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South County football teams rewarded with 10 CIF playoff berths Phillip Brents | Mon, Nov 11 2013 01:55 AM

South County high school football teams were rewarded with 10 San Diego Section playoff berths. While it was nice to receive the recognition, it's a mixed bag of the good, bad and the ugly for local squads.

This year's format breaks with traditional pairings based on student enrollment divisions; this year divisions are based on competition level.

San Diego Section Commissioner Jerry Schniepp admitted the format is not perfect but suggested it is a step in the right direction to ensure more competitive playoff match-ups, especially in early rounds.

“I think it's going to be very exciting,” Schniepp said. “I think we'll have very competitive matches in the first round.I think that's what we had in mind. I also think it's going to take some time before the divisions are finally set, but this is just the first year. I think next year it will look more like everyone expected. We might have to do some tweaks. But I think it's working out like I thought it would.”

The opening round of the playoffs kick off Friday, Nov. 15. Unless noted, game time is 7 p.m. Here's a breakdown of the divisional playoffs:

Open Division
The Eastlake Titans wrapped up this year's Metro-Mesa League championship with a 35-7 victory at Otay Ranch last Friday. The Titans, who ended the regular season ranked third among section teams, received the No. 2 seed in the eight-team Open Division.

Friday's quarterfinal match-up will feature a Clash of the Titans as Eastlake (9-1) hosts seventh-seeded Poway (4-6). The winner advances to the semifinals on Nov. 22 against either third-seeded Oceanside (8-2) or sixth-seeded Torrey Pines (6-4).

Mission Hills (9-1) received the No. 1 seed in the division.

The bracket is set up to accommodate a rematch of last year's Division I championship game between the Titans and Grizzlies, a game won by Eastlake for its second CIF title in school history (2009 and 2012).

Mission Hills will host eighth-seeded Steele Canyon (3-7) in Friday's quarterfinals while fourth-seeded Helix (8-2) will host fifth-seeded La Costa Canyon (7-3) to round out the division's opening round.

The championship game is scheduled Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium.

Division I
Olympian (7-3) received the No. 6 seed and will host 11th-seeded Mira Mesa (5-5) in Friday's first round while Otay Ranch (3-7) received the No. 12 seed and will play at fifth-seeded Grossmont (8-2).

Third-seeded Cathedral Catholic (8-2) will host the Olympian-Mira Mesa winner in the quarterfinals on Nov. 21 while fourth-seeded Carlsbad (8-2) will host the Grossmont-Otay Ranch winner.

The semifinals are scheduled Nov. 27, followed by the division championship game Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. at Qualcomm Stadium.

North County teams have been deemed the favorites in the chase for the Division I crown. San Pasqual is seeded No. 1 while Ramona is seeded No. 2. Both teams are 9-1.

Rounding out the division are seventh-seeded Mt. Carmel (6-4), eighth-seeded El Camino (4-6), ninth-seeded Point Loma (5-5) and 10th-seeded Westview (3-7).

Division II
No South County teams are represented. Mar Vista would have secured a berth, however, if it had managed to hang on to defeat visiting Hilltop last Friday. The host Mariners held a 15-12 lead until the Lancers, who had not won a league title since 1979, scored on a four-yard touchdown run with four seconds to play to score a dramatic 18-15 victory to capture this year's Metro-South Bay League title.

Top seeds are No.1 Madison (9-1), No. 2 St. Augustine (8-2), No. 3 Imperial (10-0) and No. 4 Mount Miguel (8-2). Madison captured this year's City-Western League championship with a 28-7 decision at Point Loma last Friday as it geared up for this year's postseason odyssey to defend its State Bowl championship title.

Rounding out the division are fifth-seeded Rancho Buena Vista (7-3), sixth-seeded El Capitan (9-1), seventh-seed West Hills (7-3), eighth-seed Mission Bay (9-1), ninth-seeded Brawley (8-2), 10th-seeded Scripps Ranch (6-4), 11th-seeded Del Norte (5-5) and 12th-seeded Serra (7-3).

The quarterfinals are scheduled Nov. 21, followed by the semifinals on Nov. 27 and the championship game Dec. 2 at 11 a.m. at Qualcomm Stadium.

Division III
Newly crowned Metro-South Bay League champion Hilltop finished regular season play 9-1 to earn the No. 3 seed and a first-round bye. They will be joined in the divisional playoffs by the Bonita Vista Barons, who received the No. 9 seed and will battle at eighth-seeded Granite Hills in a match-up that could go either way.

The Barons finished regular season play 4-6 following a 28-14 loss at Olympian last Friday; while Granite Hills leveled its record at 5-5 after topping visiting Valhalla 45-25.

The four wins are the most for a Bonita Vista team in four seasons.

Hilltop will host the winner of Friday's first-round game between sixth-seeded Hoover (7-3) and 11th-seeded Calexico (4-6).

The quarterfinals are scheduled Nov. 22, followed by the semifinals on Nov. 29. The championship game is scheduled Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at San Diego Mesa College.

