THIS IS IN HONOR OF THE STANGS FEVER CURRENTLY BEING FELT UP HERE IN PASADENA … “WHERE I STAY AT”.
This was before Amat game in 2010. Sims is currently on staff at Muir.
The pairings for the CIF-Southern Section high school football playoffs have been out since mid-day Sunday. That’s more than enough time to turn any of us into an expert as we look ahead to just how each division will play out.
Fans, coaches and players are going to be treated to a wild ride over the next four weeks. The emotions of the playoffs are second to none. The lifetime of memories that will be built up are truly magical.
So why not try and spoil all the suspense by breaking out the crystal ball for a division by division preview of how everything will play out for our local teams?
Here goes …
Southeast Division first round winners: Norwalk, Dominguez, Paramount, La Mirada, La Serna, Downey, Mayfair and Diamond Ranch.
Second round winners: Norwalk, La Mirada, La Serna and Diamond Ranch. Semifinals winners: Norwalk and La Serna. Champion: La Serna.
Explanation: La Serna gets the slight nod and it’s slight because nobody would be shocked if the Lancers lost in the second round to Downey, assuming that match up comes off. Norwalk is a legitimate No. 1 seed, but how many times in the past have we seen 10-0 teams falter in the postseason? It seems like only the truly great ones go 14-0. La Serna has the best quarterback in the division in Frankie Palmer and that should be enough to pull out the close games along the way to a third consecutive trip to the finals.
Western Division first round winners: Serra, Morro Bay, St. Francis, Camarillo, Lompoc, Santa Monica, Ventura and Chaminade.
Second round winners: Serra, St. Francis, Lompoc and Chaminade. Semifinals winners: Serra and Chaminade. Champion: Serra.
Explanation: Ho-hum, this looks like one of the easiest divisions in the Southern Section to call. The Mission League teams lay over the rest of the field and only when they cannibalize each other will they be stopped. St. Francis is the local charge, but asking the Knights to finish the regular season with Serra and Chaminade in back-to-back weeks, then reel off four straight wins is a bit too much … especially with Serra in their half of the bracket.
Southwest Division first round winners: La Habra, Newport Harbor, Los Alamitos, Fullerton, Edison, Villa Park, San Juan Hills and Yorba Linda.
Second round winners: La Habra, Los Alamitos, Edison and San Juan Hills. Semifinals winners: La Habra and Edison. Champion: Edison.
Explanation: Now this is one heckuva division. Let’s get one thing out of the way, though, the Empire League teams are in big, big trouble. The local hope here is La Habra. The Highlanders are back to traditional strength and the No. 1 seed. But they’re very likely to have to beat three Sunset League teams along the way to bring home a banner. If things play out as projected here, the semis should be epic. But this looks like a deceptively tough path for a No. 1 seed to take starting from the second round on. Edison doesn’t have nearly as difficult a draw as the Highlanders and that’s why we lean their way.
Mid-Valley Division first round winners: Monrovia, Montebello, Rosemead, Paraclete, San Dimas, San Marino, Schurr and Arroyo.
Second round winners: Monrovia, Paraclete, San Dimas and Arroyo. Semifinals winners: Monrovia and San Dimas. Champion: Monrovia.
Explanation: The division of good, old-fashioned neighborhood football … and Monrovia. The Wildcats are odds-on favorites to win their fourth consecutive division title, but the real drama is who will play them in the finals. There are three legitimate finals contenders in the “other half” of the bracket and they are San Dimas, San Marino and Arroyo. The best game of the entire playoffs might come in the second round if San Dimas and San Marino meet, which is likely to happen. But in the end, this is all about Monrovia showing off for the bowl committee.
Northeast Division first round winners: Mission Prep, Pasadena Poly, Saddleback Valley Chr., Desert, Salesian, Capistrano Valley Chr., Hamilton and Rio Hondo Prep.
Second round winners: Mission Prep, Desert, Salesian and Rio Hondo Prep. Semifinals winners: Mission Prep and Salesian. Champion: Salesian.
Explanation: The way things are seeded, this is supposed to come down a rematch of last year’s finals between defending champ Rio Hondo Prep and Mission Prep. One problem, though, Salesian is the best team in the division. The Kares are likely to see Salesian in the semifinals and will be decided underdogs despite what the seeding says.
Inland Division first round winners: Vista Murrieta, Charter Oak, Rancho Cucamonga, Norco, Upland, Eisenhower, Chaparral, Centennial.
Second round winners: Vista Murrieta, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Centennial. Semifinals winners: Vista Murrieta and Centennial. Champion: Centennial.
Explanation: The local charge is headed up by Sierra League champion Charter Oak. Although not as flashy as the previous two years’ teams, this Chargers group is likely to wind up with the same bottom line as the previous two: a bow out in the second round. Charter Oak got a wicked assignment having to play Vista Murrieta if both win in the first round. We’re looking elsewhere for teams set to make a deep run. Rancho Cucamonga went from a top-four seed to just a second-place entry after getting stunned by Upland in Week 10. Both Baseline teams are headed to the semis, however, in our opinion. From there, last year’s power teams will take over and meet again in the finals with Centennial coming out on top again.
Northwest Division first round winners: Oak Park, La Puente, Carpinteria, Santa Paula, Bishop Diego, Maranatha, Azusa and Nordhoff.
Second round winners: Oak Park, Carpinteria, Bishop Diego and Nordhoff. Semifinals winners: Oak Park and Nordhoff. Champion: Nordhoff.
