Here’s a first look at how the teams may begin to be stacking up for this year’s CIF Southern California regional bowl games. We build these boards from the top down and from the bottom going up with the toughest choices for the middle divisions. All of these teams should be viewed as place-holders in the various divisions and many will change as the section playoffs get going. Our first run-through also kept Tulare, Central Valley Christian of Visalia and Strathmore from the CIF Central Section in the south.
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Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 6-0
From the department of duh, the Monarchs are currently the top-ranked team for the CIF Southern Section in Division I heading into their Friday showdown with No. 2 St. John Bosco. The winner of this divisional title will be playing De La Salle for the CIF Open Division state title unless the Spartans get upset in the CIF North Coast Section. It’s going to happen someday and we’ll probably have a good indication of that on Nov. 3 when DLS plays San Ramon Valley.
Upland/Calabasas (6-0) vs. Mission Hills (San Marcos) 6-0
We’re listing both Upland and Calabasas from the CIFSS D2 bracket since we have Calabasas ranked higher. Upland probably will get the top seed, however, based on current CIFSS D2 rankings and its win last weekend over Rancho Cucamonga. Mission Hills has been a dominating team from the CIF San Diego Section and currently would be the projected winner of the SDS Open Division.
Narbonne (Harbor City) 3-3 vs. Paraclete (Lancaster) 5-1
Unless there’s a gigantic upset, Narbonne isn’t going to lose in the new L.A. City Open Division. It’s losses are to Long Beach Poly, Corona Centennial and top-ranked team in Hawaii with a win over Serra of Gardena. Where Paraclete possibly winds up for the bowl games is going to be one of the most interesting aspects to watch. The Spirits are only D5 in the CIFSS and we know how much the CIFSS hates to move up any of its teams from the competitive equity-based playoff divisions they have. But Paraclete has that big win over Helix of La Mesa and if Helix were to win the SD Open Division title then there would be no choice to move up Paraclete this high on the board. We like the Spirits this high anyway. Last year, the CIF only moved Calabasas from CIFSS D5 up ahead of the SS D4 champ. We’re thinking it should be higher and a matchup between Paraclete and Narbonne actually would be quite good.
Lompoc 6-0 vs. Tulare 6-0
We have Lompoc as our top team out of CIFSS D3 but the CIFSS rankings list Charter Oak of Covina (5-0) on top. There’s also Citrus Hill is Perris (5-1)l, which has lost only to Rancho Cucamonga and a team we also have ranked higher than Charter Oak. If Lompoc were to win it, a matchup with Tulare (the favorite in the CIF Central Section for D2) would make a lot of sense from a geographical standpoint. Tulare is perhaps the most talented team in the CIF Central Section, but just hasn’t played a schedule to warrant a higher ranking.
Ramona 6-0 vs. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach) 5-1
Keep in mind that in the San Diego Section this year it sure looks like we’re not going to have an elite team like Madison not in that section’s Open Division. The SD D2 bracket with Ramona and unbeaten Bishop’s also definitely could produce a winner that would be higher on the SoCal bowl board than the section’s D1 champ. At least that’s how the local rankings and how we’d have it as of now. For CdM, we just like the Sea Kings as the team to list from the CIFSS in D4. Their only loss is to JSerra and they barely lost to D2-A state champ Sierra Canyon last season in this bracket’s final. Capistrano Valley (7-0), Santiago of Corona (5-1) and Cajon of San Bernardino (5-1) also could help make up a very strong bracket.
Quartz Hill (7-0) vs. Tustin (6-0)
Another team that the CIFSS may have to live with being much higher on the CIF state bowl board than its own divisions is Quartz Hill. The Rebels are only in D10 in the CIFSS but have a win over Oxnard, which we’re currently listing for the top spot in the CIFSS for D6. Tustin would be next in line for D7 as the top place-holder and has one of the top backs in Orange County in K.C. Carr. We should note that Quartz Hill isn’t No. 1 in the CIFSS D10 rankings. Pacifica of Garden Grove (6-0) is in that spot. Quartz Hill’s win over Oxnard in our rankings just puts it higher.
