Well, we are down to the nitty gritty here. The Central and Inland Divisions have blown up on me, leaving Serrano and St. Margaret’s as my only chances to predict champions (though with St. Margaret’s, getting that prediction right is akin to pick the Lakers to win the Pacific Division). Let’s see how we do in the final week.
Los Osos vs. Upland
Really tough game to figure out. On one side you have the Grizzlies, who have won seven games in a row and are exploding scoreboards with their point totals. No brainer pick, right? Not exactly. The last team they lost to was, drumroll please, Upland, and in shutout fashion no less. The Highlanders can choke out even the most explosive offenses, giving up only 27 points in three playoff games.
So do you go with the hot team? Or with the adage of defense wins championships? I’m going with the second, as Upland will finish the job this year after losing in the finals last season.
Upland 17, Los Osos 13
Serrano at Palm Springs
I proceeded to pick against Palm Springs last week in their matchup with Kaiser, only to see the Cardinals destroy the Cats 41-0. I also caught some guff about it from Palm Springs coach Steve Fabian. Either he’s got some moles in San Bernardino County or we have some readers in the Low Desert. Either way, I’m going back to the well. I picked Serrano when the playoffs started and nothing since has convinced me to back off that pick. If anything, watching them score 49 points against Norte Vista reaffirmed my faith in the Diamondbacks.
Serrano 27, Palm Springs 21
East Valley Division
St. Margaret’s at Ontario Christian
The Knights have been an awesome story. Veteran coach Laing Stevens comes back from retirement and does his thing, getting Ontario Christian back to the finals unexpectedly. It’s not like the Knights are getting lucky either, as they just blasted Grace Brethren 45-0 last week. OC is peaking and looking good. However, St. Margaret’s is the gold standard of small-school football. Three CIF titles in a row and a state championship speak for themselves and while I expect OC to come out swinging, I think the fairy-tale run comes just short.
St. Margaret’s 26, Ontario Christian 14
And just because I can…
Vista Murrieta 38, Temecula Chaparral 31