The curtain will fall on the 2014 prep football regular season after the games on Friday, Nov. 7. But there are still questions to answer.
For Valley area teams, there are two great league races that, excitedly, come to a conclusion. Canoga Park (8-1) and Sylmar (7-2) battle for the City Section’s Valley Mission League championship. Both teams are 5-0 in league play; they won’t meet again in the playoffs because they are in different divisions, but the winner could get a serious boost of momentum going into the postseason.
Or the game could require so much effort from both teams that they have little left for the first round.
The beauty — and the treachery — of this time of year.
Both coaches understands the demands and the stakes.
“I know for them it’s a top seed. For us it’s having a home game in the playoff which is advantage,” Canoga Park Coach Ivan Moreno said. “Also, too, we had a really tight game against them last year, and we were on the losing side. So there’s a little extra incentive.”
“The stakes are high, It was one of our goals, to be in position win league for fist time since 2009. we know this will be major for seeding. So the stakes are high,” Sylmar Coach John Brazil said. “A victory against a Division I opponent, I believe, keeps us in top seeds. So yes, for us, the playoffs do begin [on Friday].”
The other main attraction involves multiple teams in the Southern Section Mission League. It’s like trying to untangle a spiderweb.
Crespi has played great football all fall. The 7-1 Celts’ only loss was to Gardena Serra (7-2) in league play. But that’s the reason they currently find themselves in a three-way tie for the league championship with Serra and La Puente Bishop Amat (6-3).
If all three win on Friday, those three teams get the league’s automatic bids. If any of them lose, Alemany (7-2), which is 3-2 in league play, could slip in.
By the way, Alemany plays Crespi on Friday.
There are other playoff positions to decide as well in both the City and Southern sections — primarily on getting a first round game at home. It’s a bit more complicated in the City, because there can Division I, II and III teams playing in the same league.
Here is a look at the potential endings. The actual seedings occur on Saturday (City), Nov. 8., and Sunday (Southern), Nov. 9.
Let’s start with the Valley Mission League.
The winner of Canoga Park-Sylmar is the outright champion. It would mean more to Canoga Park, which is in Division I and is fighting for a home game, and at least four, maybe five of the eight home game slots will go to Marine and Coliseum league teams. Sylmar is in Division II; even if the Spartans lose, they are probably no worse that a fourth seed. If they win, they could possibly be the top seed San Fernando (4-5), two-time defending Division II champion, can finish alone in third place if the Tigers defeat Van Nuys (1-8). But a win may not be enough to get them among the top eight playoff seeds. San Fernando would probably open the playoffs on the road.
Arleta (8-1) already has a share of the East Valley League, and even if the Mustangs are upset by Chavez they would be the league’s top team because they have the tie-breaker against second place Verdugo Hills (6-3). But Arleta needs to win the league outright. A co-championship finish with Verdugo Hills could drop the Mustangs to a 12th to 14th seed, which could mean a road game against Narbonne of Harbor City, Carson, or defending City champion Crenshaw of Los Angeles. Trust me, Arleta doesn’t want to start the playoffs at any of those locations.
Birmingham (4-5) has a share of the West Valley league title, and owns the necessary tie-breaker against Taft (5-4). Winning the championship outright positions the Patriots for a top eight seed even though they didn’t win a game of their very difficult nonleague schedule. Like Arleta, Birmingham wants to avoid that Bermuda Triangle of Carson, Crenshaw and Narbonne for an opening game.
Taft and El Camino Real (6-3) are the other Division I teams in West Valley, and are resigned to opening the playoffs on the road.
Chatsworth (5-4), Granada Hills (3-6), Grant (6-4), and Cleveland (5-4) are jockeying for playoff slots in Division II, while Monroe (7-2) — and possibly Panorama (4-5) and Chavez (3-6) — will qualify in Division III.
The Mission League’s craziness has been detailed, with four teams still in contention for the three guaranteed playoff slots and the potential for a bunch of coin flips to determine fates. The teams left out like Notre Dame (6-3), Chaminade (5-5) and Los Angeles Loyola (4-5) will sweat it out it out with teams from the Big VIII, Maramonte, Moore and Trinity leagues for the remaining wild card spots.
But there are other, interesting finishes on hand.
Sierra Canyon (9-0) will play Lancaster Paraclete (6-3) to decide the Gold Coast League championship. A win for Sierra Canyon should all but guarantee the Trailblazers the top seed in the section’s Mid-Valley Division.
Heritage Christian (6-3) looks good to get a playoff slot in the Northwest Division. Village Christian (4-5) does not.
Harvard-Westlake (6-3) should get in the Southeast Division playoffs, but will probably have to start on the road. Same thing with St. Genevieve (5-4) in the East Valley Division.