CIF-Southern Section Playoff Preview

With 13 CIF division titles up for grabs, there isn't a bigger playoff field than the Southern Section playoffs, where the state bowl games will be greatly affected by the outcome of these playoffs, especially in the Pac-5...

No section will have a bigger impact on the state bowl games than the Southern Section, where it's safe to say that all five Southern California spots could be filled by a Southern Section team.

The Pac-5 title will have the biggest bearing, where the D-I or D-II berth will likely be decided, and the Open Division could also be affected by it.  And no playoff bracket will be more competitive in the entire state than the Pac-5, where Long Beach Poly is looking for a repeat in the division and their first-ever trip to the state bowl game.

The Inland, Northern and Northwest will also have major bowl game implications with their respective winners.

Here's a look at the CIF-SS playoffs.


The Favorite: Long Beach Poly
The Challengers: Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, Los Flores Tesoro, Anaheim Servite
The Darkhorse: Santa Ana Mater Dei, Orange Lutheran
Predicted Final: Long Beach Poly over Notre Dame

This bracket is simple, win this division and your chances at going to the state bowl game are pretty darn good.  Long Beach Poly has never made it to the state games in its first two years, but this team may be its most complete team since they started and its defense is as stout as they come.  They've already beaten two defending state champs this year, Miami Northwestern and St. Bonaventure, so forget the Moore League, they aren't strangers to big games.  Notre Dame has had the playoffs in their sights since losing a first round game a year ago.  Few expected them to go unbeaten, but alas, here they are with their high-powered offense and a D-II state bowl berth in sites.  Tesoro has got to be the quietest 10-0 team around, but they made a lot of noise with their thrashing of South Coast League rival Mission Viejo.  Servite ended up coming out as the #1 seed from the Trinity League and got the #4 seed overall.  One thing Matt Barkley hasn't done (and it's a small list), is win a CIF title, and this is his final shot. Orange Lutheran ended up as the #3 seed but shouldn't be looked at as a typical third place team. The first round also has an intriguing matchup between Tesoro and Los Alamitos, where Griffins' coach John Barnes faces his son, Brian.  In the end, we're calling the best two teams all year in the Pac-5, Notre Dame and Poly, to meet, with the Jackrabbits earning their second straight title and a trip to Carson a week later.


The Favorite: Corona Centennial
The Challengers: Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, Temecula Chaparral, Fontana A.B. Miller
The Darkhorse: Redlands East Valley, Riverside J.W. North
Predicted Final: Centennial over Rancho Verde

Centennial has gone unbeaten, running away with the Big VIII title and they're geared for a return trip to Carson themselves, where they last lost, in the state championship game to De La Salle.  If Centennial wins the Inland, they'll either go to the Open game or the D-I game, depending on what Poly does, and anything less than winning that will be a disappointment.  But the 2006 season was the last time Centennial appeared to be rolling along only to be stunned by Chaparral, who's back as a top-four seed this year.  And Rancho Verde, with its five bigtime prospects, is also unbeaten and planning for a long stand in the Inland.  We're going with the fully-loaded Centennial squad in this one, though, over Rancho Verde.


The Favorite: Ventura St. Bonaventure
The Challengers: Moorpark, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks
The Darkhorse: Valencia
Predicted Final: St. Bonaventure over Moorpark

This has been St. Bonaventure's domain for years since they moved up to this division, but 2006 is still in people's minds, when Hart stunned the Seraphs and Canyon eventually won the division en route to a state title.  Moorpark has been to the Northern Division finals twice in the last three years, losing to St. Bonaventure and Canyon, but this is one of their more complete teams.  Still, the Seraphs lone loss was to the best team in the Southland, Long Beach Poly, and a close one at that, and they've been impressive in just about every other win, so a return trip for them to the D-III bowl game is likely should they win out.  We're calling a rematch of the 2005 final, with the same result, another title for the Seraphs.


The Favorite: Palmdale
The Challengers: Mission Hills Alemany, Quartz Hill, Mira Costa
The Darkhorse: Warren
Predicted Final: Alemany over Palmdale

We're calling a finals of the top teams in the division, Alemany and Palmdale, though Palmdale's route should be a little easier than Alemany.  Alemany had some impressive wins, though, and we're thinking that's the difference.


The Favorite: Rancho Cucamonga
The Challengers: Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos, San Bernardino Cajon, Hemet West Valley
The Darkhorse: Upland
Predicted Final: Los Osos over Rancho Cucamonga

The Baseline League was the best league in this division, as the top seeds came from there. Los Osos finished in second place, but still earned the #2 seed and Rancho Cucamonga won the league title.  They locked into a classic in the regular season, with RC winning in overtime.  We don't see that happening again, so we're calling Los Osos, behind Richard Brehaut and Arby Fields, to get payback and win the title that really matters.


The Favorite: Westlake Village Oaks Christian
The Challengers: Gardena Serra, Santa Maria St. Joseph, Torrance North
The Darkhorse: Oxnard Santa Clara
Predicted Final: Oaks Christian over Serra

Most people are predicting a Serra-Oaks Christian final, though with Serra's struggles against Cathedral a week ago, that's not as much of a sure thing as once thought.  But looking at the body of work, it would be an upset if both teams didn't advance to the finals.  And should they meet, you may not find a division final with more young talent on the field, than that one, with each school having elite players in the junior and sophomore classes.  The winner is also hoping for someone besides St. Bonaventure to win the Northern Division title, which would open the door for this division's winner to move into the D-III game.  We're going with the Lions over the Cavs, because simply, Oaks just doesn't seem to ever lose in the playoffs.


The Favorite: Perris Citrus Hill
The Challengers: Hesperia, Palm Springs, Fontana Kaiser
The Darkhorse: Ridgecrest Burroughs
Predicted Final: Citrus Hill over Palm Springs


The Favorite: Charter Oak
The Challengers: Santa Fe, Rowland, Pasadena Muir
The Darkhorse: Montebello Schurr
Predicted Final: Charter Oak over Muir


The Favorite: Laguna Hills
The Challengers: Corona Del Mar, Lakewood Mayfair, Westminster
The Darkhorse: Fountain Valley Los Amigos
Predicted Final: Mayfair over Laguna Hills


The Favorite: Santa Ana Foothill
The Challengers: La Habra, Anaheim Western, Cypress
The Darkhorse: Placentia El Dorado
Predicted Final: La Habra over Foothill


The Favorite: Monrovia
The Challengers: Azusa, Covina Northview, Rosemead
The Darkhorse: Lancaster Paraclete
Predicted Final: Monrovia over Azusa


The Favorite: San Juan Capistrano St. Margaret's
The Challengers: Los Angeles Brentwood, San Bernardino Aquinas, Pasadena Maranatha
The Darkhorse: Santa Paula
Predicted Final: St. Margaret's over Aquinas


The Favorite: San Juan Capistrano Valley Christian
The Challengers: Boron, Temecula Linfield Christian, Panorama City St. Genevieve
The Darkhorse: Riverside Christian
Predicted Final: Valley Christian over Boron

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