By Aram Tolegian
@AramTolegian on Twitter
The local high school football teams who were fortunate to make the CIF-Southern Section playoffs were handed their postseason assignments on Sunday. And judging by the matchups, it could be another banner year for the area.
High expectations abound across a myriad of divisions and things will get under beginning Thursday and Friday.
For Bishop Amat, the area’s consensus top team playing in Southern California’s top division, the good news came in the form of a first-round home game on Friday against Lakewood.
The Lancers finished in a three-way tie for the Mission League championship, but were made the league’s No. 2 entrant after tie-breaking coin flips. Amat enters the game at 7-3 and riding a five-game win streak. Lakewood is 6-4 and finished second in the Moore League.
“The order of happiness is: we’re in the playoffs and we have a home game,” Lancers head coach Steve Hagerty said. “Those are both good things. I don’t know anything about Lakewood, but we’re anxious to see what they look like (on film) and how we match up.
“Usually, my experience has been that the later (in the season) you play the Moore League teams, the better they executed with each passing week.”
St. Francis finished the regular season with a perfect 10-0 record. The Knights were rewarded by being given the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Division. They will host Mayfair (5-5) in Friday’s first round.
“It is nice,” St. Francis head coach Jim Bonds said of being made the top seed. “We were preseason No. 1 in the division and to be able to carry that through 10 games is pretty nice.
“I give our guys a lot of credit for being able to stay focused. Mayfair isn’t what I had on my bracket. I don’t know a lot about Mayfair, but at this time of the year, it’s all or nothing. Win or go home.”
Muir (6-4) will get a chance to avenge an early season loss to Cathedral (9-1) when the two teams meet in Friday’s first round at Cathedral High.
The Central Division is chalk full of local hopefuls with championship aspirations. Leading the way is Monrovia (9-1), which was made the No. 2 seed and will host Don Lugo.
San Marino (8-2), which finished second behind Monrovia in the Rio Hondo League, also got a home game and will host Claremont (6-4) on Friday.
Charter Oak (6-4) needed to win its last two regular season games to win the Hacienda League. The Chargers did just that and will host Colton elsewhere in the Central Division.
Glendora (8-2) was the No. 1-ranked team in the Central Division going into last week’s loss to South Hills. The Tartans did get a home game, though, and will host Summit. South Hills (6-4) will host Los Altos (5-5) on Friday at Walnut High.
Elsewhere in the Central, La Canada (6-4) visits No. 1 seed Colony. Bonita (6-4), which was awarded an at-large berth, plays at Kaiser. West Covina (7-3) hosts Chaffey.
The Valley has had a hammer lock on the Mid-Valley Division in recent years, but that may not be the case this season if seedings hold up.
Paraclete and Sierra Canyon, respectively, were made the top-two seeds. Pomona (6-4) won the Miramonte League and was made the No. 3 seed. The Red Devils host McAuliffe on Friday.
San Dimas (7-3), the division’s defending champion, will host Baldwin Park (6-4) in the first round. Northview (9-1) won the Valle Vista League and was given the No. 4 seed. The Vikings host at-large Brentwood.
Also in the Mid-Valley, Azusa (7-3) hosts El Monte (6-4) on Thursday. Rosemead (6-4) hosts Covina (6-4). La Puente (7-3) visits Montebello (6-4). Bassett (5-5) got an at-large berth and play at Paraclete.
Arroyo (4-6), which had a streak of 30 consecutive years in the playoffs, filed for an at-large bid after finishing third in the Mission Valley League and was denied.
If seedings hold up in the Northwest Division, then locals Maranatha (10-0) and Pasadena Poly (10-0) are on a championship game collision course.
Maranatha was made the top seed in the division and will host Mission Prep on Friday. Pasadena Poly is the No. 2 seed and gets a home game against Morro Bay.
Rio Hondo Prep (4-5) hasn’t had its typical successful season, but the Kares made the dance and will visit Big Bear on Friday.
Mayfair at St. Francis
Muir at Cathedral
La Canada at Colony
Claremont at San Marino
Don Lugo at Monrovia
Covina at Rosemead
Mission Prep at Maranatha
Rio Hondo Pep at Big Bear
Morro Bay at Pasadena Poly
ALL GAMES SCHEDULED FOR 7:30 P.M.
What a night! First Muir continued its dominance in the Turkey Tussle with a 24-17 win over Pasadena, but the real news was that South Pasadena, after beating La Canada, was voted out of the playoffs by the Rio Hondo League for a possible rule violation. Not to be overshadowed, Maranatha scored a big win over Whittier Christian to finish 10-0 in the regular season.
Below is this week’s run down:
GAMES OF THE WEEK
MUIR 24, PASADENA 17
PASADENA — Sixteen and counting.
