CIF-San Diego Section Preview

Oceanside, the defending D-II champs from San Diego, are also the defending state D-II champs and would like nothing more than make a return trip to the Home Depot Center, but they'll have their work cut out for them. The San Diego playoffs, which culminate at Qualcomm Stadium, get started this weekend...

The San Diego Section could very realistically see repeat champions in all five divisions, with the top seeds in D-II through D-IV all defending champs.

A year ago, Oceanside ended up playing for the D-II state title and this year, a handful of San Diego schools could end up in Carson.

The Division I playoffs feature some potentially intriguing games while the D-II playoffs may be the most competitive.  Here's a look at the San Diego Section playoffs.

DIVISION I

The Favorite: La Costa Canyon
The Challengers: Escondido, Chula Vista, Poway
The Darkhorse: Mission Hills
Predicted Final: La Costa Canyon over Poway

Poway is the defending champs and Mission Hills knows what it takes to get to the finals.  Meanwhile, La Costa Canyon's difficult non-league schedule, against Orange County programs like Mission Viejo and Santa Margarita, has prepared them for the rigors of the San Diego Section playoffs.  They also feature one of the elite players in the county, junior receiver Kenny Stills.  We're taking La Costa Canyon over the defending champs from Poway.

DIVISION II

The Favorite: Oceanside
The Challengers: Chula Vista Eastlake, La Mesa Helix, San Diego Scripps Ranch
The Darkhorse: Westview
Predicted Final: Helix over Oceanside

Oceanside is keeping their hopes alive for a return to the CIF State Bowl Games, where they won the D-II crown a year ago.  They're also the defending D-II champs in the San Diego Section and have to be considered the favorite this year.  Helix has the county's best prospect, tight end Levine Toilolo, a two-way player who's going to Stanford while Scripps Ranch boasts the versatile quarterbacking of Tate Forcier and stellar running of Brennan Clay. Eastlake has a Stanford commit of their own in Tony Jefferson.  The last team to beat Oceanside was Helix, who did it a year ago. We're calling the Highlanders to do it again, this time for much bigger stakes.

DIVISION III

The Favorite: San Diego Cathedral
The Challengers: Ramona, El Cajon Valhalla, San Diego St. Augustine
The Darkhorse: El Centro Central
Predicted Final: Cathedral over Valhalla

Cathedral has a good chance to earn the D-II berth in the state championship game, but will need some help, needing Sherman Oaks Notre Dame to either lose or make it to the Open Division game.  And there's that other requirement: Cathedral needs to win the D-III title in San Diego.  They're unbeaten and have rarely been tested this year, but the D-III playoffs ought to test them.  We're calling a Cathedral-Valhalla final, where the Norseman will bring in the state's top junior quarterback, the 6-5 Peter Thomas.  But Cathedral, behind the running of Tyler Gaffney, will win it again and then wait to see if Carson is in their plans.

DIVISION IV

The Favorite: Escondido Valley Center
The Challengers: Chula Vista Mater Dei, San Diego Madison
The Darkhorse: Mission Bay
Predicted Final: Valley Center over Mater Dei

The top receiver prospect in the class of 2009 in San Diego, James Johnson, will lead Valley Center, who's hoping for a big playoff run of their own, while the darkhorse in this division is Mission Bay, which feature the ubertalented Dillon Baxter, a junior who's already committed to USC.  Valley Center is the pick here over the "other" Mater Dei.

DIVISION V

The Favorite: San Diego Francis Parker
The Challengers: El Cajon Christian, San Diego Horizon, Carlsbad Army-Navy
The Darkhorse: La Jolla Country Day
Predicted Final: Francis Parker over Christian

Francis Parker has been one of the better small school teams in the state and they're hoping to get into the Small Schools Division State Bowl game, but they need to win the D-V crown for that to be a gret possibility.


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