it was competitive against Serra of Gardena and Chaminade of West Hills. La Mirada is seeded second with a lopsided loss to Servite but with a huge win over Tesoro that puts the Matadors in our book ahead of potentially San Clemente or Corona del Mar for a D2 South bowl bid because Tesoro later beat both teams. A team that St. Francis needs to be wary of in the second-round is La Serna of Whitter, which won a CIFSS divisional title last season.
Southwest: Corona del Mar of Newport Beach (9-1) is the top seed and although the Sea Kings can’t defend their CIF D3 state title because they’re in a different CIFSS division they sure hope to get a crack at the D2 crown. San Clemente (9-1) is seeded second, followed by La Habra and Villa Park.
Western: West of Torrance and El Segundo both wrapped up 10-0 regular seasons with the Vikings taking the top seed and the Eagles going at No. 2. West’s state ranking also got enhanced when Carson recently knocked off Narbonne of Harbor City since one of West’s wins is over the Colts. A first-round upset special is No. 4 seed Oxnard playing Torrance. The Tartars just lost by only two points to West and have had some explosive outings this season. Simi Valley (6-4) seems like another dark horse contender. The Pioneers just powered past Calabasas 47-19 and have some close losses to very good teams.
Eastern: Norte Vista of Riverside seemed to be on its way to the top seed until its next to last regular season game when La Sierra of Riverside pulled off the upset. That opened the door for both La Quinta and Oak Hills of Hesperia, who were seeded No. 1 and No. 2. The Blackhawks have only one on-the-field loss on their resume and that was to unbeaten Heritage of Menifee by just one point. Oak Hills has a forfeit loss but its only on-the-field loss has been to Crespi of the Pac-Five. Two huge wins also stand out for the Bulldogs against both San Gorgonio and Serrano, two teams that are 9-1 and have lost only to the Bulldogs.
Central: This is the weakest of the CIFSS divisions that are D2 South for the bowl games and there are six divisions in the section that are D2 South. The top four seeds are Colony of Ontario, Monrovia, Kaiser of Fontana and San Marino. It’s also a more wide open field than many others and could see a Cinderella story or two emerge.
Northern: After the Pac-Five and West Valley for D1, the next six we’ve broken down would be D2 South for the bowl games. This division is D3 South, but it’s arguably stronger than many of those that the CIF deemed D2. Paso Robles and Lompoc seemed to be in a two-team race for the top seed heading into the weekend, but Paso was beaten 28-18 by Atascadero. Lompoc ended up 10-0 and was followed in the seedings by Newbury Park, Atascadero and Palmdale. Many of these schools were from the old CIFSS Northern Division, which was D1 for the bowl games. The loss by Paso Robles dropped the Bearcats into a tough first-round matchup against Royal of Simi Valley, which is another upset alert for us. Lompoc’s road may see the Braves have to play a rematch game with Arroyo Grande in the second-round and that’s not going to be a walk in the park, either. It was only a 20-13 win for Lompoc when those two played in their season opener.
Southern: Garden Grove, which lost in the Southern Division final last year to Corona del Mar, has been the team to beat for most of the season and at 9-1 is the top seed. Westminster, Canyon of Anaheim and Katella of Anaheim are next. There have been teams with losing records ranked in the top 10 of the division so it’s not a very strong one compared to the Northern Division.
Mid-Valley: This is the third bracket in the CIFSS in which the championship team would go to the CIF D3 South bowl game, but this is the first one in which there are schools with enrollments below 500. That means if any of those schools win the title, then those schools would go to the D4 South bowl game. Paraclete of Lancaster is the top seed after the Spirits knocked off previously unbeaten Sierra Canyon 13-7 last Friday. The Trailblazers are seeded second. If Paraclete wins the title, it would go to D3 South. If Sierra Canyon were to avenge that loss (potentially in the final), it would go to D4 South and still would appear to have a good shot at the bowl game despite the loss to Paraclete.
Northwest: Maranatha of Sierra Madre (10-0) is the top seed followed by Pasadena Poly, Shadow Hills and Big Bear of Big Bear Lake. Other than Pasadena Poly, most of the schools in this division are above 500 enrollment, including Maranatha. That means the winner probably will be D3 and not D4 for the bowl games and even if Maranatha ends at 14-0 the Minutemen realistically aren’t in the same boat strength-wise with teams like Newbury Park and Lompoc.
East Valley: Almost all of the teams in this division are below 500 enrollment, which makes one wonder if the realignments were done that way on purpose so the CIFSS would just about guarantee at least one solid contender for the D4 South bowl game. St. Margaret’s (10-0) and Grace Brethren (10-0) have been outstanding all year and seem very capable to making it to a 13-0 vs. 13-0 final. To actually get a bowl bid, however, probably requires Sierra Canyon not to win it all in the Mid-Valley Division.