Explanation: The Tri-Valley League absolutely lays over this division. In fact, it might have the top-five teams and get this, ALL FIVE teams got into the playoffs … yes, even Santa Paula, which went 0-4 in league. We project all five teams will win their first-round games. We also project the semifinals will be four Tri-Valley League teams. Fun isn’t it? And in the end, Nordhoff wins it all. This isn’t what a division should look like, but then again, many have considered the Tri-Valley to be CIF’s wasteland division.
1. St. Francis (8-1) — Playing Serra tough keeps Knights on top.
2. La Habra (8-1) — BP game for all the Freeway League marbles.
3. La Serna (7-2) — Westlake win looks better and better.
4. Diamond Ranch (8-1) — Reloaded and looking for top-four seed.
5. Charter Oak (5-4) — It’s all about draw in Inland playoffs.
6. Chino Hills (7-2) — Gonna have to win the shootouts.
7. Monrovia (8-1) — Finally, another test.
8. Bishop Amat (5-4) — Late-season swoon is concerning.
9. Muir (8-1) — Offense can be scary at times.
10. Glendora (6-3) — Win by the heartbreaker, lose by the heartbreaker.
11. Los Altos (7-2) — Huge stakes vs. WC on Thursday.
12. Diamond Bar (5-4) — Must-win spot vs. rival Walnut.
13. West Covina (5-4) — Playing best ball at right time.
14. Bonita (6-3) — Finally decided to live and die with Payton.
15. Arroyo (8-1) — On eight-game win streak.
16. San Dimas (5-4) — Will Wing-Z confuse Pomona defense?
17. Pomona (9-0) — Will Devil speed perplex San Dimas?
18. El Rancho (6-3) — Very dangerous team in Southeast.
19. La Salle (7-2) — Your Del Rey League champs.
20. Rio Hondo Prep (8-1) — So much for Pas Poly threat.
21. San Marino (8-1) — Will offense hit a wall vs. M-Town?
22. Rosemead (8-1) — Ready to give Arroyo major battle.
23. Maranatha (7-2) — The Jude factor.
24. South Hills (4-5) — Clutch win over Damien.
25. Northview (7-2) — Gonna be tough first-round foe for someone.
I had to have it put to me like this by a local coach. And wow, he’s right! I’ve never seen anything like this in a Week 10. Top four seeds ALL up for grabs. FIVE league titles all up for grabs!!! Gonna be awesome …
Mission Valley League
Arroyo (8-1) at Rosemead (8-1)
Aram’s Pick: Arroyo 27, Rosemead 19
Rio Hondo League
Monrovia (8-1) at San Marino (8-1)
Aram’s Pick: Monrovia 48, San Marino 21
Valle Vista League
Pomona (9-0) at San Dimas (5-4)
Aram’s Pick: San Dimas 30, Pomona 28
Schurr (5-4) at Montebello (6-3)
Aram’s Pick: Montebello 17, Schurr 13
Paraclete (5-3) at Viewpoint (8-1)
Aram’s Pick: No idea
Congrats go out to Charter Oak, Diamond Ranch, Muir and Azusa for locking up league titles on Friday.
Congrats also go out to La Mirada for not losing by 30 to Norwalk. If the Mats can play the No. 1 seed to within seven points, does that make them dangerous in the playoffs (if they make the playoffs)?
And finally, Amat continued its swoon. The Lancers aren’t gonna be dancing this postseason. I don’t get it. Not one bit. Thought this team would improve as the season wore on … instead all we have is September memories. No bueno.
La Mirada head coach Mike Moschetti is either really impressed by Norwalk, or he’s the world’s greatest sandbagger.
Moschetti wasn’t mincing words on Tuesday when describing Southeast Division No. 1-ranked team Norwalk (8-0), who the Matadores will play on Friday.
“This is the best football team the Suburban League’s ever seen,” Moschetti said. “I’m serious. We’re going to go out there and try to keep the game within 30 points.”
Moschetti has quite a perspective on the history of the Suburban League. He was a standout quarterback at La Mirada and led the Matadores to a CIF championship his senior year in 1992.
As a coach, he led the program to another CIF title in 2009. But La Mirada has been one of the area’s biggest disappointments this season following an aggressive campaign of program promotion that put a big target on the Matadores once play started.
La Mirada has several top-notch recruits on the roster, led by Oklahoma-bound receiver Dalis Todd and super recruit Tyler Luatua, who is considered one of the best tight end prospects in the country.
The bevy of blue chippers haven’t translated to a significant amount of wins, however. La Mirada enters Friday’s game at 3-5 overall and 3-1 in the Suburban League. Norwalk is the top-ranked team in the division beating league foes by an average of 54.3 points per game.
Back in August, most area observers would have thought La Mirada would be the top-ranked team in the Southeast by this point of the season. Instead, the Matadores are fighting for their playoff lives and Moschetti isn’t too keen on discussing what’s gone wrong.
“I don’t even want to talk about the past,” Moschetti said. “There’s going to be good things that happen in a season and bad things. What’s happened in the past is over, good or bad. Our goals are all still ahead of us.
“I really don’t care what people think of me and our coaching staff and our kids. We’ve had a lot of adversity and they keep showing up and giving me their heart and soul.”
Part of that adversity came two weeks ago when highly touted quarterback Kevin Dillman, a junior with several early college offers, tore his achilles’ tendon and is gone for the season. Sophomore Noah Santillian will make his second start on Friday.
“Our rally cry over here is ‘next man up’,” Moschetti said. “We can still have a great season. I’m not disappointed, I’m proud of these kids.”