Francis Parker, which completed a 10-0 regular season campaign following its 38-22 Coastal League championship game win over Santa Fe Christian last Friday, received the No. 1 seed in the division, and deservedly so. The Lancers' victory made amends for the loss to the Eagles in last year's Division V championship game.

“We knew this was going to be a big game,” Parker running back Jesse Brookins, a South County resident, told a TV news crew after the game. “We wanted league, we wanted to finish with a 10-0 record. (But) we know it isn't over.”

Parker will begin its quest to claim this year's Division III title when it opens play in the quarterfinals against either Bonita Vista or Granite Hills.

Other teams receiving first-round byes include No. 2 seed Christian (9-1) and No. 4 seed SFC (6-4).

City-Central League champion Christian will host either seventh-seeded Morse (4-6) or 10th-seeded Bishop's (7-3) in the quarterfinals while SFC will host either fifth-seeded San Marcos (6-4) or 12th-seeded Fallbrook (3-7).

Division IV
All four Metro-Pacific League teams qualified, led by No. 2-seeded Sweetwater (6-4). The Red Devils captured their first league title since 1987 – a span of 25 years – after topping host Montgomery, 35-7, in last Friday's league championship game. Sweetwater raced to a 28-0 lead and never looked back in recording their fifth consecutive win.

The Devils will host either seventh-seeded La Jolla Country Day (5-5) or 10th-seeded Clairemont (4-6) in the quarterfinals on Nov. 22.

The semifinals follow on Nov. 29. The championship game is scheduled Dec. 7 at 3:30 p.m. at San Diego Mesa College.

Sweetwater's three other league rivals will kick off postseason play in the opening round on Friday. Sixth-seeded Montgomery (4-6) will host 11th-seeded Southwest El Centro (3-7) while fifth-seeded Mater Dei Catholic (3-7) will host 12th-seeded El Cajon Valley (2-8).

Castle Park (5-5) received the No. 9 seed despite defeating Mater Dei Catholic, 31-28, last Friday and finishing with a superior regular season record over the Crusaders. The Trojans will play at eighth-seeded University City (3-6). UC is coming off a tight 10-9 victory against Clairemont last Friday.

Third-seeded Central Union (5-5) will host either Montgomery or Southwest El Centro in the quarterfinals while fourth-seeded La Jolla (4-6) will host either Mater Dei Catholic or El Cajon Valley, also in the quarterfinals.

Meanwhile, Castle Park or University City will play at No. 1 seed Monte Vista (5-5) when the quarterfinals kick off.

Is there a clear-cut favorite? Sweetwater defeated Mater Dei Catholic, Castle Park and Montgomery in league play and also tacked on non-league victories against Mar Vista (Division II tier) and Hilltop (Division III tier). The Devils opened the season with a 42-0 shutout win at La Jolla Country Day.

But Monte Vista defeated Sweetwater by a decisive 23-3 score on Sept. 20. However, that was more than a month ago. Sweetwater is 5-1 since then.

MDC finished 2-1 in Metro-Pacific play while Montgomery and Castle Park both finished 1-2 in league play.

Sweetwater is the only team with a winning record among the 12 teams in the division.

Division V

Manzanita League champion Crawford, which joined Imperial and Francis Parker as the only section teams to post undefeated 10-0 regular season marks, is undisputed No. 1 seed in the division. Will anyone be able to ruin the Colts' perfect season?

Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy won its second consecutive Citrus League championship and closed out regular season play with a six-game winning streak, including a 5-0 run in league play. However, the Royal Knights received little respect in the section seeding meeting after being awarded the No. 8 seed – and a quarterfinal pairing against Crawford.

Eight teams qualified for the Division V playoffs. Also in the chase to knock off the Colts are No. 2 seed Holtville (8-2), No. 3 seed Mountain Empire (6-4), No. 4 seed Palo Verde (4-6), No. 5 seed Army-Navy Academy (6-4), No. 6 seed Escondido Charter (4-6) and No. 7 seed Vincent Memorial (5-5).

Holtville was the team closest to handing Crawford a loss this season after going down just 21-14.

The semifinals are Nov. 22; the championship game is scheduled Nov. 30 at Mesa College.

Extra points
Southwest denied San Ysidro a potential playoff berth after defeating the visiting Cougars, 48-31, last Friday. The win was the Raiders' first of the season as Southwest finished regular season pl;ay 1-9; the loss droppped San Ysidro to 3-7, 0-3 in Metro-South Bay League play.

Chula Vista also did not advance to the CIF playoffs; the Spartans finished 3-7 after a 48-7 non-league loss at Rancho Santa Margarita Tesoro.

Also among South County teams, Lutheran ended its season 1-9 with a lopsided 66-8 loss to Classical Academy in Citrus League play while Ocean View Christian Academy defeated Warner Springs, 72-14, to finish 3-1 in Sunset League 8-man play. The Patriots (5-4) finished in a tie with St. Joseph Academy (5-3) for first place in the league standings. There are no eight-man playoffs in the section.

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