It’s called the Warrior Bowl and for the winner of Friday’s Castle Park-Montgomery football game, it likely signifies a trip to the San Diego Section Division III playoffs this season.
Both teams enter the west side rivalry game at CPHS with identical 1-1 Metro-Pacific League and 6-3 overall records. While neither can claim an automatic berth into the playoffs with a victory, a win at this stage of the season would significantly increase both teams’ chances of participating in post-season play.
Assuming there is no tie, either the Trojans or the Aztecs will finish the regular season with a 7-3 record. The loser will be 6-4.
There are four Metro Conference teams vying for berths in the Division III field and, with Mar Vista (6-3 overall) likely to grab an automatic berth as the Metro-South Bay League champion, that might not leave enough room for the rest of the local contenders.
"This is like a playoff game for a playoff berth," Montgomery coach Julio Alcala said. "At 7-3, whoever wins is in great shape for a home playoff game. But at 6-4, the loser might not even get in."
Both Montgomery and Castle Park have played tougher schedules than the Southwest Raiders, who are 5-4. The Aztecs’ losses are to No. 1-ranked Eastlake (9-0), Olympian (8-1) and Orange Glen (4-5). The Trojans have lost to Grossmont (7-2), Mar Vista (6-3) and Olympian.
The Division III bracket looks to be the toughest to crack. Eleven teams in the division have winning records heading into Friday’s regular season finales. Four more teams have the opportunity to finish with .500 records with a win. It appears that 17 of the 19 teams in the division continue to relish playoff berths at this late stage of the season.
Top teams, not in any specific order, include defending champion Cathedral Catholic (5-4), St. Augustine (7-2), Mt. Miguel (7-1-1), El Capitan (4-4-1) and Ramona (4-5). Point Loma (6-3), Southwest El Centro (6-3), Central Union (5-4), Kearny (4-5), San Marcos (4-5), University City (4-5), Lincoln (3-6) and West Hills (3-6) are all bidding along with the aforementioned four South County teams for playoff berths. It’s likely that several deserving teams will be left out of the mix.
Only Monte Vista (2-7) and Serra (1-8) appear out of contention.
It is unknown how the playoff selection committee will value three wins by either West Hills or Lincoln against six or seven by Castle Park or Montgomery. The leagues in which the Wolf Pack (Grossmont Hills League) and Hornets (Eastern League) play are superior to any of the Metro’s three playing circuits, the Metro-Mesa League included.
Montgomery is led by Diego Rodriguez, who has rushed for more than 1,730 yards and scored 21 touchdowns this season. He gained 292 yards on 30 carries and scored three touchdowns, including one measuring 75 yards, in last Friday’s 37-20 victory at Sweetwater.
Quarterback Jordan Lippman threw a 32-yard scoring pass to Stephen Morales while also scoring on a 38-yard rushing play. Lippman passed for 124 yards and also rushed for 84 yards.
While the Aztecs have shown over the course of the season that they can pile up points in a hurry, the same can be said of Castle Park, which is led by a trio of formidable running backs: Paul Sierra (845 rushing yards, 13 TDs), Jamar Shelby (852 rushing yards, seven TDs) and Daniel Noriega (291 rushing yards, three TDs).
Kick-off is 7 p.m. on Friday.
Prep Football Scoreboard
Friday ,Nov. 5
Eastlake 35, Bonita Vista 13
Chula Vista 35, Mater Dei Catholic 21
Olympian 42, Castle Park 0
Montgomery 37, Sweetwater 20
Metro-South Bay League
Mar Vista 40, Hilltop 27
Southwest 13, San Ysidro 10
Ocean View Christian Academy 22, Borrego Springs 20
Saturday, Nov. 6
Chula Vista Calvary Christian Academy 43, San Diego Jewish Academy 0