Friday Countdown and High School Football playoff previews

Friday’s High School Playoff Previews

Friday’s High School Football CIF-SS Playoff Previews

The Lancers’ five-game winning string came to an end in last week’s loss to Chaminade for the Mission League title, which dropped them to .500 overall. The penalty for losing their first four games of the season is a first-round game against the third seed and defending Division 1 and Open Division state champion. Amat has been great over the years in underdog situations, but this is probably too tall a task.

Division 3: CRESPI (1-9) AT CHARTER OAK (10-0), 7 P.M.
The Chargers have been the top-ranked team in Division 3 for weeks and haven’t played a meaningful game in a month after coasting through the Hacienda League. Charter Oak is facing a Celts team with only one win that somehow snuck in the playoffs as an at-large berth. But there is some concern because more than half of the Celts’ losses have come against Division 1 opponents and in the Mission League, which is one of the top leagues in the Southern Section.

Division 4: DAMIEN (6-4) AT PASO ROBLES (5-5), 7 P.M.
The Spartans are certainly prepared after competing in the Baseline League with teams like Division 1 Rancho Cucamonga and Division 2 Upland. Still, there are no easy games in this division and the long road trip could take its toll. The Spartans finished league by snapping a three-game losing streak with a victory over Etiwanda, and maybe that’s what it needed to go on a long playoff run.

The Tartans will need a big effort from quarterback Bryce Wooldridge and their defense to beat Santiago, a team that competes in the Big VII League with Division 1 power Corona Centennial and always tough Norco. Santiago is also coached by Scott Morrison, who is the former Damien and La Puente coach and he has a quarterback in junior Nathaniel Castillo who has thrown for 1,164 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Division 5: LOS ALTOS (7-3) AT MOORPARK (8-2), 7 P.M.
The Conquerors advanced to the Division 6 championship last year and despite losing several talented seniors from that team and its coach, new coach Hector Spathias has done a wonderful in leading them to the playoffs. However, this could be a tall order on the road in the San Fernando Valley against a Muskateers team that lost the Camino Real League title last week to always difficult Calabasas.

Division 7: DIAMOND RANCH (7-3) AT PALMDALE (7-3), 7 P.M.
The Panthers are not seeded and finished second to undefeated Charter Oak in the Hacienda League. Even in the Panthers’ losses they were competitive and they could be the sleeper of the division. They won’t have an easy time at Palmdale, but if they come away with a victory, maybe a deep playoff run is possible.

Division 8: KAISER (7-3) AT SAN DIMAS (7-3), 7 P.M.
The Saints beat Northview in the second-to-last game that ended the Vikings’ 20-game Valle Vista League winning streak and forced a three-way tie for first that included the Saints. They’re playing their best football and that will have to continue against Kaiser, who is always difficult. Glendora opened the season with a 42-20 victory over Kaiser, so maybe the Saints can do the same.

Division 8: NORTHVIEW (7-3) AT MILLIKAN (8-2), 7 P.M.
The Vikings and Fresno State-bound quarterback Steven Comstock have a tall order in the first round on the road at Millikan, a team that finished second to power Long Beach Poly in the Moore League. But other than Poly, who Millikan lost to 28-0, the rest of the Moore League was just so-so. However, Millikan does own a 24-16 win over Gahr, so who knows how this will turn out?

The Colts are the fourth seed and have a legitimate shot advancing a few rounds and making a championship run. Sophomore quarterback Nin Burns II and sophomore running back Erik Cuellar form a dangerous one-two punch and the Colts have been playing well enough on defense to be optimistic about their chances over the next month.

Division 11: LAKESIDE (7-3) AT ARROYO (10-0), 7 P.M.
The defending Division 12 champion Knights are undefeated and seeded second as they begin their journey toward winning a second straight title for coach Jim Singiser. However, their first-round game against Lakeside may be much tougher than a second-seed normally gets. Lakeside can run the ball and has just three losses on the resume. Still, the Knights have been in this position before and know how to handle it.

Division 12: EL DORADO (5-5) AT SOUTH EL MONTE (9-1), 7 P.M.
The Eagles are seeded fourth and their only loss came against undefeated Arroyo in the Mission Valley League in a game they lost in the final moments. The Lions will lean on experienced senior running back Sal Tovar who has rushed for 1,636 yards and 24 touchdowns and a defense that only has allowed an average of 9.6 points per game.

Division 13: WORKMAN (4-6) AT SANTA CLARA (8-2), 7 P.M.
The Lobos were a surprise entry into the Division 13 playoffs after finishing third in the Montview League, but have a puncher’s chance with sophomore quarterback Ike Udengwu III, who has thrown for 2,038 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Division 13: AZUSA (5-5) AT RIO HONDO PREP (6-3), 7 P.M.
The Kares enter the playoffs off a tough loss last week to Pasadena Poly. Sophomore Bryant Flores has rushed for a team-leading 467 yards and has scored four touchdowns. They’ll be facing an Aztecs team that finished second in the Montview League.