Oxnard (6-1) vs. El Camino (Oceanside) 3-3
Head coach Jon Mack, who built powerhouse teams at St. Bonaventure and Crespi of Encino, may have a team that could go far at Oxnard. We’re basing that on the team’s recent win over Westlake of Westlake Village when Westlake was in the State Top 50. Bishop Diego of Santa Barbara (7-0) and Crescenta Valley (6-0) also are strong teams from the projected CIFSS D6 field. Oxnard, remember, does have a two-point loss to Quartz Hill so we have that team higher on our board. If one of the other teams in CIFSS D6 wins the title, then that team wouldn’t have that head-to-head result to worry about and would be in D3-AA and not D3-A. For El Camino, the Wildcats are simply the ninth team currently ranked by the MaxPreps computer among teams in the CIF San Diego Section for Division 1. The first eight would be in the Open Division. We don’t yet have power rankings for San Diego to look at, but which team ends up ninth and not in the Open could definitely change. San Marcos (5-1) may be a candidate for for that spot as well.
Crenshaw (Los Angeles) 4-2 vs. Rio Mesa (Oxnard) 7-0
We are listing Crenshaw as of now as the L.A. City Section Open Division runner-up. This will be the first year of the new L.A. City Open Division and the only way the runner-up isn’t going to the bowl games is if it has a head-to-head loss to the L.A. D1 champ. Similar to NCS, in this format, the L.A. D1 champ is done after the section playoffs. San Pedro (4-2) and even Dorsey at 1-5 could end up as the team opposite Narbonne in the L.A. Open final. Rio Mesa is the top-ranked team from the CIFSS in D7. Silverado of Victorville (6-1) and Grace Brethren of Simi Valley (4-2) also look promising in that division.
Burroughs (Ridgecrest) 6-1 vs. Culver City 6-0
The Burros are from the CIFSS D9 grouping and have lost only to Paraclete with a win over Rancho Verde. That’s a hard group to forecast, however. Aquinas of San Bernardino (6-0) and Mayfair of Lakewood (6-1) could just as easily win that section title. Culver City, meanwhile, just beat Dorsey of the L.A. City Section and is playing Lawndale (CIFSS D5) this week in a matchup of unbeatens. The Centaurs, therefore, could definitely move up much higher on the board depending on how results shake out.
Central Valley Christian (Visalia) 6-0 vs. South El Monte (El Monte) 6-1
There’s not a lot of difference between CVC and some others on our board that we are listing higher. The Cavaliers already have a big win over Bakersfield Christian on their ledger. It’s just that staying in the D5 range is historically where they’ve tended to be. South El Monte is from the CIFSS D12 grouping. The Eagles just lost their first game, but it was by one point to an Arroyo (El Monte) squad that is from a higher CIFSS division.
Orange (6-0) vs. Santa Fe Christian (Solana Beach) 3-3
As the last of the 13 projected section champs from the CIFSS, this is about as low as we could place Orange, which is from D13 in that section. Yucca Valley (6-0) and Santa Clarita Christian of Canyon Country (6-0) also are in that division. Santa Fe Christian may be only 3-3, but has played up and looks like a solid choice for the San Diego Section D4 playoffs.
University City (San Diego) 5-1 vs. Eagle Rock 5-1
By far, the most intriguing team from the San Diego Section in D5 is old favorite San Diego High (6-0). We’d still have to look at Uni City as being the most likely winner. The Centurions already have a 41-26 win over La Jolla Country Day plus a 47-7 win over San Diego Crawford. Their only loss is 28-21 to Mar Vista of Imperial Beach (which is in a higher SD division). Eagle Rock, meanwhile, is projected top seed for the L.A. City Section in Division II. The section only has one other bowl berth after its two from the Open Division and that comes down to its top teams from its D2 and D3 playoffs. It could change, but right now Eagle Rock from D2 would be higher seed than any of the D3 teams, including unbeaten Santee. Eagle Rock’s only loss is by 38-27 to D1 Fairfax.
Strathmore 6-0 vs. Vincent Memorial (Calexico) 5-2
For this lowest division, we’d give Strathmore another shot to win the state title. The Spartans lost last year in the final by 29-28 to St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo. It’s a total guessing game as to which team may win from San Diego D5. It’s definitely the weakest division in the south and at least Vincent Memorial has been one of the highest-scoring teams in the entire San Diego Section this season.