The football playoffs are here -- except for the CIF Central Section -- but expect to see only a handful of top teams getting tested in first-round matchups.

This week's state top 20 football rankings saw only minor movement as losses knocked out previous No. 12 Johnson of Sacramento and previous No. 20 Palma of Salinas. That allowed two CIF Southern Section squads, Arroyo Grande and Jordan of Long Beach, to be chosen among the top 20 this week.

Arroyo Grande actually concluded its regular season one week ago with a 27-13 victory over Righetti of Santa Maria. The Eagles are seeded No. 1 in the CIFSS Div. IV playoffs. Jordan won its regular season finale, 13-0, over Compton, although its ranking is more of an acknowledgement about a 41-20 loss to No. 2 Long Beach Poly in which the score was 27-20 at halftime.

Jordan opens the CIFSS Div. I playoffs at home Friday against Mater Dei of Santa Ana, which also is a state-ranked team. But because of the ever-growing number of playoff divisions within the 10 sections of the CIF and the ever-growing number of mediocre teams that qualify for section playoffs, there aren't many other first-round matchups this week that involve highly-ranked teams playing each other. A majority of first-round games, in fact, probably will be decided by three to four touchdown margins.

State and national No. 1 De La Salle of Concord opens the CIF North Coast Section Class 4A playoffs Friday at home vs. Washington of Fremont (6-2-1). In last Friday's game, Maurice Drew's 51-yard punt return just two minutes into the game and a 43-yard touchdown pass from Matt Gutierrez to Brendan Ottoboni on the first offensive play put the Spartans on track to a 57-6 victory over Deer Valley of Antioch. Alijah Bradley rushed for 70 yards and three TDs in the second quarter as De La Salle raced to a 50-0 halftime lead. The win capped the school's 12th straight unbeaten regular season and stretched its national record win streak to 122 games. After Washington, the Spartans will likely play a 10-1 team in the semifinals and an unbeaten team in the finals.

State No. 2 and national No. 4 Poly of Long Beach starts the CIF Southern Section Div. I playoffs Friday vs. Fountain Valley (6-3-1). In last week's game, Brandon Brooks fired an 80-yard scoring pass to Derek Jones on the first play as the Jackrabbits crushed Millikan of Long Beach, 69-7, in their regular season final. Reserve running back Dwayne Washington wound up as the team's most productive performer in the rout with 12 carries for 193 yards and two TDs.

State No. 5 Bakersfield and state No. 6 Clovis will actually be ending their regular seasons this week. While the rest of California enters playoff mode, Bakersfield and Clovis both had their schedules in the CIF Central Section pushed back one week in reaction to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Bakersfield won last week, 35-0, over East Bakersfield, while Clovis had a bye. The Cougars have a tough opponent looming in their regular season final as they go up against arch-rival Clovis West (6-2-1).

Compiled by Mark & Nelson Tennis for
Preseason rank in parentheses; after games of Nov. 10

1. (1) De La Salle (Concord) 9-0
2. (2) Poly (Long Beach) 8-1
3. (3) Mission Viejo 10-0
4. (4) Hart (Newhall) 9-0
5. (5) Bakersfield 9-0
6. (6) Clovis 8-1
7. (7) Centennial (Corona) 9-0
8. (8) Elk Grove 10-0
9. (9) Redlands 10-0
10. (10) Chino 9-0
11. (11) Edison (Huntington Beach) 8-0-1
12. (14) Notre Dame (Sherman Oaks) 8-0
13. (13) Santa Margarita (Rancho SM) 6-1-2
14. (15) Eisenhower (Rialto) 8-2
15. (16) San Leandro 9-0
16. (17) Mitty (San Jose) 10-0
17. (18) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 6-4
18. (19) Bishop Amat (La Puente) 8-1
19. (nr) Arroyo Grande 9-0
20. (nr) Jordan (Long Beach) 7-2

Notes & Highlights
Keith Howell of No. 4 Hart caught a 51-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore with just over a minute remaining to fend off an upset bid by Saugus, 35-28, and extend Hart's league winning streak to 53 games. Howell finished with four catches for 126 yards. Saugus had a chance to tie or win in the closing seconds, but Chris Ahlheim's fourth-down pass into the end zone with one second left was incomplete. The Indians opens the CIF Southern Section Div. III playoffs Friday vs. Redondo of Redondo Beach (6-4)........

Another result of Salinas Palma losing a 10-7 game to Hollister is that it became a no-brainer to seed Mitty of San Jose No. 1 in the CIF Central Coast Section Div. I playoffs. The Monarchs wrapped up their first outright league title since 1974 with a convincing 61-7 romp past St. Francis of Mountain View. Not even De La Salle has ever beaten the Lancers that badly.

In fact, it appears to be St. Francis' worst loss ever, surpassing the 1979 score of 52-3 to Oak Grove of San Jose. Current NFL head coach Marty Mornhinweg was the Oak Grove QB on that team and current NFL head coach Mike Holmgren was the team's offensive coordinator.....

The strangest result of the top 20 teams last week was Santa Margarita's 16-16 tie against Servite of Anaheim. The Eagles must have thought they had already sealed up a high seed in the CIFSS Div. I playoffs due to recent wins over Loyola and Mater Dei.

With standout junior Ashton White sitting out the game to nurse some bumps and bruises, Santa Margarita finally aroused itself late in the game to tie the score. The team's coaches thought overtime would take place, but officials claimed no such provisions existed and insisted that any overtime be agreed to by both teams. Servite officials didn't agree, so the game went into the books as a tie. Santa Margarita was then seeded fifth, which also was strange since the Eagles have a head-to-head win over No. 4 seed Los Alamitos......

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