Division 3: LA SERNA (6-4) AT ST. FRANCIS (9-1), 7 P.M.
When it comes to the playoffs in recent years, no area team has had a tougher time getting past the first round more than St. Francis. In two of the past three years, the Golden Knights have suffered first-round defeats.

It’s one of the many storylines that will be played out as St. Francis faces La Serna for the second time this season. St. Francis won the first meeting 49-20 in September.

“(La Serna) is a vastly improved football team from the last time that we saw them,” St. Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “They are throwing the ball a little bit more and doing some different wrinkles with their run game.”

One of the major factors in the Golden Knights’ win over La Serna was the performance of Darius Perrantes, a transfer from Crespi who completed 9 of 14 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown.

“One of the major points we’re telling our players is that we have to forget the game back in September,” Bonds said. “They know what is at stake. We’ve had a great week of practice, so I am excited about Friday night.”

Division 6: SUMMIT (5-5) AT SAN MARINO (7-2), 7 P.M.
The Titans, who finished second in the Rio Hondo League, are led by Beau Hobbie, the grandson of head coach Mike Hobbie. The senior has rushed for a team-leading 1,179 yards with 17 touchdowns.

Summit was one of the six teams that got into the playoffs through the at-large entry process. Senior quarterback Troy Temmink has thrown for 1,564 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Division 7: YORBA LINDA (7-3) AT MONROVIA (4-6), 7 P.M.
The Wildcats, champions of the Rio Hondo League, didn’t get an easy draw as they host a Mustangs team that is coached by one of the top coaches in Orange County in Jeff Bailey.

The game figures to be won in the trenches as both teams have terrific running attacks. Monrovia running back Maury Rams IV has rushed for 1,379 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. Yorba Linda will counter with seniors Jayden Webb and Jonah Slack who have rushed for a combined 1,400 yards.

Division 9: MARANATHA (6-4) AT AQUINAS (10-0), 7 P.M.
The Minuteman were one of four teams that made the playoffs as an at-large team. Their reward is facing a Falcons team that features one of the top running backs in Southern California in Branden Rankings, a senior who has rushed for 1,675 yards with 29 touchdowns.

The Panthers, champions of the Prep League, figure to be a major battle against an Oilers team that is led by one of the top quarterbacks in the area in Gabriel Tapia. Poly enters the game without the services of all-around standout Matt Queen who is out for the season with a broken ankle.

“We know what we are getting into,” Pasadena Poly coach Chris Schmoke said. “(Tapia) is a big kid with a very live arm. They also have a big offensive line and their running backs are really good.”

Division 11: ARCADIA (7-3) AT HILLCREST (7-3), 7 P.M.
The Apaches are seeded third in Division 11 and will take on a Hillcrest team that finished in a five-way tie for first place in the River Valley League.

“They remind me a lot of La Salle,” Arcadia coach Andrew Policky said of Hillcrest. “They are a talented team – we are in for a battle, no question about it.”

Pacific League runner-up Arcadia will once again lean on standout Rolandiss Whitener. The junior leads the team in receiving yards (547) and interceptions (three).

“He’s pretty special,” Policky said of Hillcrest. “A player like him is a game-changer for our program. He’s been there every step of the way for us.”

Hillcrest, a  program from the Riverside area that is in its fourth year, is led by quarterback Jalen Jefferson. A transfer two years ago from Corona Centennial, the junior has thrown for 1,565 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Division 2: EDISON (7-3) AT LA HABRA (7-3), 7 P.M.
When the pairings for the CIF Southern Section playoffs were released, lots of football fans circled the game between Edison and La Habra.

“You will not find two more consistent programs in Southern California than the both of us,” La Habra coach Frank Mazzota said. “It’s an intriguing matchup because the both of us know each other really well. We get together over the summer to do a combined football practice and we are in the same 7-on-7 passing league tournaments.”

While the Highlanders won the Freeway League championship last week with a 17-0 win over Fullerton, many observers were scratching their heads over the score.

“We had some weird things happen that night,” Mazzota said. “First, we fumbled the ball twice in the first quarter and that never happens. Also, we had four touchdowns called back for penalties.”

Meanwhile, Edison continues to roll with first-year head coach Jeff Grady replacing longtime coach Dave White. The Chargers finished second in the Sunset League and showcase one of the top quarterbacks in Southern California in Griffin O’Connor. A Yale commit, O’Connor has thrown for 2,013 yards and 23 touchdowns.

The Highlanders have a solid quarterback of their own in Zach Fogel. The senior has thrown for 1,537 yards and 16 touchdowns. “(Fogel) had a solid a solid year for us,” Mazzota said. “I like the fact that our defense is getting better as well.”

Division 2: LA MIRADA (5-5) AT HERTIAGE (9-1), 7 P.M.
The Matadores, who finished second in the Suburban League, are matched up against a Heritage team that won the Sunbelt League. If La Mirada has any aspirations of pulling off a huge upset, it will be looking to senior quarterback Matthew Takata to lead the way. He has thrown for 882 yards and six touchdowns.