The Muir High School football team got all it could handle from rival Pasadena in the 68th Turkey Tussle, but in the end the Mustangs were back in their customary spot ringing the victory bell at one end of the Rose Bowl following a 24-17 win on Friday night.
Freshman running back Jonathan Stephens plowed into the end zone from 5 yards out to break a 17-17 tie with 1:37 to play. Muir’s defense then stopped Pasadena on downs to end the game.
“I just told my coaches that this is one of the greatest feelings in the world,” Stephens said. “To come out here and play on a field that not many people get the opportunity to play on and win a big game for the team, it just feels great.”
– Aram Tolegian
SOUTH PASADENA 21, LA CANADA 3
LA CANADA — The match up of South Pasadena High School and La Cañada in both schools’ final regular-season Rio Hondo League football game saw two teams whose seasons had run in parallel lines.
But Friday’s league finale that would determine third place saw the Tigers and the host Spartans part ways as South Pasadena came out on top 21-3, which in theory earned the Tigers the league’s final guaranteed ticket to the CIF-SS Central Division playoffs … until it didn’t.
The Tigers (7-4, 3-2) were forced to play the game without head coach Martin Konrad due to an unspecified administrative issue, but in spite of that, when the final whistle blew, it appeared they were going to the postseason for the first time since 2003.
However, soon after the game, La Cañada first-year coach Ramsey Lambert announced to his team that because of unspecified CIF issues, the league had voted to ban South Pasadena from the postseason, which meant that, despite the loss, it would be La Cañada advancing to the postseason.
“I’m not exactly sure what it was, but we get a second chance,” Lambert said. “I’m not sure who reported what, but the league made a decision and we’ll find out more details sometime over the weekend, I’m sure.”
– Nathan Cambridge
MARANATHA 69, WHITTIER CHRISTIAN 34
WHITTIER — For the first time in 31 years the Maranatha High School football team completed a perfect 10-0 regular season and will head into the CIF Southern Section Northwest Division.
The Minutemen easily defeated host Whittier Christian 69-34 at Whittier College to head into the playoffs next Friday as the top seed in the division.
Leading the way for the Minutemen was senior running back Caleb Devine with three touchdowns and 182 yards on 12 carries. He scored on runs of 65, 30 and 1 yard.
Whittier Christian freshman quarterback Quinn Commons threw for a game-high 227 yards on 31 attempts, completing 20 passes, while senior tight end Noah Evans caught nine passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
– John Sherrard
PASADENA POLY 56, FLINTRIDGE PREP 14
Pasadena Poly completed an undefeated season with a 56-14 victory over rival Flintridge Prep on Friday night at South Pasadena High.
The Panthers (10-0, 3-0) wasted no time, scoring 21 points in the first half. Running back Griffin Carter had three of his four touchdowns before halftime.
HOW THE TOP TEN FARED
1. St. Francis (10-0) def. Salesian, 46-15 (Thursday)
2. Monrovia (9-1) def. Blair, 55-0
3. Muir (6-4) def. Pasadena, 24-17
4. Maranatha (10-0) def. Whittier Christian, 69-34
5. San Marino (8-2) def. Temple City, 74-20
6. Pasadena Poly (10-0) def. Flintridge Prep, 56-14
7. La Canada (6-4) lost to South Pasadena, 21-3
8. Pasadena (4-6) lost to Muir, 24-17
9. South Pasadena (7-3) def. La Canada, 21-3
10. Rio Hondo Prep (4-5), idle
El Monte 40, Gabrielino 23
Rosemead 52, Mountain View 14
Sierra Vista 41, Duarte 40
Montebello 28, Alhambra 21
Schurr 56, Keppel 0
Crescenta Valley 61, Arcadia 30
St. Genevieve 53, Bosco Tech 0
Cathedral 71, La Salle 28
ST. FRANCIS 46, SALESIAN 15
LA CANADA — There was a certainty sense of pageantry and excitement in the air Thursday night at St. Francis High as the Golden Knights finally had their chance to take its shot for its first unbeaten football season in 50 years.
St. Francis took care of business, breaking away for a 46-15 Angelus League victory over Salesian to wrap an unbeaten league title in forceful fashion and accomplish a feat that was 50 years in the making.
Head coach Jim Bonds was doused in a celebratory shower as the players rang the victory bell loud enough to wake up the La Canada community.
Perfection never tasted so sweet.
“This meant a whole bunch to us. We’re going to be the team talked about around the block instead of that team from 1964,” said St. Francis receiver John Carroll, who had two touchdown catches. “ Being 10-0, that’s a special feeling. We haven’t done that year in a long, long time.” – Tony Ciniglio