Division 6: ST PAUL (4-6) AT WEST TORRANCE (5-5), 7 P.M.
The Swordsmen received an at-large bid into the playoffs and were seeded fourth, They’ll hit the road to play a West Torrance team that finished second in the Pioneer League. Senior Armando Velasco turned in a stellar performance in St. Paul’s 42-6 win over Salesian. rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown.

The Oilers earned their bid to the playoffs after defeating Bell Gardens 45-15. Senior quarterback Gabriel Tapia has thrown for 853 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The Oilers will be taking on a Pasadena Poly team that won the Prep League title with a 20-13 win over Rio Hondo Prep. Senior Graham Olson has thrown for 768 yards and nine touchdowns.

Division 10: GAHR (7-3) AT SANTA FE (6-4), 7 P.M.
The Chiefs have been the area’s surprise team of the 2017 season. After a tough preseason which saw them win only one of five games, Santa Fe rolled through the Del Rio League and won the program’s first league title since 2011.
The Chiefs will be hosting a Gahr team that finished second in the San Gabriel Valley League and is riding a two-game losing streak. Gladiators senior E.J. Gonzalez has thrown for 1,247 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Division 10: WHITTIER (5-5) AT GARDEN GROVE PACIFICA (9-1), 7 P.M.
The Cardinals earned their way into the playoffs with a dramatic 21-14 win over El Rancho. Their reward for making the playoffs is a trip to Orange County to take on a Pacifica team that is seeded third in the division. Whittier running back Alex Retana has rushed for 1,091 yards and has scored six touchdowns.

Division 12: SANTA ANA VALLEY (3-7) AT SCHURR (9-1), 7 P.M.
The Spartans received the  top seed and are riding a seven-game winning streak. Lance Babb II turned in an outstanding performance last week in their win over Alhambra. The senior caught 14 passes for 157 yards and scored two touchdowns.
The Spartans will be without the services of wide receiver Jeremiah Hartfield who suffered a season-ending injury last week.

Division 13: ORANGE (8-2) AT CANTWELL SACRED HEART (6-4), 7 P.M.
The Cardinals punched their ticket into the playoffs last Friday with a 38-23 victory over Bishop Montgomery. They’ll be hosting a Panthers team that is seeded fourth in the division. Cantwell Sacred Heart junior Jason Morago has rushed for 367 yards and a team-high six touchdowns.

CIF Southern Section Playoff Schedule
Friday’s First Round Schedule
All games start at 7 p.m., unless noted

CIF-Southern Section Football Playoffs
Friday’s First Round
Division 1
Bishop Amat (5-5) vs. St. John Bosco (8-2) at El Camino College
Division 2
Edison (7-3) at La Habra (7-3)
La Mirada (5-5) at Heritage (9-1)
Division 3
Crespi (1-9) at Charter Oak (10-0)
La Serna (6-4) at St. Francis (9-1)
Division 4
Damien (6-4) at Paso Robles (5-5)
Corona Santiago (7-3) vs. Glendora (7-3) at Citrus College
Division 5
Los Altos (7-3) at Moorpark (8-2)
Division 6
Summit (5-5) at San Marino (7-2)
Sonora (6-4) at Saugus (4-6)
St. Paul (4-6) at West Torrance (5-5)
Division 7
Don Lugo (8-4) at Pomona (6-4)
Yorba Linda (7-3) at Monrovia (4-6)
Diamond Ranch (7-3) at Palmdale (7-3)
Division 8
Kaiser (7-3) at San Dimas (7-3)
Northview (7-3) at Millikan (8-2)
Division 9
Maranatha (6-4) at San Bernardino Aquinas (10-0)
Division 10
Montebello (7-3) vs. Pasadena Poly (8-1-1) at South Pasadena HS
Whittier (5-5) at Garden Grove Pacifica (9-1)
Gahr (7-3)) at Santa Fe (6-4)
Division 11
Victor Valley (5-5) vs. Covina (8-2) at Covina District Field
Arcadia (7-3) vs. Hillcrest (7-3) at Norte Vista HS
Lakeside (7-3) at Arroyo (10-0)
Division 12
Santa Ana Valley (3-7) at Schurr (9-1)
El Dorado (5-5) at South El Monte (9-1)
Division 13
Workman (4-6) at Santa Clara (8-2)
Azusa (5-5) at Rio Hondo Prep (6-3)
Orange (8-2) at Cantwell Sacred Heart (6-4)

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Friday Countdown and High School Football playoff previews published first on

Author: accuhunt

Physical Educator and sports coach from 6 years , with degree in sports science and physical education from RLT University in US. Coach of football, skating, hockey and rugby teams. Now working as Sports development officer in Perth city. Contributor of sports training articles to improve sports performance in athletes. Well college football is an place where many inspiring stories surface and touch the heart. It is also a place where the passions of players, desires of coaches and expectations of community meld to form a different atmosphere.

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